Memorials -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 18:1 (Winter 1975)
Article: Memorials
Author: Anonymous


Joseph P. Free

How I love your laws!
How I enjoy your commands!

Come, Come to me, I call to them,
for I love them and will let them fill my life
Psa. 119:47–48

This phrase from the work of the Psalmist expresses the central faith and commitment of our colleague, Joseph P. Free. A member of the Evangelical Theological Society since 1949, Joseph P. Free was called to the Saviour’s presence, October 12, 1974 in Bemidji, Minnesota. He was born in Cleveland on October 1, 1911.

He received his early education at University School in Cleveland and at Stony Brook School at Stony Brook, Long Island, New York. Dr. Free was a graduate of Princeton University, receiving the A.B., A.M., and Ph.D. degrees from that institution. For ten years he carried on post-Ph.D. work in the field of archaeology and Near Eastern studies at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

Interest in archaeology was developed when as a prep student at Stony Brook School the headmaster, Dr. Frank E. Gaebelein showed an ancient clay cone inscribed with cuneiform writing. This early interest was renewed when, as an undergraduate at Princeton University, he lived next door to Professor George Elderkin, the excavator at Antioch, and a few homes from F. Leslie Shear, the excavator at Ancient Corinth. On this foundation of early interest, Dr. Free built a life committed to the study and teaching of Biblical Archaeology.

Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, extended an invitation to Dr. Free to join its faculty in 1935. At first, he taught French and Spanish; and, at the same time pursued the study of Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian Hieroglypics, Arabic, and Hittite. Eventually he was to head the Department of Archaeology for nearly twenty years and served as Fred McManis Professor of Biblical Archaeology until 1965. At that time he resigned in favor of a more relaxed schedule in the north woods of Minnesota to pursue his publication projects. However, not many months passed until Bemidji State College beckoned him back to the classroom as Professor of Archaeology and History, where he was serving until the time of his death.

Joseph Free is best known as the excavator of Ancient Dothan. Early field experience was achieved as a member of the staff at the American Schools of Oriental Research in Jerusalem. After which, he and Mrs. Free

directed Ten Seasons of excavation at Dothan in the years between 1953–1964. Many field archaeologists owe their basic training to his untiring efforts and competent leadership. More recen...

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