Seminary News

Bins of Bones Studied at GRTS

The hot political issues surrounding the city of Jerusalem greatly restrict archeological work, but Jonathon Greer, professor of Old Testament at the Grand Rapid’s Theological Seminary, has the privilege of working with ancient remains from a comparatively rich archeological site.

Animal bones from Tel Dan to be exact.

As a loan from the State of Israel and its home institution for the excavation in Israel, the Hebrew Union College, has allowed animal bones from this site to be researched by Greer and a few archeological students in Grand Rapids. 

Greer uses this resource as a learning opportunity for current students. He is training a team of seminary students and one CU student, Alex Ross, in animal bone analysis.

With 50 bins of animal bones from the site yet to be analyzed, Greer brokered a partnership with Grand Valley State University’s department of anthropology. Along with current research taking place on CU’s campus, the collection is also being studied by GVSU students to aid in research efforts.

“Archeology is more than a study of the past. It has present implications,” Greer said of his work. 

He believes that the site at Tel Dan gives insights into ancient biblical times.

“It becomes a neat way to look at what Israelite religion was during the time of the Israelite kings,” Greer said.

After years of working with the excavation site, Greer published a book entitled Biblical and Archeological Evidence for Sacred Feasting at Iron Age II Tel Dan and Its Significance. His recently published piece of literature uncovers the evidence of sacred feasting at the Levantine site of Tel Dan, particularly between the 10th century -8th century BCE. His studies of animal bone remains from the temple sites at Tel Dan unveil cultural practices of the time.

“I had the privilege and pleasure of being one of the archeologists involved with analyzing some of the remains in that area,” Greer said of his opportunity.

Part of his doctoral studies took him to Jerusalem where he lived for a year, studying various archeological remains. The site at Tel Dan was originally excavated in the 60s through the 90s, prior to Greer’s involvement with the project. But many of the remains were not analyzed until recently when Greer became involved with the project.

For more information on GRTS MA program in Old Testament, visit: