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Research Topics

Ministry Updates

NEAS San Diego, CA

From 20 - 22 November 2019, San Diego, CA, experienced an invasion of over 2,800 evangelical Christians. These men and women came to San Diego to attend the Evangelical Theological Society's (ETS) annual meeting of three days of meetings, presentations, and exhibitors from many Christian organizations. The Near East Archaeological Society (NEAS) is one of the exhibitors, but also in a partnership with the ETS hold their annual meeting, which this year consisted of 23 distinct presentations covering subjects from Genesis to Acts. The presenters represented a spectrum of speakers, including our special speaker, Frankie Snyder, who is known as the "Floor Lady" due to her expertise on Roman and Crusader tile floors. Overall, the presentations garnered on average, 41 listeners with a high of over 90.

A listing of the presenters demonstrates the impact the Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) has in the field. ABR members or others associated with the Shiloh Dig included Doug Petrovich, Steven Rudd, Frankie Snyder, Scott Stripling, Brian Peterson, Richard Lanser, and myself as the program chair. Other ABR members and friends were frequently in attendance as well, providing the opportunity to find out what has been happening in their lives. In general, the ABR presenters represented about 30% of the entire program. This level of attendance indicates the professionalism and academic rigor of ABR members. 

As noted above, the presentations ranged from Genesis to Acts. We kicked off Wednesday morning with presentations on Genesis the first with the intriguing title of "What is the Author Doing by What He is Saying in Genesis 1-2?" where T. D. Proffitt suggests that God was providing a critique of other ancient cosmological epic stories. Doug Petrovich followed with "Pinpointing the Identity of the Sons of God in Genesis 6 and Possibly in the Archaeological Record," suggesting that the Nephilim might be the Neanderthal man population in ancient times. Not to be outdone by the earlier presentations, Clyde Billington gave a presentation on "Is The Screaming Mummy The First Born Son of Pharaoh?" claiming that this was the son of Pharaoh Amenhotep II (believed by many to be the pharaoh of exodus).   Following along with the Exodus theme, Steven Rudd proposes that Petra be the location of Kadesh Barnea where the Israelites spent many years during the Wilderness wandering before entering the Promised Land with his presentation called "The Search for Kadesh Barnea." With this start, it was looking like we were going to have a great conference, and the remaining presenters did not fail us.

Wednesday afternoon demonstrated there is always more to learn about Israel during the conquest period to the time of the Persian Empire. Beginning with Seth M. Rodriquez, who discussed the Conquest Period with his "The Land Was Subdued Before Them: A Search for Israelite Settlements in Late Bronze Canaan," focusing on the archaeological evidence for the conquest period. Not to be outdone, Chris McKinny demonstrated through his "Historical Geography Gone Awry at Khirbet er-Ra‘i?" presentation that a recent announcement that identified Ziklag with Khirbet er-Ra‘i is a misusing of historical geography. Charissa D. Wilson, a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, followed  Chris with her presentation on "The Shishak Destruction and the Ninth Century Occupation at Tel Gezer" discussed the impact Egyptian influence had on the city after the Shishak invasion. Chet Roden with the intriguing title of AI but not Ai: A Look into Biblical Archaeology and Artificial Intelligence (AI)" then took the stage and presented some ideas on how the use of artificial intelligence (AI) might assist in developing excavation strategies that would effectively excavate sites in Israel. Todd Bolen wrapped up the first day of presentation with a presentation on "The Archaeology of Esther: Susa, Reliefs, Inscriptions, and Artifacts" demonstrating how photographs of Esther's environment as revealed through archaeology enhances our understanding of the scripture from the time of the Exile in Persia.

Thursday morning started with our special speaker, Frankie Synder. She is affectionately known as the "Floor Lady" due to her expertise with Roman and Crusader floors, especially the floor that was on Herod's Temple platform floor. Her first talk concerned the Temple Mount tiles found in the Shifting Project that she has been participating in, and her second presentation was on Crusader floors. Our third and fourth presentations were a pictorial excursion over the Vilively title of Appia travel by Paul as he appealed to Caesar for a trail. Mark Wilson traced and discussed Paul's route from Malta to Sineussa, while is colleague followed up with tracing the journey from Sineussa to Rome. With our morning filled with images of Roman tiles, roads, structures, and other artifacts, we took a break and looked forward to the coming presentations in the afternoon.

