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NOBTS archaeology prof cited as ‘prominent evangelical scholar’


NEW ORLEANS (BP)–The name Steven Ortiz, assistant professor of archaeology and biblical studies at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, is gaining in familiarity in archaeological circles.

Ortiz, who also directs NOBTS’ Center for Archaeological Research, is noted in the latest edition of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR), a national scholarly journal, as a “prominent evangelical scholar” in the field. Hershel Shanks, editor of BAR, called attention to Ortiz’s work as an evangelical scholar in his report of the American Schools of Oriental Research held in Atlanta last November.

Ortiz also was awarded a junior scholar grant from the Southwest Commission on Religious Studies (SWCRS) in March for a project titled, “Re-writing Philistine History: Recent Trends in Philistine Archaeology and Biblical Studies.” The commission, established in 1974, encourages scholarly activities among its 50-plus member institutions. NOBTS and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary both hold membership in SWCRS. Grants from the commission are awarded only to scholars from member institutions.

Because NOBTS’ mission statement “says that our target is healthy churches,” Ortiz noted, “In order for a church to be healthy it needs to be in the marketplace, on Mars Hill, and on the mission field. This is where the New Testament church of Paul was located. I think our students should be trained to go to Mars Hill and engage the academic world.”

Ortiz engages the academic community by serving as a committee member and as southwest region vice president for the American Schools of Oriental Research. He is on the board of directors for the Near Eastern Archaeology Society.

“Steven Ortiz is one of the most prolific researchers and writers on our faculty,” said NOBTS Provost Steve Lemke. “In addition to the research awards he has recently received, his faculty colleagues voted him the ‘Outstanding Research Professor’ for the Marvin Jones Awards for Faculty Excellence at NOBTS this year.”


Using his training, academic involvement and years of experience digging in Israel, Ortiz hopes to secure an archaeological dig site in Israel for NOBTS. He has the scientific training needed to conduct the digs and to research and interpret the findings.

Ortiz holds Master of Arts and doctor of philosophy degrees in Near East archaeology and biblical studies at the University of Arizona — one of the premiere archaeology programs in the United States. Earlier, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology and sociology at California State University at Los Angeles and a Master of Arts in biblical history at Jerusalem University College.

In February, NOBTS’ Center for Archaeological Research hosted its first lecture. Renowned Israeli archaeologist Gabriel Barkay spoke about the discovery of the oldest known copy of Hebrew scripture. Barkay lectured at NOBTS and Emory University during his visit in the United States. Seminary trustees voted in April to activate a new lectureship in archeology -– the Manuel Family Lectures on Archeology and the Bible.

“We hope to develop one of the best archaeology programs in the evangelical world,” Lemke said, “to help make the best case we can to an unbelieving world for the truthfulness of the Bible. In addition to the creation of the Center for Archaeological Research, we hope to add a wing to our library with a museum to display our archaeological artifacts.”
For more information about the Center for Archaeological Research or to contact Ortiz for speaking engagements, call (504) 282-4455, ext. 3249, or e-mail [email protected] (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: STEVEN ORTIZ.