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Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou

Bible’s Buried Secrets

In a challenging three-part TV series on BBC 2 Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Biblical Scholar and senior lecturer at the University of Exeter presents series of documentaries which examines how recent archaeological discoveries are changing the way we interpret stories from the Bible.

This new series also looks at how these in turn are leading us to re-address our understanding of the legacy of Judaism and Christianity, both in the Middle East and in the West. By travelling to major archaeological digs throughout the Middle East, Dr Stavrakopoulou investigates the origins of the Garden of Eden story, the emergence of the worship of one God and the historical context of biblical stories about King David and his kingdom. Sites visited throughout the series include Khirbet Qeiyafa, a fortified city in ancient Judah from the time traditionally ascribed to King David; and the ancient city of Ugarit in Syria considered by some to be the single most important archaeological discovery of the last century.

In episode one of the series Dr Stavrakopoulou goes on the trail of the Biblical King David and his fabled empire. A national hero and icon for the Jewish people, and a divine king for Christians, David is best known as the boy-warrior who defeated the Philistine giant Goliath. As King he united the tribes of Israel. But did he really rule over a vast Israelite kingdom?

The series focuses on Dr Stavrakopoulou’s research and teaching as a Senior Lecturer in the Hebrew Bible.  Her research forms the basis for the series ‘Bible’s Buried Secrets’. She said ‘In my job, I aim to show students that biblical research isn’t stuffy or boring, but exciting and relevant.  And I’m pleased the BBC thinks it’s exciting too! I’m thrilled to have been given the chance to bring my research and teaching to a wider audience and I hope viewers will be as intrigued by the Bible and its ancient contexts as I am.'

Professor David Horrell, Director of Research for the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter said, “All too often, academic research remains within the walls of the academy. Such research is often controversial, especially in biblical studies, where the views held by scholars are often very different from those held by the religious public.”

He added, “It is great that Dr Stavrakopoulou has this opportunity to communicate her research to a wide audience, informing them about recent archaeological and textual discoveries and provoking them to think about their own views and beliefs.”

In the first episode, Dr Stavrakopoulou visits key archaeological excavations where ground-breaking finds are being unearthed, and examines evidence for and against the Biblical account of King David. She explores the former land of the Philistines, home of the legendary giant Goliath, and ruins in the north of Israel and in old Jerusalem itself purporting to be remains of David's empire.

Date: 11 March 2011

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