The afternoon presentations focused on several biblical archaeological sites. The first on Lachish dealt with James Adcock's "Hezekiah’s Reform Reaches to Tel Lachish?" In this presentation, he discussed how the recent discovery of a toilet in one of the gate structures that may have held a place of worship is indicative of Hezikiah's reforms, as discussed in II Chronicles 31:1. Dale Manor's presentation followed and discussed the impact a new road is having on Tel Beth-Shemesh, which contains multiple occupation layers revealing all manner of artifacts. The importance of the site excavations resulted in the rerouting of the road. As we continued our review of archaeological sites, Scott Stripling discussed the Shiloh excavation which is sponsored by ABR. His discussions on the cultic nature of Shiloh up to the time of Eli and its follow-on destruction by the Philistines was indicative of the great work ABR is supporting in the Promised Land. What with cultic items, scarabs, administration areas, storerooms, large pithos jars, etc. that this is an excavation that is worth volunteering your time if you go to Israel. Ralph Hawkins followed Scott with his report on the Excavation at Khirbet ʿAuja el-Foqa. This Iron Age II site identified with biblical 'Ataroth which was built by the Gadites in the 13th century as a means to control the Jordanian Plateau. A review of various Roman-era sites in the northern part of Israel followed this presentation. Of interest was the discussion on the Roman Legion that was constructing buildings in upper Israel based near Megiddo. Thus we conclude our second day of presentations in biblical archaeology.

On Friday afternoon, we had a series of presentations that focused, for the most part on the time of Jesus. Brian Peterson brought an excellent paper on how God in His providence kept the Dead Sea Scrolls safe for about 2000 years to provide a validation of the scripture at a time when it was most needed. In the mid-20th century, it was normal for many to believe that the Old Testament scripture available in no way could be an accurate rendering of the Old Testament since the earliest version available was from around AD 1000. Thus the possibility of significant errors occurring was possible. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls pushed back the available manuscripts to before the time of Jesus. A comparison of the transmitted text, when compared with the portions of the available scrolls, demonstrated that God had indeed worked to ensure His word was adequately maintained. The title of the presentation reflects the event of this miracle with the title of "The Sovereign Hand of God in the Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls." Brian's presentation was followed by two chronology oriented papers, one presented by ABR staff member, Richard Lanser and the other by Roger Young. Richard's presentation focused on "Pinpointing the Date of Christ's Birth: Insights from Priestly, Birth and Seasonal Cycles." Whereas, Roger's presentation focused on establishing the death of Herod the Great with his title of "NT Chronology and the Death of Herod the Great" that results in a different date for the birth of Jesus than Richard's. Next, we had Robert Smith who discussed the construction of the roof through which the Paralytic was lowered through as described in Mark 2:4 and Luke 5:19. Luke's use of the word for tiles suggested that the roof was composed of mudbrick tiles. Robert discussed how he and his students had made some sundried mud-tiles, which could easily support the weight someone building the roof and then quickly remove them as the scripture notes to lower the Paralytic into the room. Of course, this method of constructing a roof would allow for rapid repair as well. Robert even brought a model of the idea which enhanced his presentation. Our final presentation was by David Sielaff, who suggested that there was a fountain on the Temple Mount to support the removal of sacrificial blood during high holy days.

Thus we conclude our summary of the events over a three days conference on biblical archaeology. During these three days, we learned much and now have even more questions to pursue as we continue of studies and ministries. I hope that this has sparked a fire within you to come to the next NEAS conference i17-19 November 2020 in Providence, RI.

Dear Friends of ABR:

We are living in days of confusion and complexity as we experience the daily upheaval that is going on in Western culture. In every community and townhall we are discovering direct challenges to the Christian values our country was built upon. As post-modern thought and post-Christian beliefs continue to re-shape our nation we wonder if there will be anything left we can hold on to for security. Thankfully, it is the Lord Himself who is our sure foundation, and the unchanging promises of His Word are our strength and true security! As I paused to write today I was reminded of David’s words in Psalm 127:1: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” Our security will always and ever be in the Lord our God!

