Monday, 9 January 2012



The Bible is a historical book. Rather than being a “once upon a time” fairytale, it is rooted in history. Ernst Renan once said that “all history is incomprehensible without Christ.” But it is also true that both Christ and the Scriptures are equally incomprehensible without the historical backdrop against which they are framed.


Archaeology is one of the newer sciences. As such, it is a new study of old subjects. The word itself takes us back to antiquity. “Arche” is the Greek word for “beginning.” Archaeology therefore is the study of beginnings. The following definitions have been proposed.

   1. The science of the study of history from the remains of early human cultures as researched primarily by systematic excavations.
   2. A systematic and descriptive study of antiquities via the exploration of the remains of past humans.
   3. That branch of historical research which investigates past civilizations from surviving art, architecture, monuments, inscriptions literature, language, customs, and other material traces.

Biblical archaeology is that area of archaeology which throws light upon our understanding of the Bible. As such, Biblical archaeology will be primarily restricted to the study of the culture and history of the Middle East and the Mediterranean world - that area which served as the historical context for the Bible.


1. To Aid us in Understanding the Bible.

Each book of the Bible was written to a particular audience.

          o Genesis is written to Israelites who have come out of Egypt.

          o Judges is written to Israelites living under the monarchy of Israel.

          o Chronicles is written to post-exilic Jews returning to the land.

          o The epistles are written to various churches throughout the Roman Empire.

In each case, the human author of the book assumes a certain amount of a prior knowledge. He assumes that he can speak of various geographic or cultural areas and that they will be known and understood and applied by his readers.

Our problem is that we are reading ancient Scriptures from a 21st century vantage point. A study of Biblical archaeology helps us to step into the sandals of the original readers and to interpret the Scriptures properly. It is only then that we will be able to apply the truths of the Scriptures rightly in our day.

2. To Affirm the Scriptural Narrative.

The Bible’s historical accuracy has long been the source of attack. These attacks have not abated in recent years; they have escalated in intensity. One of the necessary fields of Biblical apologetics will be the defense of the historical veracity of the Bible. The battlefield for this conflict will be the arena of Biblical archaeology.

Make no mistake, this is no easy conflict. There are many archaeologists who reject the Bible out of hand, going so far as to deny the historicity of the patriarchs, the Exodus event and the existence of David or Solomon and their kingdoms.

At the same time, we must realize that there are many things in the Bible which are not substantiated in current Biblical archaeology. That is because we have only found a small fraction of the remains of antiquity.

Principle: The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. This has been proven time and time again as new finds have substantiated areas which were previously thought to be in error.

3. To Aid us in the Work of Bible Translation.

Language is not a constant. It is always changing. One has only to pick up a King James Bible to see how much the English language has changed over the past 400 years. What it true of the English language is also true of the languages in which the Bible was written.

          o The Old Testament was written primarily in Hebrew with a few chapters in Daniel being penned in Aramaic. Modern Hebrew has gone through some changes and there are a number of words in the Old Testament which are “hapax legomenon” - words which appear only once and which appear nowhere else.

How are we to determine the meanings of such words? It is the field of archaeology which provides assistance. Archaeological writings give us other examples of the usage of certain words and are a great help in interpreting the Bible.

          o The New Testament is written in Koine Greek. The Greek of the New Testament is very different from the modern Greek which is spoken today. Fortunately, we have a great deal of examples of Koine Greek to compare with our New Testament vocabulary.

The lands of the Bible go far beyond the tiny boarders of the land of Israel. The story of the Bible begins in Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. By the end of the New Testament, our horizons have been stretched westward all the way to Spain. This means that we could divide Biblical Archaeology into two distinct parts:

1. Old Testament Archaeology.

The lands of the Old Testament would be those around the Fertile Crescent. This is a large band of relatively fertile land stretching from the Persian Gulf northward along the courses of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and then south along the Levant. Though known as the “Fertile Crescent,” much of these lands can only be considered fertile when compared to the surrounding deserts.

2. New Testament Archaeology.

Although still centered in the land of Palestine, our focus in the New Testament turns its attention westward. The story of Acts and the Epistles is a movement from Jerusalem to Rome.

Between these two periods is a time known as the “Silent Years.” It is a period when there were no prophets in Israel. But it is not a period which is silent with reference to history. 

Old Testament

New Testament
1600+ Years of History
400 “Silent Years”
70-90 Years of History
Centered on the Fertile Crescent

Centered on the Mediterranean World

The Jewish writings known as the “Apocrypha” and specifically the books of Maccabees were written during this period. The books of Maccabees are an excellent resource in filling in for us the historical details of what took place in Israel between the close of the Old Testament Scriptures and the beginning of the New Testament.


Discovery: Archaeologist Finds First Foot-Shaped Compounds Built by the Israelites After Exodus? Teresa Neumann (April 9, 2009)

"The ‘foot’ held much significance as a symbol of ownership of territory, control over an enemy, connection between people and land, and presence of a deity…The Bible has a wealth of references to the importance of the ‘foot’ as a symbol of ownership, the link between people and their deity, defeating the enemy ‘underfoot’, and the temple imaged as a foot."

