Outline of Bible-related topics. Biblical archaeology involves the recovery and scientific investigation of the material remains of past cultures that can illuminate the periods and descriptions in the Bible , be they from the Old Testament Hebrew Bible or from the New Testament , as well as the history and cosmogony of Judaism and Christianity.
The principal location of interest is what is known in the relevant religions as the Holy Land , which from a Western perspective is also called the Middle East. In contrast, Near Eastern archaeology deals with the Ancient Near East , or Middle East, without giving any special consideration to whether its discoveries have any relationship with the Bible.
The scientific techniques used are the same as those used in general archaeology, such as excavation and radiocarbon dating. In order to understand the significance of biblical archaeology it is first necessary to understand two basic concepts: archaeology as a scientific framework and the Bible as an object for research.
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Archaeology is a science, not in the Aristotelian sense of cognitio certa per causas but in the modern sense of systematic knowledge. It might be thought that archaeology would have to disregard the information contained within religions and many philosophical systems.
However, apart from the great deal of factual material that they provide such as places of worship, holy objects and other scientifically observable things, there are other aspects that are equally important for scientific archaeological investigation such as religious texts , rites , customs and traditions.
This contemporary perception of the myth , mainly developed by Bultmann, has encouraged scientists such as archaeologists to examine the areas indicated by the biblical tales. Biblical archaeology is the discipline occupied with the scientific investigation and recovery of the material remains of past cultures that can illuminate the times and descriptions of the Bible , a broad swathe of time between BC and AD.
The raison d'etre of biblical archaeology derives from the fact that it allows an understanding of the peoples that inhabited the Holy Land. It allows an understanding of their history, culture, identity and movements. This makes it possible to know the exact location of the stories and compare them with fact.
Regarding this, Pietro Kaswalder has noted that previously the American and Israeli school of biblical archaeology saw archaeology as proof of the veracity of the biblical stories,  as can be seen in the work of authors of the stature of William F.
Albright , G. Ernest Wright and Yigael Yadin. However, archaeologists today do not try to prove the stories in the Bible, but rather to discover the historical context in which it was written. Using this approach, introduced by Kaswalder,  it is possible to shed light on the following, according to the classification presented by the Catalan papyrologist Joan Maria Vernet: .
The geographical area that circumscribes the area of interest for biblical archaeology is obviously the biblical lands, also known as the " Holy Land ". There are many points of view regarding the exact extent of this area, however, biblical archaeology specifically concentrates on the Land of Israel , Palestine and Jordan , the area called the southern Levant.
Many researchers are also interested in other areas that are mentioned in the biblical tales and which have a great importance for their connecting thread: Egypt , Syria and Mesopotamia which are of interest to scientists interested in the Tanakh. In the same way that the spatial criteria vary according to the various points of view of the different researchers, there are also a variety of dates that are of interest.
Kaswalder comments that:. The study of biblical archaeology started at the same time as general archaeology and obviously its development relates to the discovery of highly important ancient artifacts. Biblical archaeology is the subject of ongoing debate. One of the sources of greatest dispute is the period when kings ruled Israel and more generally the historicity of the Bible.
It is possible to define two loose schools of thought regarding these areas: biblical minimalism and maximalism , depending on whether the Bible is considered to be a non-historical , religious document or not. The two schools are not separate units but form a continuum, making it difficult to define different camps and limits. However, it is possible to define points of difference, although these differences seem to be decreasing over time. Biblical archaeology has also been the target of several celebrated forgeries, which have been perpetrated for a variety of reasons.
One of the most celebrated is that of the James Ossuary , when information came to light in regarding the discovery of an ossuary , with an inscription that said " Jacob , son of Joseph and brother of Jesus ". In reality the artifact had been discovered twenty years before, after which it had exchanged hands a number of times and the inscription had been added. This was discovered because it did not correspond to the pattern of the epoch from which it dated.
The objects in the following list generally come from private collections and were often purchased in antiques markets. Their authenticity is highly controversial and in some cases they have been proved to be fakes. The majority of excavations and investigations carried out in the area where the biblical narratives are set mainly have the objective of casting light on the historical, cultural, economic and religious background to the texts, therefore their main objective is not usually proving the veracity of these stories.
