Beneath The Surface, An Editorial Comment -- By: Scott Stripling
Beneath The Surface, An Editorial Comment
Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to publish several articles in Bible and Spade and to work as a supervisor on the Associates for Biblical Research’s excavation at Khirbet el-Maqatir in Israel. I am truly honored to now be joining the staff of this organization in which I so deeply believe. My passion is to peel back the centuries of accumulated perceptions concerning the Bible in order to arrive at the actual sitz im leben (life setting). Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart have it right— we must first go “then and there” before we can accurately interpret Scripture “here and now.” Archaeology is the ultimate expression of that lofty goal.
Far too often the Bible is judged guilty until proven innocent. Examples of this are endless, but here are three to consider. Dame Kathleen Kenyon, who excavated at Jericho from 1952-1958, fancied herself “unencumbered by any biblical baggage.” When she dated the walls of Jericho to the Middle Bronze Age instead of the Late Bronze Age (period of the Conquest), so-called “minimalists” were all too eager to proclaim the inaccuracy of the Bible. The ripples of this continue to our own times. To this I would simply respond that it does not matter when Jericho’s walls were built; what matters is when they fell.
Another example is the existence of the Iron Age United Monarchy, specifically King David. Prior to 1993, it was not uncommon to hear liberal scholars wax eloquent regarding the absence of a single mention of David in the archaeological record. That all changed with the discovery of the now-famous “House of David” inscription found in secondary use at Tell Dan in northern Israel. Since its discovery at least two other references to David have also been identified, not to mention a structure in Jerusalem that is likely his palace. Once again, the Bible was presumed guilty until proven innocent. It is almost as if scholarship is being conducted under a type of Napoleonic Law.
Finally, and most germane to the readers of Bible and Spade, is the “Problem of Ai.” Albright, Callaway, and a host of others abandoned scriptural inerrancy when no Late Bronze Age material was found in the excavations at et-Tell, the site accepted by all parties as the Ai of Abraham’s day. However, through the excellent work of Dr. David Livingston and Dr. Bryant Wood, it has now been established that the city of Ai likely migrated to a nearby site. This phenomenon is not uncommon in the ancient and modern world. For example, New Testament Jericho is about one mile from Old Testament Jericho. We all do well to remember the words of Proverbs 18.17, “the first to speak seems right until someone comes forward and cross-examines.”
In May, I had t...
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