Pre-Season Interview with Thomas Römer

Why Kiriath-Jearim? thomas

KJ is a fascinating site for several reasons. It plays a quite important role in the so-called Ark narrative in the books of Samuel, and appears also in other biblical texts. And it is also a site which has not been excavated until today. This is probably due to the fact that the place is occupied by a monastery. Judging by the biblical documentation the place was probably a quite important (religious) center.

From your point of view, what is the benefit of working on a project, such as Kiriath-Jearim, that joins between textual and archaeological scholars? Do you believe each of your expectations are different? how do you combine your hopes of this project among each other?

I am more and more convinced that archaeology and biblical studies should work together, not as in the past where “biblical archaeology” was often used to prove the historicity of the biblical narratives. The collaboration which will allow us new insight would consists in the facts that both sides take real interest in the results of the other side, even if those results challenge the hypothesis of the one or other side. I don’t think that we have different expectations. We all want to better understand the history and the importance of the site which can then help to give a better understanding of the biblical texts. Since I know Israel Finkelstein very well and highly appreciate his work I am sure that there will be an excellent collaboration.

How is this project different than other projects you have worked on?

I have worked together with Israel on several projects (Patriarchal narratives, Northern tradition in the book of Numbers), but these collaborations were more on the “literary” level. This is the first time for me that the collaboration will be “materialized” in situ.

Have you already had encounters with “on-site” biblical scholarship?

I had encounters only by the way of visiting sites and discussing with the teams working there. This is my first direct participation. It’s about time before I get too old.

 

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