By Brian Nixon, Special to ASSIST News Service
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (ANS – October 27, 2017) — According to Veritas Evangelical Seminary’s (VES) president, Dr. Joseph Holden, VES has recently been approved for four new accredited programs through the nationally (USDE) recognized TRACS agency. And one program is of particular interest: archeology. The four new programs are: BA in Christian Studies, an MA in Archaeology and Biblical History, a DMin in Apologetics, and a PhD in Archaeology and Biblical History.
Concerning the last degree program, Dr. Holden states, “We are the now the only evangelical institution in the country to offer a PhD in archaeology as a free-standing program. We are also now a principal consortium member of the Tall el-Hammam (Sodom) excavation for our students to fulfill their fieldwork requirements.”
With such marvelous news, I reached out to VES’s director of archeology — and head archeologist at the Tall el-Hammam site in Jordan — Dr. Steven Collins, to get his feedback concerning the announcement.
Dr. Collins, what does this announcement mean for evangelical students interested in archeology?
“It’s huge. There’s just one other accredited ‘evangelical’ doctoral program in archaeology — the excellent program offered through the School of Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth — but we’ve needed more options for the range of potential archaeology students out there. Dr. Steve Ortiz and his students work at Gezer in Israel, and we work at Tall el-Hammam in Jordan, so now there’s a much broader set of options for those seeking a PhD in archaeology. And we certainly need more archaeologists working from an evangelical perspective.”
Why is this announcement a unique honor for both Tall el-Hammam and VES?
“Doctoral students are expected to work their way up to supervisory positions on the dig, and this helps keep our professional staff numbers up. But it’s the opportunity to train a new generation of archaeologists from a Bible-respecting perspective that’s most exciting. Now VES will be a big part of this effort.”
Practically, what does this do for the Tall el-Hammam dig in Jordan?
“From my perspective as a dig director, it’ll be great to have more PhD students in the field to help gather and publish the data from such a big project like Tall el-Hammam. Doctoral dissertations are a great way to help this process along, and the students also benefit. It’s a win-win!”
What can students and faculty expect from the upcoming 2018 dig in Jordan?
“Each dig season is fantastic and holds its own surprises. This coming season—late January through early March—we’ll be back in Sodom’s Middle Bronze Age palace from the time of Abraham. The palace pottery is pretty fancy, and at some point we won’t be surprised if we excavate into an archive. Many of the palace walls are over five feet thick, so it was multi-storied, and served as the hub of the largest continuously-occupied Bronze Age city in the southern Levant. Can’t wait to get back!”
For more information on Veritas Evangelical Seminary, click here: http://www.ves.edu/
For more information on the excavation at Tall el-Hammam, please click here: http://www.tallelhammam.com/
Photo captions: 1) Dr. Joseph Holden. 2) Dr. Steven Collins. 3) Tall el-Hammam excavation. 4) Brian Nixon.
About the writer: Brian Nixon is a writer, musician, artist, and minister. He’s a graduate of California State University, Stanislaus (BA), Veritas Evangelical Seminary (MA), and is a Fellow at Oxford Graduate School (D.Phil.). To learn more, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Nixon
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