Anthropology and Archaeology
The Bible – History or Myth?
In the July 2006 edition of Biblical Archaeological Review is an article titled “Is There a Biblical Archaeology?”. Even though the magazine is called Biblical Archaeology Review, it is thoroughly evolutionary in what it presents. Although the editor routinely states in his editorials that he encourages diversity of opinion, the one opinion that is never allowed in the magazine is that the Bible is true. Such is the case with the article on Biblical Archaeology by Ronald Hendel. The author writes, “If one looks around today, it seems that Biblical Archaeology has been mostly abandoned.” “Archaeology did not illumine the times and events of Abraham, Moses and Joshua. Rather, it helped to show that these times and events are largely unhistorical.” Why has Biblical Archaeology been mostly abandoned? Hendel writes that it is because those who believe the Bible “eschew the critical methods of Biblical scholarship and historiography”, but when the history of Biblical Archaeology is examined, it is not the Bible believers who disregard critical methods, it is the skeptics. One of the best examples of this is the excavation of Jericho.
Jericho is one of the oldest cities in the world. Like many cities of the Middle East, it is a layered city, one city built on the ruins of a previous city. In some cases there are a dozen layers of cities on top of each other.
In the 1950’s archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon carried out extensive excavations of Jericho. Her team dug thru layer after layer of ancient cities until they found one layer that had thick walls, had been burned by fire and had huge quantities of food that was undisturbed. The importance of the food that they found is that in the ancient world food was very valuable. All food had to be hand processed and one of the most important things looted from a conquered city would be its food reserves, but not at this layer of Jericho. When God had promised the Israelites success at Jericho, He had made one condition, they were not to take anything from the city for themselves, not even the food. Everything that Kathleen Kenyon had found fit perfectly with the Biblical account, so naturally in her report on the excavation she stated, “The excavation of Jericho, therefore, has thrown no light on the walls of Jericho of which the destruction is so vividly described in the Book of Jericho.” So why did Kenyon ignore the facts in her report? Because she had found some bits of pottery that did not fit a dating system that she had invented. Based on these bits of pottery she issued a report that stated that the Book of Joshua was myth, with no factual basis for the stories in it.
Not only was this report used by detractors of the Bible to denigrate its truthfulness, it was used in schools of archaeology to teach future archaeologists that the Bible was not a reliable historical document. Even though archaeologists before and after Kenyon, John Gerstang and Dr. Bryant Wood to name just two, and Kenyon’s own evidence supported the Biblical account, that is not how Jericho is presented to the public. All truth is God’s truth. It is the interpretations and prejudices of some people that are used in an attempt to discredit the Bible. Whether Kathleen Kenyon set out to discredit the Bible, or was simply indifferent to it is not clear. What is clear is that we cannot depend upon fallible human reasoning to dismiss any part of God’s Word.