Old Testament History and Recent Archeology from Abraham to Moses -- By: Gleason L. Archer, Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 127:505 (Jan 1970)
Article: Old Testament History and Recent Archeology from Abraham to Moses
Author: Gleason L. Archer, Jr.

Old Testament History and Recent Archeology
from Abraham to Moses

Gleason L. Archer, Jr.

[Gleason L. Archer, Professor of Old Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.]

[Editor’s note: This article is the first in the series of W. H. Griffith Thomas lectures delivered by Dr. Archer in November, 1969, at Dallas Seminary.]


For students of the Bible the last fifty years of archeological discovery have been more momentous than in any previous period of comparable length in the history of the Christian church. With the establishment of the British mandate in Palestine and the French mandate in Syria-Lebanon in the aftermath of World War I it became possible for European and American scholars to obtain unhampered access to many of the important biblical sites and to enlist the interest of wealthy contributors to cover the costs of major excavations in this entire region. In Mesopotamia also major discoveries were made at Mari and Nuzi in the kingdom of Iraq, which threw a flood of light upon the pre-Mosaic period of Bible history.

As the evidence was exhumed from the soil at localities like Samaria, Jericho, Lachish, Shechem, Beth-shan, Megiddo, Bethel, Ezion-geber, and even the hill of Ophel in Jerusalem, many details of the cultural life of the Israelites came to light, to the enrichment of our understanding of the religious and political conditions under which the great leaders and prophets of Old Testament times carried on their ministry for the Lord.

Further information of great value for the understanding of ancient Phoenicia was obtained from continued digging at Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos, and especially from a town virtually unknown before 1928, named Ugarit, and located more than one hundred miles north of Byblos. The discovery there

of an entire library of literary and economic texts dating from about the time of Moses and written in a Canaanite dialect closely related to Hebrew perhaps outranks all the others in value for Hebrew backgrounds in the second millennium B.C. Even more sensational was the discovery of the Dead Sea caves in which the Qumran sectarians hid their scrolls at the time of the first Jewish revolt, among which the most celebrated was the complete copy of Isaiah dating from the second century B.C., a thousand years earlier than the earliest dated complete copy of the Hebrew Bible.

The impact of these discoveries upon the world of modern biblical scholarship can scarcely be overrated. The accuracy of the consonantal text of the Hebrew Bible as preserved by the Massoretes was completely vindicated as an authentic text tradition going back to pre-...

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