Digging into Recent Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology

A survey of fascinating excavations and controversial conclusions.

Few things are more fascinating to the student of the Bible than new archaeological discoveries. These discoveries are more and more frequent, but it would be impossible to enumerate even the most significant ones. Instead, the more important books in this field are annotated here, emphasizing books for the nonspecialist and those published after 1979.

Two short paperbacks provide an excellent place to begin. R. Moorey’s Excavation in Palestine (Eerdmans, 1983, 128 pp., $6.95) is actually an introductory and background volume to a new series, Cities of the Biblical World. (Two others in the series, Jericho and Qumran, are referred to below.) Seven chapters provide basic information, including what archaeology is, its history, methods, process of excavation, and interpreting of the finds. Expecially valuable is the last chapter on the use and abuse of archaeology in biblical studies. This chapter is essential reading because it succeeds so well in showing both the values and limitations of archaeology for the study of the Bible.

Since archaeology usually provides general background information rather than specific details, it can neither prove (nor disprove) the accuracy or historicity of the Bible. In fact, Moorey points out, when applied too specifically it gives information that differs from the biblical text on the conquest of Ai and Jericho.

Another good book for beginners is H. D. Lance’s The Old Testament and the Archaeologist (Fortress, 1981, 112 pp., $4.50). Lance is a field archaeologist who succeeds well in showing both the values and limitations of archaeology. By referring to some of his own experiences, ...

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