[This post is a work in progress as part of the CAA Catechism.]
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Summary in 400 words or less:
Archaeology is a special branch of historical investigation and anthropology that tries to trace evidence of the lives of past societies and civilizations by material remains left behind by them. Modern archaeological methods had their beginning in the 18th century and have been refined greatly since that time by men and women dedicated to raising the discipline to that of scientific investigation. As a field of science, archaeology has become an important tool for historians and others interested in learning about past civilizations and populations.
The Bible contains many historical truth claims that have been confirmed by the discoveries of hundreds of archaeologists during the past 200+ years. Ancient artifacts and texts from Israel and other nations near it have revealed a vast network of cultural exchange, correspondence (such as in the Amarna letters), trade (e.g. between Egypt and Arabia), migration of peoples, as well as battles and entire wars.
More than 50 people mentioned in the Bible have received additional mention in archaeological artifacts such as steles, clay seals, and other inscriptions. Some ancient records even provide an extensive narrative around the mention of biblical personages such as the Taylor Prism of Sennacherib which mentions the Assyrian siege of Judah and Hezekiah’s payment of tribute, the Moabite Stone’s mention of Mesha King of Moab and Omri King of Israel, and the Kurkh Stele which records Ahab’s participation in the battle of Qarqar. The historical narrative of the Bible after examination and scrutiny is only assisted, and not controverted, by archaeological discoveries so far as those discoveries go.
Archaeology can verify whether ancient documents (like the Bible) contain accurate historical and geographical data. Archaeological findings have shown that the Bible is accurate and credible in much of the information found in its pages.
What archaeology cannot do is ‘prove’ the supernatural and spiritual aspects of truth claims in the Bible. While archaeologists have found extensive evidence supporting the historical accuracy of the New Testament and the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, archaeology cannot prove or disprove that what Jesus taught was spiritually true. While archaeology can lead one to the door of spiritual truth, it is faith that leads one into the dwelling of the family.
Scripture for YouVersion:
“Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, And righteousness shall look down from heaven.” Psalm 85:10-11 (NKJV)
“Test all things; hold fast what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (NKJV)
The Role of Archaeology in Biblical Studies: Seven Minute Seminary http://youtu.be/Dm3HlLoNOak
Archaeology: That Plausible Bible courtesy Z.E. Kendall
Three questions (one fill-in-the-blank, one multiple choice, and one discussion question):
1. Archaeology is a discipline which studies remains of past civilizations, and it provides evidence which lends support to the biblical historical narratives through the discovery of ancient _______. (artifacts)
2. Where in Israel was the oldest known instance of a scripture written on an artifact discovered?
- A) Jerusalem
- B) Qumran
- C) Ketef Hinnom
- D) Khirbet Qeiyafa
Answer: C. A fragment of Numbers 6:24-26 was found on two silver amulets at Ketef Hinnom dating to around 600 B.C.
3. Do you think archaeological proof and corroboration of the biblical narratives is essential for faith in the Gospel? If not, then what role do you think it plays in our understanding of the Bible and what other benefit might it provide in addition to our faith?
References for further reading:
Colin Renfrew & Paul Bahn’s “Archaeology: Theories, Methods, and Practice”
Kenneth A. Kitchen’s “On the Reliability of the Old Testament”
James K. Hoffmeier’s “The Archaeology of the Bible”
Joseph P. Free’s “Archaeology and Bible History”
Howard F. Vos’ “An Introduction to Bible Archaeology” and “Genesis and Archaeology”
Joseph M. Holden & Normal Geisler’s “The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible”
William F. Albright’s “The Archaeology of Palestine,” “Archaeology and the Religions of Israel,” and “From the Stone Age to Christianity”
Neil A. Silberman’s “Digging in the Land of the Bible”
Craig A. Evans’ “Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence”
Gonzalo Baez-Camargo’s “Archaeological Commentary on the Bible”
Randall Price’s “The Stones Cry Out: What Archaeology Reveals About the Truth of the Bible”
Edwin Yamauchi’s “The Stones and the Scriptures” and “Persia and the Bible”
William Ramsay’s “St. Paul: The Traveler and Roman Citizen”
Joseph A. Callaway’s “Benchmarks in Time and Culture: An Introduction to Palestinian Archaeology”
Merrill Unger’s “Archaeology and the Old Testament” and “Archaeology and the New Testament”
Alfred J. Hoerth’s “Archaeology and the Old Testament”
Nelson Glueck’s “Rivers in the Desert”
John H. Sailhamer’s “Biblical Archaeology”
John McRay’s “Archaeology and the New Testament”
Gary Habermas’ “Ancient Evidence for the Life of Jesus”
Frederic G. Kenyon’s “The Bible and Archaeology”
Ronny Reich’s “Excavating the City of David: Where Jerusalem’s History Began”
Jodi Magness’ “The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls”
Millar Burrows’ “What Mean These Stones?”
Henry T. Frank’s “Bible, Archaeology and Faith”
Paul W. Lapp’s “Biblical Archaeology and History”
F.F. Bruce’s “Archaeological Confirmation of the New Testament”
G.E. Wright’s “Biblical Archaeology”
John D. Currid’s “Doing Archaeology in the Land of the Bible: A Basic Guide”
Clifford Wilson’s “Rocks, Relics, and Biblical Reliability”
Collaborators: Mark McGee, Joshua Nielsen, Z.E. Kendall
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