The Witness Of Archaeology -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bible and Spade (First Run)
Volume: BSP 03:1 (Winter 1974)
Article: The Witness Of Archaeology
Author: Anonymous

The Witness Of Archaeology

George Ernest Wright is one of the outstanding Biblical archaeologists of our time. He is a professor at Harvard University and has been active in a number of Palestinian excavations over the years. He has written a number of books on Biblical archaeology and Biblical theology. In his book Biblical Archaeology, Prof. Wright made the following significant comments on the role of archaeology.

“.. . the biblical scholar no longer bothers to ask whether archaeology proves the Bible. In the sense that the biblical languages, the life and customs of its peoples, its history, and its conceptions are illumintated in innumerable ways by the archaeological discoveries, he knows that such a question is certainly to be answered in the affirmative. No longer does this literature project from the chaos of prehistory ‘as though it were a monstrous fossil, with no contemporary evidence to demonstrate its authenticity.’ [W. F. Albright, “Recent Discoveries in Bible Lands”, Supplement to Young’s Analytical Concordance (20th ed., New York, 1936), p. 1.] Yet the scholar also knows that the primary purpose of biblical archaeology is not to ‘prove’ but to discover. The vast majority of the ‘finds’ neither prove nor disprove; they fill in the background and give the setting for the story. It is unfortunate that this desire to ‘prove’ the Bible has vitiated so many works which are available to the average reader. The evidence has been misused, and the inferences drawn from it are so often misleading, mistaken, or half true. Our ultimate aim must not be ‘proof,’ but truth. We must study the history of the Chosen People in exactly the same way as we do that of any other people, running the risk of destroying the uniqueness of that history. Unless we are willing to run that risk, truth can never be ours.

“It can be stated emphatically, however, that to those who have been willing to run this risk the literature of Israel and of the Church appears more distinctive than ever before. We are now in a position to evaluate it, because we have something with which to compare it in its time. We can now see that though the Bible arose in that ancient world, it was not entirely of it; though its history and its people resemble those of the surrounding nations, yet it radiates an atmosphere, a spirit, a faith, far more profound and radically different than any other ancient literature. The progress

of archaeology, of textual, literary, and historical criticism has never obscured the fact that the biblical writers were the religious and literary giants of ancient times, though they themselves would never have said so. They claimed that they were simply bearing witness to what God had ...

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