In spite of the many difficulties and challenges we face, we must let our light shine forth, and allow the Lord to use each one of us to impact our broken world. In the past year, many of you have done just that as you have remembered to pray regularly for your church and the ministries you are involved in. I am, of course, especially grateful for your prayers and support for ABR. Nothing is more important to me than to know that we have an ever-growing team of faithful prayer warriors. More than ever, we must all realize that the ministries we are engaged in will only see success by the power of God. Your prayers for ABR pleases God, and I have no doubt that there is joy in His heart as His children come before Him in worship and prayer and to pour out their hearts before Him in supplication. The work of ministry at ABR must only ever be God’s work, and the breakthroughs we have seen in this past year have only been possible because we leaned fully on His mighty power to open doors and to face the spiritual battles before us. We give Him all the glory!

I write today to thank you for being a partner and friend in the work and ministry of ABR. Our volunteer team has grown dramatically, as both here at home and in Israel we have experienced a surge of interest and participation in the work of rediscovering the evidence for God’s great works in history, works He first revealed to us in His inspired Word and now in the soil in Israel. ABR’s rich history of searching for the lost cities of the conquest, and our current work at Shiloh, are outreaches under the sovereign direction of our Lord. They involve the cooperation of His people as they excavate ancient sites under the hot sun in Israel or come to our home office to help our staff with administrative tasks. In all these things, your prayers and tireless support have allowed ABR to have a real impact for the glory of God.

I write today to thank you for your wonderful financial support for ABR. Every year we experience miraculous provision for each door the Lord opens and for each project He gives us. Thank you for giving, we could not fulfill our mission without your sacrificial financial support.

And the doors God has opened have been extraordinary. Let me take this opportunity to share some of the amazing things that are going on here at ABR.

The Excavations at Shiloh

In our second year at Shiloh we expect 140 volunteers to assist our professional dig staff as we continue to work in uncovering this amazing site that is integral to God’s acts in history. The Tabernacle was erected at Shiloh, which was the center of Israelite worship for 300 years. The ark of the covenant rested there, and it is the only biblical site where God directly challenges us in Scripture to come and see what He did there, as His judgment fell upon His rebellious children. We urge you to pray for the team that will be on-site at Shiloh in May and June! Please go to BibleArchaeology.org or DigShiloh.org to see the weekly reports that will be posted on our work there. And consider joining next year’s team of diggers; it proves to be a life-changing experience for so many who join the team!

ABR Exhibits

We are thrilled at the creation of a new traveling exhibit with our partners at the University of Pikeville, in Kentucky. The World of Jesus exhibit was revealed at the ABR annual banquet in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in April, and then at Grace Baptist Church near Baltimore, Maryland as part of ABR’s seminar with our friends at Faith Theological Seminary. We trust this new exhibit will be a great way to impact God’s people as they see the many amazing artifacts and replicas that wonderfully illustrate the world of Jesus in His earthly ministry.

We also celebrate the amazing journey of ABR’s first exhibit, Khirbet el-Maqatir, The History of a Biblical Site, which has been traveling across the US to many universities and seminaries and providing God’s people with an amazing view of ABR’s archaeological work in Israel and our search for the Conquest city of Ai. The exhibit is currently at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Bolivar, Missouri and is slated to be on exhibit at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2019.

Digging for Truth – Our new television show

ABR has begun a tremendous project with our friends at WBPH TV in Allentown, Pennsylvania to produce a new show called, Digging for Truth. Each episode is being created in a beautiful state-of-art studio and the first shows have already been produced and released. If you have not seen Digging for Truth, we urge you to go to our website and click on the banner for the program. We also have links on our ABR Facebook page. This is an amazing opportunity and we believe it will be one of the very best ways to share the work of ABR and to proclaim the reliability of the Word of God to a skeptical world!

Website and Publication

We are happy to report that our new website is well on its way, as we are about 2/3 of the way through this project. We hope to have it ready to be rolled out by the end of 2018. Thank you for your gifts and prayers in support of this major upgrade. It is expensive to bring our website up to a professional standard and function that will allow our outreach to be much more effective. The new website will include many features that will make navigating the site a much more intuitive and enjoyable experience.

Bible and Spade magazine has seen dramatic growth in readership as ABR memberships and subscriptions to the magazine continue to grow on a record-setting pace. Thank you for spreading the word about our flagship publication! We urge you to get a gift subscription for your pastor or your Sunday School teacher, as it will provide cutting edge insights into the Bible and the world of biblical archaeology.  Please remember that Bible and Spade is a publication that ALWAYS affirms the Word of God…it does not include articles from those who do not believe the Bible. This difference is important, and you can be confident you are sharing a publication you can trust.

