Master of Arts in Archaeology & Biblical History

The MA in Archaeology and Biblical History program is a 66-unit course of study that may be completed in as little as two-and-a-half (2.5) years, but is designed for 36 months of full time study (an average of 11 units per semester). The student must complete the course of study according to institutional policy regarding VIU units, transfer credits, and allowances for advanced standing based on a portfolio as applicable. The student will also have the option to write a scholarly master’s thesis (6 units) in lieu of three courses (6 units) as specified in the “Required Courses” grouping listed below.

The program takes an interdisciplinary approach emphasizing organic, cause-and-effect relationships between biblical and ancient Near Eastern history discernable from archaeological, anthropological, and comparative literary inquiry, with the purpose of developing competent, biblically-grounded archaeologists who are able to:

  • Perform and/or direct methodologically-sound archaeological research, exploration, and excavation in the field.
  • Demonstrate the historical reliability of biblical narratives via professional publication and media.
  • Contribute to a hermeneutical framework that seeks to comprehend biblical texts in the light of ancient Near Eastern contexts.

This is accomplished by coursework and program requirements completed through:

  • Authorized VIU campus locations (program offered at southern California and Albuquerque, NM, campus).
  • VIU distance learning.
  • Mandatory fieldwork performed at an authorized archaeological excavation.
  • Independent study courses (when appropriate).

Program Objectives

  • To investigate and demonstrate that ancient Near Eastern history and biblical history, properly understood, constitute the same reality.
  • To develop archaeological research and fieldwork skills to a significant level of competency.
  • To apply dialogical analysis in the interpretation and application of archaeological data vis-à-vis the Bible.
  • To articulate the value of archaeological data in defending the historical authenticity and accuracy of the Bible.
  • To interpret biblical narratives from ancient Near Eastern contexts, including material culture and literature.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the MA in Archaeology and Biblical History program requires applicants to:

  • Hold a Bachelors degree from an accredited institution, or its equivalent, in any subject.
  • Applicants should have the ability to handle graduate level work in the English language. For non-native English speakers, a TOEFL exam may be required.

Admission to the program as a non-degree ‘certificate’ student requires no previously earned degree, however, other standard admission requirements in the application for admission must be met.

Required Courses in Archaeology/History – 22 units

The following graduate courses in archaeology/history are completed by fulfilling the requirements set forth in a given course syllabus. Courses can be taken either through a residential classroom, distance learning, or arranged courses (independent studies) format, or by a combination of these approaches.

AR511 Near Eastern Archaeology: Background & Methods (2 units)

AR521 Archaeology & History of Ancient Egypt (2 units)

AR531 Archaeology & History of Ancient Mesopotamia (2 units)

AR562 Archaeology of the New Testament Period (2 units)

AR621 Archaeology & the Bible: Historical & Cultural Synchronisms (2 units)

AR641 Levantine Ceramic Typology (2 units)

AR671 Bronze Age & Biblical History (2 units)

AR672 Iron Age & Biblical History (2 units)

Select a total of 6 units from the following:

AR542 Archaeology & History of the Jerusalem Area (2 units)

AR552 Archaeology & History of the Jerusalem Temple (2 units)

AR661 Evolution of Warfare & Fortification Systems in the ANE (2 units)

AR670 Archaeological Video-Cinematography & Photography (2 units)

AR699 Thesis (6 units)

Required Courses in Historical Geography – 4 units

The following graduate courses in historical geography are completed by fulfilling the requirements set forth in a given course syllabus. Courses can be taken either through a residential classroom, distance learning, or arranged courses (independent studies) format, or by a combination of these approaches.

AR611 Historical Geography of Bible Lands (2 units)

AR631 Languages & Cultures of the Ancient Near East (2 units)

Required Fieldwork and Laboratory Courses – 7 units

The following courses are on-site, hands-on experience in Near Eastern archaeology at an excavation site approved by the MA program director. Generally held in Israel and/or Jordan, this field experience brings the student into direct contact with applied archaeological methods and techniques, and also includes the exploration and study of historical/biblical sites.

Fieldwork courses are part of the Major Requirement courses completed in conjunction with an approved archaeological excavation and field school, either for course credit or modular (assignment) credit. The student has multiple options for the completion of fieldwork requirements. A minimum of one field season (3-week minimum) at an approved excavation project in the Near East is a base requirement.

Additional study tours or related archaeological projects and/or activities can also be pursued. Generally, 1 unit is allowed for each week (5-day work week) of participation. For example, three weeks participating in fieldwork (excavation) would fulfill 3 units. Additional units can be given based on project rigor and related items such as associated research and writing. Select Bible Lands Expedition itineraries may also qualify under this course title.

