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How does archaeology support the Bible?


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Question: "How does archaeology support the Bible?"

Archaeology has been called “the Bible’s best friend,” a statement that reflects the long history of discoveries supportive of the biblical record. From the discovery of the Cyrus Cylinder in 1879, to the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, to the Pool of Siloam in 2004, archaeology has provided an independent witness to the truth of God’s Word.

Of course, there are some archaeological discoveries that seem to contradict the Bible. What then? Is it archaeology or the Bible that is in error? We must remember that archaeologists are people, too, with their own limitations, biases, and proneness to error. Once an artifact is found, its existence must be interpreted, and it is the process of interpretation that is liable to mistakes. Many secular archaeologists used to say that David was a legendary figure, on par with King Arthur, rather than a historical king. That is, until they found the Tel Dan Stela, a basalt stone dating from the 9th century B.C. bearing David’s name and identifying him as king of Israel. Thus, up until the stela was found, archaeology did not overtly support the Bible’s references to David. But, eventually, it was proved that God’s Word was true all along. David was a real person who was king of Israel, and archaeological naysayers turned out to be wrong.

Many more archaeological discoveries have substantiated events and people in the Bible. Egypt’s invasion of Israel (1 Kings 14:25); the Assyrian siege of Lachish (2 Kings 18-19); the trade relations between Israel and Sheba (1 Kings 10); the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem; and the reigns of Kings Omri, Ahab, Uzziah, Hezekiah, Ahaz, Jeroboam II, and Jehoiachin (1 and 2 Kings) have all been confirmed by archaeology. And the previously mentioned Dead Sea Scrolls, the discovery of which was one of the most significant of the 20th century, are decisive proof of the reliability of the Bible’s manuscripts.

Christians must understand that, scientifically, we cannot prove that the Bible is true, but that should not cause us to believe that it is not God’s absolute truth. Since God is the author of history, we are assured that His record of history is an accurate account of what happened. But we must also understand that not everything that happened was written in His record. Only those things were recorded that further God’s revelation of Himself.

In case study after case study, archaeology eventually catches up with the biblical account, and they come into agreement. As Christians, we must be patient and not let our faith in God’s Word be troubled by scientific theories. Archaeology has never proved the biblical account to be wrong, although, in some cases, it has been unable to prove the biblical account right. As archaeologists continue to dig, we will have more and more external evidence to substantiate the historicity and truthfulness of the Bible’s record.

For more information, see our article on Christian archaeology.

Recommended Resources: The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible by Geisler & Holden and Logos Bible Software.

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How does archaeology support the Bible?

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