Archaeology

I. The Meaning of Archaeology. By definition archaeology is the study of antiquity. In modern times it has graduated from a treasure hunt into a highly scientific discipline, a branch of history that works with the unwritten material remains of antiquity. W. F. Albright once wrote that next to nuclear science, archaeology has become the fastest-growing discipline in the country. Excavation is only one aspect of the total effort of an archaeological enterprise. Geographical regional surveys, geological analyses, evaluation of artifacts, translation of inscriptions, reconstruction of architecture, examination of human remains, identification of art forms, construction of ceramic pottery typology for chronological purposes, and many other highly complex scientific endeavors constitute a major part of the expedition’s work. The end result of it all is to enrich our understanding of unknown aspects of ancient civilizations.

II. Biblical Archaeology. G. E. Wright has insisted that biblical archaeology is an armchair variety of general archaeology, but William Dever has correctly emphasized that archaeology is biblical only where and when the scientific methodology of general archaeology uncovers something relative to the Bible. There is no special science or technique available to the biblical scholar. One who digs a biblical site is a biblical archaeologist in the same way that one who digs a classical site is a classical archaeologist. The methods are the same. There are no special methods or aims for biblical archaeology. Special emphasis should be given to the fact that all reputable archaeology strives for the same total reconstruction of the past and presupposes the same standards of objectivity. As Roland de Vaux pointed out, archaeology cannot prove the Bible. Spiritual truth is of such a nature that it cannot be proven or disproven by the material discoveries of archaeology. The truths of the Bible do not need proving; they are self-evident. But as the Israeli scholar Gaalyah Cornfeld commented in a recent book, “The net effect of archaeology has been to support the general trustworthiness and substantial historicity of the biblical traditon where data are available.” The study of the Bible and the pursuit of archaeology belong together. When Middle-Eastern archaeology began about a century ago, the majority of the excavators were biblical scholars. They recognized the fact that the greatest contribution archaeology could make to biblical studies would be to illuminate our understandings of the cultural settings in which the various books of the Bible were written and which they reflect. That information will, at times, significantly affect our interpretation of relevant sections of the text.

III. The History of Palestinian Archaeology. Although some exploration had been done in the Middle Ages, no real interest was kindled in Middle-Eastern antiquities until after 1600 when cuneiform documents from Persepolis reached Europe. Napoleon took a team of scholars with him in 1798 to study the antiquities of Egypt once he had conquered it. One of his officers discovered the Rosetta Stone, whose identical inscription in three languages unlocked the mystery of Egyptian hieroglyphs and opened the history of Egypt. Palestine was explored in the mid-1800s by Edward Robinson, Charles Warren, C. R. Conder, H. H. Kitchener, and others. A British officer named Henry Rawlinson found a trilingual inscription at Behistun, Persia, that unlocked the mysteries of cuneiform, and this “Rosetta Stone of Persia” further heightened interest in the lands of the Bible.

Although exploration of Palestine had been remarkably well done by the end of the century, excavation was quite rare and virtually worthless. Systematic excavation got underway only after 1870 when Heinrich Schliemann discovered in Troy on the west coast of Turkey that the mounds dotting the horizon all over Bible lands were actually the remains of ancient cities successively destroyed and rebuilt, one on top of another. Lack of understanding about these mounds had reflected itself in Bible translations prior to that time—for example, Josh.11.13 in the KJV: “But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them save Hazor only.” The Hebrew word tell, whose meaning was unknown at that time, was translated “strength.” Schliemann’s work showed that the word rather meant “mound” and later revisions of the KJV translate the phrase correctly: “the cities that stood on their mounds.”

Nevertheless, his work was still of little influence in Palestinian excavation. He realized that these mounds consisted of strata, layers of civilization superimposed one on the other like layers of cake, but he did not know how to date them other than the obvious fact that the oldest ones were at the bottom. It remained for Sir Flinders Petrie to provide the means of dating these strata that has remained our most important method until the present time. In Egypt he became familiar with ceramic pottery that could be dated by tomb inscriptions. In his work in Israel in 1890 he discovered that the same forms of pottery could be found in various strata of his excavation at Tell el Hesi. He observed that the pottery styles changed from layer to layer and that he could date the strata by the changing forms, in much the same way that automobiles can be dated by their changing forms. His work was supplemented by that of W. F. Albright at Tell Beit Mirsim in 1926-32, and an extensive ceramic typology was published that has become a standard basis of comparison for Palestinian archaeologists. This has proven to be the single most important method of dating ancient sites, because the pottery is virtually indestructible and was so easily made that people never bothered to take it when they moved.

IV. The Future of Palestinian Archaeology. Albright trained a generation of archaeologists, both American and Israeli, and work today continues at a feverish pace both by his students and those whom they have trained. These in turn are training a new generation. The “new archaeology,” which has become prominent in the past decade, is seeking to go beyond the concern these men had with structures and chronology and is attempting to reconstruct the total picture of the society that lived in a given period of history. Such an approach to excavation requires a vast array of expertise, and expeditions are regularly staffed now with such specialists as paleoethnobotanists, geologists, architects, ceramicists, numismatists, stratigraphers, historians, linguists, photographers, geographers, and the like. The days of treasure hunting are over; excavations have become scientific expeditions.

Archaeology is a rapidly developing science. Its potential for significant contribution to the interpretation of the Bible is well established and the future is bright for the discipline. There is much that remains to be done. Paul Lapp estimated in 1963 that of a total of 5,000 sites in Palestine there had been scientific excavations at about 150, including only 26 major excavations. Of the more than 5,000 mounds located in Iraq, ancient Babylonia, and Assyria, fewer than 30 major excavations are documented in Beek’s Atlas of Mesopotamia, less than 1 percent of the total sites. Little more than 10 percent of the 500,000 cuneiform tablets found in Mesopotamia had been published when another 17,000 were found in 1974 and 1975 at Tel Mardikh (Ebla) in Syria. Yigael Yadin estimated that at the rate of his normal excavation progress at Hazor in Galilee it would take 8,000 years to thoroughly excavate the site. Hazor covers about 200 acres in its upper and lower sections. How long would it take to thoroughly excavate the 8,000 acres of Caesarea Maritima? Work has been going on there since 1972 and fewer than 5 acres have been excavated!

V. Recent Contributions of Archaeology to the Study of the Bible.

A. Old Testament. Until recently it was commonly felt that Abraham lived in the Middle Bronze Period (c. 2000-1500 b.c.), but an electrifying new discovery in Syria in 1974 at Tell Mardikh (Ebla) has caused Noel Freedman to place him in the Early Bronze period at a time when Ebla was at its height of power and influence. A royal library was found here consisting of 20,000 clay tablets, 80 percent of which were written in Sumerian and the rest in an unknown Semitic language akin to Hebrew that is now called Eblaite. Located halfway between modern Aleppo and Hama, at the top of the Fertile Crescent, the city was in the heart of Abraham’s ancestral home territory of Haran and flourished in c. 2200 b.c. Names like David, Micah, Jerusalem, Sodom, Gomorrah, Haran, and Ur appear in the texts. Here we have a cultural area as large and influential as either Egypt or Lower Mesopotamia at the time civilization began.

The impact of archaeology has been felt recently on the interpretation of the date of the Exodus of Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt. A thirteenth-century b.c. date has been indicated by destruction levels that date to that century in excavations of Hazor, Jericho, Ai, Lachish, and other sites mentioned in the Book of Joshua. John Bimson argued in a publication in 1978 that neither the archaeological nor the biblical evidence militates against an early date. His selectivity in handling archaeological data, however, has limited the influence of his book among archaeologists. A growing trend sees the Exodus not as an event but as a series of events beginning with some sort of violent intrusion followed by a more socio-economic upheaval of people within the land. Both Yigael Yadin and Yohanan Aharoni held such a view. However, a restatement of the early date of the Exodus and conquest has been made by a leading Egyptologist: Hans Goedicke, chairman of the department of Near Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University, puts the Exodus in the spring of 1477 at the time Thera/Santorini was blown apart by a volcano that, he argues, caused tidal waves that drowned the Egyptians in the Red Sea. Conservatives will not be happy, however, with Goedicke’s rejection of the Bible as descriptive historiography. The early date has also been argued recently (1982) by Eugene Merrill, who deprecates the archaeological evidence that does not reveal the destruction in the fifteenth century b.c. of the cities Joshua is said to have conquered. Merrill argues that the thirteenth-century evidence of destruction is irrelevant because the Bible does not really say Joshua destroyed these cities, only that he conquered them and reused them. He considers Hazor an exception to this policy (Josh.11.13). Therefore he does not expect to find destruction levels associated with Joshua’s conquest. But it should be pointed out that Jericho was burned (Josh.6.24)! The more daring views of Norman Gottwald and Robert Boling, that the conquest was not a military invasion at all, are so at variance with the straightforward reading of the biblical text that they will not likely secure a large following. To call it merely an economically based sociological upheaval is inadequate. A final resolution of the issue, however, is still not possible.

