Dr. David Livingston, ABR Founder, At Home With Christ

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Excerpt Dear Faithful ABR Supporters: It is with both sorrow and joy that we share with you the passing of our beloved friend and founder of ABR, Dr. David Livingston (1925-2013). Dave passed into the presence of Jesus around 11 p.m. on Monday, November 25, 2013. Words cannot begin to express the depth of love and appreciation we all have for him. His love for Christ and his ardent devotion to the Word of God have inspired all of us, and will continue to impact lives for generations to come. Continue reading

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Our hearts are heavy at the loss of such a giant in the Faith. He will be greatly missed, especially by his beloved wife Esther and his entire family. At the same time, we rejoice that he is free from the body that was afflicted with illness and he is now with his precious Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. And we all look forward to that glorious Day when we will see him once again.

Dave and Esther Livingston obediently and faithfully responded to God’s call to create the ABR ministry in 1969 and produce a team of scholars who would provide strong, biblically faithful answers to skepticism leveled against the Bible. It all started in the spring of 1966, when David was studying in Jerusalem. He was disturbed when a professor simply accepted that the biblical account of Joshua’s capture of the city of Ai and archaeological evidence did not match up. The professor went with the archaeological data, and the Bible was left out.


At issue for David was the assumed disparity between the biblical text and archaeological evidence. The argument went like this. Archaeological evidence for Ai does not fit the biblical description of the site. Archaeologists have identified the correct site for Ai. Therefore, the Bible is wrong in its description of the ancient city.


As a veteran educator and missionary, David understood the far-reaching implications of such thinking. If people really couldn’t trust the Bible about the past, how could they honestly trust the Bible for the future—for eternity! Livingston had no doubt the Bible was accurate in its description of both the battle and the city of Ai, so he made a personal commitment to study the evidence for himself.


Consequently, in 1969, he founded the Associates for Biblical Research. The goal was to create an organization of scholars who believed that the Bible spoke authoritatively on history. Together they would roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty, investing the time and resources necessary to do good academic research and solid archaeological excavation—all for the purpose of connecting the dots between archaeological evidence and the biblical text.


There were a number of sites from the Exodus and Conquest period of biblical history, beyond the story of Ai, where scholars suggested archaeological evidence and the Bible did not match up. So, over the next forty years, David’s research was expanded. ABR sponsored and directed archaeological excavations, surveys and research projects focused on the identification and excavation of the biblical cities of Ai, Bethel, Jericho and Hazor, along with the Exodus route from the Nile Delta through the Sinai Peninsula


Each time you read about ABR’s work, please remember that it has all been made possible because of David and Esther’s obedient response to the Lord.                                                          


We owe Dr. David Livingston a debt of gratitude for leading the way and leaving a legacy for today’s scholars and students. David combined the mind of the scholar and the heart of a pastor in the ministry of ABR. May those of us who have received the blessing of his life and legacy pass this blessing along to future generations.


Feel free to post comments to this article of your memories of David or your appreciation of his lifetime of ministry in defense of the Gospel and the Scriptures.


Please remember the Livingston family in your prayers as they grieve and cling to Jesus for comfort and peace.


Remembering our Friend and Brother,


The Staff, Board and Volunteers of ABR


The Summer 2009 Issue of Bible and Spade was dedicated to David's lifetime of ministry at ABR. You can read the entire issue by clicking on this PDF file link. Summer 2009 Bible and Spade.


We also encourage visitors to post memories of David's life to our comments section below.

Read a personal bio from David's children: David Palmer Livingston Jr. (PDF)


22-3Final Low Rez.pdf (4.51 mb)

A bio by David's Children- David Palmer Livingston.pdf (76.37 kb)

Comments Comment RSS

12/13/2013 11:43 AM #

I first met David Livingston when I visited the ABR office, at the time residing in a tiny basement in Ephrata PA, the day Bryant Wood interviewed me as a potential staff member in 1995. Dave and I hardly interacted that day, as he just stopped in to pick something up, but I remember his warmth and ready smile -and particularly his distinctive cap! It was my pleasure to get to know him better in the succeeding years. The thing that most struck me was that he was always a Christian first, and a scholar second. His identity was wrapped up in who he was in Christ - a child of God, seeking to faithfully serve his heavenly Father and fulfill his sense of calling to archaeological research. That the ABR ministry continues to this day, bearing fruit on both personal and scholarly levels, testifies to God's stamp of approval on how he invested his life. "Well done, good and faithful servant."

rickl144 - 12/13/2013 11:43:15 AM

12/14/2013 11:09 PM #

     Dr. David Livingston did wonderful archaeology at Khirbet Nisya, but even greater work for the Kingdom of God. David always remembered why archaeology was important and it never became more than a means to a greater end.
     David was remembered and honored today by family and friends. He left us a wonderful example of appropriately mixing scholarship and ministry together. I am committed to practice what his lived in my own life and work.  
     Thank you, David, for your tireless effort and commitment to the Cause to the very end. Well done, thou good and faithful servant.

