Robert R. Cargill

Professor Robert R. Cargill
Associate Professor, Judaism and Christianity
Joint appointment with Department of Classics
PhD, UCLA, 2008
209 Jefferson Building
Curriculum Vitae: 

Professor Cargill joined the University of Iowa faculty in 2011.

Dr. Cargill's research program focuses on Second Temple Jewish literature and biblical archaeology from the Persian period to the rise of early Christianity. He specializes in Hebrew Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls and other Pseudepigrapha, Aramaic Targums, Melchizedek traditions, issues of faith and science, and teaches Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, and Hellenistic Greek.

Hired as part of the University's Public Humanities in a Digital World initiative, Dr. Cargill also has done much research in the Digital Humanities, having authored a 3D, virtual reality reconstruction of the archaeological remains of Qumran, near to where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. 

Dr. Cargill is the author of Melchizedek, King of Sodom: How Scribes Invented the Biblical Priest-King (Oxford University Press, 2019). He published The Cities that Built the Bible (HarperOne, 2016), which was awarded the 2017 Illumination Book Awards Gold Medal in the Bible Study category and has been published in hardcover, paperback, and translated into Chinese, Simplified Chinese, and Japanese.

He has also done extensive work in television, appearing as an expert on ABC's "Good Morning America", "Inside Edition", CNN's "Newsday", and has appeared on over three dozen television shows and documentaries airing on CNN, History, Discovery, National Geographic, and other networks. Among them, he hosted the 2010 National Geographic special, "Writing the Dead Sea Scrolls." In 2013, Dr. Cargill served as the Consulting Producer and appeared in the History series, "Bible Secrets Revealed." In 2017, he appeared on season 2 of CNN’s "Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery." In 2019 he served as consultant and contributor for History’s "Jesus: His Life." In 2021, he served as a consultant and appeared in CNN’s "Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury" series. Professor Cargill also served as Editor of the popular magazine Biblical Archaeology Review from 2018 to 2021, and presently serves as Editor of Bible & Archaeology, published by the University of Iowa.

For his public scholarship efforts, Professor Cargill was named one of Fresno City College’s 100 Distinguished Alumni as part of the school’s “100 Stars for 100 Years,” centennial anniversary celebration in 2010 and was honored the next year as the college’s Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipient, delivering the 2011 commencement address. Dr. Cargill was also awarded the 2020 Outstanding Outreach and Public Engagement Award by the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, American Schools of Oriental Research, Biblical Archaeology Society, Archaeological Institute of America, American Humanist Association, American Civil Liberties Union and American Mensa.

Research Interests: 
Second Temple Judaism, Archaeology
Selected Publications: 

(For complete list, please view Dr. Cargill's CV):

  • Melchizedek, King of Sodom: How Scribes Invented the Biblical Priest-King. Oxford University Press, 2019.
  • “Biblical Archaeology: Its Rise, Fall, and Rebirth as a Legitimate Science,” Chap. 6 in Christianity in the Light of Science: Critically Examining the World’s Largest Religion, ed. by John W. Loftus. Prometheus Books, 2016.
  • The Cities that Built the Bible. HarperOne, 2016.
  • “The Rule of Creative Completion: Neofiti’s Use of שכלל,” Aramaic Studies 10/2 (2012): 173-191.
  • “The State of the Archaeological Debate at Qumran,” Currents in Biblical Research 10/1 (2011): 1-18.
  • “The Benefit of Blogging for Archaeology,” Bulletin for the Study of Religion 39/3 (2010): 12-16.
  • “The Qumran Digital Model: An Argument for Archaeological Reconstruction in Virtual Reality” and “A Response to Magness,” Near Eastern Archaeology 72/1 (2009): 28-47.
  • Qumran through (Real) Time: A Virtual Reconstruction of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Gorgias Press, 2009.
  • “The Fortress at Qumran: A History of Interpretation,” Bible and Interpretation, May 2009.
Courses Taught: 

Dr. Cargill has taught the following courses:

  • RELS:1001 Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
  • RELS:1015 Global Religious Conflict and Diversity
  • RELS: 4960: Digital Archaeological Modeling
  • CLSA:1400 Biblical Archaeology
  • CLSA:2444 Cities of the Bible
  • CLSA:2489 Jerusalem: The Holy City
  • CLSA:3247 Banned from the Bible: Pseudepigrapha & Apocrypha
  • CLSA:3445 Mythology of Otherworldly Journeys
  • CLSA:3742 Word Power: Building English Vocabulary
  • CLSA:4090 Readings in Dead Sea Scrolls
  • CLSA:4452 Dead Sea Scrolls
  • CLSA:4501 Archaeological Methodology and Field Research
  • CLSA:4502 Archaeology and History of Judea
  • CLSA:4901 Biblical Hebrew I
  • CLSA:4902 Biblical Hebrew II
  • CLSA:5903 Biblical Aramaic
  • CLSA:5904 Targumic Aramaic
  • CLSA:5905 Syriac
  • CLSA:6585 Design, Visualization, and Mapping 3D Environments
  • CLSG:1002 Classical and New Testament Greek II
  • CLSG:5002 Classical and Hellenistic Literature: Septuagint
  • CLSG:5002 Classical and Hellenistic Literature: Josephus
Awards, Honors and Grants: 
  • University of Iowa CLAS 2020 Outstanding Outreach and Public Engagement Award
  • University of Iowa CLAS Career Development Award for Fall 2020 semester in Israel (deferred to Fall 2021-COVID)
  • Fresno City College Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipient and 2011 Commencement Speaker, Selland Arena, Fresno, CA, May 20, 2011.
  • Named one of 100 distinguished alumni as part of Fresno City College’s “100 Stars for 100 Years,” celebrating the centennial anniversary of the college (2010).
  • Grant from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences for the production of HD reconstructions of Qumran for use in their exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls ($16,000) (2008).
  • Research grant from the San Diego Natural History Museum and Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation for dissertation work on the Qumran Visualization Project ($75,000) (2006).
  • Seaver Dean’s Scholarship for work on the project: “The History of Israel through Coins” (1998).