Why Bother with Biblical Archaeology?
Author: Robin D. Fish
Note: Creation Moments exists to provide Biblically sound materials to the Church in the area of Bible and science relationships. This Bible study may be reproduced for group use.
Some people are fascinated with the past. Some of us are not. Those who find studying the past more work than pleasure may wonder why we bother to study archaeology at all. In this study we will attempt to answer that question. You will note that this study is more discussion and less Bible than most, because while the Bible doesn’t tell us to study archaeology, common sense and the pressures of the world do.
There are, however, several places in Scripture where we are admonished to remember the acts of God, the men of old, or what has happened to God’s people in particular circumstances. Refer for examples to Deuteronomy 5:15 and 6:20-25. These obviously referred originally to the very people they were spoken to, but were intended for ages to come to read, and remember. We are those future ages.
Other passages commanding remembrance include Exodus 13:3, Deuteronomy 9:7 (note Psalm 95:7-11 anticipates such remembering), Deuteronomy 15:15, Deuteronomy 32:7, and the most striking command for remembrance—that in the Lord’s Supper, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” Psalm 119:52, 143:5, and Isaiah 63:11 are examples of a people obeying the command to remember. Then Hebrews 11 speaks of the faithful men and women of old, ones we are presumed by the text to be familiar with. Do these commands and expectations apply to us today? Discuss what importance remembering these things can have for a Christian, and for a congregation.
There was a time when the Biblical text was sufficient. Do you think that this is true today? We acknowledge that it should be, but for many it is not. How many do you think could stand against the “scientific” criticism of the Bible coming from supposed “Christian scholars” who assert that the events of the Bible and the writers of the Bible could not have been as we have always understood them to be?
The attack on our faith takes many forms, one of the chief of which is modern Biblical criticism. In criticism, man takes the superior position to Scriptures and tells the Bible what can and cannot be, what is true and what must be fable. God never intended faith to be blind, ignorant faith, but informed and knowledgeable. That is why God acted publicly on behalf of His people and publicly prophesied what he was going to do. That is why Christ performed His miracles (the word miracle also means “sign”). Why were they reported (John 20:30-31)?
How can we answer the critics if not with blind, unreasoning faith alone? Biblical Archaeology is one way.
The second reason for studying archaeology is apologetics. We need to communicate our faith. There are times when we cannot demonstrate the factual nature of our teachings—and at those times we need to simply trust God’s Word. But those who do not already have that confidence need answers that make sense to them in response to the questions those false guides raise about the Biblical witness. Again, Biblical Archaeology supplies some of the answers. Read 1 Peter 3:15. Does this verse apply also to us? Does it have any bearing on why we should be knowledgeable of the facts revealed in Biblical Archaeology.
Briefly, then, we should study the findings of the Biblical archaeologists so that we may know and better understand the Scriptures, for the strengthening of our own faith, and to give that witness to others of the hope that is in us.
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