The Battle For Old Testament History And Archaeology -- By: Gary R. Gromacki
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The Battle For Old Testament History And Archaeology
Associate Professor of Bible and Homiletics
Baptist Bible Seminary
Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania
On November 13, 2008, a two-hour NOVA special on biblical archaeology1 titled “The Bible’s Buried Secrets” aired on television. The documentary revealed the disagreement between archaeologists over the historicity of many people and events recorded in the Bible. Paula Apsell, senior executive producer of the NOVA special, said,
“The Bible’s Buried Secrets” is an archaeological journey into the Hebrew Bible, more commonly known as the Old Testament. It
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builds on centuries of biblical scholarship and excavation to tackle some of the biggest questions in biblical studies: Where did the ancient Israelites come from? How and when did their religion transform into modern Judaism? Who wrote the Bible, when and why? How did the ancient Israelites, who like virtually all ancient peoples, worshipped many gods, come to believe in a single God? The answers to these questions emerge as we look both at the archaeological evidence and at the biblical text itself—the powerful accounts describing Abraham and his journey to the Promised Land; Moses and the Exodus; David’s kingdom and Solomon’s Temple; and the destruction of that temple and Jerusalem followed by the Exile of the Jews to Babylon.2
Minimalist archaeologists believe that there is no archaeological evidence of an Exodus from Egypt or of an Israelite conquest of Canaan. Some minimalists contend that ancient Israel as described in the Bible never existed. They believe that Abraham, Moses, and David and Solomon are fictional characters of Hebrew mythology. Minimalists generally accept the Documentary Hypothesis (JEDP theory) regarding the origin of the Pentateuch.
One prominent archaeologist, Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University, has written a book called The Bible Unearthed. He writes,
But that is not to say that archaeology has proved the biblical narrative to be true in all its details. Far from it: it is now evident that many events of biblical history did not take place in either the particular era or the manner described. Some of the most famous events in the Bible clearly never happened at all.
Archaeology has helped to reconstruct the history behind the Bible, both on the level of great kings and kingdoms and in the modes of everyday life. And as we will explain in the fo...
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