Dever, William G. 1933-

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DEVER, William G. 1933-

(William Gwinn Dever)

PERSONAL: Born November 27, 1933, in Louisville, KY; son of a preacher; married, 1953; wife's name Norma; children: Sean (deceased). Education: Milligan College, B.A. (cum laude), 1955; Christian Theological Seminary, B.D. (cum laude), 1959; Butler University, M.A. (summa cum laude), 1959; Harvard University, Ph.D., 1966.

ADDRESSES: Office—Department of Oriental Studies, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, Jerusalem, Israel, archaeological fellow, 1964–65, senior archaeological fellow, 1966–67, assistant professor and executive officer, 1967–68, director, 1968–71; University of Arizona, Tucson, assistant professor, 1967–75, from professor of Near Eastern Archaeology to professor emeritus, 1975–, head of the department of Oriental studies, 1978–81, head of department of Near Eastern studies, 1989–94. Hebrew Union College-Harvard Semitic Museum Excavations, Gezer, Israel, senior archeological fellow, 1966–71; Hebrew Union College Excavations, Khalit el-Ful, Hebron, West Bank, 1967–68 and 1971; Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, OH, visiting professor of Biblical archaeology, 1969–70; Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, IN, associate professor of archaeology, 1971–75; W. F. Albright Institute for Archaeological Research, Jerusalem, Israel, director, 1971–75, director of excavations at Shechem, West Bank, 1972–73, trustee, 1977–; Seabury Western Theological Seminary, Evanston, IL, Winslow lecturer, 1972; Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel, associate professor of archaeology, 1973–75, visiting professor of archaeology, 1981–82; Brandeis University, School for Overseas Students, Jerusalem, Israel, professor, 1981–82; University of Washington, Seattle, WA, Samuel and Althea Stroum Lecturer, 1985; University of MichiganAnn Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI, visiting professor, 1989; Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI, visiting professor, 1989; Archaeological Institute of America, Boston, MA, Norton Lecturer, 1990–91; Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheba, Israel, distinguished visiting scholar, 1998. American Schools of Oriental Research, trustee, 1976–82 and 1996–, vice president, 1982–88; W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, life trustee and patron of the Jerusalem School, 1989–; Archaeological Institute of America, member of executive committee, 1976–82, chair of publications committee, 1979–81, member of lecture tour committee, 1988–94, Norton Lecturer, 1990–91, member of Near Eastern committee, 1993 and 1999–, co-founder of Southern Arizona chapter, 1976, member of gold medal and foreign memberships committees, 1994–. Dever has also worked on other excavations in the West Bank and Israel, 1962—lecturer at symposiums in the United States, Israel, and Japan.

MEMBER: American Oriental Society, Israel Exploration Society, Society of Biblical Literature, Theta Phi, Phi Kappa Phi.

AWARDS, HONORS: Robert H. Pfeiffer traveling fellow of Harvard University, 1962, 1964–65; American Philosophical Society grant, 1966; Smithsonian Institute grant, 1966–71; University of Arizona Foundation grants, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1984, 1985–89; National Endowment for the Humanities grants, 1979, 1980, 1981–83, 1985–86, 1995; John Simon Guggenheim Memorial fellowship, 1981–82; National Geographic Society grants, 1983, 1984; Percia Schimmel Prize, Israel Museum, 1982; P. E. MacAllister Field Archeology Award, American Schools of Oriental Research, 1997; honorary doctorate, Hebrew Union College, 1997; Charles U. Harris Service Award, American Schools of Oriental Research, 2001.

WRITINGS:

(With H.D. Lance and G.E. Wright) Gezer I: Preliminary Report of the 1964–66 Seasons, Hebrew Union College (Jerusalem, Israel), 1970.

(Editor, with S. Paul) Biblical Archaeology, Keter Publishing House (Jerusalem, Israel), 1973.

Archaeology and Biblical Studies: Retrospects and Prospects, Seabury-Western (Evanston, IL), 1974.

(And editor, with R.G. Bullard, D.P. Cole, H.D. Lance, and J.D. Seger) Gezer II: Report of the 1967–71 Seasons in Fields I and II, Hebrew Union College (Jerusalem, Israel), 1974.

(Editor, with H.D. Lance) A Manual of Field Excavation: Handbook for Field Archaeologists, Hebrew Union College (Cincinnati, OH), 1978.

