A funeral Mass was celebrated Saturday, December 14, 2019, at St. Joseph’s Church in Boston for Fr. Philip J. King, renowned Old Testament scholar, who died December 7. He was 94.
Fr. King, who taught at St. John’s Seminary from 1958 to 1974, and then at Boston College from 1974 until his retirement in 2001, was a respected scholar of the Hebrew Bible and archaeology of the ancient Near East. King received his A.B. from St. John’s College (Boston) in 1945, was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Boston in 1949, earned his S.T.L. from Catholic University of America in 1954, S.S.L. from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1957, and, finally, S.T.D. from the Pontifical Lateran University in 1959.
In his scholarship, King adopted a historical-critical and contextual analysis of the Bible. And no subject allowed more opportunity to illumine the historical context of the Bible than archaeology.
King excavated at several sites, including Tell es-Sa‘idiyeh (1967) and Tell er-Rumeith (1967) in Jordan, Tell Ta’anach (1968) in the West Bank, Tel Gezer (1968–1969) and Tel el-Hesi (1970–1973) in Israel, and Wadi el-Jubah (1984) in Yemen. Later, he served in advisory roles for the excavations at Tel Miqne/Ekron and Ashkelon in Israel.
He published widely in these fields, including books illuminating prophecy from an archaeological perspective. Among his many publications, however, probably none produced as much satisfaction as the volume he co-authored with Larry Stager (late Dorot Professor of the Archaeology of Israel, Harvard University), titled Life in Biblical Israel (Westminster John Knox, 2001).