May 17, 2007

Can the Bible be used in Archaeology?

City Gate Ramp Into Troy - Where they rolled the horse in? Visited June 2004

Secular archaeologists are always saying that you can’t use the Bible to find an archaeological site (See archaeologists such as William Dever). My response is why not. Oh right because the Bible account is a myth. But who says which ones are true and which are false? OK then why can they use mythical texts to find archaeological sites but those who believe the Bible is historically accurate can not? Heinrich Schliemann used the mythical text of Homer (Iliad and Odyssey) to find Troy (Yamauchi, Edwin M. “Historic Homer Did it Happen?” Biblical Archaeology Review 33.2 (March/April 2007): 2937). What is wrong with using the geographical indicators in the biblical text to find ancient sites. So even if the biblical text is myth (which I don’t believe it is) but for the sake of argument, even if it was myth, the writers still knew the geography of the region. In fact secular archaeologist use ancient texts all the time for clues to help find sites. The most recent discovery of Herod’s tomb was prompted by the belief that King Herod was buried in the Herodium because Josephus said it was there. See article. The ancient writers were very well aware of the geography. The secular archaeologist starts with the presupposition that the Bible is not true, sites don’t exist and therefore there is no point in looking for them. But Gen 10 mentions other sites (Nineveh, Ur, Calah, Babel, Erech, etc) which they accept as historical places. What is it about Sodom and the other cities of the plain that takes them off the list. Oh right it has a story they don’t like!! Interesting how people just pick and choose what they like in the Bible.

Second, sometimes I’m accused of trying to prove the Bible true. I’m not trying to prove the Bible because the Bible doesn’t need proving. It is true and doesn’t need me to prove it. There is enough evidence just in the Resurrection alone to prove the Bible true, but still people don’t believe because its not about the evidence (Luke 16:31). My presupposition is that the Bible is true and reliable and can be trusted even for its geographical locations. We may not always understand or interpret them correctly but that is one of the benefits of archaeology. However, as all good archaeologists do, we start with a hypothesis “Tall el-Hammam is Sodom” and then we look at the evidence - right time (middle bronze), right place (eastern most point on the Kikkar, round plain), right stuff (evidence of severe destruction at the right time and then no occupation for 500 years – no late bronze pottery) and we say - does the evidence match our hypothesis and we say yes, every bit of it. This is more evidence then most sites already called and accepted have produced. Short of an inscription that says "welcome to Sodom" we have all the evidence that is used on every other site to call it "found."

Lets see some of the evidence that this is not Sodom instead of just "it can’t be because the Bible isn’t true and the story is a myth." What criteria do they have for picking Nineveh and not Sodom from Gen 10 other than an unregenerate bias.

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