Beyond Indiana Jones: The WHY of Biblical Archaeology
BY Wesley Biblical Seminary
April 17, 2017
This summer, Wesley Biblical Seminary is offering an intensive course on Biblical Archaeology at its Greenwood, IN extension site. Building from a proper understanding of the term “Biblical Archaeology,” this course will introduce students to the basics of archaeology, archaeology in Syria-Palestine, and its most important results for Biblical Studies. The course will be taught by Dr. David Schreiner, who is a veteran of the excavations at Tel Rehov and is currently working on a volume that assesses some of the most important archaeological finds for Old Testament Studies.
by Dr. David Schreiner
When you hear the term “archaeology,” what comes to mind? Do you envision Harrison Ford running around, dodging bullets with a bull whip, fending off Nazis? Or, perhaps it’s Nicholas Cage trying to decode cryptic messages so he can discover a lost hoard of treasure? Maybe you envision something more modest, an unnamed man or woman who discovers something at an excavation that in turn revolutionizes his or her field?
If you find yourself envisioning these things, or something similar for that matter, then you’re not alone. Archaeology is often understood in such grandiose and sensational ways. And when it comes to archaeology’s impact upon the Bible, such tendencies are often magnified. Yet, I must admit, there is good reason for such excitement. So much of God’s revelation came through the historical experiences of ancient Israel. Consequently, any discipline that can illuminate these experiences, and by implication God’s revelation, must be embraced. Moreover, skeptics of the faith often point to historical issues as a way to undermine its veracity. Any discipline that can provide ammunition to respond to such attacks is worth our time.
But this does not mean that archaeology serves Biblical Studies or is fundamentally concerned with biblical apologetics. Rather, it’s an independent discipline that can impart important information upon Biblical Studies. Indeed, in some cases the results of archaeology have revolutionized the paradigms of Biblical Studies and even proven some of the Bible’s historical claims, but those instances stand in the minority. Ultimately, it’s imperative that one understands the intentions of archaeology and how to responsibly apply its findings to issue of biblical interpretation.
For a list of some of the most important for Old Testament Studies, see WBS’ series “Pondering the Spade.”