googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: The Stones Cry Out: Why the Bible Trumps Archeology

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Stones Cry Out: Why the Bible Trumps Archeology

On my way to a doctor's appointment today, I grabbed a book so that I'd have something to read during the inevitable wait I would have. I picked up, “The Stones Cry Out.” I had read it several years ago but had forgotten some of the better points of the book. It's probably a little dated now (it was originally published in 1997) but in just the second chapter, it raised a few great points that are timeless.

All in all, archeology has been friendly to the Bible. Several archeological finds have marvelously confirmed facts previously only known from Scripture. Even so, some difficulties remain. Critics will sometimes claim certain details in Scripture have not been verified by archeologists. Indeed, some current evidence seems to contradict Scripture. Can the spade of modern archeologists overturn the authority of the Bible? Heaven forbid! Early in the book, Dr. Randall Price outlined why he believes the Bible trumps archeology.

1) “Only a fraction of what is made or written survives”: We have found a lot of things which had been written down by the ancients but the overwhelming majority of what they wrote simply no longer exists. At the time “The Stones Cry Out” was published, no sizable archive has been discovered in the Land of Israel. What certainty do we have that what survives is representative of the whole body of what was written?

2) “Only a fraction of the available archeological sites have been surveyed”: In Israel and the Near East, there are thousands of unexcavated tels. Sites that are surveyed cannot keep pace with the many more that are being discovered. Many of these sites will never be properly explored because of political disputes and lack of resources. Many are also being destroyed by population growth and construction.

3) “Only a fraction of the surveyed sites have been excavated”: In Israel, military spending takes priority over archeological excavation. Most work in this area is done by volunteers or by archeologists who make their real living as professors. These people must raise money for their expeditions from private resources and can only work a few weeks out of the year. Because of all these factors, only 2% of surveyed sites in Israel have been excavated.

4) “Only a fraction of an excavation site is actually examined”: Due to limited time and resources, archeologists tend to invest the majority of their time in sites they suspect have the best chance of yielding a sensational find. A big find helps in future fund-raising. Strategic sites, such as Tel Hazor, have been repeatedly excavated yet there is so much ground that Tel Hazor still remains the largest unexcavated tel in Israel.

5) “Only a fraction of what is excavated is eventually reported and published”: There was a forty year delay between the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the release of just their photographs. It is a simple fact of archeological research. There are tens of thousands of cuneiform texts in museum storage rooms all over the world and there is simply not enough time, expertise, and resources to review it all.

Dr. Price concluded his points with these insightful words:
“In the final analysis, it must be remembered that the Bible itself is our finest example of an archeological document. While we have only a limited number of archeological artifacts from the biblical period, the Bible represents the most complete literary record we possess of ancient times. Surviving in one form or another since its first books were penned by Moses some 3400 years ago, it remains the most accurate and trustworthy account of antiquity in the archeological record. For this reason it is improper to elevate other archeological inscriptions above the Biblical text in order to challenge the latter's integrity.”
In this area, I believe Dr. Price has really nailed it. I'm going to finish re-reading the book and may write a full review in the future.

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