Judaism and Christianity are unique among the world’s religions in that they stand or fall on the veracity of their historical claims. If the Exodus did not occur, then Judaism is false, because the God of Judaism is the God who revealed Himself to the Hebrew people through the Exodus. If Jesus did not exist or was not resurrected from the dead, then Christianity is false. Other religions may incorporate historical elements into their religion, but the religious claims of the system are not based on such historical details. If you removed the historical elements, the philosophical, ethical, and ritual teachings would still remain. They are able to stand on their own fully apart from any historical context.
Given the centrality historical events play in the Judaeo-Christian religions, it is important to establish the reliability of the historical accounts in order to lend credibility to the veracity of the spiritual claims that are tied to such events. It’s important to establish that the stories we read about in the Bible are not mere stories or myths, but genuine historical events that transpired in a specific time and locale. Can this be done? Yes. The historical claims of Judaism and Christianity can be corroborated by archaeological discoveries.
What is archaeology? Archaeology is the study of past human life as revealed through the artifacts left by ancient people. Not much has survived the ravages of time due to natural disasters, intentional destruction, burning, decay, and looting, but what has survived helps us piece together parts of the puzzle of past human civilization.
Over the next few weeks I will be posting and discussing archeological discoveries of Biblical significance.
Value of Biblical Archaeology
Why should Christians be concerned about archeology?
- Archaeology brings the Biblical stories to life in tangible way. It transfers them from the pages of a book—from stories—to the real world of experience by presenting us with empirical evidence that confirms the reliability and accuracy of the Bible’s historical claims.
- Archaeology cannot prove everything in the Bible given how little is preserved, but what we have discovered supports the Bible’s general reliability against the skeptics who claim it is myth.Liberals tend to think the Bible is guilty until proven innocent. If there is no extra-biblical confirmation of the Biblical record, they presume the Bible is wrong. But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Given the corroborating evidence archeologists have uncovered thus far, the Bible should be given the benefit of the doubt for historical claims that cannot be tested, or for which we do not presently possess any extra-biblical evidence for.
- Archaeology helps adjudicate between religions by supplying good reasons to take the religious claims of one religion seriously over that of another. If the historical claims of religion Q has no corroborating support from archeology whereas the historical claims of religion R do, then that is one good reason to prefer religion R over Q as the true religion.