Hershel Shanks, Founder of Biblical Archaeology Review, Dies at 90

John Paluska | ChristianHeadlines.com Contributor | Tuesday, February 9, 2021
A coffin, Hershel Shanks passes away

Hershel Shanks, Founder of Biblical Archaeology Review, Dies at 90


Hershel Shanks, the founder of Biblical Archaeology Review, a game-changing research magazine that has reported on many of the major Biblical archaeology finds in recent years, passed away on Friday. He was 90 years old.

According to Christianity Today, Shanks started the journal at a time when no such established and respected publication existed, despite having no degree in archaeology, Biblical studies, or the ancient Near East.

However, according to Eric Cline, professor of classical and ancient Near Eastern Studies at George Washington University, Shanks had "a journalist's eye" for "spotting hidden nuggets within the world of arcane academic scholarship."

Shanks reportedly used the publication to get scholars to study and publish the archaeological evidence that supports the Bible's truthful narrative, according to archaeology professor William G. Dever of Lycoming College in Pennsylvania, who wrote a piece about him in an obituary issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

"One could point to Hershel’s use of the growing BAR platform to promote various causes, such as the need to publish the Dead Sea Scrolls. His tactic was always to overdramatize the topic and try to marshal public attention to pressure scholars (which usually worked). Then he would turn to a new, perhaps even more sensational issue."

But according to Amy-Jill Levine, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School and College of Arts and Sciences in Nashville, Tennessee, Shanks was also an archaeological evangelist who sought to correct erroneous beliefs about Jewish life.

"Hershel Shanks has introduced the New Testament to Jews and corrected the numerous, erroneous anti-Jewish teachings that come from uninformed biblical study. He has done more than entertain and educate; he has provided the opportunity for Jews and Christians both to recognize our common history and to work against bearing false witness against each other."

According to Biblical Archaeology Review, the magazine is the best-selling and most-read biblical archaeology magazine and is "enjoyed by millions."

Though Hershel retired in 2017, the magazine is still published.

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John Paluska has been a contributor for Christian Headlines since 2016 and is the founder of The Daily Fodder, a news outlet he relaunched in 2019 as a response to the constant distribution of fake news.