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New Center for Judaic Studies takes shape

September 9, 2008 : Teresa Dunham

Photo caption: Dr. Randall Price starts unpacking books in the new Center for Judaic Studies located on the first floor of the DeMoss Learning Center. The books will be part of the Center’s new 20,000-volume Library for Jewish Studies.


Randall Price has spent more than two decades of his life unearthing remnants from Biblical times at archaeological digs in Israel, Greece, Jordan and Rome. 

After working at the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the past six years and even directing some of his own excavations, Price decided to trade the dirt and sand for a different type of full-time job.

He began teaching classes at LU last year, offering a course on Middle East conflict in terms of Biblical history and prophesies, as well as education in Biblical Archaeology.

Now he’s stepping into the role of Executive Director of Liberty University’s new Center for Judaic Studies — an office in the DeMoss Learning Center so new that it’s momentarily identified by a yellow sticky note hanging on the front door.

In the next few weeks crews will be wrapping up construction on the Center for Judaic Studies, and in doing so, they will begin fulfilling a vision of the late Liberty University founder Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr.

“[Falwell Sr.] had certain emphasis in his own ministry, and one of them was that we just have to support the Jewish people and the state of Israel,” said Price. “The Jewish people were important to God and to His eternal program.”

In order for Christians to support Israel effectively, Price said, they need to understand both Jewish history and importance of the modern state of Israel in Biblical prophecy that God will fulfill.

“If we’re not supporting Israel, then we’re not … understanding [God’s] program as it unfolds in history. And in fact we’re probably on the wrong side of history because we’re not with God in the thing that matters most to Him,” Price said.

In Gen. 12:3 God promised that He would bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse the Chosen People.

The Center for Judaic Studies will launch with three LU professors — Price, Dr. Thomas Ice and Dr. Ed Hindson — and it will also include a 20,000-volume Library for Jewish Studies. Among the library’s numerous rare texts will be a 300-year-old, handwritten Torah scroll that came through Israel, valued at $85,000, and a 12th century handwritten illuminated manuscript from the New Testament.

The Center’s first class, a study-abroad trip to the site of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Judean Desert, is scheduled for Dec. 5-23. Field Archaeology (BIBL 472) invites students to roll up their sleeves and help excavate some Biblical history.

For a while, the Center’s classes will fall under the categories of Bible, Religion and Government — but in the long term, the Center plans to become a separate School of Judaic Studies. Major funding for an endowed chair is needed before that can happen.

Additionally, Price would like to see a Liberty Biblical Museum in conjunction with the Center for Judaic studies in the future. He could provide several thousand antiquities from his own collection for the display.

In the meantime, the Center hopes to showcase a few select items — such as a sword in the style that Joshua would have used at the time of Jericho, dating back to 1500s B.C. — behind a window at the Center’s entrance.

The Center for Judaic Studies is accessed through a side entrance of the DeMoss Learning Center off Liberty Lane.

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Dr. Price is currently out of the country on an expedition in search of Noah’s Ark. He is scheduled to make the ascent of Mount Ararat on Saturday and return to LU on Sept. 25. For more information about the Center for Judaic Studies, email Price at jrprice4@liberty.edu after he returns.