The period of the monarchy has been significantly touched by the excavations at Hazor, Megiddo, Jerusalem, and Gezer. These cities, which were renovated by Solomon (1Kgs.9.15), have been found to have unique water systems, and all but Jerusalem have unique city gates. Jerusalem has not been thoroughly excavated, however, because it continues to be a living city. The water systems consist of hidden underground springs outside the city walls. Water is brought through a secret tunnel into the city to a pool that is reached by a stairway. The gates have four protruding sections facing each other from two separate structures, producing three compartments within, and are unique in ancient Palestine. Excavations on Mount Ophel by Yigal Shiloh in the early 1980s have produced a part of the city wall just south of the temple mount that may belong to Solomon, extending below and not into sixth-century-b.c. buildings as Kathleen Kenyon had previously thought when she first excavated the wall and dated it to the time of Nehemiah.

Asher Kaufmann has found convincing evidence of foundational cuttings for the temples of Solomon and Zerubbabel/Herod on the NW corner of the temple platform. The cuttings coincide with the 16.7 inch (42.8 cm.) cubit used in the construction of the first temple and the 17 inch (43.7 cm.) cubit used in the second temple. These line up the Most Holy Place with the modern Golden Gate, solving a previously inexplicable problem of the misalignment of the Gate in relation to the current Dome of the Rock, which has been assumed to sit over the temple site. In 1983 James Fleming published his discovery of another gate beneath this one belonging either to the second or tenth centuries b.c., possibly built by Solomon.

A stunning discovery was made in 1980 during the excavation of a sixth-century-b.c. burial cave in Jerusalem. It was a silver amulet, 3.82 inches (9.8 cm.) long, containing the ancient Hebrew name of God (Yahweh or Jehovah) inscribed on it. Although the name is found more than 6,800 times in the OT, this is the first time that the name has been found in excavations in Jerusalem.

In 1977 the tomb of Philip II of Macedon was found in Vergina, Greece, containing the bones, armor, and gold diadem of this man. His son Alexander the Great made Greek the universal language of the empire, the language in which the books of the NT were originally written. The lid of his golden casket was decorated with the golden sunburst, symbol of the Macedonian kings.

Equally important but not so recent are a number of finds that significantly contribute to our understanding of the OT. A number of discoveries have greatly weakened the Wellhausian theory of the evolutionary development of the Israelite religion. This theory advocated that Moses could not have written the Pentateuch because neither language nor the concept of law had yet developed to the advanced stage represented in the Law of Moses. In refutation of this, James Pritchard has published in ANET four laws found in Mesopotamia that are older than those of Moses and are almost identical in the casuistic (if...then) portions. The Ur-Nammu Law Code was produced by the founder of the third dynasty of Ur and builder of the best preserved ziggurat in Mesopotamia. He ruled from 2112 to 2095 b.c. Twenty-nine laws are extant. The Eshunna Code found in a suburb of Baghdad (also called the Code of Bilalama) was published by Bilalama, who reigned about 1950 b.c. Sixty laws are extant. The Lipit Ishtar Code was produced by this fifth ruler of the dynasty of Isin who ruled from 1864 to 1854. Thirty-eight laws are extant. The Hammurabi Code dates from his reign, 1728 to 1686, and there are 282 laws inscribed on a stela preserved in the Louvre in Paris. All of these are casuistic in nature; i.e., like the Book of the Covenant in Exod.21.1-Exod.21.36-Exod.24.1-Exod.24.18, they are written in the form “if...then.” No apodictic laws (“You shall not...”) have yet been found in the Middle East corresponding to Exod.20.1-Exod.20.26.

An account of the Flood, called the Gilgamesh Epic, was found in 1853 in the midst of a long and beautiful Babylonian poem, excavated as a part of Ashurbanipal’s library in Nineveh. It contains remarkable parallels to the biblical account, such as a warning of the coming flood, the building of an ark, the flood coming, the ark resting on a mountain, and birds being sent out to find land. The hero of the story corresponding to the biblical Noah is Utnapishtim who, like Noah, offers a sacrifice after the Flood. Pritchard dates the original composition of the work to c. 2000 b.c. The story is found in many ancient languages including Assyrian, Hittite, Hurrian, and Sumerian.

The period of the patriarchs has been illuminated by the discovery in 1925 of approximately one thousand clay tablets at Nuzi in Mesopotamia, written in Akkadian cuneiform and dating to the fifteenth century b.c. Even though they were written about three centuries after the patriarchal period, they are generally acknowledged as reflecting much older material, throwing light on customs that existed in the very region inhabited by the family of Abraham. There are parallels to numerous customs mentioned in Genesis, such as the importance of the patriarchal blessing that Isaac gave Jacob, the giving of a handmaid to one’s husband as Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham, the transfer of a birthright as Isaac did from Esau to Jacob, the proof of ownership of property by the possession of one’s family idols explaining why Rachel stole her father’s teraphim. These indicate that the appropriate setting for the stories told in Genesis is the second millennium b.c. and not the first, as some radical critics claimed.

For the period of the Exodus and conquest much of the older evidence has been reevaluated by later digs and better dating techniques, though, as discussed above, there is still no substantial agreement about either the nature or date of these events. Garstang’s dates for Jericho and Hazor have been shown to be wrong by Kenyon and Yadin respectively, while work in the past fifty years at other sites mentioned in Joshua—such as Gibeon, Ai, Azekah, and Lachish—have yielded dates for destruction levels later than most readings of the biblical data will easily warrant. Kenyon dated the fall of Jericho earlier than the usual late date (thirteenth century b.c.) but much later than the early date (fifteenth century). Both archaeological methodology and the handling of biblical numerology are still imperfect, and the results yielded are less than certain.

Our understanding of the religion of the Canaanites at the time of the conquest has been greatly increased by the discovery of ancient Ugarit in 1928 and its excavation until the 1950s. A library was found there by Claude Schaeffer dating to the period of the city’s greatest literary and cultural achievements (1600-1200 b.c.), and written in what we now call Ugaritic. It testifies to the depraved nature of Canaanite religion at this time, including the boiling of a goat kid in its mother’s milk, a practice warned against in Exod.23.19 and Exod.34.26 and which probably lies at the heart of the kosher laws. In addition to considerable information about the Canaanite idol Baal, against whom strong invectives are made in the Bible, there appears also the astonishing fact that the chief deity of the Canaanites was named El, the same name used by the Jews for their God. Help is being found in this library for correcting our misimpressions of some words in our Hebrew Bibles. For example, we should probably render bamoth as “backs” rather than “high places” in Deut.33.29, and “fields that yield offerings” as “upsurging of the deep” in 2Sam.1.21.

Considerably more information was gained about the various cities of Palestine about the time of the Exodus and conquest by the discovery of the Amarna Letters dating to the reign of Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton) and his father in the late fourteenth century b.c. These clay tablets, written in the Babylonian language, were found in Tell-el-Amarna, Egypt, in 1887. They refer to a marauding class of people called Habiru, who may possibly be the Hebrews, though this is not certain.

In the fifth year of the Pharaoh Merneptah (c. 1223-1211 b.c.) he commemorated his military achievements over the eastern Mediterranean by setting up a black granite stela with an extensive inscription containing among other references these words: “Canaan is plundered with every evil; Ashkelon is taken; Gezer is captured...Israel lies desolate.” This is the earliest reference to Israel in antiquity.

Important references to people mentioned in the Bible have been found in the centuries following the monarchy (this was discussed in the beginning of this section). The divided kingdom after Solomon (ninth to sixth centuries b.c.) was affected by Syrians, Moabites, Assyrians, and Babylonians, all of whom left witness of their relation to biblical events in official monuments. The ninth-century Moabite stone, published by Mesha, king of Moab, was found at Diban in Jordan in 1868. It contains references to Omri, king of Israel (2Kgs.3.1-2Kgs.3.27). The Milgart Stele from the same century, found apparently in 1939 north of Aleppo, Syria, contains the name of Ben-Hadad the king of Syria referred to in 1Kgs.15.18. The Zakir Stele, also ninth century, found in 1907 south of Aleppo, commemorates a victory of Zakir, king of Hamath, over this same Ben-Hadad. The Assyrian sources have been found to be basically reliable as have those of the Neo-Babylonian period. Historical texts from these two empires have been found in Nineveh, Nimrud (Calah of Gen.10.10-Gen.10.11), Ashur, and Babylon. The Kurkh Stele, erected in the mid-ninth century, contains the name of Ahab the Israelite (1Kgs.16.29). The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III not only contains the name of “Jehu, Son of Omri,” a king of Israel (2Kgs.10.28-2Kgs.10.29) in the late ninth century, but also has a depiction of him bowing before Shalmaneser. Jehu is bearded and wears a sleeveless mantle over a long fringed and girded tunic. This is the only contemporary depiction of any Israelite king.


