Expert commentaries[edit]

[…]”the purpose of biblical archaeology is the clarification and illumination of the biblical text and content through archaeological investigation of the biblical world.”

— written by J.K. Eakins in a 1977 essay published in Benchmarks in Time and Culture and quoted in his essay “Archaeology and the Bible, An Introduction”.

Archaeologist William G. Dever contributed to the article on “Archaeology” in the Anchor Bible Dictionary. In this article he reiterates his perceptions of the negative effects of the close relationship that has existed between Syro-Palestinian archaeology and biblical archaeology, which has caused the archaeologists working in this field, particularly the American archaeologists, to resist adoption of the new methods of processual archaeology. In addition he considers that: “Underlying much scepticism in our own field [referring to the adaptation of the concepts and methods of a “new archaeology”, one suspects the assumption (although unexpressed or even unconscious) that ancient Palestine, especially Israel during the biblical period, was unique, in some “superhistorical” way that was not governed by the normal principles of cultural evolution”.[12]

Dever found that Syro-Palestinian archaeology had been treated in American institutions as a sub-discipline of bible studies, where it was expected that American archaeologists would try to “provide valid historical evidence of episodes from the biblical tradition”. According to Dever “the most naïve [idea regarding Syro-Palestinian archaeology] is that the reason and purpose of “biblical archaeology” (and, by extrapolation, of Syro-Palestinian archaeology) is simply to elucidate facts regarding the Bible and the Holy Land”.[13]

Dever has also written that:

Archaeology certainly doesn’t prove literal readings of the Bible…It calls them into question, and that’s what bothers some people. Most people really think that archaeology is out there to prove the Bible. No archaeologist thinks so.[14] […] From the beginnings of what we call biblical archaeology, perhaps 150 years ago, scholars, mostly western scholars, have attempted to use archaeological data to prove the Bible. And for a long time it was thought to work. William Albright, the great father of our discipline, often spoke of the “archaeological revolution.” Well, the revolution has come but not in the way that Albright thought. The truth of the matter today is that archaeology raises more questions about the historicity of the Hebrew Bible and even the New Testament than it provides answers, and that’s very disturbing to some people.[15]

Dever also wrote:

Archaeology as it is practiced today must be able to challenge, as well as confirm, the Bible stories. Some things described there really did happen, but others did not. The biblical narratives about AbrahamMosesJoshua and Solomon probably reflect some historical memories of people and places, but the ‘larger than life’ portraits of the Bible are unrealistic and contradicted by the archaeological evidence….[16] I am not reading the Bible as Scripture… I am in fact not even a theist. My view all along—and especially in the recent books—is first that the biblical narratives are indeed ‘stories,’ often fictional and almost always propagandistic, but that here and there they contain some valid historical information…[17]

Tel Aviv University archaeologist Ze’ev Herzog wrote in the Haaretz newspaper:

This is what archaeologists have learned from their excavations in the Land of Israel: the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is that the united monarchy of David and Solomon, which is described by the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom. And it will come as an unpleasant shock to many that the God of Israel, YHWH, had a female consort and that the early Israelite religion adopted monotheism only in the waning period of the monarchy and not at Mount Sinai.[18][19][20]

Professor Finkelstein told The Jerusalem Post that Jewish archaeologists have found no historical or archaeological evidence to back the biblical narrative on the Exodus, the Jews’ wandering in Sinai or Joshua’s conquest of Canaan. On the alleged Temple of Solomon, Finkelstein said that there is no archaeological evidence to prove it really existed.[21] Professor Yoni Mizrahi, an independent archaeologist, agreed with Israel Finkelstein.[21]

Regarding the Exodus of Israelites from Egypt, Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass said:

Really, it’s a myth,… This is my career as an archaeologist. I should tell them the truth. If the people are upset, that is not my problem.[22]

Other scholars dispute these claims. In his 2001 book The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable and Relevant? Evangelical Old Testament scholar Walter Kaiser, Jr. included a chapter entitled, “Does Archaeology Help the Case for Reliability?”[23] Kaiser states:

[T]he study of archaeology has helped illuminate the Bible by casting light on its historical and cultural location. With increasing clarity, the setting of the Bible appears more vividly within the framework of general history…. by fitting biblical history, persons, and events into general history, archaeology has demonstrated the validity of many biblical references and data. It has continued to cast light, whether implicitly or explicitly, on many of the Bible’s customs, cultures, and settings during various periods of history. On the other hand, archaeology has also given rise to some real problems with regard to its findings. Thus, its work is an ongoing one that cannot be foreclosed too quickly or used merely as a confirming device.[24]

