A Conversation for David and Goliath - Archaeological Evidence

Archaeology and the Bible

Post 1

Giford

"For those interested in 'the Bible as history', it is interesting to note the extent to which modern archaeology is able to uphold even the most ancient of biblical texts."

Orthodox archaeology has a rather different view, I think. The creation, flood, exodus and invasion of Canaan are all comprehensively refuted by archaeological evidence. David is about the earliest Biblical story for which there is any supporting evidence and, as you point out in this article, even the surviving versions have contradictions.

While there may well have been a local warlord called King David, it is clear that Biblical descriptions of his kingdom are exaggerations and 'golden age' mythologising. Note that all the evidence presented is from centuries after David is supposed to have lived, or has only tangential bearing on the story (e.g. that the name Goliath was in common usage for many centuries around this time). There is also a wall in Jerusalem that is claimed by some to be part of David's palace, on fairly sketchy grounds.

Against this must be set the complete absence of any reference to David or his kingdom in any surrounding culture, despite the Biblical description of what amounts to a local superpower (under both David and his successor Solomon); the absence of any sign of a large city at Jerusalem during this period; the absence of any fortifications at the cities David is supposed to have ruled; comprehensive archaeological surveys of Israel that have shown that there was no great unified kingdom in the area during the 'Davidic' period; absence of any evidence of advanced government necessary to administer a large empire; and inaccuracies in the Biblical stories themselves, which are believed to have been written something like 500 years after the events they describe.

All this can be compared to the Biblical descriptions of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile, which matches very closely both the Babylonian accounts and the archaeological record. This is one of the reasons that most Biblical scholars believe the first books of the Bible (in their earliest recognisable form) to have been written at around this time - 500 years after the dates given for David.

Gif smiley - geek


Archaeology and the Bible

Post 2

royalrcrompton

To say that most biblical scholars view the first books of the Bible to have been written concurrent with the Babylonian captivity ( i.e. 500 years after the time of King David ) is stretching it. There may be some scholars who support that position, but certainly they do not constitute the majority as you suppose.

What in your estimation are the first books of the Bible? The earliest books certainly predate King David because they reflect the Mosaic Law (the moral code, ceremonial law and laws of separation )that were well established during the reign of King David. Furthermore, your assessment that David could be a mythological character is not at all substantiated by Hebrew history.

King David is the acknowledged author of approximately half the Psalms. Psalms 38,51 and 32 give account of his adultery and subsequent repentance for that sin. To say that he was a legendary figure without historical reference implies that you deem the Bible as unworthy of historical accuracy. You had better take a closer look at the 4 books of the kings ( 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles ). From them you will see the interrelation of Israel with the surrounding nations.

Archaeological digs have long supported the accuracy of the Bible -- not discredited it. Most notably, the British archaeological expeditions under Garstang during the early part of the last century corroborated a number of previously-disputed BIble accounts.


Archaeology and the Bible

Post 3

Giford

Hi RC,

The widely-accepted view of the early books of the Bible (by which I mean the first five - variously referred to as the 'Torah', 'Mosaic books', etc) is that they were pieced together from separate documents by various editors/redactors, reaching roughly their current form sometime in the 6th Century BC. This is known as the 'Documentary Hypothesis' or 'JDEP theory' (after the initials given to the four supposed sources). It is by far the most commonly held view among Biblical scholars, although obviously vocally opposed by Jewish and Christian fundamentalists.

You seem to be falling into the trap of using the Bible's claims to support the Bible's claim. For example, you say that the Mosaic Law predates David - how do you know this? What 'Hebrew history' are you referring to when you say David was not mythological? Other than the Bible, we have only archaeology and the accounts of neighbouring kingdoms, none of which support a Hebrew super-state in the region at the time. If David existed at all, his kingdom was insignificant compared to the Biblical description.

It is possible that Chron and Kings do give accurate lists of the names and dates of early Jewish rulers; it's hard to tell, though there is a single (disputed) extra-Biblical reference to a King David at around this time. But everything earlier than that is pretty clearly at odds with what we know from other sources.