Gezer IV: The 1968–71 Seasons in Field IV, The "Acropolis," Hebrew Union College (Jerusalem, Israel), 1987.

(Editor, with S. Gitin) Recent Excavations in Israel: Studies in Iron Age Archeology, Eisenbrauns (Winona Lake, IN), 1989.

Recent Archaeological Discoveries and Biblical Research, University of Washington Press (Seattle, WA), 1990.

(Editor) A. Leonard, The Jordan Valley Survey, 1953: Some Unpublished Soundings Conducted by Hames Mellaart, American Schools of Oriental Research (Winona Lake, IN), 1992.

(Editor) Preliminary Excavation Reports: Sardis, Paphos, Caeserea, Maritima, Shiqmim, and Ain Ghazzal, American Schools of Oriental Research (Winona Lake, IN), 1994.

(With W.A. Ward) Studies in Scarab Seals, Volume Three: Scarab Typology and Archaeological Context: An Essay in Middle Bronze Chronology, Van Siclen (San Antonio, TX), 1994.

(Editor) Preliminary Excavation Reports: Sardis, Bir Umm Fawkhir, Tell el-Umeiri, the Combined Caesarea Expeditions, and Tell Dothan, American Schools of Oriental Research (Winona Lake, IN), 1995.

(Editor) Preliminary Excavation Reports: Sardis, Idalion, Tell Handaquq South, American Schools of Oriental Research (Winona Lake, IN), 1996.

Exodus, Eisenbrauns (Winona Lake, IN), 1997.

(Editor, with J.E. Wright) The Echoes of Many Texts: Reflections on Jewish and Christian Traditions: Essays in Honor of Lou H. Silberman, Scholars Press (Atlanta, GA), 1997.

Gezer: At the Crossroads of Ancient Israel, Israel Exploration Society (Jerusalem, Israel), 1998.

What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?: What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the Reality of Ancient Israel, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2001.

(Editor, with S. Richard) A Reader in the Archeology of Palestine, Eisenbrauns (Winona Lake, IN), 2001.

"For Those Who Sleep in the Dust": Essays on the Bronze and Iron Ages of Ancient Palestine, edited by L.E. Stager, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.

(Editor, with S. Gitin) Symbiosis, Symbolism and the Power of the Past: Canaan, Israel and Their Neighbors, American Schools of Oriental Research (Winona Lake, IN), 2001.

Who Were the Early Israelites, and Where Did They Come From?, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2003.

(Editor, with Seymour Gitin) Symbiosis, Symbolism, and the Power of the Past: Canaan, Ancient Israel, and Their Neighbors from the Late Bronze Age through Roman Palaestina, Eisenbrauns (Winona Lake, IN), 2003.

Did God Have a Wife?: Archeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2005.

Contributor to over seventy books and more than 150 dictionaries and encyclopedias. Also contributor to numerous professional journals, including the Israel Exploration Journal, Biblical Archaeologist, and the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. Editor, Annuals of the American Schools of Archaeological Research, 1989–97; editorial board member, American Journal of Archaeology 1989–96, Anchor Bible Dictionary 1992, Archaeology 1993–2000, Oxford Encyclopedia of Near Eastern Archeology, 1996, Journal for the Critical Study of Religion, 1998–, and Archaeological Odyssey, 1999–.

SIDELIGHTS: William G. Dever has been a prominent figure in the archeological study of ancient Israel since the 1970s. He has written widely for a scholarly audience for much of that time, but he has also turned his attention to creating books for general audiences. Dever's most widely known work is What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?: What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the Reality of Ancient Israel, in which he seeks to disprove "minimalist" critiques of Biblical history by showing how the available archaeological evidence, although limited, does mesh well with the Bible. With this book, Dever jumped into a highly political debate, a fact noted often in reviews. The book was released in the midst of the second Palestinian intifada, a time when the Israelis' historical claim to the land was contested not just by archaeologists but by scholars from many disciplines. Dever does not shy away from critiquing movements like postmodernism and deconstructionism, which seek to undermine the conclusions drawn from archaeological discoveries in the Middle East. Because of this, the word "polemical" has often been used to describe the book, with negative or positive connotations depending upon the political alignment of the reviewer. For example, Michael Coogan, writing in America, praised Dever's success at the challenging task of correlating the scarce and difficult-to-interpret archaeological evidence with the similarly problematic Biblical traditions, but called Dever's attacks on minimalists and postmodernists "superficial and intemperate." Library Journal reviewer Loren Rosson III called the book "highly polemical," since the assertions of those who Dever critiques are "based more on feelings for the modern Israeli-Palestinian question than on any concern for honest history."

