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Pastor studies archaeology and shares findings to get a better handle on the context of the Bible

Pastor studies archaeology and shares findings to get a better handle on the context of the Bible

September 19, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

WILLIAMSPORT - When the Rev. Franke Zollman looks at the terra cotta oil lamp from Persia, circa 600 B.C., he imagines such a lamp lighting the home of the biblical prophet Daniel. He envisions biblical kings David and Solomon when he holds the nearly 3,000-year-old clay jug from Jordan.

The pastor at Williamsport Seventh Day Adventist Church considers the ancient oil lamps and hundreds of other artifacts that he's both purchased from antiquities dealers and excavated during archaeological digs in the Middle East as proof that the stories about the people in the Bible are true.

"You can't prove or disprove the Bible - it's a book of faith. ... But the (archaeological evidence) has helped to confirm for me that the Bible is historically accurate," said Zollman, 48, of Smithsburg. "Our interpretation of archaeological finds does not always confirm the biblical text. But when it doesn't, I question our interpretation of archaeology. If the Bible and archaeological evidence seems to contradict, I believe the Bible."


Zollman will host six hourlong multimedia presentations about archaeology and the Bible at Williamsport Seventh Day Adventist Church. The "Archaeology, the Ancient World, and the Bible" series starts at 7 p.m. today with "Amazing Discoveries in Lost Cities of the Dead."

Zollman - who holds a doctoral degree in ministry for which he wrote a dissertation focusing upon archaeology and the Bible - will present his material through more than 100 slides, PowerPoint presentations, artifacts and discussion about his archaeological work in Jordan, Egypt and Israel.

Zollman spent six weeks in the summer of 2002 as a square supervisor - overseeing excavation of a 5-meter-by-5-meter section of earth - at Tell U'mayri near Amman, Jordan. A tell is a hill-like mound that develops when cities are built upon the remnants of older cities. Tell U'mayri represents time periods ranging from about 3000 B.C. to the 1800s, Zollman said. He and his team moved 21 cubic meters of dirt - enough to fill about three dump trucks - and at least 3 meters of stone to uncover more than 4,000 pottery shards and other relics dating from about 800 B.C. to 300 B.C.

Zollman has created a small museum at the Williamsport church for artifacts dating from about 4000 B.C. to A.D. 1000. Visitors will see such treasures as flint arrowheads from Jericho, circa 4000 B.C., an ostrich shell water bottle from Jordan, circa 4000 B.C. to 3200 B.C., shell money from Sumeria, circa 3000 B.C., an alabaster dish from Egypt, circa 2133 B.C., a bronze dirk from Mesopotamia, circa 800 B.C., Coptic cloth from Egypt, circa A.D. 500 to A.D. 600, and a Roman iron key, circa A.D. 300.

Zollman said these and other ancient relics help put the Bible into historical context, giving today's viewers a glimpse into the world the Bible describes.

"Archaeology's full of stories. The objects we find are really only objects of ancient people," he said. "These objects can help us understand the people who lived during biblical times."

Zollman said he'll reveal his greatest archaeological find during "The Tale of the Toothbrush and the Trowel" presentation on Friday, Sept. 24. That presentation chronicles his dig at Tell U'mayri.

After each presentation, Zollman will send one program participant home with an ancient artifact - such as an oil lamp from the time of Christ.

If you go ...

"Amazing Discoveries in Lost Cities of the Dead"

7 p.m. today

Williamsport Seventh Day Adventist Church

16421 Lappans Road


Presentations include:

· "The Tale of the Toothbrush and the Trowel"

7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24

· "Mysterious Messages of the Ancients"

7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26

· "When Iraq Ruled the World"

7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1

· "Messiahs or Men?"

7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3

· "Human History Frozen in Fire"

7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8

All presentations last about one hour.

Call 301-223-8125 or 301-992-8582 for free tickets and more information. Child-care services are available. Related biblical archaeology programs for children ages 5 to 10 will be offered during each presentation.

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