One of the most important documents of the period is the Babylonian Chronicle containing a running and probably contemporary record of the exploits of the Babylonians in Syria, Palestine, and other countries. It states that “the Babylonian king [Nebuchadnezzar]...on the second day of the month of Adar [March 16, 597 b.c.] took the city and captured the king [Jehoichin]” (2Kgs.24.12-2Kgs.24.13). This gives a firm date for OT and Babylonian chronology. Cyrus the Persian, who conquered the Babylonians in October of 539, left a clay cylinder inscribed in cuneiform that tells of his decree allowing conquered peoples to rebuild their cities and religious shrines. This is consistent with the biblical record of the return of the Jews from Persia to Palestine in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

B. The New Testament. Herod the Great was king of the Jews when Jesus was born. He was the greatest builder in Jewish history, having built in twenty sites in Palestine and thirteen outside the land. Extensive remains of his program have been found in recent excavations that supplement what we already know about him. At Casearea Maritima portions of his wall around the city have been found since 1972, including the northern gate. His harbor and about a hundred vaulted warehouses stretching along the harbor have been found in underwater excavation. The high-level aqueduct and the small theater in which he dedicated his newly built city have long been identified. An inscription bearing the name of Pontius Pilate was found in the theater. His desert palace at Herodium, south of Bethlehem, has recently been shown to have seven levels in the large donut-shaped mound. The lower palace has an esplanade and large square pool found by Ehud Netzer. The esplanade leads to a building complex that Netzer thinks may contain the tomb of Herod. A unique circular pavilion with concentric walls stood in the middle of a pool, its unique design appearing in Palestine only in Herod’s building projects; e.g., in the middle level pavilion at Masada’s northern palace and in the frigidarium (unheated bathing pool) of the Roman bath in his palace at Jericho. A portion of a similar structure has been found in the area just north of the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem which Netzer thinks may be the family tomb of Herod. This structural oddity may have influenced the design of the similar edifice in Hadrian’s villa outside Rome. Yadin’s excavation of Masada, on the west side of the Dead Sea, revealed a massive complex of buildings constructed by Herod, consisting of casemate walls, a northern palace in three tiers, a large bathhouse, a swimming pool, many huge cisterns, warehouses, and a dining hall later converted into a synagogue. In the 1970s Herod’s winter palace at Jericho was found by Ehud Netzer and Eric Meyers and was extensively excavated, revealing a large reception hall with an adjoining apse leading to a large Roman bath. Included in the complex was the older Hasmonean winter palace containing many pools, including the large one in which Herod had Aristobulus drowned. It also contained several of the oldest mikvehs (Jewish pools for ritual bathing) yet found in Palestine (second century b.c.). Evidence of his work in Jerusalem is seen in the tower still standing in the Jaffa Gate, which Titus left to show the greatness of the city he had conquered. A considerable portion of the Herodian courses of stone undergirding his expansion of the temple mount have been exposed, including some monoliths that weigh 400 tons (364 metric tons). The arches holding up the southern end of the temple mount are Herodian, not Solomonic.

Excavations at Capernaum in the past decade have revealed that the synagogue there is not earlier than the fourth century a.d. but that it was built over a first-century synagogue whose basalt stone floors and walls have been found directly beneath the floor of the fourth-century prayer hall. This no doubt was the synagogue that Jesus attended while in Capernaum with Simon Peter. The house of Peter may have been located immediately south of the synagogue, built of the same basalt stone found in the earlier synagogue. A large room in the center of the house has evidently been venerated since the mid-first century when the pottery found in the room ceased to be domestic. The walls were plastered about this time, the only excavated house in Capernaum so done. On the wall 130 grafitti in several languages mention Jesus as Lord and Christ, among other things. The room was designated by an arch and then covered in the fourth century by a square Byzantine church building, over which a fifth-century octagonal church was built with a mosaic floor that remained there until the recent excavations.

In Jerusalem the pool of Bethesda (John.5.2) has been excavated just inside the eastern Lion Gate, and further to the south the pool of Siloam (John.9.7) is easily identified by Hezekiah’s tunnel connecting it with the Gihon spring. Thirty steps leading up to the temple mount through the southern gates of Hulda, two hundred feet (sixty-three m.) in width, have been found along with adjacent houses from the time of Christ. Underground walkways and aqueducts have been excavated in this area dating to the same period. A portion of an aqueduct built by Pontius Pilate has recently been found in Bethlehem; this aqueduct brought water to Jerusalem from south of Hebron. The stone pavement on which Jesus stood before Pilate (John.19.13) is almost certainly to be identified with the courtyard of the Fortress of Antonia, beneath the Sisters of Zion Convent. Excavations of Kathleen Kenyon have shown that the modern Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the probable site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, was outside the first-century city wall. Ancient burials for everyone but kings and high officials were outside the walls.

In 1947 the Dead Sea Scrolls were found on the NW shore of the Dead Sea in a number of caves, deposited there by a sect of Jews generally identified as Essenes. Their walled community nearby was excavated from 1953 to 1956, revealing several large cisterns used for baptisms and for storage of water brought in by aqueduct from the cliffs to the west. John the Baptist may have been closely acquainted with this sect in his earlier life. They not only baptized, but, like John, used Isa.40.3 to justify their being in the wilderness. He preached in this area and baptized Jesus not far away. Ten of eleven caves found produced tens of thousands of fragments of ancient books including some of every book of the OT. A full copy of Isaiah was found dating to the second century b.c., the oldest copy of a book of the Hebrew Bible. The Essenes’ documents were produced between 200 b.c. and a.d. 50. The community, consisting of perhaps two hundred members, was destroyed by the Romans about a.d. 68.

In recent decades many papyri containing books of the NT dating into the second and third centuries a.d. have been found; e.g., the Bodmer II papyrus of the complete Gospel of John, the Chester Beatty papyri of Paul’s Letters, and the John Rylands fragment of John.18.1-John.18.40 (which dates to the early second century, making it the oldest surviving piece of any book of the NT). A third-century Greek inscription of Rom.13.3 was found in 1972 in excavations at Caesarea Maritima. It is part of a mosaic floor belonging to a building that was constructed in the third and destroyed in the seventh century. Some of the missing pages in Codex Sinaiticus, a fourth-century manuscript of the Bible, have just been found in St. Catherine’s Convent at Sinai.

In 1945 a complete library was discovered at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, that contains many apocryphal NT books along with other books related to the religion of second-century Gnostic sects. Originally produced in Greek, they were translated into Coptic in the fourth century. These documents are extremely valuable for studying the milieu of early Christianity and have been recently published by James Robinson. Gnostic-type groups constituted a challenge to mainline Christianity in these early centuries, replacing the biblical emphasis on faith with that of a special kind of knowledge (gnosis). They seem to have prompted the finalizing of the limits of the NT canon.

An important discovery bearing on the chronology of the NT has been reported by Jerry Vardaman, who has found coins with an accession date of a.d. 56 for Festus, before whom Paul appeared (Acts.25.1). This is a pivotal date for establishing the chronology of the activities of Paul. Equally important is the older discovery of the Gallio inscription in Delphi, Greece, which places this proconsul in Greece in the spring of 51, and thus Paul’s arrival there about eighteen months earlier (Acts.18.11). Although Vardaman has not yet published his material, it is accepted by Jack Finegan in his Archaeology of the New Testament: Mediterranean World of the Early Christian Apostles (1981).

No less exciting is Vardaman’s discovery of “micrographic” letters on coins and inscriptions of the first century that date the proconsulship of Quirinius in Syria and Cilicia from 11 b.c. Although not yet published, this new evidence will erase doubt as to the accuracy of Luke’s statement (Luke.2.2) that Quirinius ruled Syria at the time Christ was born and the census was taken.

An inscription dating probably to the middle of the first century a.d. was found in the pavement NE of the large theater in Corinth, reading ERASTUS. PRO. AED/S.P.STRAVIT. It means that Erastus, in return for his aedileship (an aedile was a Roman official in charge of public works), laid the pavement at his own expense. Unabbreviated it would read “Erastus pro aedilitate sua pecunia stragit.” This must refer to the same Erastus whom Paul mentions as “treasurer of the city” of Corinth, for whom Rom.16.23 was undoubtedly written! Also found in excavations at Corinth is the Bema (referred to in a Latin inscription in Corinth as rostra), the tribunal or platform where Paul stood before Gallio (Acts.18.12-Acts.18.17).

Excavations in Ephesus have revealed the 22,000-seat theater mentioned in Acts.19.29 where an irate crowd assembled to express opposition to Paul’s attack on Diana (Greek, Artemis), the patron goddess of the city. Her temple was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Two magnificent statues of Diana were found, illuminating references to her in Acts.19.24-Acts.19.25.

Luke’s accuracy as a witness to the historical circumstances of early Christian missionary activity is indicated by the discovery of an inscription, now in the British Museum, that stood in an arch at the west end of the Egnatia Odos in Thessalonica. It begins “In the days of the politarchs...,” using a word for Roman officials that critics said Luke had mistakenly used in Acts.17.6, since it has not been found anywhere else in Greek literature. A number of inscriptions have now been found that contain the word.