Gary Byers - 12/14/2013 11:09:12 PM

12/15/2013 10:37 AM #

I first met Dr. Livingston electronically back in 2005 after obtaining his Nisya excavation book, which documented the LMLK jar handle found there.  I listened to his 10-part audio lectures on religion as an opiate, & was surprised that someone so knowledgeable could believe Earth was only thousands rather than billions of years old.  After some open-minded research, I found that he was correct & I had been wrong.  I was extremely grateful that he had shared this information with me.  It's happy news to learn that he remained a faithful & courageous steward to the end of his temporary life, & is now present with his/our Savior for eternity!

G.M. Grena - 12/15/2013 10:37:23 AM

12/16/2013 5:16 PM #

I first met Dave when he asked me to participate in several seminars on Creation vs Evolution in 1969. I had recently returned from Africa and was teaching at the University of Pennsylvania.  Our interests being so similar, we became close friends. He was a special encouragement to me through some very difficult times and later asked me to join the board of directors of ABR. I have many fond memories of our years together, especially our trip to Ukraine to teach at the Baptist Bible College there. I'm looking forward to meeting him again in glory and learning where we were right and where we were wrong for in the presence of our Savior we shall know as we are known.  God bless ABR!

Dr. Austin Robbins - 12/16/2013 5:16:38 PM

12/17/2013 1:32 PM #

I wish you peace and joyfulness during this time, though I weep with you in the passing of Dr. Livingston. All that he worked for, and all that he has accomplished lives on with us. It's no wonder that God wanted him Home for Christmas this year.

Jim Porter - 12/17/2013 1:32:14 PM

1/2/2014 4:54 PM #

Our beloved founder, former director, scholar, writer, mentor, friend, and brother in the Lord David Livingston passed from the land of the shadow of death into the presence of the Great Light, his Lord and Savior. He was called home November 25 at age 88; his life was celebrated in a memorial service on December 14. Dave bravely fought Parkinson’s disease for many years, with the last two years being especially difficult for him. He has been released from his earthly body, given a perfect body and is now praising Jesus with the heavenly host. Dave is survived by his wife Esther, two sons and a daughter, 11 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and a brother.

After making a commitment to follow Christ while in the navy, Dave faithfully served the Lord throughout his life. He was a pastor, missionary in Korea for 10 years, teacher, and public speaker. His greatest passion was using the findings of archaeology to demonstrate the truth of Scripture. In 1966, after his term in Korea, Dave went to Israel to study at the American Institute for Holy Land Studies. There he learned of the problem of Ai. Bible scholars claimed that the Biblical account of the conquest of Ai in Joshua 7–8 was unhistorical due to the fact that no occupation from the time of Joshua had been found at et-Tell, the site archaeologists identified as Ai. Dave took up the challenge and spent the rest of his life researching Ai, along with Bethel since the Bible records that Ai was east of Bethel.

That led to the founding of the Associates for Biblical Research in 1969, because Dave needed a non-profit organization in order to raise funds for his research. His vision was broader than research on Ai, however. His concept was that ABR would be an umbrella organization for evangelical scholars to carry out God-honoring research to counter the claims of critics and establish the trust-worthiness of the Bible. It was set up as a missionary organization, with each scholar raising his or her own support under the banner of ABR. The funds were managed by ABR for accountability and to provide tax deductions for supporters. Ten years later, Dave launched the excavation of Khirbet Nisya, his candidate for Ai.

Dave was an innovator and entrepreneur. An archaeological excavation requires tens of thousands of dollars. Where would he get the funds? And where would he get workers to do the excavating? With God’s leading Dave came up with a plan. He would invite volunteers to travel to Israel at their own expense to participate in the excavation and also give them a tour of Israel. On the surface this seems like an unlikely scheme. Would people really want to spend their hard-earned money to travel to Israel to work in the hot sun for two weeks? In actual fact, the volunteers loved it! Dave charged each volunteer a little over cost in order to cover his transportation and other expenses associated with running the dig, such as tools and equipment. It was an ingenious idea. Each dig season was a self-supporting enterprise. To top it off, ABR could issue tax-deductible receipts for most of the cost of the trip since the volunteers were assisting ABR in carrying out its mission. We are still using this basic concept for our dig at Khirbet el-Maqatir, the successor to Dave’s Khirbet Nisya dig. He laid the foundation and showed us the way. David Livingston will be greatly missed, not only by his family, but also by those associated with the ministry he started and the thousands whose lives he touched.

Please keep our ministry in your prayers as we carry on the legacy of David Livingston in defending and demonstrating the factuality of the Bible.

For the Glory of our Savior,
Dr. Bryant Wood

Dr. Bryant Wood - 1/2/2014 4:54:45 PM

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