Discovery: Name of Biblical Family

( Archeologists have discovered a stone seal that includes the name of a family who were servants during the First Temple, were exiled to Babylonia and then returned to Jerusalem. Dr. Eliot Mazar, who was involved in the recent discovery that may have revealed King David’s palace, announced the discovery and said, "One cannot help being astonished by the credibility of the biblical source as seen by the archaeological find.

Biblical Insights From Archaeology
By Ferrell Jenkins

Because the Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek it is necessary that someone translate it into English and other languages so that it can be read by those with little or no knowledge of the original languages. Most of us realize this. Perhaps we do not see as readily that the customs and culture of the Bible must also be "translated" for the modern reader. History and archaeology provide the Bible student with much help in this effort.

Bible and Archeology

Archaeology is a fast-growing science which aims at studying the history and sociology of man in the past. This is done by uncovering remains of ancient buildings, art, inscriptions, and any kind of artifact which would throw light on the life, manners and customs of the cultures in the past.

New Discoveries and Old Truths

It is an exciting time to be alive. All around us we see amazing things that man has accomplished and some new tools have informed us about features of the cosmos and the world around us that are incredible. Each new discovery and accomplishment that is made opens new understandings and applications, and each understanding has implications for our beliefs in God and our understandings about how God relates to us. Faith is not some dead object. Faith is a growing, living, changing thing which is dynamic and active. To accomplish all of this, faith must be fed. We feed our faith by worship, prayer, our association with other Christians, reading the Bible, and by continuing to study and learn about God through His creation (Romans 1:18-22 ; Psalm 19:1). What we would like to do in this article is take a look at some of the new discoveries that have been made by scientists and see what implications these discoveries have for those who believe in God.

Biblical Credibility and Archaeology

One of the great friends of the Bible is the field of archaeology. Over and over, the biblical record has been validated by archaeological finds. Here is a list of some new ones reported in the Associated Press, December 9, 1996.


There are a variety of evidences that can be used to support the fact that the flood described in the Bible did occur. In Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April, 1997, page 10, is a report of some new work in the Black Sea.

William Ryan and Walter Pittman at Columbia University report that some 7500 years ago sea levels rose rapidly and salt water cascaded through the Bosporos strait into the Black Sea, raising levels some 500 feet and flooding at least 60,000 square miles of land. There are a variety of other indications of changes in sea level all around the world that further support the concept of a massive flood. These types of studies cannot answer questions about the extent of the flood or whether it is even the one described in the Bible, but they do show events like the one described occurring and lend credibility to the biblical account. 

Gyroscope Earth

Many of us as a child enjoyed a toy called a gyroscope. It was a small spoked wheel in a round frame. The wheel was spoked and fairly heavy, and it had a hole drilled in the axle that a string went through. You wound up the string by winding the gyroscope wheel backward and then pulled the string hard, making the wheel spin faster and faster. When the string finally ran out, the spinning gyroscope would do many strange things. If you put the axis straight up and down, the gyroscope would be an ordinary top-although very stable. If you put the axis parallel to the ground and put the end of the gyroscope on a point, it would hang in mid air, seemingly in defiance of gravity slowing turning around the end by which it was supported.

Radio Carbon Dating and the Biblical Data

Man has a great desire to learn about the past. Determination of how old relics from the past are is of great importance to everyone involved in studying the past, and as a consequence scientists have developed numerous methods to determine the age of old things.  Many of these methods depend upon "radioactivity", which is a special behavior exhibited by certain elements.  These methods are often called "radioactive dating" methods. Probably Radiocarbon Dating is the most well known of all these techniques, and even many laymen have heard this name.

The Tower of Babel

The Tower of Babel: Outside The Bible

In addition, there is a specific time duration in which this tower must have been built. Archaeological evidence proves that such a ziggurat must have been built no later than 2,400 BC:

Archaeological evidence proves that the Bible’s description of the tower of Babel is historically accurate on the following points:

* The description of the building
* The time at which it was built
* The specific materials from which it was constructed
* The order of the construction process
* The motives involved in its construction

The Bible describes the tower of Babel using a term which is historically appropriate:

The record of the tower of Babel is one of the most well known but most misunderstood passages of the Bible. People remember in general terms the great tower, man’s challenge to God, and the confusion of language, but they usually remember the specific details imperfectly.

The Leaning Colossus

One of the sites that is always visited by the Diggings tour is the Colossi of Memnon, two huge statues that sit alone in the plain on the west bank of the Nile opposite Luxor.


The excavations at Tel Mardikh in Syria, 60 km south of Aleppo, were sensational, proving that this was the ancient Ebla. From previous inscriptions, scholars had assured that Ebla was an insignificant town in antiquity. Now Ebla is known to have been a large city of great political importance.

Copyright, John T. Stevenson, 2000 (Used With Permission)

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