Biblical Archaeology Review 30:1, January/February 2004

Strata: Walter E. Rast, 1930-2003

A Senior Statesman of Archaeology

I write in loving memory of Walter E. Rast, who died on October 10, 2003, at the age of 73, after a heroic struggle with a debilitating illness. Walt had retired in 1996 from Valparaiso University, in Indiana, where he was a professor of archaeology, Bible and religion for 35 years.

Walt began as a Missouri Synod Lutheran clergyman, with two graduate degrees in theology, then went on for an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, as well as post-doctoral studies at Harvard with the noted Biblical archaeologist, G. Ernest Wright (who was also my mentor).

From 1963 to 1968 Walt was a staff member on the excavations at Ta’anach in the Jezreel Valley, under the tutelage of the gifted but mercurial Paul W. Lapp. After Lapp’s tragic death in 1970 at 39, Walt took upon himself major publication responsibilities. In 1978 he published Taanach I: Studies in the Iron Age Pottery—a volume that is now widely hailed as a fundamental study in the discussions of “early Israel.” It was years ahead of its time.

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