Bibliography: J. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (3 vols.), 1950; W. F. Albright, The Archaeology of Palestine: From the Stone Age to Christianity, 1956; G. E. Wright, Biblical Archaeology, 1957; D. W. Thomas (ed.), Documents from Old Testament Times, 1958; J. A. Thompson, The Bible and Archaeology, 1962; J. Finegan, The Archaeology of the New Testament (2 vols.), 1969; A. Negev, Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land, 1972; M. Avi-Yonah (ed.), Encyclopedia of Archaeology Excavations in the Holy Land (4 vols.), 1975-78; J. J. Hester, Introduction to Archaeology, 1976; J. Wilkinson, Jerusalem as Jesus Knew It, 1978; K. Schoville, Biblical Archaeology in Focus, 1978; W. Ashmore and R. J. Sharer, Fundamentals of Archaeology, 1979; N. Avigad, Discovering Jerusalem, 1980; E. Meyers and J. Strange, Archaeology, the Rabbis and Early Christianity, 1981; B. Fagan, Archaeology: A Brief Introduction, 1983.——JRM

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

ar-ke-ol’-o-ji, krit’-i-siz’-m: Archaeology, the science of antiquities, is in this article limited to the Biblical field, a field which has been variously delimited (De Wette, 1814, Gesenius), but which properly includes not only all ancient facts bearing upon the Bible which had been lost and have been recovered, but all literary remains of antiquity bearing upon the Bible and, also, as of the first importance, the Bible itself (Hogarth, Authority and Archaeology, vi).

Scope of Article:

Criticism, the art of scrutiny, is here limited mainly, though not exclusively, to the literary criticism of the Bible, now, following Eichhorn, commonly called the Higher Criticism. Thus "Archaeology and Criticism," the title of this article, is meant to designate the bearing of the archaeology of Bible lands upon the criticism, especially the Higher Criticism, of the Bible. The subject as thus defined calls for the discussion of, I. What archaeology can do in the case--the powers, rights and authority, that is to say, the Function of archaeology in criticism; and II. What archaeology has done in the case, the resulting effects of such archaeological evidence, that is to say, the History of the bearing of archaeology upon the criticism of the Bible.

I. Function.

The function of archaeology in criticism has only recently been given much attention and the opinions thereon have varied greatly.

(a) Ignored by Encyclopaedists:

Biblical encyclopaedists generally, until the most recent, have not given this subject a place at all (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, Encyclopedia Biblica, Smith, Dictionary of the Bible, Kitto, Encyclopedia of Biblical Literature, Hamburger, See Hauck-Herzog, Realencyklopadie fur protestantische Theologie und Kirche, Eadie, Biblical Encyclopedia). McClintock and Strong’s Encyclopedia Biblical and Ecclesiastical Literature has an article on "Biblical Archeology" consisting entirely of bibliography , also an article of a general character under "Sac. Ant." The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge Encyclopedia has an article, The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907, has an article under the title "Biblical Antiquities," and the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1902, has an article of five pages on "Biblical Archeology" But on the function of archaeology in criticism there is almost nothing anywhere.

(b) Variously Estimated by Critics:

Critics have varied much in their estimate of the value of archaeology in criticism, according to their individual predilections and their critical theories, but until very recently archaeology has not generally been given a commanding, or even a prominent, place in criticism. Wellhausen seems to declare for the dominance of archaeology in criticism in the beginning of his History of Israel, though he very much ignores it in the pages that follow (History of Israel, 12). Driver (Authority and Archaeology, 143-50), thinks "testimony of archaeology sometimes determines the question decisively," but is "often strangely misunderstood," and the defeats of criticism at the hands of archaeology are often "purely imaginary" (LOT, 1897, 4). Orr thinks "archaeology bids fair before long to control both criticism and history" (POT, 305-435). Eerdmans, successor to Kuenen at Leyden, definitely and absolutely breaks with the Wellhausen school of criticism, chiefly on the ground that archaeology has discredited their viewpoint and the historical atmosphere with which they have surrounded the nodetitle. Wiener, the most prominent of recent Jewish critics, also believes that a proper apprehension of the nature of ancient institutions, customs, documents and codes, i.e. archaeology, and especially the archaeology of the Bible itself, is clearly decisive in its influence on the issue raised by the Wellhausen school (BS, 1908-10).

(c) Urged by Archaeologists:

Archaeologists generally for a long time have been putting forward the superior claims of their science in the critical controversy (Brugsch, Egypt under the Pharaohs; Naville, Recueil de Travaux, IV, N.S.; Petrie, Hyksos and Israelite Cities, chapters i-iv; Researches in Sinai, 188-223; Spiegelberg, Aufenthalt Israels in Aegypten; Steindorf, Explorations in Bible Lands (Hilprecht), 623-90; Sayce, Higher Criticism and the Monuments; Hommel, Ancient Hebrew Tradition, xi; Jeremias, Das alte Testament im Lichte des alten Orients).

The function of archaeology in criticism, as fully brought to light by recent discussion, is as follows:

1. Historical Setting.

Archaeology furnishes the true historical setting of Scripture. In the criticism of a painting, it is of the utmost importance to hang the picture aright before criticism begins. It is not greatly different in the criticism of literature, and especially Biblical literature. The patriarchs and prophets and psalmists are the "old masters" of spirituality and of religious literature; their productions were brought forth under certain social, political, moral and religious conditions, and within certain surroundings of influences, enemies, opportunities, temptations and spiritual privileges. It is only archaeology that can hang their pictures aright, and it is only when thus hung that true criticism is ready to begin. The critic is only then a critic when he has seen how archaeology has hung the picture (BST, 1906, 366).

2. Guidance to Methods.

Archaeology gives guidance to the methods of criticism. This it does; (a) Presuppositions:

With regard to presuppositions. Presuppositions are inevitable from our mental constitutions, and necessary to the consideration of any subject, since all subjects cannot be considered at once. But our presuppositions are naturally, to a large extent, those induced by our own experience and environment, until we are otherwise instructed. As it is only archaeology that is able to instruct us concerning the exact circumstances of certain portions of the Bible it is evident that, in those portions, without the instruction which archaeology can give, we cannot be assured of correct presuppositions in the critic.

(b) Canons:

Archaeology gives guidance concerning the canons of criticism. It is of the utmost importance that a literature should be judged only by the canons followed by its own literati. The innumerable literary remains of Egypt and Babylonia reveal methods and standards very different from each other, and still more different from those of modern western literature, but exhibiting to a marked degree the literary peculiarities of the Old Testament. In Babylonian literature, much attention is paid to epochal chronology. In Egyptian literature, comparatively little attention is given to chronology, and what chronology there is, is seldom epochal, but either synchronistic or merely historianic. In the Old Testament there is a mixture of all these kinds of chronology. Again, in Babylonian literature, there is carefulness and some degree of accuracy; in Egyptian literature, carelessness, slovenliness and inaccuracy are provokingly frequent. The Scriptures of the Old Testament are, in this respect, in striking contrast to these other literatures, ye t nowhere in ancient oriental literature is there the mathematical rigidity of statement demanded in occidental literature today; on the other hand there is frequently a brevity and abruptness of literary method which, to western minds, appears to be fragmentariness of documents. The attempt to elucidate oriental literature in the Bible and out of it by applying thereto the tests and standards of western literature is not less disastrous than would be the attempt to judge western literature by these oriental peculiarities.

(c) Literary Form:

Archaeology gives guidance concerning literary form. Much of the definiteness and unity of modern literature is due to the arts of printing and book-binding. All archaeological literature of Bible lands, lacking, as it does, the influence of these arts, is, in form, indefinite, or fragmentary, or both. These peculiarities in form and the causes of the same, archaeology makes very plain by abundant illustration. It makes clear, also, that fragmentariness and indefiniteness in oriental literature, in so far as it arises from the literary form and not from partial destruction of documents, in no wise militates against integrity.

(d) Interpretation:

Archaeology gives guidance concerning interpretation. Archaeology admonishes us of the truism, too often overlooked, that a language or literature means only what it is understood to mean by those from whom it comes, so that the etymological, syntactical and speculative methods of interpretation employed in criticism, in order to be reliable, must have the support of the historical method. In the absence of this support, more especially if contemporary history as revealed by archaeology be antagonistic, interpretation, though supported by all the other methods of criticism, is very precarious. The interpretation of a rubric by the etymological and analytical methods may be partly or completely overthrown by a single picture or a brief description of the priest at the altar. For instance, it is very disquieting to compare the remarks of commentators on Bible references to the worship at high places with the facts revealed by the recent discovery of high places and the worship there conducted (Macalister, PEFS, 1903, 23-31; Robinson, BW, January, 1901; January, 1908, 219-25, 317-18; Vincent, Canaan, 144). Archaeology must guide in the interpretation of ancient literature, whether that which has just been dug up, as the recent finds of manuscripts and monuments, or that which has never been lost, as in the Bible itself.

3. Facts to Test Theories.

Archaeology supplies facts wherewith to test theories.

Facts and Correct Criticism Agree:

There can be no real antagonism between the facts of archaeology and a correct literary criticism of trustworthy documents. But who or what is to determine when the criticism is correct? If there is conflict between the facts of archaeology and the conclusions of criticism, which must give way? To ask the question is to answer it. Theory must always give way to facts. "Where the testimony of archaeology is direct, it is of the highest possible value, and, as a rule, determines a question decisively; even where it is indirect, if it is sufficiently circumstantial and precise, it may make a settlement highly probable" (Driver, Authority and Archaeology, 143). This prerogative of archaeological facts in the testing of critical theories must, then, of necessity be given wide and positive recognition.