While Garstang's work in locating Jericho and it's walls was invaluable, later studies have shown that those walls were not there (and the city may have been deserted iirc) for several centuries around the time that Josua was supposed to be beseiging it. Near-Eastern archaeology seemed at first to find support for the Bible in many areas up until the early 20th Century, but we now know that most of those finds were misinterpreted or mis-dated. In fact, the whole invasion of Canaan seems to have occurred without interrupting the correspondence between the local rulers and their Egyptian overlords. Worse, now that we know that Canaan was an Egyptian province at the time, the whole story of the Exodus makes little sense - fleeing Egypt to Canaan would be like fleeing Britian to Scotland!

The authorship of the Book of Exodus reflects a knowledge of political geography from 6th Century BC Palestine, not 10th Century BC.

I recommend 'BC: Archaeology of the Bible Lands' by Magnus Magnusson (out of print but easy to get hold of, good pictures but rather old now) and 'The Bible Unearthed' by Finkelstein & Silvermann (more academic, no pictures but very thorough and more up-to-date) if you want to know more.

Gif smiley - geek


Archaeology and the Bible

Post 4

royalrcrompton

Thank you for your challenging reply.

I am not attempting to use the Bible to prove the Bible as you intimate. The Bible stands as a historical record just as much as any other ancient source. To discredit its veracity is a daunting task not successfully accomplished through the millennia.

While the Old Testament in its entirety probably does date from after the Babylonian captivity, it was in part undoubtedly piecmeal for centuries. Moses is referred to in Ex. 24:4 ; 31:24 as writing the Mosaic Law. He is alos credited as being either the sole writer of the Pentateuch or one of a larger group of scribes. Scribes are mentioned in Scripture in the time of the early kings ( see 2 Sam. 8:17; 20:25 ; 1 Kings 4:3 ; 2 Kings 12:10 ) The scribes were charged with preserving the written law at least from 1052 BC ( roughly the time of David's reign ). The fact that pauri were widely used from 3000 BC in Egypt suggests the Hebrews would have been able to compile these " books "
from 1000 BC or earlier.

The key to a pre-Babylonian possession of the Holy Scriptures in the form of the Pentateuch and perhaps also parts of the Psalms, Job, Joshua, Judges, Ruth is found in 2 Chron. 17:9 where as early as 914BC the written word or Book of the Law was taken by teachers throughout Israel during Jehoshaphat's reign. Also, in 2 Kings 22:8 this Book of the Law was re-discovered ar641 BC during the reign of Josiah. Thus we have a written codified account pre-dating the captivity.

I agree with you that Garstang's work at Jerich has been partially discredited as to it its real location - but the digs did confirm the type of civilizations present at that time. His teams were highly successful in other areas, notably around Sodom and Gomorrah and in the Hittite areas.

Archaeology has not been able to conclusively dismiss the biblical record but has served to only question the locations. This is consistent with the recent discovery of the Gulf of Aqaba as the portion of the Red Sea where the Israelites crossed with Moses -- not the area of the north western arm.


Archaeology and the Bible

Post 5

Giford

Hi RC,

Thanks for explaining your position - but I'm still really only seeing you using Biblical references to support the Bible.

The dicovery during Josiah's reign of 'ancient' scripture is an interesting episode. Coming so close to the Babylonian exile, it may well have some basis in fact; some think this ties in with the date of writing of Deuteronomy. By this theory, the newly-written Deuteronomy, and perhaps rewritten versions of other texts, were 'discovered' by the priesthood to lend them more weight.

I'd be interested to hear how you think that archaeology has discovered that the Hebrews crossed the Red Sea. When and where do you think Sodom and Gomorrah have been unearthed? There have been many candidates for these cities, from Syria to the Dead Sea, but none is widely accepted.

I agree with you that the Bible stands as a historical record, and should be treated like any other ancient source. That means that it should be subjected to standard historical questions as to when and where it was written, for what purpose, and how reliable its contents are. The answers appear to be that from the time of the Babylonian exile onwards it is often highly accurate, even getting courtiers' names correct; but by the time we get back to David and Solomon's reigns, it conflicts with other, more reliable sources, e.g. archaeology. The intervening period (which is represented in the Bible just by a list of reigns) is difficult to judge, as we have no other sources; the Bible should perhaps be given the benefit of the doubt here until and unless other evidence is discovered.

Gif smiley - geek


Archaeology and the Bible

Post 6

royalrcrompton

Hi Giford

I give the Bible full creedence because it is the best general source document covering that period of ancient history. Nothing in it has been disproved. If portions of it were indeed, proved false, we would be seeing 6-inch high bold headlines in every daily newspaper in the world announcing the end of Judeo-Christian belief. Nothing would give the humanist element greater glee in debunking the Scriptures. But as yet nobody has been successful in doing so - 4,000 years after the first oral histories and subsequent targums.

