One of the benefits to reading the Bible is to understand the culture behind the text. For example, when I am reading a text, I’ll read about somebody drinking, and I immediately think of the cups that I would drink out of or the streets that I would walk down. I import my 21st-century assumptions into the Bible.
One of the great things about archaeology is that it reminds us to start thinking like the people who received the Word of God in the Old and the New Testament. It helps us reenter that world, and to think along with them, and hear the Word of God coming to us in the culture in which it was initially written. That’s a huge aspect of archaeology that really helps every reader of the Scriptures.
It’s easy to become a little distant from the real narrative truth that God is really engaging in real history throughout the Bible.
Archaeology helps with biblical understanding in another significant way.
I frequently take groups over to Israel to see the various archaeological sites from the Bible. One of the things that people often report is when they go there, they see that This is real history. This is really happening.
I was raised in a Christian home and read the Bible from as early as I can remember. There’s a way that reading the Bible can kind of be like reading a great work of historical narrative or maybe even a fictional story. It can feel like reading Tolkien, with its maps in the back and all of this vivid imagery. It’s easy to become a little distant from the real narrative truth that God is really engaging in real history throughout the Bible.
The ESV Archaeology Study Bible roots the biblical text in its historical and cultural context, giving Bible readers a framework for better understanding the people, places, and events recorded in Scripture.
The authors are really writing about Jesus as he really walked and where he walked. And so when you walk through the land visually, when you discuss the land visually, it reminds you constantly that these events really happened. God really did bring a people out of Egypt.
And that makes things even more vivid for people.
When I’m in class teaching, showing slides of archaeology and discussing it, students will often say that it just reminds them of how real Scripture is and that God really did this.
- 10 Crucial Archaeological Discoveries Related to the Bible (John D. Currid)
- Why Archaeology Can’t Prove the Bible (and Doesn’t Need To) (John D. Currid, David W. Chapman)
- An Interview with the Editors of the ‘ESV Archaeology Study Bible’