Ancient Israel Has Come to Katy, Texas: Real Places, Real People, Real Things

Israel has long been a destination for tourists and Bible enthusiasts. When a worldwide health crisis arose in March 2020, travel to the Land of the Bible halted. This left tourists unable to experience the history and culture that was waiting for them half a world away. The Bible Seminary (TBS) in Katy did not want Houstonians to miss out on all that Israel has to offer, which resulted in the next best thing. TBS decided to bring Israel – and the Bible – to west Houston.

Joshua, Judges and Jesus – A Walk Through Biblical History (3J) – features 170 artifacts from the Holy Land dating back 3,500 years. 3J has been touring the United States for the past eight years and will reside at The Bible Seminary for the remainder of the 2022 calendar year. This exhibit welcomed over 26,000 guests at The Museum of the Albemarle (in partnership with Mid-Atlantic Christian University) in Elizabeth City, North Carolina in 2021 alone.

Visitors will experience items from all facets of ancient daily life – ranging from cooking pots to crucifixion and burial objects. Guests even can handle sling stones used as weaponry in hunting and war, see items like ancient oil lamps and coins that are spoken about in ancient literature, including the Bible, and hear the stories behind the items on display by one of the resident archaeologists or archaeology students. Anyone of any religion, race, culture, or creed who is intrigued with history will find this exhibit and these artifacts fascinating. They have been labeled as a “must see” by a flood of guests since March 1. One of the exciting items on display is an Amenhotep II scarab, which was declared Biblical Archeology’s #1 find in Israel in 2013 because of the impact it had in establishing the time frame of the associated pottery from the period of the conquest. Clayton van Huss, student at TBS and Museum Assistant Director, says that this scarab is his favorite piece in the museum because it is a physical item from history that illuminates a character from a biblical account in a way that we don’t often think about.

From a biblical standpoint, archaeologists have been able to determine that the objects align with biblical passages. The synchronisms to the times of Joshua, Judges, and Jesus reinforce the historical reliability of the text. Museum Co-Director and archaeologist Jordan McClinton explains, “When we can see and understand the context of the Bible through archaeology and the material culture, it absolutely brings the biblical narrative to life.”

Guests of the museum have marveled that these items are here in Katy, Texas and available for anyone to experience at no cost. 3J hosts artifacts of great value. Each item further illuminates the way modern Bible-readers understand Scripture.

Patrons will experience thousands of years of history, most of which was excavated by TBS Provost and Museum Director Dr. Scott Stripling along with his excavation team, which includes TBS students enrolled in the Master of Arts in Biblical History and Archaeology program. Dr. Stripling has served as Director of Excavations for the Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) at Khirbet el-Maqatir (biblical Ai and Ephraim) and currently at Shiloh, Israel’s first capitol.

According to Stripling, “Having these artifacts on display is like having my grandchildren staying with me for the year. I feel like a proud patriarch.”

The Bible Seminary currently offers graduate and certificate programs to regional students, and national and international students via Distance Education. With options including a Dual Degree Completion program, nine masters degrees, Bible and Vocational Ministry Certificates, and auditing and asynchronous learning options, there is a place for anyone who seeks to grow their biblical knowledge and faith. As a seminary that strives to be “Rooted in the Word,” TBS is helping bring what has been hidden beneath the soil for several millennia to the surface, giving spectators the chance to connect Biblical text to historical artifacts.

The Bible Seminary is offering this exhibit and tours to the public at no charge. Merchandise is available online or at the museum and includes shirts, stickers, and a much-anticipated museum guidebook 3J is open most weekdays from 10:00 AM through 3:00 PM. Online registration, donations, and merchandise can be purchased by clicking “Museum – JJJ Exhibit” on The Bible Seminary’s website (www.thebibleseminary.edu).

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Allison Taylor

Allison Taylor serves as Marketing Director at The Bible Seminary in Katy, Texas where she is a graduate student enrolled in the Master of Divinity degree program. She is also an Owner/Agent with Taylor Insurance Company and former Resident Chef at Sur La Table.