Origin and development
The SBF was initially planned by the Custody of the Holy Land to provide a complete course of biblical studies for its young Franciscan members (1901). The Holy Land was of course a unique place for such studies. The school was opened in 1901-1902 in St. Saviour's Monastery. Biblical exegesis, languages, institutions and archaeology were part of the study program. The history of the holy places of the New Testament was also taught.
1923-1927. After World War One on January 7, 1924, the SBF was inaugurated in the Flagellation Monastery. A two-year biblical program was initiated that included history, geography and oriental languages. A library and an archaeological Museum were soon established.
1927-1933. Upon a decision of the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM) the SBF became an integral part of the .study program of the Antonianum College in Rome for courses on Holy Scripture. Students would study Bible for two years in Jerusalem and visit the historical sites of the Holy Land. In 1933 the first archaeological campaign on Mount Nebo (Jordan) was held.
1933-1940. As the Antonianum in Rome became a pontifical Athenaeum, courses were held in the SBF complementing the general program of study of the Antonianum. Excavations increase(l in that period (Tabgha, Mount Nebo). With the outbreak of World War Two professors and students were forced to leave.
1940-1950. Only archaeological research continued with excavations at Emmaus el-Qubeibeh, Ein Karem, Tiberias, Bethlehem, and Bethany. A volume on the excavations at Mount Nebo inaugurated the publications of the SBF in 1941. Professors of the SBF composed a guidebook of the Holy Land and a historical atlas of ancient Palestine.
1950-1960. Thanks to strenuous efforts of Fr. Donato Baldi the SBF was reopened by the OFM Minister General Fr. Augustin Sépinski. Again it was linked to the Antonianum in Rome. The teaching program was improved. Important excavations were Flevit" on the Mount of Olives and in volume of the annual review Liber Annuus held at "Dominus Nazareth. The first appeared in 1951.
1960-1981. On June 14, 1960 the SBF was established by the Pontifical Congregation for Seminaries and Universities as the biblical section of the Faculty of Theology of the Antonianum in Rome. Thus it was entitled to confer the academic degree of Doctorate. Excavations were conducted on Mount Carmel, Tabgha, Kefer Kenna. An important digging activity began at Capharnaum in 1968. In 1972 a special study program for the pontifical degree of Licentiate was established.
In 1973 the Rector Magnificus of the PAA Fr. Roberto Zavalloni and the Director of the SBF, Fr. Bellarmino Bagatti, organised the commemoration of the SBF's 50th anniversary.
On behalf the Holy Father, the Secretary of State Cardinal J. Villot sent a letter of congratulations and best wishes.
1982-2001. On March 5, 1982 the SBF became the parallel branch of the Faculty of Theology of the Antonianum in Rome by a decision of the pontifical Congregation for Catholic Education. From that date the SBF comprises the complete curriculum of a pontifical faculty: the first cycle, or courses of theological formation (called Studium Theologicum Jerosolymitanum), the second and third cycles, or courses of specialization in the Bible (the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum proper).
From 2001 onwards. On The 4th of September 2001 the Congregation for Catholic Education raised it to be "The Faculty of Biblical Sciences and Archaeology" of the Pontifical Athenaeum Antonianum in Rome.
The Decree of the Sacred Congregation (original in Latin)
Special celebrations at the OFM General Curia - Rome
Official celebrations in Jerusalem (08.12.2001)