James F. Strange
Dr. James F. Strange is Professor of Religious Studies and Distinguished University Professor at The University of South Florida. He has co-authored several books, most recently Excavations at Sepphoris, Vol. I: The University of South Florida Excavations 1983-1989. Studies in Judaism, Brill Reference Library of Judaism, 2006 (With T.R.W. Longstaff and D.E. Groh). Dr. Strange’s articles have appeared in a number of prestigious journals and many chapters hve appeared in published collections. He also sits on the editorial board of Biblical Archaeology Review. He has participated in field archaeology annually since 1969 and has directed the excavations at Sepphoris, Israel annually since 1983.
- ASOR/BAS Seminar on Biblical Archaeology, January 13 - 15, 2012
1. New Testament Archaeology—What We Know So Far
Recent TV productions about Jesus and Paul abound, and they grow more sophisticated with each presentation. This is because discoveries relating to the New Testament continue to capture our imaginations. Professor Strange will walk you through some recent discoveries that have raised the bar in terms of reconstructing the world of Jesus and Paul and other New Testament personalities and events. Recent discoveries in Nazareth, Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Magdala enlarge our view of daily life. Excavations of the earliest Christian sanctuaries in Syria, Capernaum, and the Megiddo prison give us a nuanced picture of early Christian worship. The realia of everyday life—namely pottery, glass, coins, stone vessels, and water installations—give us a visual image of Jewish home life. Never-ending discoveries of ritual baths and stone vessels set the scene for Jewish daily rituals and observances. Finds at the places of the Gospels continue to confound our expectation in Jerusalem, including the latest on Golgotha and the Temple Mount. We even know more about ancient foods and recipes than we once thought possible.
2. Jerusalem as Jesus Knew It—A Few Recent Discoveries
Jerusalem has become such an idyllic city that it is hard to imagine an east Mediterranean city with wide streets, stone towers, crowds of people, braying of donkeys, and the smells of cooking. Professor Strange will walk you through Jerusalem as Jesus knew it via recent and provocative reconstructions, locating its walls, the palace of Herod the Great and the Procurators, the Temple Mount, and the general layout of the city. We will compare the Siloam Pool and the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. We will examine first century houses in Jerusalem in the Jewish Quarter. Prof. Strange will show you how scholars have produced a more rounded picture of the High Priest Caiaphas from the discovery of the Caiaphas family tomb. We will also examine the family tomb of Annas, who served as high priest with Caiaphas. What do the differences between these two high priestly tombs tell us about the two families? We compare the linen shroud of Turin and the wool shroud of Jerusalem. We can consider the recent reconstruction of the Tomb of Jesus by Shimon Gibson at the Holy Sepulcher.
3. Galilee as Jesus Knew It—Two Cities Herod Antipas Built: Sepphoris and Tiberias
The green hills of Galilee, the northern mountain cloaked in forests, and the blue Lake were certainly picturesque. They excite our awe when green with grass and yellow with crops. But two cities built by Herod Antipas dominated the landscape. These were Sepphoris and Tiberias, one built of black stone and the other of white stone. Continual excavation in these two cities is transforming our understanding of the setting of Jesus’ ministry from heady discoveries of architecture, streets, houses, anchorages, fortresses, and roads. We also form a more nuanced picture of Herod Antipas from these two cities and from his coins. Sepphoris and Tiberias have their contrasts with other places such as Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Nazareth. Tiberias was on the Lake, and the fishing boat, the lake’s anchorages, quays, and harbors—and even discoveries of net weights—open our eyes to the Galilee of Jesus and the subsequent periods with the rise of rabbinic Judaism and second century Jewish mysticism.