Biblical Archaeology Review 24:2, March/April 1998

First Person: Rx for ASOR

The archaeologists’ organization can be nursed back to health

By Hershel Shanks

ASOR (the American Schools of Oriental Research), now approaching its hundredth anniversary and still the most distinguished organization of American archaeologists working in the Near East, has a magnificent potential, despite the problems recounted in my review of the Annual Meeting. Whether it can realize this potential, however, remains a question. With deep divisions in its own membership, having broken with SBL (the Society of Biblical Literature) over the Annual Meeting, and suffering from a stringency of funding, ASOR must think anew and act anew.

My prescription:

1. ASOR must clearly acknowledge that it has at least two legitimate, but different, constituencies: those archaeologists whose principal focus is the Bible and those whose focus is pure archaeology. The latter couldn’t care less about the Bible. And that’s OK! But as to those whose principal focus is the Bible, that’s also OK. ASOR must recognize the legitimacy of both groups and seek to meet the needs of both.

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