How Archaeology Is Thwarting Those Who Want to Rewrite History
by Ron Allen
The spring 2018 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review announced the retirement of its founder, Hershel Shanks, after 43 years of service.
Mr. Shanks is an example of the impact a dedicated layman can make on the scientific, historic and religious world. Trained as a Harvard lawyer, he fell in love with biblical archaeology on a sabbatical to Jerusalem in 1973. It was Shanks who led the crusade to get the Dead Sea scrolls released by the scholars who had kept them under wraps for 50 years. He also covered the major archaeological controversies where the religious and political fault lines of the Holy Land are played out.
One of the major fault lines comes between the religious and the secular world views of scholars. The secular scholars are constantly attacking the work of earlier Christian and Jewish archaeologists, with a “minimalist” school which argues that such biblical figures as David are mythological. Another line of attack comes from Palestinians who, for political reasons, want to deny Jewish history and try to prevent archaeologists from digging up the Jewish past. There is also an occasional conflict between Jewish and Christian acceptance of findings.
While the BAR, as it is affectionately known, is a secular, not religious, publication, they do try to fairly present the issues. They gleefully reported an artifact which substantiated the existence of…