Beneath The Surface An Editorial Comment -- By: Bryant G. Wood

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 12:1 (Winter 1999)
Article: Beneath The Surface An Editorial Comment
Author: Bryant G. Wood

Beneath The Surface
An Editorial Comment

Bryant G. Wood

Bryant Wood on Jebel Abu Ammar. The broad valley behind him may be the valley where Joshua and the Israelite forces camped on the eve of their victory over Ai (Jos 8:11, 13). In the distance is Kh. el-Maqatir, Wood’s candidate for the Ai of Joshua.

We know where most secular scholars stand on the issue of the Conquest. “It never happened,” they say. But what about evangelical scholars? Two recent review articles attempt to formulate an evangelical position. The result? Chaos and confusion! These articles underscore more than ever the crying need for the research the Associates for Biblical Research is engaged in.

“The Hill Country Is Not Enough For Us: Recent Archaeology and the Book of Joshua” appeared in the Southwestern Journal of Theology (vol. 41, issue 1, 1998, pp. 25-43). The author is Daniel C. Browning, Jr., who holds the Ph.D. degree in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth TX. He is currently Associate Professor of Religion at William Cary College, Hattisburg MS.

Browning rightly maintains, “the application of archaeological data to the study of the book of Joshua has become an increasingly difficult task in recent years” (p. 25). He adds, “The conservative interpreter, in particular, is hard pressed to reconcile the archaeological data with the text of Joshua” (p. 39). After reviewing the evidence, Browning concludes,

In order to defend—in a credible way—a military invasion, the conservative interpreter must be willing to concede that the book of Joshua is a glorified account of relatively small military encounters with an occasional major victory. The interpreter must further accept the possibility of etiological elements and editorial expansion of the story and the likelihood that some elements which composed Israel had their origin within the land itself (p. 42).

In other words, evangelicals must concede that the Biblical account of the Conquest is less than accurate and so must be reinterpreted in order to come into agreement with the supposed “assured” results of archaeological research. But is the problem with Scripture, or is it with scholars’ interpretations of archaeological evidence? I believe it is the latter.

One major difficulty—of both evangelical and secular scholars—is that they are looking in the wrong time period. It is clear from Browning’s assessment of the archaeological data that he considers the Conquest (if it ever occurred) to have happened in the late 13th century BC:

The emergence of Israel and th...

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