Robert Murphy
Third-Year Ph.D. Student

Robert MurphyHow did you prepare for the Archeological Dig at Tel Dan trip?
I prepared mentally by taking the required archaeological intensive taught by Dr. Kristine Garroway, Associate Professor of Bible. I hardly possessed any knowledge of material culture and the methods involved in archaeology, so this class was extremely helpful in preparing me for the trip. I prepared physically by walking a lot, which my dog appreciated, and running and being out in the hot sun. I also received advice from other students and faculty who had been on the trip before and they were gracious enough to give me several packing lists. This was invaluable for helping me prepare for this long and intense trip.

What were some meaningful aspects of the trip for you?
Seeing biblical sites were surreal, even more so with professional archaeologists and historians as my tour guides. Having grown up all my life hearing and reading the stories of the Hebrew Bible, seeing the sites, and experiencing the topography changed how I imagine these stories, which will only aid me in my future teaching and academic career.

How did the trip connect to your Pines studies and research?
Since I study texts rather than material culture, most of the trip was out of my realm. Nevertheless, this trip exposed me to the material culture aspect of historical research.

What knowledge do you hope to/plan to apply from the trip to your studies this year?
Having had little experience in this field, I found that it provided yet another facet of historical inquiry for Judaism in the Greco–Roman period, the period of my specialization. Learning to work with both texts and material culture is now something I am obligated to grapple with because both can tell a story and sometimes quite a different one!

Please briefly tell us about your academic/professional journey to the Pines School.
I originally went to college for a Bible degree because I wanted to be a minister at a Christian congregation. I ended up loving the academic study of the Bible, especially reading the Bible in its original languages and understanding it in its original context. Although I still wanted to be a minister, I decided to continue my education by getting a Master’s Degree, where I became more intoxicated with the joys of academic study. One of my professors and my mentor throughout my undergraduate and graduate degrees is an alumnus of the Pines School (Dr. Justin Rogers ’12) and one of the schools he recommended was his alma mater. It ended up being a perfect fit for me as it had a course of study for my exact areas of interest – the Hebrew Bible and Judaism in the Greco-Roman period. I really appreciate the school funding this trip. It made an incalculable impact on me personally and as a professional.