ABR Banquets

Every Spring ABR celebrates God’s blessings on our ministry with our friends. This year we were thrilled to have our own Director of Excavations, Dr. Scott Stripling, as our keynote speaker. Dr. Stripling shared about the discovery of the skeletal remains of 8 bodies (7 women and a boy) in a cave hiding system from the AD 70 Roman attack and destruction at Khirbet el-Maqatir. These Israelites had been murdered by Roman soldiers and it wasn’t until ABR discovered them, that they could then be properly buried. The story reached international proportions and we were happy that we could be a part of this amazing discovery…and of the beautiful final outcome at their burial. This is just one example of the incredible stories that we share each year with our friends at the ABR banquet.

Staff Research and Projects

Dr. Stripling has already departed for our second dig season at biblical Shiloh! This year he will have several opportunities to represent ABR as various media sources will be interviewing him concerning upcoming projects. He will welcome Appian Media to the dig site as they begin production on their new film series, Search for a King, that will be broadcast sometime next year. The series will follow this theme from Shiloh to Bethlehem, and ABR will be represented well in this wonderful new project. In addition, the new Patterns of Evidence: Moses film crew will be on site at Shiloh as well. Although ABR does not hold to the various chronological theories of the film’s producer, we celebrate these films in their effort to engage thinking skeptics and those asking questions about biblical history. We also expect CBN to visit with us as they share with their viewers about the importance of Shiloh. And finally, we are thrilled that our friends at Faithlife/Logos, the makers of the recently released feature film, Fragments of Evidence, will be filming for a new movie focused on the evidence for Israel’s ancient history. Dr. Stripling will be a historical consultant for the film, along with Dr. Craig Evans of Houston Baptist University. All these opportunities are being made possible because of your prayers and support!

ABR staff member, Henry Smith continues his ground-breaking research on the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11, establishing beyond doubt, that the author of Genesis intended the numbers in these biblical passages to be understood as real chronology, and not to be dismissed as partial, symbolic or irrelevant. Henry and Pastor Jeremy Sexton have thoroughly investigated the critical texts to offer a compelling case for the original numbers first given through the Spirit’s inspiration. Henry’s conclusions have the power to completely change the discussion on several critical issues regarding biblical chronology and in understanding how archaeological evidence fits the biblical timeline with great precision.

Please pray for the ABR staff as they are slated to make several important presentations at the annual meetings for the Evangelical Theological Society and the Near East Archaeological Society taking place in November in Denver, Colorado. These gatherings are important times of fellowship with iron-sharpening-iron conversations, and we want the Lord to empower our staff to make an impact while we are there.

As I share these exciting developments I am aware the I am just scratching the surface! Our passion is to do original fieldwork and research that puts on display God’s amazing acts in history, and that affirms that His Word is true and trustworthy from the first word in Genesis to the last word in Revelation. And we are thrilled that you are a partner with us in this noble and important adventure, as together we seek to point all to the greatness of God, to His love, and to the salvation He has provided in Jesus Christ His Son. Thank you for praying for us as we continue this important work.

As I conclude this review of ABR’s ministries, I want you to be aware that June 30th is the end of our fiscal year and we again will need your help to finish the year well, with full provision to meet our ministry needs. Our goal is to raise $80,000. We will need gifts large and small from the entire ABR family. Please consider the most generous gift you can give at this time, and we will be most grateful. As always, I would remind you that ABR shows extraordinarily care in the use of every gift that is entrusted to us. Thanks again for your support and help to meet this important year-end goal.

I am grateful for you and I appreciate the privilege of sharing this important update and appeal with you. As always, I am available if you have any questions or concerns about the ABR ministry, or if we can be of service to you.

For the Gospel,

Scott Lanser
ABR Director

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But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son

A friend at church recently told me that he would like to go with me to Israel, but he and his wife had been there in 2010, and thanks to a great tour guide, had seen everything. I chuckled to his face, but laughed hysterically once I reached the social safety of my Toyota Yaris. Long ago I lost count of how many times I have been in Israel and Jordan, yet on each new trip I manage to see many new sites.

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ABRT 28 | 8/1/2019