A Review of the 2015 Evangelical Theological Society Annual Meeting

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Excerpt From November 17-19, 2015, over 2,800 evangelical scholars, academics, researchers, and other interested men and women came to Atlanta, GA to hear hundreds of great presentations on a variety of subjects. As an affiliated society of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), the Near East Archaeological Society (NEAS) holds its annual meeting during the ETS annual meeting. Many of the Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) scholars are also members of the NEAS; and again this year, their presence was meaningful and provided some great ideas based on their research. Continue reading

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While most of the ETS presentations were in the areas of theology, hermeneutics, philosophy, Biblical Hebrew and Greek, the family and marriage, the Septuagint, Spiritual Formation, etc., the NEAS is where the biblical archaeology action happens. Accordingly, this meeting is where ABR scholars spend most of their time during the conference. This year we enjoyed hearing 24 presentations on the archaeology of the biblical lands over a three-day period.

The theme of the ETS annual meeting was "Marriage and the Family," and the NEAS' theme was appropriately "Archaeology of the Family." Additional sessions on Asia and Christianity, Israelite Archaeology, Biblical Chronology, and General Topics were also part of the NEAS program. Attendance at each session was around 25-30 attendees, all seeking to increase their understanding of the archaeology of the land.

So, who were the presenters? Three came from Turkey, and as might be expected the majority were from the United States. The Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) was well represented, with our
Khirbet el-Maqatir dig team and ABR staff members being significant contributors to the NEAS sessions. They began with Boyd Seevers and Rachel Korhonen's Israelite seals presentation that also included pictures of Rachel re-creating seals. Bryant Wood provided a talk on the chronology of Joshua's Conquest, explaining the dating of the destruction levels at Jericho, Ai and Hazor, and demonstrating the alignment of biblical truth with the destruction levels. Our Maqatir Dig Director, Scott Stripling, rounded out the Maqatir staff members' presentations with a lively discussion on the Roman house we have been excavating for the past few years.

But these were not the only Maqatir staff members at the meeting. During a dessert and coffee (soda) event held on the second day, the staff and their families who attended the conference had time to socialize together. Over 14 Maqatir staff and family members attended the dessert event. The discussions around the table were varied and, unfortunately, too short, as we soon had to leave and attend the afternoon presentations. One important announcement made during the desert and coffee time was a recent decision concerning the winter dig event. As you know, the current level of discord in the area could have an effect on the Maqatir dig. Therefore, it has been determined that to hold a Winter 2016 dig at Maqatir would potentially result in injury to our Israeli guards and others, and no winter session will be held. So, we would like to ask you to pray for future decisions concerning continued excavations at Maqatir. Of course, please remember to pray for the peace of the land of Israel.

Just like our dig seasons, many times the most interesting presentations are on the last day. Two of the more interesting presentations were interdisciplinary in nature. Rodger Young's presentation, Anomalies in Radiocarbon vs. Archaeological Dating, LB and Earlier, Are Not the Invention of Biblical Archaeologists, demonstrated how C14 radiocarbon dating should be corrected, and that when thus corrected, the destruction levels identified by Bryant Wood for Jericho align with the C14 dates. Another interesting presentation was by John Bloom entitled Genesis, Ancient Near Eastern Parallels, and Consensus Science: Navigating a Lost World. This presentation demonstrated that the evangelical community has become acclimated to a liberal view of the influence of Ancient Near Eastern literature on understanding the Genesis account. This liberal view has led to many evangelicals practically dismissing the Genesis account because it does not agree with "science."

Both of these presentations, as well as all the others during the meeting, were focused on understanding Scripture by utilizing archaeological insights to increase our knowledge on how God interacted with His creation. This type of research strengthens our faith and provides the incentive to continue, even while secular colleges and universities continue to espouse a liberal view.

The next meeting of the ETS and NEAS will be in San Antonio, TX. The theme for the conference will be "The Trinity," and the NEAS theme will be the "Archaeology of Worship." I hope to see you there!

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