Biblical Archaeology Forum


The Biblical Archaeology Forum (BAF) begins its thirty-third year in September with George Washington University professor Christopher Rollston tracing  and comparing the incipient beliefs in Heaven and Hell during late Second Temple times and the early Christian era.

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

Subscriptions for the BAF 2017-2018 lecture season coming soon.

2017-2018 SEASON


The Ancient Synagogue at Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee

Sunday, March 25, 2018 | 7:30 PM | B’Nai Israel

Jodi Magness | Professor of Early Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


In Israel’s Galilee lies the ancient village of Huqoq, mentioned in Joshua and 1 Chronicles as land allotted to the tribe of Asher and notable as the location of the Tomb of the Prophet Habakkuk.

Since 2011, Huqoq has gained fame for the excavations directed by Professor Jodi Magness. These excavations have brought to light the remains of a monumental Late Roman period (400s CE) synagogue building that is replete with stunning and unique mosaics, including depictions of the biblical hero Samson, Noah’s Ark, the parting of the Red Sea, and the first non-biblical story ever discovered decorating an ancient synagogue.

In this richly illustrated lecture, Professor Magness will describe these exciting finds, plus the discoveries made during the summer of 2017. For more information visit: Click here for the event page.

Ancient Venues for Sport and Spectacles

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 | 8:00 PM | Bender JCC

Lindley Vann | Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland

The Roman period was a time of unparalleled military power and territorial expansion that led to centuries of peace known as Pax Romana. During the height of the Empire, Roman citizens and the millions of subjugated races shared in some (not all) of the benefits of this time of wealth and prosperity. Some of the most obvious features in the archaeological record are the structures that were built as venues of public entertainment.

From the Colosseum, the Circus Maximus, the Odeion and Stadium of Domitian, the theater of Pompey, and the baths of Caracalla and Diocletian, to the thousands of smaller versions spread throughout the Roman world, from the borders of Scotland to those of Arabia, these magnificent structures witnessed gladiatorial combats, chariot races, traditional Greek theater, concert halls, arenas for Greek-style athletic events, and, most popular of all, the public baths. This richly illustrated lecture will investigate these activities and their architectural settings. Click here for the event page.

Cyrus the Great, King and Messiah

Tuesday, May 8, 2018 | 8:00 PM | Bender JCC Kreeger Auditorium

Reza S. Zarghamee | Author of Discovering Cyrus: The Persian Conqueror Astride the Ancient World

One of the renowned figures of antiquity, Cyrus II “the Great” famously appears in the Hebrew Bible* as the “Lord’s Anointed,” or Messiah, the instrument through which God ends the Babylonian Captivity and restores the Temple of Solomon.

This lecture by Reza Zarghamee follows the Persian king’s life and conquests, with a special emphasis on the relations that Cyrus and his successors had with their Israelite subjects. Specific topics will include the authenticity of Cyrus’ decree authorizing the Exiles’ return to Judah and theological developments during the Persian period. Click here for the event page.

[*Cyrus is directly cited in the Bible more than twenty times: in 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Isaiah and Daniel, as well as in the writings of Josephus. – ed.]