The Bible does create difficulty for historians and archaeologists in trying to sort out locations and the precise dating -- neither of which are summarized in any of the biblical accounts; though some Bible editions make a stab at guesstimating the dating ( usually shown by the editors in the cross-reference columns of the better Bibles).

The issue of whether the Bible is telling the truth or not is speculative, of course; but here is the challenge : if we read in it something that has a clear historical significance why would anyone take an immediate position of doubting it? Are the written historical accounts to be viewed as lies? For what reason(s) would the writers be attempting to deceive future generations? (Again, the problems associated with location and dating often draw uncertainties; but just because archaeology has not yet been able to support the accounts does not discount their veracity.)

To pinpoint the location of Sodom and Gomorrah is as you suggest, perhaps,impossible. But there have been sufficient unearthings in the general area near the southern part of the Dead Sea coastline amidst strange mineral strata that might be the correct location.

About ten years ago a Scandinavian expedition found numerous encrusted, spoked chariot wheels in the Gulf of Aqaba; also the large stretch of beach ( Ex. 14:9 )on the Sinai side where the Israelites entered the ocean bed -- the only possible place along that shore. This discovery gives a very strong support that the portion of the Red Sea south of Succoth where for centuries historians and archaelogists thought the crossing took place, was all along,incorrect. This discovery would make Midian on the Arabian side as the proper location for Mount Horeb ( Mt. Sinai ). The Sinai peninsula as we know it today is not actually the Sinai of the Bible. It is somewhere in Midian.

I am going to check my sources and find the website(s) that detail this discovery and pass along to you the information. This change of thinking is quite well-known in North America ( I'm Canadian ) so I am a bit surprised you have not heard about it. Bear with me; I hope to have something to send you over the next week or so.

Cheers

RJC


Archaeology and the Bible

Post 7

Giford

Hi RC,

I think you're referring to Ron Wyatt, a notorious charlatan who claimed numerous Biblical discoveries - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Wyatt Although he's gone down well with some fundamentalists, few archaeologists give any credence to him.

I don't quite know what you mean by 'science has never disproved any part of the Bible'. The Genesis creation and Noachian flood are two obvious examples, and you could add the Exodus, Joshua's invasion of Canaan and David/Solomon's super-state to that.

You ask: 'if we read in it something that has a clear historical significance why would anyone take an immediate position of doubting it?'

The answer is: 'because that is how historians work'. It is recognised that every historical (and modern) document is written from a point of view and with a purpose. A historian's job is largely to work out how accurate a document is. Even a brief survey of documents from that period shows that rulers were given to exaggeration and mythologisation.

I am saying that the Bible should not be granted immunity from being treated like any other historical source. Where it conflicts with the bulk of the evidence, it should be recognised that the Bible is unreliable. When it is in agreement with many other sources, they add weight to it. The only controversy comes when we have only one document from a period; it then becomes very difficult to assess the reliability of that document. The Biblical account of the Kings period falls into this category.

Gif smiley - geek


Archaeology and the Bible

Post 8

royalrcrompton

Hi Giford

No, I don't think that this Scandinavian group is aligned with Mr. Wyatt -- but I will need to confirm the expedition leader(s). I did view their film production obtained from a friend a few years ago which clearly shows the coraled wheel-like formations in scuba-depth water off the coast of Arabia south of Elath. I will try to get you the weblink information.

You are absolutely right that the Bible should not be granted imunity. from being treated just like any other historical source. It should be challenged and it has been - over and over again. Yet despite what you claim, nothing stated in it has been disproved-- not intelligent-design nor the Flood nor the many other miracles. People may reject biblical history but the existing scope of counter theories ( Evolution as one example) remain just theories. Thus far they cannot be rightly adjudged as fully-scientific according to the Scientific Method that examines cause, evidence, analysis and qualifies LAWS or other proofs/axioms.

