A Lion Doesn’t Need Defending
John Currid: My view of archaeology is that it’s not to prove the Bible. The Bible doesn’t need to be proven. It stands well enough on its own. It’s like Spurgeon said: “To prove the Bible is like trying to defend a lion.” It can defend itself.
I think the purpose of archaeology is to enlighten, illuminate, fill in things that we don’t know. It gives us insights into the common man and to everyday life. When you think of books like 1 and 2 Samuel, they primarily deal with the leadership of Israel. They deal with Samuel as priest, they deal with David, they deal with Solomon, and they move into 1 and 2 Kings and the kingships of Israel, but they don’t deal a lot with the common man.
That’s what archaeology can do. It can help us understand how people built their houses, how they made their pottery, how they did agriculture. It can help us understand the setting of the stories in the Scriptures.
The purpose of archaeology is to enlighten, illuminate, fill in things that we don’t know. It gives us insights into the common man and to everyday life.
Faith Not Findings
David Chapman: People imagine that you should be able to find things—everything—that are in Scripture, and give archaeological evidence for all of it. That’s not realistic. That’s not how history works. We need to be realistic about what we can and can’t find.
Moreover, there’s been a historic danger for archaeologists who go out to look to find things to prove the Scriptures. Everything you find becomes evidence, and then later generations come along and say that you misinterpreted the evidence. That does damage to the reliability of the work of archaeologists, and it also injures people’s faith because they were putting some faith on that evidence, thinking it had been proven.
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.
In short, we just need to do really good archaeology. When we do good archaeology, we honor the Lord in our work, and often, we’ll find things that honor the Scriptures, too. But, our goal is to go into the field and do good archaeology and cultural analysis.
While archaeological findings don’t prove the truth of Scripture, they do have the potential to enrich our understanding and draw us into the world of the biblical writers.
The ESV Archaeology Study Bible roots biblical text in its historical and cultural context.
According to Herman Bavinck, the very understanding of history itself was transformed by Christianity.