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Biblical Archaeology

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Departmental Mission Statement

Program Requirements

Course Descriptions


Associate Dean, Professor David B. Capes

The discipline of Biblical Archaeology seeks to integrate both ancient material culture and epigraphic finds with study of the Bible in order to assist the student to better understand the Scriptures. It has long been recognized that archaeology is an indispensable tool for interpreting the Bible because it provides cultural, historical, social, religious, and linguistic information that sheds light on the context of biblical passages. The program emphasizes four areas: Archaeology, Biblical Geography, Biblical Languages, and Biblical Studies with a focus on Old Testament Archaeology and Near Eastern Studies. There is a required semester of study in Israel at Jerusalem University College (JUC) and six weeks of summer excavation for credit.

This program provides students with a solid basis for doctoral studies in Archaeology, Ancient History and Biblical Studies. Students are not required to write a thesis but may do so if granted permission by an advisor and the department. All students are required to pass a comprehensive exam unless the thesis option has been granted. Those who consider this program as a terminal degree will be well trained for teaching courses in Old Testament, Bible backgrounds, ancient history, and archaeology in church and school settings.

Admission is contingent upon current U.S. State Department travel advisories for the Middle East.

Admission to the program does not require a specific undergraduate major. Students must, however, demonstrate:

*       A basic knowledge of Bible content and historical periods of the Old Testament; and

*       Prerequisite competency in Hebrew. Competency is defined as passing a competency exam or taking HEBR 301, (or BL 610 at JUC), 302, and 401. These language prerequisites do not count toward the completion of degree but students may take the languages concurrently with the program.


Departmental Requirements:

The program begins with participation in a six-week excavation in Israel, ARCH 525, during the summer prior to the first semester. The first fall semester is taken in Israel at Jerusalem University College. The remaining work is completed at Wheaton.

The remaining 48 hours that are required for the program include: a) 10 hours at Jerusalem University College, including Physical Settings (GEO 511), HIST 535 (Old Testament track), and ARCH 500 (Old Testament Track); b) 8 hours of Old Testament and Theological Studies, including BITH 562, BITH 541 and BITH 565; c) 16 hours of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, including BITH 539, ARCH 526, ARCH 554, ARCH 521 and either ARCH 569 or ARCH 565; d) 8 hours of Semitic Languages including BITH 635 and either ARCH 515ARCH 516 or ARCH 518; e) 6 hours of elective credit, including HIST 535 (at Jerusalem University College), ARCH 345, GEOL 371, GEOL 322 or any approved BITH or ARCH course at the 500-level or higher.

Archaeology Courses (ARCH)

ARCH 515. Ugaritic Language and Literature. This course introduces students to the language, literature, and culture from the ancient city-state of Ugarit. It is designed to teach students essential morphology and syntax of the Ugaritic prose and poetic texts, to orientate students to the discipline of Ugaritology, and to facilitate a better understanding of the Old Testament through the study of its linguistic and cultural context. Prerequisite: HEBR 301 or permission of instructor.

ARCH 516x. Classical Hebrew Inscriptions. See ARCH 416.

ARCH 517. Egyptian Hieroglyphics. An introduction to Middle Egyptian which involves learning how to read and translate texts.

ARCH 518. Akkadian Cuneiform. An introduction to cuneiform which leads students through the techniques for transcription, transliteration, and translation of Assyrian or Babylonian literature. (2 or 4)

ARCH 521. Advanced Archaeology and the Old Testament. A study of ancient Near Eastern archaeological methods and materials and their relationship to the historical, social, and religious settings of the Old Testament, with special emphasis on Israelís early history and the monarchic periods.

ARCH 525. Archaeological Field Work. Field experience involving excavation, interpretation, and studies in Israel or the Mediterranean world. (6)

ARCH 526. Method and Theory. A basic examination of the field of archaeology and how the history of the field affects current practice. Graded pass/fail unless petitioned for a grade. (2)

ARCH 534x. Historical Geography. See BITH 334. (2)

ARCH 545. Archaeology of the Classical World. Excavations, monuments, epigraphic materials, and papyri from the Minoan, Mycenaean, Aegean, and Greco-Roman times. (2)

ARCH 552x. Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament. See BITH 552.

ARCH 554. Topics in Archaeology. Separate courses devoted to specialized topics in archaeology. (2 or 4)

ARCH 565. History of the Ancient Near East. See ARCH 365.

ARCH 569. Religion of Israel and the Ancient Near East. See ARCH 369.

ARCH 594. Seminar: Current Issues. A seminar devoted to exploring the current issues in Near Eastern archaeology that relate to biblical studies, especially those touching on historiography, historicity, social and cultural backgrounds, methodology, and faith. (2)

ARCH 695. Independent Study. (2-4)

ARCH 698. Thesis.

ARCH 699. Thesis Continuation. See M.A. Thesis/Applied Thesis/Action Research. (0)

Revision Date: June 1, 2017



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