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How does one become a Biblical Archaeologist?

How does one become a Biblical Archaeologist? Do you follow a ministry track (B.A., M.Div., Ph.D.) or the secular equivalent? Which schools are the best?…

First of all, to do serious work in the field of archaeology, you must have a Ph.D. (doctor of philosophy) degree, which means many years of school. If you are serious about archaeology, then you should take a college preparatory program in high school, with as much Bible, language (French, German, Hebrew, Greek), and history as possible. If you're already out of high school, the same principle applies to undergraduate studies. These can take the form of either secular preparation or a ministry track.

The bottom line is to get the background required for admittance to graduate school. You should plan your undergraduate education with that in mind. If you can pursue the language study in an undergraduate program it may be possible to go to the Ph.D level more quickly. While you are working on your bachelors degree, you can be looking for a graduate school.

Christian schools with archaeology courses

Here are the Christian schools we know of that have a program in archaeology. Unfortunately, only one offers a Ph.D. in archaeology.

  • Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA (a Seventh Day Adventist school / conservative in their biblical views / Offers Masters Degree and Ph.D. in Archaeology and History of Antiquity / URL: www.andrews.edu / Email: enroll@andrews.edu / Phone: 1-800-253-2874 or 1-616-471-3353 / Mailing address: Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI 49104)

  • Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, USA (non-denominational) / URL: www.wheaton.edu / Email: Belinda.Knudson@wheaton.edu / Phone: 1-800-222-2419 or 630-752-5005 / Mailing address: 501 College Ave., Wheaton, IL 60187-5593)

  • The Master's College offers excavation opportunities as part of long-term (semester) course work in connection with their resident IBEX program at Yad HaShmonah. College students interested in the IBEX semester program should contact Master's College IBEX department for additional information regarding archaeological course offerings and semester dig opportunities while in residence at the IBEX campus. URL: www.masters.edu / Phone: 1-800-568-6248, Extension 278 / Fax: 1-805-254-1998 / Mailing address: Israel-Bible Extension Program (IBEX), 21726 Placerita Canyon Road, Santa Clarita, CA 91321-1200)

  • Northwestern College offers a course called “Biblical Archaeology” on-line (#HIS317, 4 credits). Dr. Charles Aling and Dr. Clyde Billington survey the methods and results of archaeology as applied to sites and topics of Old and New Testament significance. Special emphasis is placed upon interpretative and apologetic uses of archaeology. (URL: www.nwc.edu / E-mail: distance.ed.dpt@nwc.edu / Phone: 1-612-631-5494 or 1-800-308-5495 / Mailing address: The Center for Distance Education, Northwestern College, 3003 Snelling Avenue North, St. Paul, MN 55113-1598)

Secular schools

There are a number of secular universities that offer Ph.D. degrees in Near Eastern Studies, with a major in Palestinian archaeology, which is what you want if you are interested in Biblical archaeology. The problem with secular schools is that a lot of their teaching is negative toward the Bible, and you may find that discouraging. I would recommend a Christian school.

Secular colleges which have well-respected Ph.D. programs in Near Eastern archaeology include Bryn Mawr College, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Chicago. I think in England you may also find the University of Liverpool is an option.

You'd do best to visit the library and look at the college guides in the references section to compare your attainments with the requirements of the various programs.

I hope this information will be of help to you. If you have any more questions, feel free to write to us. ABR's dig opportunities in Israel are open to students, and you might find it beneficial to take part in one.

Author: Rick Lanser of Associates for Biblical Research. Edited and expanded by Paul S. Taylor, Christian Answers

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