Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

Vol. 1, No. 8 Page 10 August 1999

Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

New Biblical Archaeology

Not unlike hermeneutics which is being supplanted by the infamous "new hermeneutics," biblical archaeology is being revamped with a "new" biblical archaeology. In both cases, the old, tried, proven and biblically defensible standards are being wholly undercut and discarded by "scholars" who demonstrate their agnosticism or worse at every juncture. 

Strangely, many "biblical archaeologists" today are openly enemies of the Bible. That being so, the term "biblical" should be dropped. Further, the propositions of both "new hermeneutics" and "new biblical archaeology" contradict the respective topics of hermeneutics and biblical archaeology. 

James K. Hoffmier, a professor at Wheaton College, summarizes the perspective of new biblical archaeologists. 

The result of their scholarly investigations has been that virtually all that the Bible has to say about the early history of Israel has been rejected . . . Gone are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua and now even David. The Egyptian sojourn and exodus stories, along with Sinai wanderings and Joshua's military entry into Canaan, have been reduced to retrojections or inventions by later Biblical writers. (James K. Hoffmier, "Of Minimalists and Maximalists," Biblical Archaeology Review, Vol. 21, No. 2, March/April 1995, p. 22.)
These and other biblical events, places and people are touted as "fictional." (Ibid.) New biblical archaeologists picture ". . . the emergence of Israel from varied groups of pastoral nomads, sedentary farmers and possibly even urban families, mainly of local Canaanite origin." (Shlomo Bunimovitz, "How Mute Stones Speak: Interpreting What We Dig Up," Biblical Archaeology Review, Vol. 21, No. 2, March/April 1995, p. 67.) The Old Testament is equated with "superstition" and "folk religion." (Ibid., pp. 67, 96.) 

New biblical archaeologists do not believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God (at least not by the ordinary definitions to which we subscribe). Therefore, they are predisposed not to find correlation between archaeological discoveries and the Bible. Of course, new biblical archaeologists accuse "old" biblical archaeologists of being predisposed to find correlations between archaeological discoveries and the Bible even if they must forge those comparisons. God's Word does not require fraudulently devised external evidences to defend it. However, legitimate external evidences of the Bible's veracity which may be uncovered through biblical archaeology deserve fair consideration. 

John H. Morison, Professor of New Testament Studies and Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard Divinity School, author and Lutheran minister, has a loathsome view of God's Word. In an article in Biblical Archaeology Review, he: (1) shudders at the thought 

. . . that the Hebrew Bible . . . can be understood properly by both Jews and Christians only if it is acknowledged that its ultimate meaning is seen as a prophecy for the fulfillment in Jesus Christ. . . . that all Jews should be converted to Christianity. . . . there is neither a historical nor a theological justification for such claims. (John H. Morison, "Historic Mistakes Haunt the Relationship of Christianity and Judaism," Biblical Archaeology Review, Vol. 21, No. 2, March/April 1995, p. 26.)
(2) Morison quotes a fellow Harvard colleague and proceeds to defend the statement: "Both the canon of the New Testament and the Mishnah are a tragic historical mistake." (Ibid.) He adds: 
It is a simple historical fact that Jesus was an Israelite from Galilee, and that he understood himself to be nothing else but a prophet in Israel and for Israel a venerable tradition, and he was not the first of these prophets of Israel who was rejected and persecuted though he was tried and executed by the Romans, not by the Jewish authorities. (Ibid.)
(3) According to Morison, Christianity and modern Judaism resulted from an unauthorized disruption in Judaism. A new religion (Christianity) was never intended by God or the apostles. "The Pharisee Paul," though he did not envision a new religious group, through his teaching inadvertently drove a wedge between Jews and Jewish-Gentile groups by which "the heirs of the Pharisaic tradition" caused two distinct groups to form: Jews and Christians. (Ibid., pp. 26-27.) 

Even the editor of the magazine Biblical Archaeology Review is critical of "belief in the inerrancy of the Bible." (Hershel Shanks, "A Short History of BAR," Biblical Archaeology Review, Vol. 21, No. 2, March/April 1995, p. 38.) Four sentences within two paragraphs by another renown archaeologist show the link between new archaeology and new hermeneutics which produces liberal theology. 

I think that it is time for us to stop fooling the people, making them think that there is just one Bible and that our Bible committee got closer to it than their committee did. . . . Must we continue to pretend that only our group is right denominationally and others are not right, and it is just too bad about others? . . . The Hebrew text is still in the process of standardization, but I wonder if it would not be proper for there to be an effort afoot to provide our people with the differences where they exist and let them see that there have been differences all along. I have been told by some that that would just destroy the Bible because lay folk still want to think of the Bible as somehow "inerrant." (James A. Sanders, "Understanding the Development of the Biblical Text," The Dead Sea Scrolls After Forty Years, pp. 70-71.)
Funny, if it were not so tragic, biblical archaeology has become the very thing that when it initially came forth it was intended to counteract. Biblical archaeology sprang from Palestinian archaeology as a calculated effort to offset German "higher criticism" of the Bible. 
Archaeologists working in Palestine between the end of the 19th century and the First World War are generally regarded as the "Founding Fathers" of Biblical archaeology. . . . The "Golden Age" of Palestinian archaeology the period between the two World Wars was dominated by American-style "Biblical archaeology" as championed by William Foxwell Albright and his disciples. (Bunimovitz, pp. 60-61.)
J.W. McGarvey was one valiant opponent of higher criticism. His book, Lands of the Bible, is an enduring testimony of his appeal to external evidence with which to confirm the Bible against liberal German theology. 

However, a new generation of scholars in "the 1960s and early 1970s" arose which dubbed themselves new biblical archaeologists. They dismissed the archaeological work of their predecessors as "simplistic" or otherwise faulty. Former biblical archaeologists were ridiculed for engaging in circular reasoning for their acceptance of ". . . both archaeology and the Bible as essentially trustworthy sources of historical information." (Ibid., pp. 59, 62.) 

Archaeologists are accompanied in the digs by "geologists, paleobotanists, zoologists, anthropologists, soil scientists, climatologists, etc." (Ibid., p. 65.) and apparently evolutionists (". . . we found evidence of early man's settlement in the Arabian Peninsula nearly a million years ago." (Hamid Abu Duruk, "Archaeology Thriving in Saudi Arabia," Biblical Archaeology Review, Vol. 21, No. 2, March/April 1995, p. 73.)) Together, these specialists collaborate to render interpretations regarding biblical archaeology. These interpretations are naturally subject to whatever presuppositions that the archaeologists may have. Consequently, new biblical archaeologists are promoters of humanistic depiction of man's past, present and future. They tend to destroy the Bible as God's Word and encourage an ecumenical, liberal theology. Personally, were I to adopt what new biblical archaeologists have to offer, I would not be anything religiously. I would be a confirmed atheist. 

Fortunately, though in the minority, there are still old biblical archaeologists. They still do revere God's Word and are willing to make correlation between archaeology and the Bible where those comparisons legitimately exist. Happily, there are numerous archaeological proofs that serve as external evidence to the truthfulness of the Bible. Finally and remarkably, no archaeological discoveries have been unearthed which contradict the Bible. 

"For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (Matthew 24:24). 


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