Archaeology is a means of studying the ancient and recent past through the physical remains and artifacts left by people. This discipline helps us rebuild the world that was, by studying the fragments of the past.
The history of the Bible is one area where archaeologists have focused their attention. In many cases the Bible gives a detailed historical account of the lives of the people who lived in Israel and the countries surrounding it. Archaeologists seek to verify these accounts.
Archaeology can be a great help when studying the Bible for three reasons.
- Archaeology helps us see that the Bible documents real history. We find names from Scripture scraped into stones, places mentioned in Scripture buried under years of rubble, and battles documented in Scripture validated by ancient burial grounds.
- Archaeology helps us see God’s hand in history. As we discover evidence for God’s real work in the world, like making Jericho’s walls fall flat (Joshua 6), or parting the Red Sea (Exodus 14:29), or defending Hezekiah from the Assyrian army (2 Kings 19), we praise God for intervening in human history.
- Archaeology helps us understand the world of the Bible. Archaeology adds color to biblical stories as we discover artifacts from their culture that help us better understand the people, places, and customs written about in Scripture.
Although we do not see archaeology fundamentally as a means of proving the Bible’s reliability, it does, like many other disciplines, provide evidence that affirms our belief that the Bible is true.
Because the Bible is our sole authority, we trust its interpretation of archaeology, and its witness to the events of history. We do not use archaeology primarily to interpret the Bible. We trust the Bible to shed light on our archaeological finds.
Opening the dirt can tell us pieces of our history, but it cannot interpret for us the story of the world.
On the other hand, if we open the Bible, we will read the story of the world through the Author’s lens, and he will also tell us many of the stories behind what we find in the dirt.