(a) Theories Need Attestation:

No theory is to be finally accepted and made applicable to faith and life until tested and attested by facts; if it be a theory in the field of Nature, by the facts of Nature; if in the field of experience, by facts of experience; if in the field of history, byfacts of history. The Master brings even revelation to this test when He says, "If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from myself" (Joh 7:17). Anything in the Bible may be discredited by theory; as everything in heaven and earth may be--indeed, has been-- discredited by theory. One might as safely abandon the beaten track for the most alluring but unconfirmed appearance of an eastern desert, as turn one’s life aside to a theory unattested by fact. However perfect the appearance, it may, after all, be only the mirage, and the disappointed pilgrim may never get back to the safe road. Let theory first be confirmed by fact; then it may be received into the life.

(b) Success not Attestation:

Even a theory which meets all the known conditions of the case in hand is not by that fact proved to be true, and therefore to be received into the life. The most alluring danger to which criticism is subject is the contrary assumption that a theory which meets all the known conditions of the case in hand is thereby proved to be true. This is not the case. Such a theory must, in addition, be corroborated by facts independently brought to light, or by mysteries unlocked; and even if mysteries be unlocked, the theory is not necessarily an entirely correct theory--the key that turns the lock must be something like the key that belongs to it, but may after all, be a false key. There must, in any case, whether of mysteries unlocked or of facts otherwise brought to light, be independent, genuine evidence in addition to the adaptability of theory to all the known conditions of the case in hand. And furthermore, a theory must not only be able to meet the test of some additional facts, but the test of all the conditions imposed by any additional facts brought to light, and be able, also, to incorporate these new facts as naturally as those upon which theory was originally constructed.

(1) Theory in Life:

The problem is not to determine one or several of the ways in which an event might have taken place, but the one way in which it did take place. A theory which meets all the conditions of the case in hand may be one of the several ways in which the event might have taken place, but only by independent, genuine, corroborative evidence is any theory to be attested as the way in which the event actually did take place. That this statement of the case is correct in the experiences of life, we have abundant evidence in the proceedings of courts of law. The most careful procedure does not wholly prevent false convictions. The prosecutor presents a theory of the commission of a crime which meets all the conditions of the case as made out by the evidence, convinces twelve jurymen, and secures a conviction. Yet sometimes afterward it is found out that another person committed the crime in an entirely different way. That the dictum under discussion is inapplicable to literature is equally well established. Sir Peter LePage Renouf argued with great acuteness and force that it is possible to assign significations to an unknown script, give meanings to the words thus formed, construct a grammar and translate inscriptions as historical statements and make good sense, though not a single sign, or word, or construction, or thought be correct (Life-work, I, 6, 7). He says of such a method: "It is not difficult to make out the Ten Commandments, the Psalms of David, the Homeric Poems, or the Irish Melodies, on any ancient or modern monument whatever, and in any language you please."

(2) Theory in Literature:

Actual examples in fulfillment of Renouf’s warning thesis are not wanting. The grotesque, yet confident, efforts at the decipherment of the Egyptian hieroglyphs before the discovery of the nodetitle are not forgotten. Dr. Budge says (The Mummy, 124): "In more modern times the first writer at any length on hieroglyphics was Athanasius Kircher, the author of some ponderous works in which he pretended to have found the key to the hieroglyphic inscriptions, and to translate them. Though a man of great learning, it must be plainly said that, judged by scholars of today, he would be considered an impostor." Joseph de Guignes (1770) maintained that China was settled by Egyptians, and the Chinese characters only degenerate Egyptian hieroglyphs. Similar failures in the attempt to decipher the Hittite hieroglyphs and translate the Hittite inscriptions must form painful recollections to distinguished scholars yet living, whose efforts, extending in some cases not only to lists of signs but to syllabaries, vocabularies, grammars and translations, are now, in part, and in some cases, in toto, rejected by the whole learned world. However successful present or future efforts of these scholars may prove to be, they have, in part at least, themselves repudiated their former work. The most plausible theory of a literature, though it seem to embrace every detail, may, after all, be found to be, as in one or two of the instances referred to above, wholly false when tested by the principles of philology and the facts of contemporary history.

(3) Theory in History:

The dangers of unconfirmed theory in life and literature are even greater in history, which, in its present-day form, is but life written down, human experiences given over to all the accidents and conventionalities of literature. The warnings here from Egyptian and classical history and literature are not to be disregarded. Menes and other early kings of Egypt were declared by critics to be mere mythological characters; likewise Minos of Crete; and the stories of Troy and her heroes were said to belong to "cloudland." But the spades of Petrie at Abydos (Royal Tombs), of Evans at Knossos (Quarterly Review, October, 1904, 374-95), and of Schliemann at Troy (Ilios: City and Country of the Trojans), have shown the "cloudland" as solid earth, and the ghostly heroes to be substantial men of flesh and blood. If we are to learn anything from experience, certainly no theory of either sacred or profane history is to be accepted as final until tested and attested by facts.

(c) Source of the Needed Facts:

Only archaeology is bringing forth any new facts on the questions raised by criticism. Criticism produces only theories; it combines facts, but produces none. Exegetes and commentators rarely, if ever, now bring to light new facts any more than present-day philosophers give the world new thoughts. A flood of light is, indeed, pouring across the page of the exegete and the commentator in these latter days which makes their work inestimably more helpful for interpretation, but the source of that light is neither criticism nor exegesis, but archaeology. Archaeology it is which sets alongside the Bible history the facts of contemporary life and thus illustrates Biblical literature and literary methods by contemporary literature and the methods of contemporary literati, and which makes the purity, sanctity and divinity of the things of revelation stand out in their own glorious light by setting round about them the shadows of contemporary ritual and morality and superstition.

(d) Scope of Function:

Hence, no critical theory of the Bible is to be finally accepted and made a part of our faith until tested and attested by archaeological facts. Even Wellhausen, however far he departs from this principle in the course of his criticism, seems to lay it down as fundamental in the beginning of his History of Israel, when he says: "From the place where the conflagration was first kindled the fire men keep away; I mean the domain of religious antiquities and dominant religious ideas--that whole region as Vatke in his Biblical Theology has marked it out. But only here, where the conflict was kindled, can it be brought to a definite conclusion" (History of Israel, 12). G. A. Smith quotes also with approval these words from Napoleon (Campagnes d’Egypte et de Syrie dictees par Napoleon lui-meme, II): "When camping upon the ruins of the ancient cities, someone read the Bible aloud every evening in the tent of the General-in-Chief. The verisimilitude and the truthfulness of the descriptions were striking. Th ey are still suited to the land after all the ages and the vicissitudes." But Dr. Smith adds, "This is not more than true, yet it does not carry us very far. .... All that geography can do is to show whether or not the situations are possible at the time to which they are assigned; even this is a task often beyond our resources" (HGHL, 108). Thus critics, while here and there acknowledging the proper function of archaeology in criticism, have not heretofore allowed it much scope in the exercise of that function.

II. History.

Limitations of Discussion:

The history of archaeology in criticism to be set forth here has mainly to do with the testing of critical theories by archaeological facts. The contributions of archaeology to the furnishing of the historical setting of the Biblical narratives make up a large part of this and every dictionary of the Bible. The history of the guidance of critical methods by archaeological information is in the making. There can hardly as yet be said to be any to record.

A Wide Field:

The field opened up for the testing of critical theories by the results of archaeological research is so varied and so extended that only an outline can be given here. Extravagant claims concerning the outcome of this testing have been made both by some critics and by some of their opponents; as when Dr. Driver says, after except the points upon which the evidence of archaeology is neutral, "On all other points the facts of archaeology, so far as they are at present known, harmonize entirely with the position generally adopted by the critics" (Authority and Archaeology, 145); or as when the astronomer, C. Piazzi Smyth, thought that the great pyramid proved the "wisdom of the Egyptians" to have included some of the abstruse problems of higher mathematics; and Dr. Seiss, in his Miracle in Stone, was confident that the same colossal monument of Egypt definitely portrayed some of the extreme positions of the premillennial theology.

Some of the instances of the testing of critical theories concerning the Scriptures by the facts of archaeology, for which unquestionable historical proofs can be offered, are here presented.

1. Theories Not Affecting Historicity or Integrity.

Many critical theories, notably those not affecting the historicity or the integrity of the Scriptures, i.e. accordant with the face value of Scripture, have been corroborated and others discredited.