As far as mythology is concerned, there is a decided difference between the Mosaic record and the mythology that arose during that time. First, the Hebrews devised natioinal laws that made their lives even more difficult than those they were forced to endure while bondservants under the Egyptians ( confirmed by the archaeological digs north of then-Memphis identifying housing of a style not consistemnt with the rest of the Egyptian dwellings of that era but similar to those found in Canaan )It is unthinkable that a nation would impose upon themselves a far more rigorous code of conduct that undermined their own liberty and pursuit of happiness -- unless they had been so directed by a higher authority not yet encountered.
command 1 - they were forced to put a unknown " god " before the others they had worshipped
command 2 - they were forced to destroy their idols and talismans
command 3 - they were forced to revere the name of this ' god " YAWEH
command 4 - they were forced to set aside one day in seven as a day of rest in honour of Him
command 5 - they were forced to honour their parents and respect them on pain of death
command 6 - they were forced to cease murdering their antagonists
command 7 - they were forced to adopt monogamy; the men no longer able to indiscriminately poke the other willing and attractive women
command 8 - they were forced to return all found merchandise to their rightful owners ( no more finders keeper losers weeper )
command nine - they were forced to quit their lying and embellishment
command ten - they were forced to stop harbouring any unlawful lusts and imaginations

In the face of this strange occurence ( who in their right minds would have drawn these up out of a strictly human perspective?? ); and in their resolve to keep them ( see Ex. 24:7 ) it causes one to seriously examine the existence of an alien force that they claimed directed them.

No, it doesn't PROVE the existence of God but it does give rise to the strong possibility that God as the intelligent and authoritative ruler of this portion of the cosmos did visit planet Earth with directives for the human race.

We tend to be caught up in our own self-importance, rationalising that because we have not seen solid evidence of God's existence that there could not have been some visitation in a previous age. We tend to think that because of our supposed intellectual advancement that we are far more deserving of an alien visitation ( if that is possible ). But perhaps, the aliens have already come. And maybe, just maybe that alien was the God of the Jews. And maybe that God is indeed, Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah. Maybe not; but possible just the same.....

Something to think on

RJC


Archaeology and the Bible

Post 9

Giford

Hi RC,

Sadly, yes the Biblical flood has been disproved. Geology has known for nearly 200 years that there is simply no evidence that the whole world has ever been underwater. William Buckland, who is usually credited with turning geology into an academic subject in the UK, devoted his life to proving the Flood (and got backing from the church to do so), and had to endure persistent ridicule from a Bible-believing public when he failed. He first posited seven floods, then eventually abandoned his belief in a literal interpretation of Genesis altogether (but not his faith; he became Dean of Westminster), and no serious geologist since his disagreed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Buckland

No example of 'intelligent design' has yet been found in nature. Indeed, there are several examples of distinctly 'unintelligent design', where is seems apparent that undirected evolution has produced a substandard but functional feature, rather than the neat design we would expect from a designer.

'Inteliigent Design Theory' is currently in meltdown following the Dover trial two years ago. It was only ever a political rebranding of Creationism anyway.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=qk3sRqsVrh4

Evolution is indeed a scientific theory - which is the highest status science bestows on an idea, above a 'fact' or a 'law'. Gravity, atoms and germs are all 'theories'; like evolution, that does not mean they are considered doubtful. Evolution has also been observed in action, and can make testable predictions. Creationism, on the other hand, is not a scientific theory since it is not open to evidence or disproof. It is also unable to explain basic features of nature, such as the ordering of the fossil record.

I agree with you that it's a mystery why people choose to subject themselves to restrictive religious laws. Nevertheless, they clearly do, and unless you are going to claim that every religion in the world is equally valid, it's clearly nothing to do with being in contact with a real God. Islam has some very restrictive laws, as did the Aztecs, and as do the Hindus and Buddhists. We have to accept that those religions have as much support from following laws as Judaism does, and since these religions are mutually exclusive, the only possible amount of support is therefore zero.

Incidentally, there is no evidence of a significant Hebrew population in Egypt prior to the Babylonian exile; there is, however, evidence of Jewish culture slowly evolving from Canaanite culture in Palestine. Yahweh was not 'previously unknown' - he was part of a pantheon (the husband of Asherah) who became a tribal God for the Hebrews, then the only God they worshiped sometime around the Babylonian Exile, and ultimately the only God they believed in. Again, archelogy supports this in terms of statuary finds in the area (with supporting evidence from pig bones disappearing from the archaeological record also).

I am also interested to see that you seem to be claiming that before the rise of Judaism, there was no moral problem with theft, dishonesty or murder. I think you will find that society reject these ideas long before Judaism appeared on the scene.