In addition to this, opportunity for the student to gain valuable experience in an archaeological laboratory setting, performing a variety of tasks such as: cleaning and processing excavated pottery and objects; object and ceramic preservation and restoration; field, square, locus, and period sorting of diagnostic pottery sherds; comparative analysis of diagnostic ceramics; object and ceramic drawing; specialized photography; analysis of faunal and human remains; floatation and identification of cultigens and natural vegetation (seeds and pollens); preparation of organic samples for radiocarbon dating; and related analytical processes.

AR541 Excavation Practicum & Field School (3 units)

AR651 Archaeological Field Methods (2 units)

AR655 Archaeological Laboratory (2 units)

Required Courses in Old Testament – 6 units

OT505 Introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls (3 units)

OT515 Old Testament Survey (3 units)

Required Courses in New Testament – 6 units

NT510 Jesus and the Early Church: The Gospels and Acts (3 units)

NT520 Paul and the Early Church: The NT Letters and Revelation (3 units)

Required Courses in Biblical Languages – 12 units

BLH501 Biblical Hebrew I (3 units)

BLH502 Biblical Hebrew II (3 units)

BLG501 Biblical Greek I (3 units)

BLG502 Biblical Greek II (3 units)

Required Courses in Apologetics/Theology – 9 units

AP501 Introduction to Christian Apologetics (3 units)

TH520 Biblical Hermeneutics (3 units)

TH580 Historical Theology or Elective (3 units)

Required Course in Research Methods – P/F

RW499 Research Methods and Technology Skills

Comprehensive Examination

A comprehensive exam must be completed in order to determine the student’s proficiency in archaeology and biblical history, archaeological analysis, and the relevant literature. The comprehensive exam may be scheduled with the program director after all coursework and fieldwork have been completed. After the comprehensive exam is complete, the student may enroll in AR699 Thesis.

Time Limits

Students must complete all coursework, fieldwork, and comprehensive exams within 5 years of first registration into the program. Students will then have 2 years from completing the comprehensive exam to complete the dissertation and live defense (Viva Voce) along with subsequent revisions.

Masters Thesis Procedure/Guidelines – 6 units 

The student has the option to write a scholarly thesis in lieu of two courses (6 units) as specified from the “Required Courses” grouping. Under consultation with the Director and/or Assistant Director, the student will select an acceptable topic on which to research and write a master’s thesis. The thesis shall conform to SBL or Turabian format, with the text-proper being no less than 90 pages (not including bibliography, appendices, charts, tables, figures, etc.), and not exceeding 150 pages. Two VIU archaeology faculty members and one external reader shall constitute the student’s thesis committee. The topic must incorporate aspects of both archaeology and biblical history. (See the AR699 syllabus for details.)

 

MA in Archaeology and Biblical History Program Overview
Research Skills – Pass/Fail
RW499 Research Methods and Technology Skills – (P/F)
Archaeology/History – 22 units
AR511 Near Eastern Archaeology: Background & Methods (2 units)

AR521 Archaeology & History of Ancient Egypt (2 units)

AR531 Archaeology & History of Ancient Mesopotamia (2 units)

AR562 Archaeology of the New Testament Period (2 units)

AR621 Archaeology & the Bible: Historical & Cultural Synchronisms (2 units)

AR641 Levantine Ceramic Typology (2 units)

AR671 Bronze Age & Biblical History (2 units)

AR672 Iron Age & Biblical History (2 units)

Select 6 units from the following:
AR542 Archaeology & History of the Jerusalem Area (2 units)

AR552 Archaeology & History of the Jerusalem Temple (2 units)

AR661 Evolution of Warfare & Fortification Systems in the Ancient Near East (2 units)

AR670 Archaeological Video-Cinematography & Photography (2 units)

AR699 Thesis (6 units)

Historical Geography – 4 units
AR611 Historical Geography of Bible Lands (2 units)

AR631 Languages & Cultures of the Ancient Near East (2 units)

Fieldwork and Laboratory – 7 units
AR541 Excavation Practicum & Field School (3 units)

AR651 Archaeological Field Methods (2 units)

AR655 Archaeological Laboratory (2 units)

Biblical Studies, Languages, Apologetics, Theology – 33 units
Biblical Studies – 12 units

OT505 Introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls (3 units)

OT515 Old Testament Survey (3 units)

NT510 Jesus and the Early Church: The Gospels and Acts (3 units)

NT520 Paul and the Early Church: The NT Letters and Revelation (3 units)

 Biblical Languages – 12 units

BLH501 Biblical Hebrew I (3 units)

BLH502 Biblical Hebrew II (3 units)

BLG501 Biblical Greek I (3 units)

BLG502 Biblical Greek II (3 units)

 Apologetics/Theology – 9 units

 AP501 Introduction to Christian Apologetics (3 units)

TH520 Biblical Hermeneutics (3 units)

TH580 Historical Theology or Elective (3 units)

Comprehensive Exam – Pass/Fail
Complete and pass the written comprehensive examination prior to AR699 Thesis.
Total Semester Hours: 66