Biblical Archaeology Forum


The Biblical Archaeology Forum (BAF) begins its thirty-second year in September with Maryland University professor Kenneth Holum looking back on his own three decades excavating King Herod’s monumental building at Caesarea and highlighting recent discoveries.

Please join us for a series of eight scholarly lectures on the latest archaeological research findings and related fields such as history, art and texts of ancient times. Reservations are not required. Fees per lecture are: free – high school students; $5 – Residents of CES Life Communities, college students and co-sponsors; $8 – BASONOVA & Bender JCC members, and; $10 – the general public. For more information, please contact

Click here to subscribe to the BAF 2016-2017 lecture season.

2016-2017 SEASON

deadsea_scrollsWhat the Dead Sea Scrolls Teach Us About The Bible

Sunday, April 30, 2017 • 7:30 PM • B’nai Israel Congregation

Sidnie White Crawford | University of Nebraska at Lincoln

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has dramatically increased our knowledge of the history of the text of the Hebrew Bible and the formation of the Jewish canon.  This lecture will explore what the Dead Sea Scrolls reveal about the text of the Bible.  How did the books of the Bible reach the form they now have?  How did scribes copy and pass down their inherited traditions in the Second Temple period?

The lecture will also consider the process of “canon formation” in the Second Temple period.  What biblical books were considered authoritative for all Jews?  Why did different Jewish groups have conflicting lists of authoritative books?  How did we get the present canon of Jewish Scripture?

Lavishly illustrated, this lecture will bring alive a little-known period of Jewish history through the lens of these transformative historical documents. Click here for the event page.

opheltes-nemeaLife and Death at Nemea: Greek Hero Opheltes and the Origin of the Nemean Games

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 • 8:00 PM • Bender JCC

Jorge Bravo | University of Maryland

The Sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea was host to one of the great athletic festivals of ancient Greece, the Nemean Games, on par with the ancient Olympics. The Games spanned more than three hundred years, beginning early in the sixth century BCE. The ancient Greeks connected the origin of the Games with the myth of the hero Opheltes, a baby whose sudden death created a ritual obligation to honor the child with funerary rites and games.

This illustrated lecture will show archaeological evidence from the Shrine of Opheltes at Nemea, combined with literary and artistic testimony, to shed light on how the bond between the Games and the child hero was celebrated throughout antiquity with ritual observances such as sacrifice and libations. Click here for the event page.