U.S. News: Biblical archaeology matters politically
Jeff Sheler, religion reporter for U.S. News & World Report, is no stranger to arguments over biblical archaeology. He's also the author of the 1999 book Is the Bible True? How Modern Debates and Discoveries Affirm the Essence of the Scriptures. Now, in this week's U.S. Newscover story, Sheler gives an update on biblical archaeology, and examines how findings matter not just religiously, but politically. "With Middle East violence flaring in the background, the often arcane scholarly enterprise has been transformed into a high-stakes and highly politicized conflict over the reliability of the Bible, the reality of 'ancient Israel,' and the validity of competing historical claims to the land called Holy," he writes. "Expunging [biblical] events from ancient history, some argue, would seriously weaken modern Israel's claims to a biblical birthright in the Middle East." Much of Sheler's reporting, however, comes from a new documentary on the History Channel: Digging for the Truth: Archaeology and the Bible (it premiered Monday, but will be on again Sunday night). Sheler notes that it's not just Jews who are battling over their heritage. Palestinians are trying to show connections with the ancient Canaanites—and thus saying, in essence, "we really were here first." A sidebar reports archaeologists' fury at Palestinians for using bulldozers to excavate new openings on the Temple Mount.

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