Finding an old wheel at the bottom of the Red Sea - even if it is a genuine find - is very nice, but it's a bit of a stretch from that to deducing the entire Red Sea Crossing, wouldn't you say?

As to whether God is an alien, well, that's a nice idea, but a little outside the scope of archaeology, one way or the other!

Gif smiley - geek


Archaeology and the Bible

Post 10

Giford

On Hebrew origins:



The book of Judges depicts the Israelites as an alien nation in Canaan, distinguished by their monotheism, and constantly at war with the native Canaanites. Recent surveys of long-term settlement patterns in the Israelite heartlands, however, show no sign of violent invasion or even peaceful infiltration, but rather a sudden demographic transformation about 1200 BCE in which some 250 small villages sprang up in the previously unpopulated highlands. The earliest settlements mimic the oval plan of 19th-20th century CE Bedouin camps, suggesting that the inhabitants were once pastoral nomads, driven to take up farming by the collapse of the Canaanite city-culture in the Late Bronze Age. "[M]ost of the people who formed early Israel ... [were] themselves originally Canaanite."


From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bible_Unearthed , a good synopsis of Finkelstein & Silberman that I referenced previously. There's another review here: http://www.bibleandscience.com/bible/reviews/unearthed.htm

A lack of signs of invasion (e.g. large-scale destruction of cities) or sudden cultural changes (pottery styles, house styles, etc) also provide evidence against an invasion at this time. Taken with the el-Armana letters (from local rulers to the Pharaoh, and showing no knowledge of an invasion), this is pretty conclusive.

The book itself is loaded with specific examples, and well worth a read.

Gif smiley - geek


Archaeology and the Bible

Post 11

royalrcrompton

There is strong evidence of an ancient Hebrew presence noted in Egypt; the dating is of course, not 100% provable but it is in what was known as Goshen and not that far from the city of Memphis. I viewed the documentary only a couple of years ago from the research done by the Egyptian government ( supported by British funding ).

The Flood has its opponents. To state that there was no universal flood is inconsistent with shell-like fossils found in strata above the 10,000 foot level in California mountain ranges and elsewhere. How did they get there if the oceans have not risen appreciably since the beginning of the Earth. Yes, the timing is in question but there seems to some scientific evidence to consider the Flood as having actually occurred. I don't think Buckland had any of this this evidence to postulate his belef. If he did, he made have down an about face.

Again, evolution is a theory but is derived from ideology that seems to follow a scientific approach but which has no scientific footing i.e. no conclusive scientific laws to dismiss other beliefs and theories as is the case with the laws of gravity and thermodynamics.

There was indeed a problem with crime prior to the giving of the Decalogue by Moses but not against any laws in Israel -- for there was no codified law prior to the Mosaic Law and where there is no law there can be no civil, moral crime. That is the basis of Paul's thesis in the first six chapters of Romans. The only regulating law for Israel before that time was the conscience and if it was ignored, man had full ability within his own physical power to do what he willed -- assault, rape, murder theft, bully etc. It is true that there were codes of laws given to man prior to Moses -- the Sumerians/ Assyrians had laws ( Hammurabi, I believe had a code )which postulates that their culture may have taken the dictates of the conscience far more seriously or they may also have received some Divine/alien direction.

I agree with you that one wheel at the bottom of the Re Sea would be highly inconclusive. But the documentary I viewed showed MANY wheel-like formations -- scores of them. For you to state that Mr. Wyatt is a charlatan requires some proof of his chicanery. Do you have evidence to back that very serious assertion? I am not necessarily disagreeing with you on this but you must present solid evidence to lay that kind of charge.

Are you a product of unintelligent design? Are your thought patterns, emotions and sense or moral, right and wrong developed out of a process that has no moral compass. Was the world created in anarchy to develop itself by chance to the modern, intricate intelligent design that we now live in? That would be akin to laying a destroyed and dismantled Boeing 747 in a scrap yard and expect that after millions of years, it would put itself together and eventually take flight again.


Archaeology and the Bible

Post 12

royalrcrompton

Hi Giford

Where anywhere in the European theatre of WW II do you see the remains of a violent invasion? Yes, virtually all of it has all been cleaned up and the evidence well covered over. And so it may be the very same situation in the case of the Israelite/Canaanite wars. Those " wars " were not what we would consider a series of set-piece battles -- most of them were seiges of cities; very few actual encounters on the battlefield. It was not until the wars with the Philistines that the traditional field armies came into being.