However, there are some groups that take a more fundamentalist approach and which organize archaeological campaigns with the intention of finding proof that the Bible is factual and that its narratives should be understood as historical events. This is not the official position of the Catholic Church. Archaeological investigations carried out with scientific methods can offer useful data in fixing a chronology that helps to order the biblical stories. In certain cases these investigations can find the place where these narratives took place.
In other cases they can confirm the veracity of the stories. However, in other matters they can question events that have been taken as historical fact, providing arguments that show that certain stories are not historical narratives but belong to a different narrative genre. In , Pope Pius XII recommended that interpretations of the Scripture take archaeological findings into account in order to discern the literary genres that the Scriptures used.
Since this time archaeology has been considered to provide valuable assistance and as an indispensable tool of the biblical sciences.
Archaeologist William G. In this article he reiterates his perceptions of the negative effects of the close relationship that has existed between Syro-Palestinian archaeology and biblical archaeology, which has caused the archaeologists working in this field, particularly the American archaeologists, to resist adoption of the new methods of " processual archaeology ". In addition he considers that: "Underlying much scepticism in our own field [referring to the adaptation of the concepts and methods of a "new archaeology", one suspects the assumption although unexpressed or even unconscious that ancient Palestine, especially Israel during the biblical period, was unique, in some " superhistorical " way that was not governed by the normal principles of cultural evolution".
Dever found that Syro-Palestinian archaeology had been treated in American institutions as a sub discipline of bible studies, where it was expected that American archaeologists would try to "provide valid historical evidence of episodes from the biblical tradition". Archaeology certainly doesn't prove literal readings of the Bible It calls them into question, and that's what bothers some people.
Most people really think that archaeology is out there to prove the Bible. No archaeologist thinks so. And for a long time it was thought to work.
William Albright , the great father of our discipline, often spoke of the "archaeological revolution. The truth of the matter today is that archaeology raises more questions about the historicity of the Hebrew Bible and even the New Testament than it provides answers, and that's very disturbing to some people. Archaeology as it is practiced today must be able to challenge, as well as confirm, the Bible stories.
Some things described there really did happen, but others did not. The biblical narratives about Abraham , Moses , Joshua and Solomon probably reflect some historical memories of people and places, but the 'larger than life' portraits of the Bible are unrealistic and contradicted by the archaeological evidence I am in fact not even a theist.
My view all along—and especially in the recent books—is first that the biblical narratives are indeed 'stories,' often fictional and almost always propagandistic, but that here and there they contain some valid historical information This is what archaeologists have learned from their excavations in the Land of Israel: the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel.
Perhaps even harder to swallow is that the united monarchy of David and Solomon, which is described by the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom. And it will come as an unpleasant shock to many that the God of Israel, YHWH, had a female consort and that the early Israelite religion adopted monotheism only in the waning period of the monarchy and not at Mount Sinai.
Professor Finkelstein told the Jerusalem Post that Jewish archaeologists have found no historical or archaeological evidence to back the biblical narrative on the Exodus , the Jews' wandering in Sinai or Joshua's conquest of Canaan.
On the alleged Temple of Solomon, Finkelstein said that there is no archaeological evidence to prove it really existed. This is my career as an archaeologist. I should tell them the truth. If the people are upset, that is not my problem.
Conservative scholars [ who? Evangelical Old Testament scholar Walter C. Kaiser Jr. With increasing clarity, the setting of the Bible appears more vividly within the framework of general history It has continued to cast light, whether implicitly or explicitly, on many of the Bible's customs, cultures, and settings during various periods of history.
On the other hand, archaeology has also given rise to some real problems with regard to its findings. Thus, its work is an ongoing one that cannot be foreclosed too quickly or used merely as a confirming device.
Kaiser goes on to detail case after case in which the Bible, he says, "has aided in the identification of missing persons, missing peoples, missing customs and settings. This is not to say that archaeology is a cure-all for all the challenges brought to the text--it is not! There are some monstrous problems that remain--some created by the archaeological data itself.
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But since we have seen so many specific challenges over the years yield to such specific data in favor of the text, a presumption tends to build that we should go with the text until definite contrary information is available.
This methodology that says that the text is innocent until proven guilty is not only recommended as a good procedure for American jurisprudence, but it is recommended in the area of examining the claims of the Scripture as well. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Archaeological sub-discipline.
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Gnostic Islamic Qur'anic. Inerrancy Infallibility. Main article: Archaeology. See also: Archaeological theory. Main article: Biblical archaeology school.