He has three degrees in marketing and an extensive body of marketing research to his name, so it may seem surprising that Stephen McDaniel, assistant department head, masters advisor, and marketing professor at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School would enjoy studying ancient civilizations in his free time. There is another side to “Dr. Mac,” as students know him: his leisure time is filled with articles about artifacts and excavation as he pursues his hobby of biblical archeology.

McDaniel and wife along seashore with ships in background
Steve and Nancy McDaniel outside Haifa, Israel, on the Mediterranean coast.

How does a marketing professor become involved in archeology? McDaniel says that his religious conversion is largely responsible for sparking his interest in the field. After becoming a Christian during his graduate school years at Texas A&M, McDaniel’s desire to learn more and gain empirical evidence for his beliefs inspired him to “dig deeper” into the religion. With guidance from his father-in-law (a professor of biblical archeology), McDaniel and his wife made their first trek to Israel. They toured several sites over a two-week period, including the ancient biblical city of Bethesda, where it is believed that Jesus performed miraculous works. The experience brought McDaniel confirmation that he had in fact found his “other” calling.

McDaniel says that his favorite excursion involved a visit to the Qumran caves, located between the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea in Israel. The site is the location of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which in McDaniel’s opinion reinforce the validity of the Bible’s Old Testament scriptures as well as give evidence to the life and works of Jesus, both significant aspects of Christianity. “The scrolls show that the prophecies of Christ in the Bible were written at least a hundred years or so before he even came—things like where he would be born, how he would die, where his ministry would take place—all empirical evidence for Christian beliefs,” offered McDaniel.

McDaniel and wife on camels
Steve and Nancy McDaniel at the pyramid Khufu (also known as “The Great Pyramid”) outside Cairo, Egypt.

His explorations didn’t stop there. McDaniel and his wife later visited Jericho, another well-known biblical locale. “There are a lot of things they have found at Jericho that support the Bible stories exactly. The fact that the walls did fall, and it was during a time of harvest is so intriguing. Archeologists actually found buried containers that still had remnants of food in them,” said McDaniel.

Though archeology and marketing share an emphasis on research, McDaniel says that they are two distinct subjects, and he enjoys the ability to grow in both areas. “Everybody has interests in fields that may not be their primary field of study, and this is my interest on the side. They do interact some through their investigative origins, but it’s nice to get away sometimes,” he added.

Today, McDaniel tries to fit his archeological interests into his busy schedule by reading biblical archeology journals and keeping up with current digs, as well as presenting on the topic at churches and on campus. He plans to embark on another journey to Qumran in the near future, but his duties as the marketing study abroad faculty leader has limited his archeological traveling at present.

McDaniel’s hobby has even carried over to the classroom, where he encourages students to note the importance of sound empirical research, and always remain tedious, precise, and patient in the search for information. “The more we research, the more we find,” he said.