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Archaeological Discovery in Turkey Opens New Possibilities for Knoxville Bible Studies

World-Renowned Biblical Scholar, Dr. Ben Witherington, Explores the Implications

central-baptistThe Roy & Joyce Cope Wyatt Lecture Series Featuring Dr. Ben Witherington
Central Baptist Bearden
April 27-28-29 at 7 pm each evening

Last year the Roy & Joyce Cope Wyatt Lecture Series was established at Central Baptist Bearden. The purpose is to bring world-renowned Biblical scholars to East Tennessee to hold a lecture series for people who want to grow deeper in Biblical understanding.

“The subject matter is sometimes challenging but always thought-provoking,” explains Dr. Wade Bibb, senior pastor of Central Baptist Bearden. “These Biblical scholars study all around the world, and it’s rare that we have the opportunity to be part of such high caliber teaching.”

New Testament scholar, Dr. Ben Witherington, teaches this year’s lectures, and this is how he summarizes the content of his three-day series:

In 1993, archaeologist Klaus Schmidt and his team were digging in Southeastern Turkey when they found the oldest temple in the world – a Göbeckli Tepe.  The site dates between 8,000-10,000 B.C., making it the oldest religious site on earth.  It is a religion specific site, as there is no sign of human habitation there at all.  To date, only three of the stone circles have been unearthed, with startling results.  The stone columns have images of ancient animals (presumably for sacrifice) and priests carved in them.  
Why is this of importance to Biblical Studies in East Tennessee, you may ask?   The dominant theory of anthropologists and sociologists when it comes to religion is that civilization came first, and then religion as a palliative, as a way of keeping people in harmony with each other and the gods.  In fact, they suggest that humans were first hunter gatherers, then when they began to cultivate agriculture, they necessarily became sedentary, and religion followed as an add for reasons just described. 

This theory has now been proven quite wrong. As far back as we can trace human life, there is evidence that humans have been profoundly religious, expending huge amounts of energy and time to build religious sites, where one would find priests, temples, and sacrifices.  

Bear in mind that Göbeckli Tepe predates: 1) the Pyramids by thousands of years, 2) Stonehenge and similar standing stone circles by even more thousands of years, 3) the great floods in the ANE recorded in both the Old Testament and in the document entitled Babylonian Genesis.  Also, if we ask where exactly Göbeckli Tepe is, the answer is in the fertile crescent between the Tigris and the Euphrates, two of the rivers mentioned as flowing from the Garden of Eden.   Also of note is the fact that Göbeckli Tepe is very close to Mt. Ararat and the whole Ararat mountain range.

Join us for this three-day lecture series, where we will examine this remarkable archaeological discovery and discuss its possible implications for Biblical studies.  We will be arguing that human beings have always been inherently religious; profoundly religious as far back as we can trace human existence.  If we ask why, the second lecture will address this question – talking about what it means to say “we are created in the image of God.” The third lecture focuses on “a singular Jesus in a pluralistic world.”

Each lecture begins at 7 pm in the Sanctuary of Central Baptist Bearden and is presented as a free gift to the Knoxville community.

– Dr. Ben Witherington

More About Dr. Ben Witherington
Bible scholar, Ben Witherington, is Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. A graduate of UNC, Chapel Hill, he went on to receive the M.Div. degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from the University of Durham in England. He is now considered one of the top evangelical scholars in the world and is an elected member of the prestigious SNTS, a society dedicated to New Testament studies.

Witherington has also taught at Ashland Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University, Duke Divinity School, and Gordon-Conwell. A popular lecturer, Witherington has presented seminars for churches, colleges, and biblical meetings not only in the United States, but also in England, Estonia, Russia, Europe, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Australia. He has also led tours to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt.

Witherington has written more than 40 books, including “The Jesus Quest” and “The Paul Quest,” both of which were selected as top biblical studies works by Christianity Today. He also writes for many church and scholarly publications and is a frequent contributor to the Pathos website.

Along with many interviews on radio networks across the country, Witherington has been seen on the History Channel, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, The Discovery Channel, A&E, and the PAX Network.

Central Baptist Bearden
6300 Deane Hill Drive at Kingston Pike
Knoxville, TN 37919

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