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Level 7

7AATC232 The Bible & Archaeology


The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee this module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

Credit value: 20
Module tutor: Professor Joan Taylor
Assessment: one 5,000-word essay (85%) and one seminar presentation (15%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching pattern: one two-hour class weekly over 10 weeks.
Pre-requisites: none 

This module will consider the history of the study of so-called ‘Biblical archaeology’ and the main methodological issues involved. It will trace the history of this discipline, and then focus on the critical topics that have arisen over the past fifty years in terms of the relationship between the Bible and archaeological evidence. The module will be organised chronologically to consider initially how the archaeological discoveries throughout the Near East have impacted on understandings of the Genesis narratives, through to the dating of the Exodus, the discoveries of comparative law codes (for Mosaic Law), the ‘conquest’ of Canaan and features of the beginning of the Iron Age, dating and defining David and the ‘United Kingdom’ (maximalist and minimalist theories), Iron Age II and the Babylonian Conquest, the Persian and Hellenistic periods and later canonical and deutero-canonical/apocryphal literature; Jesus and the emerging church within Second Temple Judaism and the archaeology of first-century Judaea and Galilee; Jewish Diaspora (synagogues/community) and the earliest churches; the media and Biblical archaeology.

Students will be required to give a short seminar on a chosen topic during class time and be expected to prepare for each seminar by reading the Biblical texts relevant to the topics for each week.

[As an optional addition following on from this module, it is hoped that permission will be given by the Israel Antiquities Authority for a small Iron Age II site to be licensed to Professor Taylor and Israeli archaeologist Professor Shimon Gibson, allowing the opportunity for interested students to participate in a small-scale excavation in Israel (two weeks) as a separate follow-up to this module in the summer term. If this is not available then another excavation opportunity can be easily organised. This will be purely for interest only, for experience, and no credits are awarded for this]

Preliminary reading

  • Cline, Eric, Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction (2009)

Other suggested reading.

  • Richard A. Freund, Digging through the Bible (2009)
  • Jonathan Tubb and Rupert L. Chapman, Archaeology and the Bible (1990)
  • Roberta L. Harris, Exploring the World of Bible Lands (1995)

Further information

Module aims

See above

Learning outcomes

Generic skills

At the end of the module the student should be able to demonstrate intellectual and practical skills appropriate to a level 7 module and in particular they will be able to;


  • Demonstrate competence in understanding an important field of study in terms of Judaism and early Christianity;
  • they will be able to summarise and present arguments;
  • they will be able to research, plan and present Masters-level essays in this subject, and also be able to give presentations according to specific deadlines and defined topics;
  • the will gain advanced knowledge and be able to operate at a high level of critical thinking.

Module specific skills


  • Students will gain an understanding the critical methodologies in the study of the Bible and archaeology;
  • they will begin to gain an awareness of the science of archaeology and be able to evaluate arguments in this field;
  • they will be able to debate the issues of the relationship between the Bible and archaeological evidence;
  • students will gain a deeper knowledge of the historical periods of the Bible;
  • those with interests in the contemporary presentation of religious subjects in the media (RCW) will be able to explore facets of this topic with a deeper understanding of the issues.


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