Kaiser goes on to detail case after case in which the Bible, he says, “has aided in the identification of missing persons, missing peoples, missing customs and settings.”[23] He concludes:

This is not to say that archaeology is a cure-all for all the challenges brought to the text–it is not! There are some monstrous problems that remain–some created by the archaeological data itself. But since we have seen so many specific challenges over the years yield to such specific data in favor of the text, a presumption tends to build that we should go with the text until definite contrary information is available. This methodology that says that the text is innocent until proven guilty is not only recommended as a good procedure for American jurisprudence, but it is recommended in the area of examining the claims of the Scripture as well.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up to:a b c William G. Dever (2011). “Biblical Archaeology”. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near EastOxford University PressISBN 9780199892280.
  2. ^ “Find a dig: Biblical Archaeology Society”. Cited April 18, 2016.
  3. ^ R. Dennis Cole, “Recent Developments in Biblical Archaeology,” The Theological Educator, 49 (Spring 1994): 51-64. Cited April 18, 2016.
  4. ^ Forgers “tried to rewrite biblical history”, Conal Urquhart, The Guardian, Friday 31 December 2004.
  5. ^ Narkas website
  6. ^ NZ man’s hunt for Noah’s Ark hits a rocky patchThe New Zealand Herald, 10 November 2004.
  7. ^ Shafer Parker Jr. (May 6, 2013). “Science Shines New Light on Shroud of Turin’s Age” Retrieved October 28, 2016.
  8. ^ R.N Rogers, “Studies on the Radiocarbon Sample from the Shroud of Turin”, Thermochimica Acta, Vol. 425, 2005, pp. 189–194, article; S. Benford, J. Marino, “Discrepancies in the radiocarbon dating area of the Turin shroud”, Chemistry Today, vol 26 n 4 / July–August 2008, p. 4-12, articleArchived 2012-03-04 at the Wayback MachineEmmanuel Poulle, ″Les sources de l’histoire du linceul de Turin. Revue critique″, Revue d’Histoire Ecclésiastique, 2009/3-4, Abstract Archived2011-07-10 at the Wayback Machine; G. Fanti, F. Crosilla, M. Riani, A.C. Atkinson, “A Robust statistical analysis of the 1988 Turin Shroud radiocarbon analysis”Proceedings of the IWSAI, ENEA, 2010.
  9. ^ Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the BibleRuth GledhillThe Times, 5 October 2005,
  10. ^ The Gift of Scripture, Party Two, Section 14 The truth of Scripture, p17 Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, 2005,
  11. ^ Pius XII (30 September 1943). “Divino Afflante Spiritu Encyclical Of Pope Pius Xi On Promoting Biblical Studies”. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  12. ^ Dever, p. 357
  13. ^ Dever, p. 358
  14. ^ Bible gets a reality check, MSNBC , Alan Boyle
  15. ^ The Bible’s Buried SecretsPBS Nova, 2008
  16. ^ Dever, William G. (March–April 2006). “The Western Cultural Tradition Is at Risk”. Biblical Archaeology Review32 (2): 26 & 76.
  17. ^ Dever, William G. (January 2003). “Contra Davies”The Bible and Interpretation. Archived from the original on 2007-02-02. Retrieved 2007-02-12.
  18. ^ The Nature of Home: A Lexicon of Essays, Lisa Knopp, p. 126
  19. ^ Deconstructing the walls of Jericho Archived December 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Herzog, Ze’ev (29 October 1999). “Deconstructing the walls of Jericho”lib1.library.cornell.eduHa’aretz. Archived from the original on 10 November 2001. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  21. Jump up to:a b “Senior Israeli archaeologist casts doubt on Jewish heritage of Jerusalem – Middle East Monitor” Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  22. ^ Did the Red Sea Part? No Evidence, Archaeologists SayThe New York Times, April 3, 2007
  23. Jump up to:a b Kaiser, 2001, p. 97-108.
  24. ^ Kaiser, 2001, p. 98.
  25. ^ Kaiser, 2001, p. 108.


  • Walter C. Kaiser Jr., The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable and Relevant? (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 97-108.
  • The Anchor Bible Dictionary, “Archaeology”, by William Dever.

