The Bible places great emphasis on giving thanks, and the fourth Thursday in November provides Americans with a prominent reminder of our need to express gratitude. On the assumption that this applies even to photographers and bloggers, I thought I might take a few minutes to verbalize my appreciation for some of the many people in the “Bible places” world that I am thankful for.
I’ll start with my teammates who are currently working with me at BiblePlaces.com. A.D. Riddle has been working with me for about 15 years, first in a voluntary way and then later as a travel companion, proofreader, map maker, and all-around problem-solver. Steven Anderson brings his exhaustive knowledge of the Bible to bear in his masterful development of the Photo Companion to the Bible. Chris McKinny is an OT history whiz, and I can’t wait until you see some of what he is creating in Joshua, Samuel, Kings, and elsewhere. Kaelyn Peay stepped in at the perfect time this summer to keep me from drowning in thousands of new photos. My son Mark is helping me in key (and keyword) ways, and my children Luke, Bethany, and Katie are tremendously helpful in a myriad of assignments. (And 7-year-old Jonathan makes sure I get the exercise breaks I need.)
I’m thankful for fellow bloggers, including Ferrell Jenkins. He not only writes great posts and takes fantastic photos, he has encouraged me through his life and his words many times. James Davila has been blogging on PaleoJudaica forever, and he is a model to me of how faithful blogging should be done. Aren Maeir is my favorite archaeologist-blogger, and Charles Savelle is my favorite “all-around Bible” blogger. I always appreciate the posts by Luke Chandler, Mark Elliott, Carl Rasmussen, Leen Ritmeyer, and Wayne Stiles. Joseph Lauer doesn’t blog, but he regularly sends me great stories and warm encouragement.
I couldn’t do what I do without some awesome teachers at some outstanding institutions, beginning with The Master’s University where I first studied and have now taught since 1996. The Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College) gave me a love for the geography and archaeology of Israel, and I am especially grateful for the instruction of Gabriel Barkay, Ginger Caessens, Robert Mullins, and Anson Rainey. The Master’s Seminary and Dallas Theological Seminary trained me in ways you don’t see as much in the photo collections or on this blog, but that I depend upon every single day.
The best years of my life were spent teaching at the Israel Bible Extension (IBEX) of TMU, and I cannot calculate my debt to Bill Schlegel, Randy Cook, Phyllis Cook, and Rebecca Bange. The kind folks at Yad HaShmonah were the best neighbors, and David Bivin and Gloria Suess have blessed me in many ways.
I am thankful for the great people at the Associates for Biblical Research who are eagerly pursuing the truth in the ground. The longtime director, Bryant Wood, has long been one of my heroes, not only for his excellent scholarship but for his godly character. I first met Eugene Merrill on an ABR dig, and in the years since he has taught me more than I can say from his writings and example.
Bible software makes so much of what I do possible, and Logos Bible Software has served me well since I first purchased it on floppy disks 20-some years ago. I am grateful too for Roy Brown and the outstanding Accordance team for their creative genius and servant attitudes.
On the photography side of things, Nikon’s Coolpix 950 changed my life and I’ve been loyal to Nikon ever since for cameras, lenses, and scanners. Once upon a time, Google’s Picasa organized my photo collection, but in recent years I’ve become entirely dependent on the awesome Adobe Lightroom.
This blog has been hosted since its inception in 2005 by Blogger, but I’ve been able to avoid the web interface by using Windows Live Writer until its replacement by Open Live Writer. These tools have made my life easier.
I am very grateful to so those who have spurred me on in this work since 1999 when a group of seminary students started pressing me to make a photo collection. It was John Dix’s initial partnership and Dr. Richard Rigsby’s enthusiastic encouragement that breathed life into a fuzzy vision. Along the way, so many people have contributed in significant ways, including Bill Krewson, Seth Rodriquez, Doug Bookman, Wayne Wells, G. M. Grena, Doug Downer, Jim Weaver, Will Varner, Brad Hilton, Matt Floreen, David Niblack, Jenn Kintner, Jeremy Francis, Carl Laney, Greg Hatteberg, and Chet Bolen.
More than anyone, my wife Kelli has supported me and served me in countless ways so that I could travel, teach, write, and process photos. For most of my trips, she has born the full burden of the kids while I was away. She encourages me through the early mornings and late nights, and often when I’m writing weekend roundups, she’s cooking up a hearty breakfast. She has listened and advised me through decades of challenges and opportunities.
Finally, I am thankful to those who have read, commented, emailed, encouraged, recommended, and purchased our work over the years. Without you, my life would be less interesting, less encouraging, and less fulfilling. Thank you, and may the Lord bless you.
(1 Thessalonians 3:9)