Beneath The Surface An Editorial Comment -- By: Gary A. Byers
Beneath The Surface
An Editorial Comment
In this issue of Bible and Spade, Bryant Wood presents his preliminary report on our 2000 Khirbet el-Maqatir excavation. It is ABR’s mission to do both field work and academic research, so we sponsor and direct both this and David Livingston’s Khirbet Nisya dig. Biblical archaeology needs more evangelicals doing original research and field work, because the conservative approach is widely dismissed among scholars.
Thus good field work and research as well as regularly reporting our findings are very important. Archaeologists regularly present excavation results at annual meetings and in peer-review archaeological journals. Annual reports of our Khirbet el-Maqatir excavation have been filed with the Israel Antiquities Authority, who issues our excavation permit, and presented at the annual meeting of the Near East Archaeological Society. In addition, we file preliminary reports in submitted peer-review archaeological journals.1
Dr. Wood submitted such a report summarizing the first three seasons at Kh. el-Maqatir to an academic journal. In conclusion, he noted:
The LBI [Late Bronze I—1550 to 1400 BC.] fortress meets the Biblical requirements to be tentatively identified as the fortress ‘Ai, referred to in Josh. 7–8.
Since the only historical information about ancient Ai comes from the Bible and our evidence seemed to fit that description, this is a reasonable conclusion. Unfortunately, the journal’s editors did not see it that way. In a letter they challenged his conclusion:
You must provide archaeological-chronological evidence for your tentative identification of the site as Biblical ‘Ai., or else omit the preliminary conclusions altogether. Please explain why you accept the LB I as the period of Joshua, contrary to general opinion.
To which Dr. Wood responded:
You asked me to explain why I accept the LB I as the period of Joshua, contrary to general opinion. The only information we have about ‘Ai is what is recorded in the Bible. Thus, when you asked me to add a few sentences providing support for my identification of the site with Biblical ‘Ai..., I listed the Biblical requirements for ‘Ai. According to the chronological data given in the Bible, the period of Joshua is the late 15th century B.C.E. Therefore, occupation in the late 15th century B.C.E. is a Biblical requirement for ‘Ai. A short report in News and Notes is not the place to enter into a discussion of modern theories concerning the nature of the emergence of Israel or the date of Joshua. I wish only to ...
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