Dever discussed his own feelings on these conflicts in an interview printed in the New York Times. "I try hard to keep any latent theological concerns out of my work," he said. "I started in a fundamentalist home. I went to a very conservative church school. But I went to a liberal theological school, at Harvard. And then I converted to Judaism. I'm not a theist…. I'm conservative in the proper sense: I want to preserve what we know about the past. But that's conservative with a lower-case c. I think all good historians are conservative…. I want to preserve a sane and sensible and balanced middle ground where people can stand."

In his book Who Were the Early Israelites, and Where Did They Come From? Dever delves into the history of Israelites as he discusses such issues as biblical accounts of the Israelites and the inability to reconcile these accounts with some known historical data. Nevertheless, the author states that the writers of the Bible knew much about Israelite history and supports this belief with archeological evidence. The author also recounts several theories concerning the Israelites' origins, which are traced to a group he calls the "proto-Israelites." During his discussion, the author provides new information on recent excavations in Israeli and how this and other data help demonstrate that the early Israelites possibly were Canaanites from Palestine.

Writing a review of Who Were the Early Israelites, and Where Did They Come From? in the Journal of the American Oriental Society, Niels Peter Lemche commented, "Dever's book is an easy introduction to a very complicated subject, and the author has succeeded in making the subject transparent and interesting, while at the same time only occasionally becoming technical." In a review in the Biblical Theology Bulletin, Ralph K. Hawkins asserted, "This work will certainly be an important new contribution to the study of Israelite origins." John Barclay Burns, also writing in the Biblical Theology Bulletin, further noted, "The book has many positive qualities. It offers the attentive reader an excellent survey of scholarship on Israelite origins, traditional and current; and it provides an analysis of the data by one of the most eminent archaeologists in the field." Burns concluded that the author "has written a compelling and sympathetic study that can only serve to advance the debate."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

America, July 2, 2001, Michael Coogan, "Excavating the Truth," p. 33.

Biblical Theology Bulletin, summer, 2002, John Barclay Burns, review of What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?: What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the Reality of Ancient Israel, p. 107; fall, 2003, Ralph K. Hawkins, review of Who Were the Early Israelites, and Where Did They Come From?, p. 118; spring, 2004, John Barclay Burns, review of Who Were the Early Israelites, and Where Did They Come From?, p. 46.

Christian Century, February 24, 2004, J. Maxwell Miller, review of Who Were the Early Israelites, and Where Did They Come From?, p. 42.

Currents in Theology and Mission, June, 2005, review of Who Were the Early Israelites, and Where Did They Come From?, p. 217.

Interpretation, July, 2002, Steven S. Tuell, review of What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?, p. 340.

Journal of Near Eastern Studies, April, 2000, Alexander H. Joffe, review of Preliminary Excavation Reports, p. 149.

Journal of the American Oriental Society, July-September, 2002, A.F. Rainey, review of What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?, p. 542; October-December, 2003, Niels Peter Lemche, review of Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?, p. 888.

Library Journal, May 1, 2001, Loren Rosson III, review of What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?, p. 91.

New York Times, August 4, 2001, "Balancing Biblical Faith and Archeological Facts," p. A17.

Publishers Weekly, March 26, 2001, review of What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?, p. 89.

Shofar, fall, 2002, Philie R. Davies, review of What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?, p. 158.

Theological Studies, June, 2005, Robert North, review of Who Were the Early Israelites, and Where Did They Come From?, p. 488.

ONLINE

AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (October 7, 2005), Michael JR Jose, review of What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?.

American Schools of Oriental Research Web site, http://www.asor.org/ (April 24, 2002).

Journal of Biblical Studies Online, http://journalofbiblicalstudies.org/ (April 24, 2002), Kris J. Udd, review of What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?

Shelby White-Leon Levy Program for Archeological Publications, http://www.fas.harvard.edu/ (April 24, 2002), "The 1998 Grantees."

University of Arizona Web site, http://www.arizona.edu/ (April 24, 2002), biographical information on author.

W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research Web site, http://www.aiar.org/ (April 24, 2002).

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Dever, William G. 1933-

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