Tuesday, March 30, 2004

PRELIMINARY EXCAVATION REPORT and call for volunteers for the 2004 season (Bible and Interpretation):
Excavations at Abila of the Decapolis, Northern Jordan

By W. Harold Mare, Ph.D.
Director, Abila Excavations
Professor, Covenant Theological Seminary
St. Louis, Missouri
March 2004

��� Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis (Mark 7:31).

�� Though the existence and significance of the Decapolis region is well attested, the nature of this group of cities is largely unknown. Was it some kind of a confederation tied together by political, military, economic, social, and religious bonds or some combination thereof? Certainty on this is not possible. What we do know for sure is that by the time of the Roman conquest in 64/63 B.C. the Decapolis cities constituted a distinct unity as far as their geographical area was concerned. And by New Testament times this region seems to have been flourishing, as evidenced by the references to the group (but not to individual cities within the group) in the Gospels (that is, specifically Matthew 4:25, Mark 5:20, and Mark 7:31)

History Waiting to be Uncovered

��� In the light of the literary and archaeological history of Abila and the other cities of the Decapolis region�a history that covers the pre-Old Testament, Old Testament, New Testament, Early Church, and Islamic periods�continued excavation in this region is essential for a fuller understanding of these cities and the roles they played in each of these periods.

��� We invite anyone with an interest in such an endeavor to join us for our Abila 2004 Excavation, set for June 19-August 7. Professors at colleges, universities, and seminaries, and other professionals with expertise in excavation, geology, anthropology, architecture, mosaics, etc.; student volunteers, both graduate and undergraduate; and interested, dedicated lay people from all walks of life have a wonderful opportunity to work side by side with such renowned scholars as Dr. David Chapman, Covenant Seminary; Dr. Jack Lee, St. John Fisher College; Dr. Reuben Bullard, University of Cincinnati; Dr. Robert Smith, Roanoke Bible College; Dr. Susan Ellis, Wayne State College; and many others in helping to uncover more of the fascinating history of this important Bible lands city.

Full details and contact information are given in the essay.

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