Various members of the Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) attended the Near East Archaeological Society's (NEAS) annual meeting. NEAS is an Affiliated Society of the ETS which, during the ETS meeting, has sessions dealing with biblical archaeology. This year the NEAS theme, aligned with the ETS theme, was "Churches, Temples, Synagogues and Worship."
"Churches, Temples, Synagogues and Worship" was not the only topic area represented. Presentations of various archaeological sites, such as Tell Tayinat, Shiloh, Gezer, Faynan in southern Jordan, and others provided updates to the attendees concerning the latest research occurring at these sites. Of course, ABR's Khirbet el-Maqatir site was covered, with a presentation on the latest findings by Bryant Wood. His presentation noted the continual presence of evidence indicating that Maqatir is, in fact, the biblical site of Ai of Joshua 7, conquered by the Israelites around 1405 BC.
Along the chronological theme, Doug Petrovich discussed his research in two separate sessions on the presence of Jacob, Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim in Egypt. His presentation provides an apologetic for the entry of the Israelites during the time of Sesostris II sometime between 1897–1878 BC.
Two other interesting presentations discussed an online database that is tabulating the various Roman roads in Asia Minor (modern Turkey). These efforts have provided the rationale for revising Paul's Second Journey route as presented in various Bible Atlas publications.
Another paper discussed the use of archaeological data in presenting the Gospel in biblical schools, Sunday schools, and even during sermons. Of course, associations like ABR would be leading providers of pictures, articles and related artifacts to further this effort, all providing additional evidence for the authenticity of Scripture.
While these sessions were all very interesting, the various presentations associated with the NEAS theme of "Churches, Temples, Synagogues and Worship" provided a canvas for several interesting discussions. One presenter discussed what archaeological evidence would be available at Shiloh starting with the Tabernacle. While excavations at Shiloh have not found any evidence of the Tabernacle, that is not surprising, since the Tabernacle was a free-standing tent of worship. A following presentation discussed what happened to the Menorah in the Second Temple taken by the Romans in AD 70. This presentation followed the route of the Menorah to Rome and then back through Constantinople and ultimately back to Jerusalem, where it disappears.
Later during the day, we received an interesting presentation on a Second Century home church located in Lillingstone, England. Archaeologists are convinced that this is a true church house that was modified over time to meet the requirements of the growing Church. Not to be outdone, ABR's presence in the "Churches, Temples, Synagogues and Worship" session was a report on the monastery at Maqatir written by Scott Stripling (read by Suzanne Lattimer). This presentation showed an artistic representation of the monastery based on the archaeological evidence excavated over the past seasons. While lacking a monastery dedicatory inscription, it is possible that the Byzantine church was built to commemorate the Battle of Ai.
While the above sections do not cover all of the sessions presented at the NEAS annual meeting, the overall importance of the meeting cannot be understated. It is through the efforts of the NEAS and ABR that the validity of Scripture is being presented in a scholastic environment that must stand up to scholarly scrutiny. Once again, as in the past, the ABR presenters have demonstrated their dedication to presenting truth and showing through analytical analysis that the Bible is true and accurate.
Next year, the NEAS conference is in Atlanta, GA, and if you can make it, I can guarantee that you will be blessed and informed by attending. Hope to see you in Atlanta in 2015.