It all started during my second semester at The Bible Seminary (TBS). I had to write a research paper for class, and for some reason, I was having a really hard time choosing a topic.
At the time, I was acting as a research assistant for my academic advisor, Dr. Stripling. He asked me to look something up for him in Adam Zertal’s preliminary publication on the Mount Ebal excavation. I found the information that Dr. Stripling needed, but something else caught my eye, and I kept reading. Then, I started looking up other articles and books about the site on Mount Ebal.
It didn’t take long before I was sure of two things. One, the site on Mount Ebal was really cool and definitely seemed to have a connection with Joshua’s altar, and two, there wasn’t enough information available for me to write a good research paper about it.
I set the topic aside and kept searching for something that would work for my research paper. But try as I might, I couldn’t find a workable topic. I finally went to my professor and explained the situation. I had found a topic that I was really excited about, but there just wasn’t enough data to write a good paper about it. He encouraged me to go for it. “Dig into the topic,” he advised me. “You’ll be surprised at how much you might find.”
It turned out he was right. By the time I assembled my research, I realized that I was going to have a hard time narrowing it down to fit the page limit for the assignment. The topic was a lot bigger than I had ever imagined. It was big enough to be a master’s thesis.
From that point on, every time I had to choose a topic for a class project, I tried to pick something that was somehow related to Joshua’s altar at Mount Ebal. For my Biblical Archaeology class, I wrote about ‘Einun pottery, which plays into the dating of the site at Mount Ebal. For my Prayer and Worship class, I wrote about Old Testament altars and sacrifices. I couldn’t figure out how to relate my Church History class to the topic of Mount Ebal, so I gave up and wrote about curse tablets instead. As it turned out, curse tablets are not so very unrelated to Mount Ebal after all.
I wrote my thesis over Christmas break the winter before I graduated. I even spent Christmas day writing. It was time consuming, but it went remarkably smoothly since I had already done so much of the research. I pulled together information that I had learned from every one of my classes at TBS.
And then it was done. I submitted it and defended it. The grade was pass/fail. I passed. After that, there was some talk of including my thesis as a chapter in a book about the exodus and conquest. The book plans fell through, and I got busy with PhD work.
Then, a few months ago, TBS started a publishing branch, Nehemiah Press. They contacted me and asked if I would be interested in publishing my thesis as a book. I thought that sounded like a good idea. I edited my thesis and made some updates. Once I submitted it, things moved rapidly. After numerous emails back and forth, and several rounds of editing, I finally signed the documents to allow it to go to press.
The next day, I got a text message from one of my TBS classmates. “Btw” was all the text said, followed by a screenshot of my book for sale on Amazon.