Further reading[edit]

  • William F. Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1940)
  • Anati EPalestine Before the Hebrews: A History, From the Earliest Arrival of Man to the Conquest of Canaan (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1963).
  • Ashmore, W. and Sharer, R. J., Discovering Our Past: A Brief Introduction to Archaeology (New York: McGraw Hill, 2013). ISBN 0-7674-1196-X. This has also been used as a source.
  • Blaiklock, E. M., and R. K. Harrison, eds. The New International Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1983).
  • Chapman, and J.N. Tubb, Archaeology & The Bible (British Museum, 1990).
  • Cornfeld, G., and D. N. Freedman, Archaeology of the Bible Book By Book (New York: Harper & Row, 1989).
  • Davies, P. R., In Search of ‘Ancient Israel’: A Study in Biblical Origins, Sheffield (JSOT Press, 1992).
  • Davis, Thomas, Shifting sands: the rise and fall of Biblical archaeology (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).
  • Dever, William G., “Archaeology and the Bible : Understanding their special relationship”, in Biblical Archaeology Review 16:3, (May/June 1990)
  • Dever, William G. (2002). What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. ISBN 0-8028-2126-X.
  • Dever, William G. (2003). Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. ISBN 0-8028-0975-8.
  • Finkelstein, Israel; Silberman, Neil Asher (2001), The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, New York: Simon and Schuster, ISBN 0-7432-2338-1.
  • Frend, William Hugh Clifford, The Archaeology of Early Christianity. A History, Geoffrey Chapman, 1997. ISBN 0-225-66850-5
  • Frerichs, Ernest S. and Leonard H. Lesko eds. Exodus: The Egyptian Evidence. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1997 ISBN 1-57506-025-6 Denver Seminary review
  • Halevi, Masha, “Between Faith and Science: Franciscan Archaeology in the Service of the Holy Places”, Middle Eastern Studies, Volume 48, Issue 2, 2012, pp. 249–267.
  • Hallote, R. Bible, Map and Spade: The American Palestine Exploration Society, Frederick Jones Bliss and the Forgotten Story of Early American Biblical Archaeology, (Gorgias Press, 2006) Discusses American involvement in biblical archaeology before 1900.
  • Kafel, A. (October 29, 1999). “Deconstructing the walls of Jericho”Ha’aretz. Archived from the original on October 1, 2017. Retrieved April 18, 2016..
  • Keller, Werner, The Bible as History, 1955.
  • Lance, H.D. The Old Testament and The ArchaeologistLondon, (1983)
  • Mancini, Ignazio. Archaeological Discoveries Relative to the Judaeo-Christians: Historical Survey, trans. [from Italian] by G. Bushnell [as] updated by the author. In series, Publications of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum: Collectio minor, no. 10. Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1970. Without ISBN or SBN
  • Mazar, A.Archaeology of the Land of the Bible (The Anchor Bible Reference Library, 1990)
  • Mykytiuk, Lawrence J. (2004). Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200–539 B.C.E. SBL Academia Biblica series, no. 12. Atlanta, Ga.: Society of Biblical Literature.
  • Mykytiuk, Lawrence J. (2009),”Corrections and Updates to ‘Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200-539 B.C.E.,’ ” Maarav 16/1, pp. 49–132.
  • Negev, Avraham; Gibson, Shimon, eds. (2003). Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land. New York, NY: The Continuum International Publishing Group.
  • Neumann, Thomas W. and Robert M. Sanford, Practicing Archaeology: A Training Manual for Cultural Resources Archaeology Rowman and Littlefield Pub Inc, August, 2001, hardcover, 450 pages, ISBN 0-7591-0094-2
  • Ramsey, George W. The Quest For The Historical Israel. London (1982)
  • Renfrew, Colin & Bahn, Paul G., Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice, Thames and Hudson, 4th edition, 2004. ISBN 0-500-28441-5
  • Robinson, Edward (1856) Biblical Researches in Palestine, 1838–52, Boston, MA: Crocker and Brewster.
  • Schoville, Keith N. Biblical Archaeology in Focus. Baker Publishing Group, (1978).
  • Sanford, Robert M. and Thomas W. Neumann, Cultural Resources Archaeology: An IntroductionRowman and Littlefield Pub Inc, December, 2001, trade paperback, 256 pages, ISBN 0-7591-0095-0
  • Thompson, J.A., The Bible And Archaeology, revised edition (1973)
  • Trigger, Bruce. 1990. “A History of Archaeological Thought”. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-33818-2
  • Wright, G. ErnestBiblical Archaeology. Philadelphia: Westminster, (1962).
  • Yamauchi, E. The Stones And The Scriptures. London: IVP, (1973).

External links[edit]