Skip to comments.FIRST-PERSON: Can archaeology help confirm the Bible?
Posted on 12/01/2013 11:48:13 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
Whenever there's an archaeological discovery related to the Bible, conflicting interpretations by various experts can leave a believer's head spinning.
Take the discovery in Israel of a palace from the era of King David earlier this year. An archaeologist from Hebrew University in Jerusalem said there's "unequivocal evidence" that David and his descendants ruled at the site. But critics, including some committed believers, say it could have belonged to other kingdoms and that David's palace likely would have been in Jerusalem some 18 miles northwest. Still others claim there is no archaeological evidence that David even existed. Similar confusion ensued this spring when archaeologists discovered a massive complex that may have been an administrative center in Abraham's native Ur, with division over whether the patriarch's Ur was at that site or farther north.
Since debate often surrounds the discovery of biblical sites, lovers of the Bible may be tempted to give up on archaeology, pronouncing it unhelpful and opting instead to accept Scripture's historical accounts on "blind faith," convinced that historical evidence will never be able to confirm biblical accounts. Admittedly, archaeology's main contribution to biblical studies has been to provide background information. But at the same time, 20th-century theologian Carl F.H. Henry reminded that archaeologists have done significant work in confirming biblical claims (see God, Revelation and Authority, volume 4).
Before giving up on archaeology, consider the following:
-- In the late 1800s, critical scholars regarded the Hittites as an Old Testament fiction. Except for references in the Bible, there was no evidence they existed. Then archaeologists discovered some 10,000 Hittite and Akkadian texts and over time concluded that Hittites were the dominant power in Asia Minor until 1200 BC.
-- Skeptics once regarded as ludicrous the claim that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, since writing was thought not to have existed in his day. But thanks to archaeology, we now know that full-fledged phonetically spelled writing existed as early as 2400 BC, well before Moses.
-- Critics once claimed the Hebrew exile to Babylon was a myth. Over time, though, scholars of the ancient Near East realized, according to archaeologist William Albright, that "there is not a single known case when a town of Judah proper was continuously occupied through the exilic period."
-- Genesis 10:21 names Eber as a main figure in the line of Shem, producing the Hebrews, the Joktanide Arabs and some Aramean tribes. Numbers 24:24 calls these people groups "Eber" collectively. For years, critics said the name Eber had no historical basis. Then archaeologists discovered 15,000 clay tablets in 1976 in Syria, some of which mentioned Eber by name.
The examples of archaeology's value in confirming the Bible could continue, perhaps most notably with mention of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which helped establish the accuracy of the Old Testament text. But the idea is clear.
Of course, new finds will continue to spur debate, and archaeology is an inexact science. Still, informed believers should never let secular pundits convince them it has no value in confirming Scripture. As the decades pass, new discoveries will add to the list of accounts once scoffed at by skeptics but later established as indisputable facts.
All of human history is His Story.
Attempts to ‘confirm’ His Word assume they above His Word.
The better approach is to accept His Providence by faith and observe how He reveals by grace.
Then maybe the question in the title is backwards.
The Bible can help confirm archaeology.
That is a fine quote
I suspect there has been much in archaeology that has confirmed biblical accounts but because they contradict the liberal narrative, these discoveries are being suppressed, watered down, or buried in arcane reports that no one has access to or even know that they exist. The discovery of the “King David” complex has much evidence to support it as being of king David’s reign...but the usual detractors, knowing that it blows their continued belief in “the Bible as myth motif” out of the water, continue to obfuscate the issue.
For the most part, the problem is not that they existed, but when and where.
That is, the formative years of Christianity were under Roman rule, as a tiny, outlying province. Compare them to Puerto Rico as it relates to the rest of the United States, in which only the rare event is even noticed here.
Before then, there was something of an interregnum during the decline of Egypt, in which Israel was sort of independent, sort of province. And before that Israel was in the “sphere of influence” of Egypt and other nations.
So getting decent history out of the situation is not easy. Most of the historians worked for the big powers, and what little they wrote about Israel and what was happening there figures, again, about as much as Puerto Rico in US history.