(a) Theories corroborated:

(1) Geography and Topography:

The theory of the geographical and topographical trustworthiness of Scripture, i.e. that the peoples, places and events of Scripture are to be found just where the Bible places them. Attempts to belittle the importance of this geographical and topographical corroboration of the trustworthiness of the Scriptures have been made (Driver, Authority and Archaeology, 148; also LOT, xi; Smith, HGHL, 108), but such attempts are not satisfying. The theory of the correctness of the Biblical statements has been of well-nigh universal acceptance; archaeologists have fitted out expensive expeditions in accordance with it, exegesis has allowed it to enter into its conclusions, discussion has proceeded upon the assumption of its correctness, the whole body of identifications which make up Biblical geography and topography attest it, and the whole list of sacred geographies, uniform in every essential particular, are in evidence in support of this theory, even the works of those writers who have spoken disparagingly of it.

(2) Story of the Nations:

The theory of the ethnographical correctness of Scripture. That the relation between peoples as indicated in Scripture is correct, has been a working theory for all general purposes and only departed from for special ends. Kautzsch says (Die bleibende Bedeutung des Alttestaments, 17): "The so-called Table of Nations remains, according to all the results of monumental exploration, an ethnographic original document of the first rank, which nothing can replace." The progress of archaeological research has confirmed this general working theory and every year adds new confirmation with regard to particular items which, for some special end, have been represented as against theory. That the general theory of the correctness of the tribal relationships in Scripture has been, and is being, sustained, is indisputable (Hommel, Ancient Hebrew Tradition; Gunkel, Israel und Babylonien, chapter vi; Sayce, Patriarchal Palestine, chapter ii; Winckler, OLZ, December 15, 1906; Budge, History of Egypt, I; Orr, POT, 400-401, 529-30). See nodetitle.

(3) Accuracy of Scripture:

The theory of the accuracy of Scripture in both the originals and the copies. Every theory of inspiration postulates this in greater or less degree, and the most prevalent analytical theory put forth by criticism, with its lists of words indicating, as it is asserted, authorship, demands, for its very life, a degree of accuracy and invariableness in the use of words in both the writing of originals and the transmission of them by copyists greater than that demanded by any the most exacting theory of inspiration. Wherever it has been possible to test the statements of Scripture in its multitudinous historical notices and references, archaeology has found it correct to a remarkable degree, and that in its present form and even in minute peculiarities of statement (Brugsch, Broderick edition, Egypt under the Pharaohs, chapters v-vi; Sayce, Patriarchal Palestine; Naville, Recueil de Travaux, IV, N.S.; Petrie, Tahpanhes; Tompkins, The Age of Abraham; Clay, Light on the Old Testament from Babel).

(4) Bible Imagery:

The theory of the correctness of the imagery of the Bible. This is another of the fundamental and universal working theories of criticism which is, however, sometimes forgotten. Whatever theory of the authorship and the origin of the various books of the Bible, there is always, with only a few special exceptions, the underlying assumption on the part of the critics of the correctness of the imagery reflecting the topography, the flora and the fauna, the seasons and the customs. Indeed, upon the trustworthiness of the imagery, as upon the exactness in the use of words, criticism depends. And this underlying assumption of criticism of every hue has been confirmed indisputably in its general features, and is being corroborated year by year in its minutest details, and even in those very special instances where it has been disputed. To this end testify the whole company of oriental residents, intelligent travelers and scientific investigators (Thomson; Van Lennap; Robinson; Stanley; Palmer, Desert of the Exodus; Trumbull, Kadesh Barnea; Clermont-Ganneau, Archaeological Researches; Van Dyke, Out of Doors in the Holy Land).

Besides these theories of a general character, some concerning particulars may be noticed:

(5) Garden of Eden:

The theory of the location of the Garden of Eden somewhere in the Euphrates Valley. This theory has been all but universally held and, while it is not yet definitely of substantiated, is receiving cumulative corroboration along ethnological lines. Wherever it is possible to trace back the lines of emigration of the early nations mentioned in the Bible, it is always found that the ultimate direction is toward a certain comparatively small area in western Asia.

(6) The Flood:

The geological theory concerning the flood of Noah as the last great change in land levels is being most exactly confirmed, not only by investigations into glacial history, but by examination of the records of the cataclysm left upon the mountains and valleys of central and western Asia (Wright, The Ice Age in North America; and Scientific Confirmations of Old Testament History, chapters vii-xi). See Deluge of Noah.

(7) Sodom and Gomorrah:

The geological theory of the destruction of the Cities of the Plain has been exactly confirmed by the examination of the strata; a bituminous region, a great stratum of rock-salt capped by sulphur-bearing marls and conglomerates cemented by bitumen, an explosion of pent-up gases, which collect in such geological formations, blowing the burning brimstone high in the air, and the waters of the Jordan coming down to dissolve the salt of the ruptured rock-salt stratum--all this provides for exactly what the Bible describes and for the conditions found there today; the pillar of smoke rising up to heaven, the rain of fire and brimstone falling back from the blowing-off crater, the catching of Lot’s wife in the edge of the cataclysm and her encrustation with salt (Wright, Scientific Confirmations of Old Testament History, 144; Blankenkorn, ZDPV, XIX, 1).

(8) Hyksos and Patriarchs:

It has long been thought that there might be some relationship between the mysterious Hyksos kings of Egypt and the Patriarchs to account for the favorable reception, even royal distinction, given the latter. This theory of relationship has been very fully established by the discoveries of Petrie at Tell el-Yehudiyeh (Petrie, Hyksos and Israelite Cities, 1-16). He has not shown to what race the Hyksos belonged, but he has shown their tribal character, that they were, as their name indicates, "Bedouin princes," leaders of the nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes of Upper and Lower Ruthen, i.e. Syria and Palestine, and northern and western Arabia, as were the Patriarchs, so that the latter were shown by the former the consideration of one "Bedouin prince" for another.

(b) Theories Discredited:

(1) Uncivilized Canaan:

The interesting picture which was wont to be drawn of Abraham leaving all his friends and civilization behind him to become a pioneer in a barbarous land has become dim and dimmer and at last faded out completely in the ever- increasing light of contemporary history revealed by Babylonian and Palestinian discoveries (Vincent, Canaan, chapters i-ii).

(2) Concerning Melchizedek:

Concerning Melchizedek, "without father and without mother" (Heb 7:3), Tell el-Amarna Letters, while not wholly affording the needed information, have put to flight a host of imaginings of old commentators, and pointed toward Melchizedek’s place in a line of kings at Jerusalem of unique title disclaiming any hereditary rights in the crown. "It was not my father and it was not my mother who established me in this position, but it was the mighty arm of the king himself who made me master of the lands and possessions of my father." This title, over the correct translation of which there has been much controversy, occurs not once only, but seems to have been required at every formal mention of the sovereignty of the king (Budge, History of Egypt, IV, 231-35).

(3) Oriental Chronology:

The theory of the chronology of the early portions of the Old Testament, which made it to be so exactly on the principle of the system of chronology in vogue in our western world today, which, indeed, assumed that there could be no other system of chronology, and which was universally held as a working hypothesis by all classes of critics and commentators until very recently, has been greatly modified, if not utterly discredited, by both archaeological and ethnological research. Whatever may have been the system and method of chronology in use in early Biblical history, it certainly was not the same as our epochal chronology based upon exact astronomical time. The early chronologies of the Orient were usually historianic, oftentimes synchronistic, but very seldom epochal. The first, and usually the only, intent of present-day chronology is to chronicle the flight of time; the ancient systems of the East often introduced a moral element; events, rather than time, were chronicled, and the time in which nothing took place and the man who accomplished nothing were apt to be passed over in silence. Sometimes chronicles were arranged symmetrically, and again the visional conception of time found in all prophecy seems sometimes to have prevailed in the writing of history. Certain it is that ancient oriental thought regarded man’s relation to life as of far greater importance than his relation to time--a more deeply moral conception of chronology than our own (Green, BS, April, 1890, 285-303).

2. Theories Affecting the Integrity or Historicity of Scripture.

Many critical theories attacking the integrity or historicity of Scripture, i.e. reconstructive theories, have been utterly discredited by archaeological evidence, and, in some cases, abandoned by those who held them (compare Driver, Genesis, addenda, 7th edition, xx).

(a) Ignorance of Patriarchal Age:

The ignorance of the patriarchal age was once a frontier fortress which threatened away all literary pretensions beyond that limit. This ignorance, though never held by all advocates of a reconstructing criticism, was held by some. Von Bohlen scoffed at the idea of the "undisciplined horde" possessing knowledge of laws (Gen, 29-41; compare Reuss, Gesch des Altes Testament, 96; Dillmann, Nu and Josh, 594). Dr. Driver says, indeed, "It is not denied that the patriarchs possessed the art of writing," but thinks the possession of a literature by them a mere hypothesis, for the truth of which no positive ground can be alleged (Gen, xlii-xliii; also Orr, POT, 375). That this theory is absolutely abandoned by everyone hardly needs to be stated. The discovery of evidence of a postal system in Canaan in the days of Naram Sin (Sayce, Archaeology of the Cuneiform Inscriptions, 143; Heuzey, Revue d’Assyriologie, 1897, 1-12), the strict conformity of many of the patriarchal customs and events to written law, as revealed by DeMorgan’s discovery of the Code of Hammurabi, Dr. Murch’s discovery of the Tell el- Amarna Letters, revealing as they do the wide diffusion of the art of writing about one hundred and thirty years before the Exodus, together with the gradual pushing back by epigraphic evidence of the date of the origin of the Hebrew script (Clay, Amurru, 30-32), and the overwhelming evidence, from recent excavations, of the general culture and refinement of patriarchal Palestine, while not yet making known fully the exac t state of the patriarchal civilization, has made any theory of the ignorance of that age impossible.

