I first knew Dr. Gabriel Barkay as my archaeology professor when I was studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2005-2006. He has been close friends with my mentor, Dr. Jim Martin, for 30 years, and I am thrilled to have this additional connection to such a legend and intend to take as much advantage of it as possible.
When I consider the greatest minds of this era to engage the Biblical text - especially from the angle of archaeology - few hold a candle to Dr. Gabriel Barkay. The man knows everything; and I mean EVERYTHING! He's read, or written, the article; he's seen, or been the one to find, the artifact; and he knows the verse. The man is a living legend when it comes to the archaeology of Jerusalem, both in terms of its history and its archaeologists, past and present. He was the 1996 winner of the Jerusalem Prize for Archaeological Research and has participated in numerous digs over the past 35 years. One of his most famous digs includes the tombs in Jerusalem where he found two silver amulets dating to 600 B.C. which contained the oldest Biblical inscriptions that have been found.
Some of you may have heard about him through the magazine Biblical Archaeological Review or even seen him on TV, as he is a semi-regular on "Naked Archaeologist" and has appeared on other Discovery/History channel style shows over the years. If ever you have the opportunity to hear him speak, do so. His stories and humor, along with the twinkle in his eye, bring history to life. (Spoiler Alert: I'm working to schedule him to speak in Abilene and/or ACU in the fall when he is in the States on a speaking tour.)
At dinner tonight I got to ask him nagging questions like what he thought of the other "temples" being uncovered, and how many toilet seats have been found in the Ancient Near East. You know, the really important archaeological questions that keep us up at night. At any rate, we had a great evening, and I was especially honored that he remembered me, even after thousands of students have now crossed his path since I took one of my first classes with him at Hebrew U.
We had a great evening, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to be here in the land of the Bible, walking in the very footsteps of my heroes and my G-D.