Opportunity to Learn about Middle Eastern History this May Term

Archaeology and the Bible Taught by Chaplain Robbie Miller

Katie Baker, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. – May Term 2020 will have an increase in course options with the addition of the class Archeology and the Bible. The course was originally offered during the Interterm. 

The description of the course explains it will be “an exploration of the scientific field of archaeology as it relates to the religions, cultures and literature of ancient Israel and early Christianity.”

Before he retired, Robert McFadden, Professor of Religion and Philosophy, taught a course that covered similar material. The course will be taught by Bridgewater College Chaplain Robbie Miller, who has put his own spin on teaching the material. 

Miller has extensive experience with the material this course will cover. He stated he has “always had a keen interest in archaeology,” which combines with his knowledge of the Bible.   

Miller also has extensive experience with the locations of the archaeological sites in the Middle East that this course will explore, and stated, “I’ve had a lot of personal experience in the land that we will be studying in this course.” This experience comes from travelling to the Middle East a total of seven times. 

Miller decided to teach this course in part due to his personal interest in biblical archaeology, which was evident when he mentioned several conceptual topics from the class. He explained in the past archaeology was used to prove the Bible was historically accurate; however, today archaeology is used to understand how people lived. 

Miller expects Archaeology and the Bible to “shed light on biblical narratives.” He explained archaeology sometimes supports, says nothing, or challenges the Bible.

The course will be structured around the use of videos. The videos used are a method of allowing students to see and learn about the archaeological sites that are studied. Through the videos, students are able to experience countries such as Palestine, Israel and Jordan without leaving Bridgewater, Va. 

Archeology and the Bible also incorporates the use of lecture and a field trip. The field trip is to the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., which allows students to see artifacts and gain first hand experience. 

Miller’s hope is the course will be an “enlightening opportunity to get a better view on how ancient people lived.”

A major assignment for the class is for each student to research and then report on an archaeological site. This assignment was a favorite of junior Daniel Naff. Through this assignment Naff stated he was able to “question and evaluate and strengthen portions of my faith.”

Archaeology and the Bible is a three credit hour class. The course fulfills the FILA world cultures requirement. Miller hopes that the course will be offered alternate years. The course number is REL-312-01. 

For junior MaryBeth KIllian the course was an eye opener. Killian stated, “learning about specific artifacts and sites that are literally in the BIble make Christianity all the more real to me.” 

Killian’s recommendation for students considering to take the course is “if you want to gain a deeper understanding of Christianity, then this course is definitely the course to take.”