(b) Religious Ideas in Canaan:

The theory of the nomadic, semi-barbarous condition of Palestine and of the impossibility of high religious ideas among the patriarchs before the Exodus (Kuenen, Rel of Ideas Israel, I, 108-109), though most closely connected with the preceding, demands separate notice. This theory is essential to the current evolutionary view of Israel’s history and has been definitely espoused by nearly all holding that view (G. A. Smith, The Expositor, 1908, 254-72; compare POT, 60). This theory, though less important to ot her schools of critics, has in fact been held by nearly all commentators. But the discovery of the earliest wall- and cistern-work at Taanach (Sellin), and the engineering feats on the defenses and the water-works at Gezer (Macalister and Vincent, PEFS), and the 40-ft. city wall pictured in Egyptian illustration of Canaanite war (Petrie, Deshasha, plural IV), as well as the list of richest booty taken by Thothmes III (Sayce, Archaeology of the Cuneiform Inscriptions, 156-57; Birch, RP, 1st ser, II, 35-52; Leps ius, Denkmaler, Abth. III, bl. 32, 32A, 30A, 30B; Auswahl, III, L. 42-45), which could scarcely be duplicated by all the museums of the world today, testify equally to the luxurious culture and refinement of the times. All this, in addition to the mass of evidence against the ignorance of the patriarchal age (see (a) above), overwhelmingly sustains the opinion of W. Max Muller that "the civilization of Palestine in the patriarchal age was fully equal to that of Egypt."

(c) Evolutionary History:

The theory of the evolution of Israel’s history chiefly from a Palestinian origin and environment (Budde, Hist of Israel before the Exile, especially 77; Kuenen, Hist of Israel, 225; Wellhausen, Hist of Israel, 462). Palestine estinian discoveries show a contrast between the unique religion of the Hebrews and the religion of the surrounding peoples of Canaan as marked as it may well be. The evidence is not at all of a purer religion growing up out of the vile culture of Palestine, but of a purer re ligion coming down and overwhelming it (PEFS, 1902-9; G. A. Smith, Mod. Crit. and the Preaching of the Old Testament, chapter iv, especially 142; PEFS, 1905, 287-88).

Descending now to a few of the great mass of particulars, we may mention:

(d) Mythology and Bible:

The theory of the legendary character of the four kings of Ge 14, and of the Hittites; and theory of the generally mythological character of the early portions of the Bible. The four kings have been called "petty sheiks of the desert," and their names "etymological inventions." The historical character of the account of these kings has been utterly discredited by many. Noldeke in his Untersuchungen arrives at the result that the history (Ge 14) is throughout a "free creation," and the person of Melchizedek a "poetical figure." And Wellhausen thinks Noldeke gave the "death-blow" to the historicity of the story (Wellhausen, Comp. of the Hexateuch, 311- 12). Ed. Meyer is of the same opinion as Noldeke, but expresses himself in a still more unfavorable manner (Gesch, 136). Hitzig, however, goes to the extreme of depreciation when he sees in the expedition of Chedorlaomer only an adumbration of the invasion by Sennacherib (2Ki 19:13). Delitzsch gives a very comprehensive review of those critics who have regarded this narrative of the kings as legend of small or no historical basis (Gen, I, 396- 99; compare Dillmann, Gen, II, 32-33). In addition, the mythological character of the early portions of the Bible generally has had ardent advocates (Stade, Gesch, 129-30; Schultz, Old Testament Theology, I, 31; Wellhausen, Gesch Israels, 317-20).

(1) Chedorlaomer and Allies:

But the four kings have appeared in archaeological discoveries. While there is still some dispute about the identification of certain of them, the confederacy has appeared in Babylonia and also the Babylonian suzerainty over Palestine in the age called for by the narrative, and, indeed, the whole historical setting into which the narrative fits with perfect naturalness (Jeremias, Das alte Testament im Lichte des alten Orients; Hommel, Hebrew Tradition, chapter v; Clay, Light on the Old Testament from Babel, chapter vi). But myths do not receive archaeological confirmation such as has not only been given to the narrative of the confederacy of the four kings, but which is rapidly bringing out the features of the whole early Old Testament history (Gunkel, Gen, 263; Ladd, Doct of Sac Scrip, I, 737).

(2) The Hittites:

Then grave doubts in the past have been raised concerning the Hittites. Occasionally it has been boldly said that "no such people ever existed" (compare Newman, Hebrew Monarchy, 184-85; Budge, Hist of Egypt, IV, 136). But in addition to the treaty of Rameses II with the "Kheta," long generally believed to have been the Hittites (RP, 2nd series, IV, 25-32), and the references to the "Hatti" in the Tell el-Amarna Letters, also thought to be the same people, we now have Winckler’s great discovery of the Hittite capital at Boghaz-Koi, and the Hittite copy of the treaty with Rameses II in the cuneiform script. The Hittites are seen to be a great nation, a third with Egypt and Babylonia (OLZ, December 15, 1906). See Hittites.

(e) The Theory of Anachronisms.

Aside from the general application of this theory by many critics to the traditional view of Scripture and the assertion of the systematic representation of earlier events in the light of much later times (Robertson, Early Religion, 30; Frip, Comp. of Gen), many special instances of anachronisms have been alleged. Edom has been said to be mentioned too early in the narrative (De Wette, Int, II, 71, Parker’s note; also Gunkel, Gen, 61). But an officer of Seti Meremptah II, about the time of the Exodus, in an official report, mentions the people of Edom as desiring to pasture their flocks in Goshen. They had thus early found their way clear across the Sinai peninsula (Muller, Asien und Europa, 135; compare Papyrus Anastasia). Then Moab, long unidentified, has had doubt cast on its existence at so early a time as its first mention; but it also occurs in an inscription of Rameses II near the time of the Exodus, and the land of Moab is placed in "Ruthen," the Egyptian name for Syria and Palestine and northern and western Arabia (Kyle, "Geographical and Ethnic Lists of Rameses II," Recueil de Travaux, XXX).

3. Theories Now Challenged.

Several critical theories are just now challenged in the name of archaeological discovery; whether or not the challenges will ultimately be sustained remains to be determined. A few only are mentioned here, but they are of such a character as, if ultimately sustained, will have a far-reaching effect upon criticism.

(a) Semitic Origins:

The theory, long established and almost universally held, of the Babylonian origin and westward course of early Semitic culture, especially of religious traditions (Barton, Semitic Origins, chapter i; also "Tiamat," JAOS, XVI, 1- 27; Paton, Early Hist of Palestine and Syria, chapters iii-viii; Driver, Gen, 30-31; Orr, POT, 397). This theory has been mildly questioned for some time and is now boldly challenged. A complete "right-about-face" is proposed by reason of many archaeological considerations, which, it is claimed, make Amurru, Syria and Palestine, the home of the northern Semite, to be, if not the original source of Semitic culture, at least an earlier source than Babylonia, and the course of religious culture among Semites in that early age to be not westward but eastward, as apparently in Ge 11:2 the Revised Version (British and American) (Clay, Amurru, the Home of the Northern Semites).

(b) Invasion of Canaan:

The theory of the gradual invasion of Palestine instead of the conquest is now for the first time challenged by evidence other than the record in Joshua. Such Palestinian researches and the collection of such evidence have but begun within a few years, and from the very breadth of the question the process is necessarily slow. So far, however, as the excavations have gone, the evidence is of a decided change in the culture even at such towns as Gezer, without, however, the Canaanite culture coming fully under Israelite influence and succumbing to it; exactly, in fact, as is represented in the Biblical narrative (PEFS, 1903, 49, Macalister; ib, 1908, Macalister, 17; Vincent, 228).

(c) AD Date of Hermetic Writings:

The post-Christian view of the Hermetic Writings. These Egyptian documents in the Greek tongue have been thought to reflect early Christian thought in Egypt, chiefly because of a certain "unholy resemblance" to gospel language found in them. A recent critical examination of these writings has established, it is claimed, by archaeological evidence gathered from the writings themselves, that the "unholy resemblance" to gospel expressions arose not from the reflection of Christian teaching, but from the appropriation by the evangelists of current expressions of Alexandrian Greek in use in pre-Christian theological language. This view of the Hermetic Writings, if finally established, cannot but have a far-reaching effect upon nodetitle study (Petrie, Personal Religion in Egypt before Christianity).