I am not sure how anyone would be able to qualify a " peacful infiltration." Not being an archaeologist, please enlighten me as to just what evidence constitutes a peaceful from a violent takover. The remains of weaponry by itself may reveal a city arsenal but not necessarily the site of supposed battles.


Archaeology and the Bible

Post 13

Giford

Hi RC,

OK, good questions. I'll respond to your direct questions first, as best I can, then address your main points. I meant to look up some specifics on the archaeological data last night, but it slipped my mind. I'll try to remember to post something early next week.

'Are you a product of unintelligent design?'

Well, let's look at the evidence.

My retina is wired backwards. The light-receptive cells face inwards, reducing their effectiveness in low light. The nerves face forwards, meaning they have to pass back through the retina to reach the brain, causing a blind spot.

My skull is not a single bone, it is fused together from several separate bones. My lower jaw and pelvis are similar.

As an embryo, I had a tail nearly a sixth the length of my body. As I entered the foetal stage, this disappeared, and as an adult I have only four fused vertebrae forming a useless internal tail. I am fortunate enough not to have broken this fragile coccyx. However, I do have impacted wisdom teeth due to having too many teeth (or too large teeth) for my jaw size.

My urethra passes straight through my prostate, leading to a raised chance of infection. Right next-door, my vans deferens makes a bizarre loop over my urethra; you can see a drawing of the layout at: http://www.emc.maricopa.edu/faculty/farabee/BIOBK/BioBookREPROD.html

It gets much, much worse on a microscopic or molecular level.

In other word: yes, I am a product of sub-optimal design (or, more likely, no design at all).

Sorry, that was a bit longer than I intended; I'll take a break here!

Gif smiley - geek


Archaeology and the Bible

Post 14

Giford

'Are your thought patterns, emotions and sense or moral, right and wrong developed out of a process that has no moral compass.'

That seems the only rational conclusion, yes.

'Was the world created in anarchy to develop itself by chance to the modern, intricate intelligent design that we now live in?'

Whilst I would quibble with the words 'created', 'chance' and 'intelligent design', that's largely correct. Evolution is not a random process though.

'That would be akin to laying a destroyed and dismantled Boeing 747 in a scrap yard and expect that after millions of years, it would put itself together and eventually take flight again.'

Not really. For a start, 747 components don't reproduce or mutate, and nor does natural selection act upon them. Incidentally, you might try looking at Richard Dawkins' 'Ultimate 747 Argument', where he uses essentially the same point to argue (more convincingly) against the idea that a complex God could spring fully-formed from nothing.

Re marine fossils on mountains: you are correct in that this provides convincing evidence that this area was once submerged. The Himalayas are another good example. In both these cases, it is clear from geological evidence that these areas are highly geologically active, and have undergone uplift in the past, and continue to do so now. In other words, they used to be under the sea (about 60 million years ago for the Himalayas, more like 3 million years ago for California) because they were below sea level.

There simply isn't enough water in the world to produce an ocean deep enough to submerge the Californian mountains, much less the Himalayas, unless they used to be far lower than they are now.

OK, that's the evolution bit done, pending any further questions/clarifications you have; now back to the archaeology (in another post, I think).

Gif smiley - geek


Archaeology and the Bible

Post 15

Giford

Hi RC,

Me again! OK, third and final post.

You ask, sensibly, what would be the archaeological evidence for an invasion, using WW2 as an example. One answer is actually contained in your question; massive simultaneous rebuilding of cities. The conquest of a city tends to involve destruction of many buildings, which are then replaced. In ancient societies, the invaders were frequently culturally different, and so there may be an abrupt change in the styles of architecture and/or ceramics. There may also be a layer of ash or debris where the city has been destroyed and then rebuilt on its own ruins.

There are very few cities in Palestine (or elsewhere in the ancient world) that do not show signs of having been invaded and destroyed several times. What we don't see is any sign that this happened across Canaan at roughly the same time. And, of course, there are the el-Amarna letter which I keep mentioning (and mis-spelling) written by the Canaanite rulers to the Egyptian Pharaoh throughout this period. They detail occasional wars among the Canaanites, but no threat to Egyptian rule of the region. The Bible not only describes an invasion that didn't happen, it gets its basic politics for the period wrong by claiming that Canaan was independent of Egyptian rule at this time.

