Friday, February 03, 2006

Archaeology and the Hebrew Bible

See Joe Cathey's Top Five Archaeological Finds for the Hebrew Bible. I'm not the maximalist Joe is, but this is a well presented list.

See also Chris Heard's lengthy observations about archaeology in the Hebrew Bible, and what these discoveries can and cannot tell us. I pretty much agree with Chris' assessment of the Merneptah Stele (second place on Joe Cathey's list):

"The Merneptah stela attests to the existence, in Canaan c. 1200 BCE, of a people group called 'Israel.' The Bible makes the same attestation. On this the biblical and nonbiblical evidence converge, and I agree with Bill Dever that when this happens, we should say so. However... the Merneptah stela attests nothing else that the Bible says of Israel. The Merneptah stela mentions no biblical characters (in fact, no individual Israelites at all) and no biblical events... I do think the Merneptah stela is important, and valuable, and that it attests to Israel's presence in Canaan in the early Iron Age — but by no means does the Merneptah stela 'prove the accuracy of the Bible'."

Finally, for those who still smell a rat over Tel Dan (which topped Joe's list at #1), here's an old post from fake-nabbing Stephen Carlson, who thinks "the weight of the evidence is against it being a forgery."

UPDATE: Jim Davila would place the Dead Sea Scrolls (not on Joe's list) at #1, and also make room for the Lachish Ostraca and, if possible, the Arad Ostraca.

UPDATE (II): Look out for Chris Heard. He has a lot to say in a series of six posts: here, here, here, here, here, and here.


Blogger Stephen C. Carlson said...

I understand why they smell a rat, so I don't think their concerns are frivolous, but quite a bit more evidence has to be developed against the authenticity of the Tel-Dan inscription than what has been done so far.

Blogger Loren Rosson III said...

I don't think their concerns are frivolous

Me neither. I think Harold Love (Attributing Authorship) is right that it's healthy to be a bit paranoid about potential fakes.


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