by Ted Wright
The Bible is not just one book, but sixty-six books composed over a period of around fifteen hundred years. The stories recorded in the Bible are not myth, but real events recorded by real people who lived in real places in history. This means two things: First, as a science, archaeology can often provide a correlation of those stories with material evidence: that they either happened as the Bible records, or that there is no evidence that an event happened as the Bible states. Secondly, since the stories in the Bible are a record of real events in the past, the twin sciences of archaeology and geography become indispensible tools to help us understand the Biblical world and even provide additional evidence that the Bible is a reliable source of valuable historical & geographical information.
Archaeology in the “scientific sense,” has been around since at least the mid-nineteenth century, and there has been much that we have learned about the ancient world since that time. Since it’s been well over a century since archaeologists have been digging in the lands of the Bible, the task of knowing what’s been discovered so far and how archaeology and geography correlates with the Bible can be a bit daunting. The following is a list of five books (with links) that will hopefully provide help to the average person in understanding the value of archaeology in illuminating and affirming the Biblical record.
Note: The following list is only a beginner’s list. It’s intended for those who want to know where to begin a study of Biblical Archaeology (a term that has now been replaced by scholars to the less “offensive” terms, Syrio-Palestinian Archaeology or Near Eastern Archaeology)
A great general overview of the archaeology of the Old Testament organized chronologically, beginning with the Patriarchs in Mesopotamia (a term you should already know), and ending with the Persian exile and the rise of Greece in the Intertestmental Period (the time period between the Old & New Testaments). This is a great book to begin with! There are illustrations, charts and maps throughout the book which are very helpful. At the end of each chapter is a great bibliography for further study.
This book is the companion volume to the book listed above. It is organized into four parts which focus primarily on the cultural and political background of the New Testament period. Part 1 – The Architecture of New Testament Times; Part 2 – The Building Program of Herod the Great; Part 3 – Archaeology and the Life of Christ, and Part 4 – Archaeology and the Church. Personally, one of my favorite parts of this book is Chapter 11, ‘The Discovery and Contributions of Ancient Documents,’ which discusses the interaction of ancient historical texts with archaeology…
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