Syllabus – Field Tour Course

Course Syllabus: History, Geography, and Archaeology of Ancient Israel

Credits: 3 Hours

SWBTS/Scarborough classification: BIBST 3423 graduate; BIB1203 undergrad

Faculty and Staff: Tel Burna Excavation Project

Catalog Description :

This course will acquaint students with the history and geography of ancient Israel and early Judaism as it is known from biblical texts, ancient historical sources, early Jewish writings and archaeological finds and will expose students to the way history was written in the ancient world. This will be accomplished through reading and comparison of historical sources and several study tours throughout the land of ancient Israel.

Tel Arad aerial
Charles Warren’s Map of Jordan Region with Suggested Identifications

Course Objectives:

  • The student will recognize the physical elements of the land of Israel and the ancient Near East — the geography, topography, geology, climate, etc. — via slide, book and map study.
  • The student will read excerpts from the Old and New Testaments with an archaeological and geographical perspective.
  • The student will examine materials related to cultural and religious practices among the ancient Israelites and other ethnic cultures of the Ancient Near East.
  • The student will probe the interrelationship between geography, politics, economics, cultural mores, and religion in the development of the nation of Israel.
  • The student will become conversant in the historical, geographical, and cultural materials of the Old and New Testaments.


  • Students will have all reading assignments read before the lecture (the student will have to complete most of the readings before the start of the course).
  • Students will participate in four weekend study tours. Some tours to nearby sites and regions will also take place in the afternoon during the week.
  • The student should read all assigned materials prior to the lectures and be prepared to verbally interact during discussion. Slide and artifact illustrated lectures will supplement the field instruction.
  • The student is encouraged to read outside the required readings list.
  • Students will attend all lectures.


1. English Bible, recommendation – ESV Archaeological Study Bible (2018), which also includes all of the ESV Atlas Maps (hardcover recommended)

2. Greer, Jonathan S., John W. Hilber, and John H. Walton, eds. Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament: Cultural, Social, and Historical Contexts. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2018. (Kindle or e-Book version recommended)

3.  Brisco, Thomas V. Holman Bible Atlas: A Complete Guide to the Expansive Geography of Biblical History. B & H Publishing Group, 2014. (Kindle or e-Book version recommended)

Course Evaluation
Undergraduate students will be graded on participation in the fieldwork and the processing lab, and a final exam (each component is 1/3 of the total grade). Graduate students will also submit a research paper (each component is 1/4 of their total grade).

Field attendance and participation100 points
Lab: material culture processing100 points
Final Exam100 points
Research Paper (graduate)100 points

Research Paper
Each graduate student is required to produce a formal research paper (acc. to Turabian). Papers will be due by August 15th, 2019. The research paper should be approximately 12-20 pages in length, inclusive of bibliography. Topics may be chosen after consultation with the professor.