Even when Christianity broke out of that area, in many directions, its biggest initial impact was in Ethiopia, the first Christian nation, even though its most important writings were hither and yon.
Even 200 years after the fact, when the religion was just getting its legs, suddenly there was huge interest in what happened, again using the Puerto Rico analogy, there 200 years ago.
If it’s any consolation, there are still huge gaps in the 3000 years of Egyptian history, which in retrospect are very important to the ancient Hebrews. So King David? I don’t know. What did the Egyptians write about him? Nothing. At least we haven’t found anything yet.
Note key words.....
"...may have been..."
No. No believer is going to be rattled by the assumptions and suppositions of a bunch of God hating, religion hating archeologists.
I find it all very interesting. As a Christian it certainly helps to prove the veracity of Scripture.
And that’s actually what has been happening-
archaeologists are using the Bible to know where and what to look for.
The claim by some that the so called Old Testament is merely allegory, makes some squirm when old artifacts are unearthed. The euphoric hails are nearly deafening when some ancient gentile hero’s remains are unearthed. To question the existence of David is nigh on to blasphemy.
Thanks for the ping. I wouldn’t consider Velikovsky to be an authority in this area of inquiry. Someone like FF Bruce or Robinson would be real authorities.
As Velikovsky said, “my books are my credentials”, and he considered the reconstruction of ancient history to be his major work. Despite nearly 70 years of attempts, no one has made any dents in his timeline. That FF Bruce book pertains to the New Testament, which hasn’t anything to do with Velikovsky’s timeline.
Well, then maybe someone should get busy revising the wikipedia entry on Velikovsky.
The fundamental criticism against this book from the astronomy community was that its celestial mechanics were physically impossible, requiring planetary orbits that do not conform with the laws of conservation of energy and conservation of angular momentum.
Velikovsky relates in his book Stargazers & Gravediggers how he tried to protect himself from criticism of his celestial mechanics by removing the original appendix on the subject from Worlds in Collision, hoping that the merit of his ideas would be evaluated on the basis of his comparative mythology and use of literary sources alone. However, this strategy did not protect him: the appendix was an expanded version of the Cosmos Without Gravitation monograph, which he had already distributed to Shapley and others in the late 1940sand they had regarded the physics within it as absurd.
By 1974, the controversy surrounding Velikovsky’s work had permeated US society to the point where the American Association for the Advancement of Science felt obliged to address the situation, as they had previously done in relation to UFOs, and devoted a scientific session to Velikovsky featuring (among others) Velikovsky himself and Professor Carl Sagan. Sagan gave a critique of Velikovsky’s ideas (the book version of Sagan’s critique is much longer than that presented in the talk; see below). His criticisms are available in Scientists Confront Velikovsky and as a corrected and revised version in the book Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science. Sagan’s arguments were aimed at a popular audience and he did not remain to debate Velikovsky in person, facts that were used by Velikovsky’s followers to attempt to discredit his analysis. Sagan rebutted these charges and further attacked Velikovsky’s ideas in his PBS television series Cosmos, though not without reprimanding scientists who had attempted to suppress Velikovsky’s ideas.
It was not until the 1980s that a very detailed critique of Worlds in Collision was made in terms of its use of mythical and literary sources when Bob Forrest published a highly critical examination of them (see below). Earlier in 1974, James Fitton published a brief critique of Velikovsky’s interpretation of myth (ignored by Velikovsky and his defenders) whose indictment began: “In at least three important ways Velikovsky’s use of mythology is unsound. The first of these is his proclivity to treat all myths as having independent value; the second is the tendency to treat only such material as is consistent with his thesis; and the third is his very unsystematic method.” A short analysis of the position of arguments in the late 20th century is given by Dr Velikovsky’s ex-associate, and Kronos editor, C. Leroy Ellenberger, in his A Lesson from Velikovsky.
Archaeologist, Rabbi and President of Hebrew Union University -- he built his career as an archaeologist by using the Bible as his "guidebook to the Holy Land".
I won't look, but I imagine wiki agrees with that.