Aaron M. Gale is an associate professor of religious studies at West Virginia University as well as the director of WVU’s Program for Religious Studies. He earned his doctorate from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois in 2001. Dr. Gale’s research has centered upon the Jewish roots of early Christianity, specifically as it relates to the community associated with Matthew’s Gospel. This research has resulted in various publications including the book Redefining Ancient Borders: The Jewish Scribal Framework of Matthew’s Gospel (T&T Clark). He is a fellow at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Center for Biblical Archaeology and is an area supervisor at the Bethsaida Excavations Project in Israel, where he mentors university student volunteers each summer.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XVI, November 22 - 24, 2013
Did the Devil Really Make Me Do it? The Evolution of Evil in the Bible
It has long been theorized that the Biblical authors borrowed from other ancient traditions as they recorded the various Old and New Testament texts. Early examples of this syncretism include the Mesopotamian tales of the Epic of Gilgamesh and Enuma Elish. In conjunction with this presupposition is the idea that the origins of evil also evolved as Judaism was exposed to the ideas of other cultures such as the Persians, Greeks, and Romans. Yet how did this progression of thought actually occur within the Biblical texts? Utilizing Biblical and archaeological evidence we will examine how the forces of evil worked their way into the Bible. Some questions that may be considered include, “Why didnít Moses encounter the Devil, while Jesus (who some say represents the “new” Moses) did?” “Where did demons come from?” “How did a shift in the Biblical understanding of evil necessitate an ethical and spiritual change among the various Biblical cultures?” Ultimately, we hope to shed light on how evil evolved from a vague concept in much of the Old Testament to a complex framework of ideas that became linked to ethical and theological principles by the time the New Testament is completed.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XV, November 16-18, 2012
Matthew’s World, or Archaeology and the First Gospel: Who Was the Matthean Community?
Recent archaeological discoveries in Galilee can shed much light on the nature of early Jewish Christianity, specifically as it relates to Matthew’s Gospel. In fact, archaeology is often under-utilized and in some cases ignored as a valid tool alongside scholars’ textual analyses of the Gospels, particularly as it relates to historical and socio-economic reconstructions of the various communities associated with these biblical texts. Using Matthew’s Gospel as a test case (and presuming that the text was written from Galilee), this presentation will fuse textual and historical methods with relevant archaeological evidence in order to try and produce a clearer picture of this Gospel community. This presentation will focus on two aspects of Matthean studies: the community’s economic status and religious inclination. I contend that the archaeological evidence, when coupled with a textual examination, will prove that the Matthean community was wealthy and remained a conservative Jewish Christian group that still adhered to the Torah laws. Hence, this study will show that archaeology remains a vital partner in the relationship between scholar and text.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XIV, November 18-20, 2011
Studying Stones and Scripture: Archaeology, Judaism, and Christian Origins
The study of world religions continues to fascinate both student and scholar alike. In fact, there are many different methodologies (historical, phenomenological, sociological, etc.) that may be utilized in the exploration of world cultures and traditions. These methodologies have become especially important in the realm of biblical studies, which can help to shed light on the complex evolutions of both Judaism and Christianity. In fact, Judaism’s link to early Christianity is undeniable, and archaeology has played an important role in unlocking some of the mysteries involved in the study of these traditions. Therefore, this presentation will provide some examples of how archaeology has impacted and/or altered our understanding of the histories and relationships that exist among the two great faiths of Judaism and Christianity.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XIII, November 19-21, 2010
Reconstructing Ancient Borders: Archaeology and Contemporary Gospel Scholarship
Recent archaeological discoveries in Galilee can shed much light on the nature of the early Jewish Christian communities found in the Gospels. In fact, archaeology is often under-utilized and in some cases ignored as a valid tool alongside scholars’ literary and textual analyses of the Gospels. Using Matthew’s Gospel as a test case (and presuming that the text was written from Galilee), this lecture will examine archaeological, literary and historical evidence in order to produce a clearer picture of this Gospel community. In focusing specifically on the community’s economic status and religious practices, this presentation will demonstrate that archaeology remains a vital partner in the relationship between scholar and Biblical text.