Report on the Near East Archaeological Society Annual Meeting (2017)

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Excerpt The 2017 Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) annual conference was held in Providence, RI from November 15-17, 2017. The Near East Archaeological Society (NEAS) holds its annual meeting under the ETS umbrella, and again this year, members of the Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) attended in force. Continue reading

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The 2017 Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) annual conference was held in Providence, RI from November 15-17, 2017. The Near East Archaeological Society (NEAS) holds its annual meeting under the ETS umbrella, and again this year, members of the Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) attended in force. Participating in this conference is like a being a kid in a candy store. Over 2,300 biblical scholars had to choose from over 600 distinct presentations. While our ABR folks primarily attended the NEAS presentations, they were also able to visit the exhibition hall where 61 exhibitors provided the latest and greatest biblical study products. Of course, I was able to pick up some significant teaching resources, as I am sure many of our friends did as well.

What has always amazed me during this conference is the conversations about God and the Bible that you hear as you are walking the halls. It is inspiring to be in the presence of so many Christians that are all working to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Just catching snippets of discussions on the Holy Spirit, biblical Hebrew, New Testament studies, worship, and, of course, biblical archaeology is truly worth the trip.

ABR attendees were just one segment of the entire crowd. During the NEAS sessions, ABR members presented dig season reports, innovative ideas concerning biblical chronology, and reformation events in the Old Testament. As an example, the first-day presentations were devoted to Old Testament chronology. During these presentations we had over 100 attendees per session. This number of attendees is just one indication of the interest in the topic of biblical chronology.

Standing Room Only

ABR staff member Henry Smith kicked off the presentations with "Primeval Chronology Revisited," which analyzed the Genesis genealogy passages in Genesis 5 and 11. Henry was followed by ABR's Director of Excavation, Scott Stripling, presenting a potential use of textual and cultural evidence to develop a biblical chronology for the biblical archaeologists. This morning session was completed with presentations by David Rohl and Doug Petrovich related to Egyptian archaeology and Old Testament chronology.

Wednesday afternoon continued our discussion on biblical chronology with a three-person panel, each representing a dating view centered around the date of the Exodus from Egypt. Our presenters, David Falk, Doug Petrovich, and David Rohl, each advocated different understandings of the Exodus date and the presence of the Israelites in Egypt. David Falk represented an Exodus date in the early 13th century, Doug Petrovich represented the early 15th century, while David Rohl proposed a revised Egyptian chronology that would align possible evidence of Israelite settlement in Egypt to the early 15th century. An intense Question & Answer period followed these three presentations. As expected, the panel session was extremely well attended, and I believe all attendees took away multiple thoughts related to biblical chronology.

Randall Price

Thursday morning provided an opportunity for four dig reports concerning recent excavations. Again, ABR was well represented by Bryant Wood and Scott Stripling. The first presentation was by Ralph Hawkins who spoke on Khirbet el-Mastarah, which might be one of the earliest Israelite sites west of the Jordan River. Scott followed Ralph's presentation with a report on the first season of excavation by ABR at Shiloh and some potential locations for the Tabernacle. Bryant Wood followed up with his report on the Cyclopean Construction discoveries at Khirbet el-Maqatir, which he had identified during the last season at Maqatir. Randall Price rounded out the dig report session with a presentation on a new Dead Sea Scroll Cave at Qumran.

Our Friday afternoon capstone session was devoted to the overall conference theme of "Reformation." Of course, the conference theme was focused on the 500th year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation; the NEAS theme was slightly differnt, related to reformation activity presented in Scripture. Stephen Rudd presented a case for the evolution of the Hebrew Temple practice to Synagogue, and ultimately evolving into the early Christian Church. Adeeb Mickahail's presentation centered on Hezekiah's destruction of the Nehushtan (Moses' Bronze Serpent) and the causes that led up to its destruction. The president of NEAS, Clyde Billington, gave a spirited presentation on the "Abomination of Desolation and The Hanukkah Reformation." Each of these presentations indicated that God brings about reforming activity with His people. We completed this year's round of presentations with Gordon Franz discussing the location of the crucifixion in a rebuttal to a theory that locates the event near the Silwan village in Jerusalem.

ABR Dinner Event

In conclusion, this year's NEAS conference provided a wealth of information to the attendees, the opportunity to see friends, and to gather new resources to assist in each of our ministries. I strongly recommend that if you can attend next year's conference in Denver, CO you do so, you will not regret the time or expense. Also, if you have an idea you desire to write about, get those pencils sharpened, so that you can send in a paper proposal to me during the March 2018 "Call for Papers." Hope to see you in Denver, CO next year.

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