Biblical Archaeology Review 44:2, March/April May/June 2018

First Person: Festschrift: A Celebration of Hershel Shanks

By Robert R. Cargill

Hershel Shanks founded the Biblical Archaeology Society in 1974, when I was one year old. He founded Biblical Archaeology Review the following year. Since that time, BAR has grown into the largest-circulating, best-selling, and most widely read Biblical archaeology magazine in the world. BAR has not only brought the latest and most important archaeological discoveries from the Holy Land to the public, but has also offered scholarly opinions and editorials on their relevance to the Bible, its composition, the people described in its pages, and the people who have venerated it as the Word of God throughout the ages.

Like all scholars, Hershel likes to ask questions. But unlike many scholars, Hershel has never shied away from controversy. That is not to say that he sought it out; sometimes the controversy found him. Still, as a graduate of Harvard Law School, Hershel was perhaps uniquely qualified to navigate the rough, convoluted, and often unforgiving terrain that is the intersecting fields of Near Eastern archaeology and Biblical scholarship. He asked tough questions, and if he didn’t like the answer, or if he felt that someone wasn’t being straight with him, he asked someone else. He welcomed dissenting opinions and often pitted them against one another so that his readers could witness the scholarly debates for themselves.

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