4. Reconstructive Criticism Not Confirmed.

(a) The Claims of Some Critics:

Not a single critical theory still maintained, either generally or by prominent individual critics, which proposes to take Scripture at other than its face value, has been sustained by archaeology. The assertion that is otherwise, that "on all other (controverted) points, the facts of archaeology, so far as they are at present known, harmonize entirely with the positions generally advocated by the critics" (Driver, Authority and Archaeology, 145; LOT (1897), Pref, xviii; Gen, addenda to 7th edition, XXXIV-XXXVI), means either that such unsustained theories are not advocated by the person making the assertion and not by him regarded as generally advocated by critics, or, more commonly, that theori es in question have not been positively and definitely contradicted by archaeological evidence. But it is not enough that theories are not definitely contradicted by archaeological evidence; we have seen (compare above) that they must be definitely corroborated before being accepted and allowed to affect one’s faith. An instance of the claims of criticism concerning the harmony between its theories and the facts of archaeology, a claim whose importance merits presentation at length, is found in the Addenda to t he 7th edition of Driver’s Introduction to Gen, the latest and most positive utterance of criticism on this subject. Driver says (xxxiv): It is stated by Professor Sayce expressly, and by Dr. Orr and Professor A. T. Clay, by implication, that Noldeke’s arguments against the historical character of the narrative of Ge 14 have been refuted by archaeology. The statement supplies such an object-lesson of the methods on which the opponents of criticism not infrequently rely, that it may be worth while to explain here the grounds upon which it rests.

Here are Professor Sayce’s words (Monumental Facts, 1904, 54; cf, though without Noldeke’s name, Monuments, 161 f): "In 1869 the great Semitic scholar, Professor Noldeke, published a treatise on the Unhistorical Character of Ge 14. He declared that `criticism’ had forever disproved its claim to be historical. The political situation presupposed by it was incredible and impossible; at so distant a date Babylonian armies could not have marched to Canaan, much less could Canaan have been a subject province of Babylonia. The whole story, in fact, was a fiction based upon the Assyrian conquest of Palestine in later days. The names of the princes commemorated in it were etymological inventions: eminent Semitic scholars had already explained those of Chedorlaomer and his allies from Sanskrit, and those of the Canaanite princes were derived from the events in which they were supposed to have borne a part." And then he goes on to declare triumphantly (55) how the progress of archaeology has refuted aH these statements. ....

It will probably surprise the reader to be told that, of the series of arguments thus attributed to Professor Noldeke, while the one about the names is attributed to him with partial correctness (though in so far as it is stated correctly, it has not been refuted by archaeology), the other arguments were never used by him at all .... (xxxv). The one grain of truth in Professor Sayce’s long indictment is that of the names of the five Canaanite kings, which are given, Bera and Birsha (suggesting the idea o f "evil" and "wickedness"), and perhaps Shinab and Shemeber as well, are formed artificially; but this (NB) is not asserted of the name of any of the four kings from the East. .... The fact is, Noldeke’s arguments on Ge 14 have not been refuted, or even touched, by archaeology. .... Professor Sayce has simply not mentioned Noldeke’s real arguments at all. Nor are they mentioned by Dr. Orr or Professor Clay.

.... Archaeology has met the arguments which Noldeke did not use; it has not met the arguments which he did use. Noldeke never questioned, as Professor Sayce declares that he did, the general possibility at this time of an expedition being sent from the far East into Palestine: his argument consisted in pointing out various historical improbabilities attaching to the details of a particular expedition; and archaeology can overthrow this argument only by producing evidence that this expedition, with the details as stated in Ge 14, actually took place. And this up to the present time (June, 1909) archaeology has not done.

(b) Noldeke’s Assertions:

Compare with these declarations of Driver, one by one, though in somewhat different order, Noldeke’s own words. He says (Untersuchungen, 157-60):

"The chapter begins with an imposing enumeration of kings, in whose time the narrated event is alleged to have occurred. .... Of what use is the dating according to kings, the time of whose reign is perfectly unknown to us? .... so that the dating is wholly superfluous and tells us nothing."

Bern and Birsha are said to be "quite decidedly unhistorical. .... The alliterative pairing also of these names speaks more for their fictitious than for their historical origin. It is striking that for the single historical city of Zoar, no name of the king is given. .... Besides, we are bound to no time, for the event recounted could quite as well have taken place in the year 4000 as 2000; the artificial chronology of Ge is for us no rule. .... Whence the narrator got the names of the hostile kings we cannot say. They may really have been handed down to him, perhaps quite in another connection. However that may be, the utmost we can admit is that he has employed a few correct names intermingled with false or invented ones, and the appearance of historicity thus produced can as little permanently deceive us as the proper names and dates in the book of Esther. .... Concede provisionally the correctness of the names of the kings and test the narrative further."

Here in a long paragraph, Noldeke follows the reductio ad absurdum arguing that, from a historical standpoint, the provisional supposition is incredible and impossible, and concludes (163), "Now this whole expedition is historically improbable to the same extent that it is adapted to the production of a striking effect; the usual sign that it is fictitious. .... Does not the manifest improbability of the narrative lie precisely in the details which give it the appearance of historicity?"

Concerning the story of Abram’s pursuit of the kings and the rescue of Lot, he says (165): "If that is possible, then is nothing impossible. It may be replied that the number of Abram’s servants was in reality much greater; but everything depends upon it, and the number belongs again to the very things which spread over the narrative the deceptive shimmer of historicity."

Of Melchizedek and the Amorite allies of Abram, he says (168): "So do the proofs pile up, that our narrative has no historical worth. .... Even if the rest of the chapter were historical we would still hold Melchizedek a poetical figure." He sums up the argument in the following words (170-71): "In accordance with what has been said, it is very improbable that the composer in the chief matters rested upon a real tradition of the people, but we must accept as a fact that it is a free creation throughout."

On the same subject, in reply to some of his critics (Zeitschrift fur W. Theol, 1870, 218-19), he says: "I sum up once more the general points:

(1) Of the names mentioned in Ge 14, several are unhistorical (the name of Sodom and Gomorrah, the three Amorites, Melchizedek; in my view, also, Abram and Lot, and probably the four overwhelmed cities).

(2) The expedition of the kings cannot have taken place as narrated .... even through the very clearness of the narrative are we made to know that we have here to do with a romantic expedition, the course of which is determined by aim at sharper effect, and which has for itself no historical probability.

(3) The small number of the host, in whose complete victory over the army of the four kings the story at last comes to a climax, is contrary to sense, while yet it designates about the utmost number which, as his own fighting men, a private citizen could put in the field.

"Whoever now throughout all of this will hold to an historical kernel may do so; he must then admit that at some perfectly uncertain time in great antiquity a king of Elam ruled over the Jordan land and made a warlike expedition thither. But that would be the utmost concession I could make. Everything more precise, as numbers, names, etc., and also exactly that which produces the appearance of careful tradition and trustworthiness is partly false, partly quite unreliable .... more especially, beyond the conquest itself nothing whatever could be known. But to me it still seems much more probable, in view of the consistent, and for the aim of the narrator, exceedingly well ordered, but still, in reality, impossible course of the narrative, out from which there cannot be separated any single things as bare exaggeration of the tradition, that we have here a conscious fiction in which only a few historical names have been used."

(c) The Facts of Archaeology:

Now, recalling to mind the facts of archaeology in this case (compare above) it becomes evident that they are very far from "harmonizing entirely" with the opinion advanced by Noldeke and reiterated by Driver, and the method of advocating such "harmonizing" appears very clearly. Moreover, what is true of this particular theory of Noldeke and Driver is equally true of other radical critical theories at present held. Of the current reconstructive theories of criticism--the patriarchs not individuals but personifications; the rude, nomadic, semi-barbarous condition of Palestine in the patriarchal age; the desert; Egypt; the comparative unimportance of Moses as a lawgiver; the gradual invasion of Palestine; the naturalistic origin of Israel’s religion from astral myths; and the late authorship of the Pentateuch--not one is being sustained. In fact, however much archaeological evidence there may be that is negative in character or that is not definitely against the reconstructive theories of criticism, no one can point to a single definite particular of archaeological evidence whereby any one of these theories is positively sustained and corroborated.

5. The Present State of the Discussion.

The present stage of progress of the testing of critical theories by archaeological evidence may briefly be stated. The Bible at its face value is being corroborated wherever archaeology immediately and definitely touches it. To illustrate this statement fully would be to cite every definite piece of archaeological evidence in the Biblical field of scientific research during the last one hundred years.

But views of Scripture must finally square with the results of archaeology, i.e. with contemporaneous history, and, just as archaeological research makes that contemporaneous history to appear, critical theories at variance therewith are of necessity giving way; so that, as far as the process has been carried to the present time, archaeology is bringing criticism into harmony with the face value of Scripture, and is not definitely and unequivocally encouraging attempts at literary reconstruction of any portion of the Bible, although sometimes asked to render such service.

LITERATURE. The bibliography of the discussion has appeared in the references fully given throughout this article. The bibliography on the subject of this article, "Archaeology and Criticism," is, as indicated above, exceedingly meager, since the importance of the subject has but recently come to the front and been generally recognized. The following may be cited: Driver, in Authority and Archaeology (Hogarth), chapter i; Eerdmans, Hibbert Journal, July, 1909; also Alttestamentliche Studien; Orr, T he Problem of the Old Testament, chapter xi; Bennett, Contemporary Review, 1906, 518.

M. G. Kyle