Re Ron Wyatt: yes, it's a serious charge, and I wouldn't make it if there was any serious doubt about it. There is plenty of stuff on the web about him, much of it from Christians who he has conned. See, for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Wyatt or http://www.tentmaker.org/WAR/ or http://noahsarksearch.com/ronwyatt.htm or just put his name into a Famous Web Search Engine. Most of the stuff I found concentrates on his Noah's Ark claims, but I did find this:

"One of the individuals who I interviewed, who lost approximately 30,000 thousand dollars to Ron Wyatt, went to Israel with him, supposedly to see some of these sights and record them on film. An assignment editor of a major television station in Nasheville went with them. Not only did this individual not see any of these incredible discoveries, but his wife was told by one of Ron Wyatt's sons that the chariot wheels that Ron supposedly discovered in the Gulf of Aqaba were planted there by Ron."

From: A Great Christian Scam; Gary Amirault; [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

Do you, in turn, have any evidence that the Israelites lived in anarchy until the Ten Commandments were written? If so, they would be unique - every other civilisation has managed to figure out for itself that theft and murder are harmful to society.

Gif smiley - geek


Archaeology and the Bible

Post 16

royalrcrompton

Hi Giford

Thanks for your reply. Some good points.

I have the detail concerning the Red Sea crossing discoveries.

The expedition that I referred to earlier originated in Sweden under Dr. Lennart Moller who is a marine biologist from Stockholm. He organized his trek to the Middle East on the basis of some discoveries of unusual formations in the North-West Arabia ( Midian ) by another Swede, Viveka Ponten who, in 1996/1997 did extensive research in that area looking for archaeological evidence for the an Israelite encampment. She allegedly pursued this after coming to a dead end in and around Mt. Sinai.

Moller and Ponten were intrigued by supposed reports of wheel-like formations found in the Gulf of Aqaba that suggested the route taken by the Israelites out of Egypt may have been far different than traditionally believed. They did not mention in their documentary who it was that made the first discovery ( the name " Wyatt " )never came up.

Independently, they discovered many 90 degree-angled coral formations ( narrow appendages joining circular )at the Nuiweba Pensinula on the Sinai side of Aqaba fully 75 miles noth-east from the Straits of Tirana - also some formations on the Arabian side of the gulf. The video footage shows them very clearly. Moller's team was prohibited by law ( both Egyptian and Saudi )from raising any of them but did scan with metal detectors demonstrating that the coral contained significant amounts of metal.

You can see this on the video production " The Exodus Revealed : search for the Red Sea Crossing " in libraries under 222.12 EXO.

I don't suppose that you will alter your view because you seem quite resigned to dismiss any notion of any Israelite crossing. But you should have a view of it to verify the scientific approach taken and that this is not simply some hoax. Please note that Moller went in search as a skeptic, fully believing to disprove the supposed findings of the initial discovery. He has since altered his opinions though he has not fully endorsed this location as the Red Sea crossing site of the Bible. And that is because they are unable to raise the evidence and conduct a critical examination. In that perspective he has to be commended for his scientific approach.


Archaeology and the Bible

Post 17

royalrcrompton

Hi Giford

Unintelligent design seem to be oxymoron. Design presupposes a form of intelligence, though that degree of intelligence may not line up with what the present generation deems " intelligent."

Just because the retina, skull etc. seem to have flaws does not mean that the original design was flawed or that these supposed flaws denote an accidental and imperfect design. It may be that the design " flaws " were purposeful. The intricacies of life-forms demand a design -- not a mere accidental adaptation to a well-ordered environment. We cannot claim scientifically to have perfect understanding of the cosmos. Even Stephen Hawking hedges on many issues. " Sub-optimal" as you say is a very subjective term based on existing scietific knowledge which may be all haywire in certain disciplines.

It is a given that many of our scientific viewpoints are best-guesses and without true understanding of why things are the way they are. Obviously, some long-held beliefs will be proven wrong in the future. It just may be that the skull, retina, prostate issues that you cite will one day be explainable and/or corrected by simple changes in the way we do things e.g. diet. I certainly hope so... especially with the latter; for I am tired of having to break off a good night's sleep at 3:00 AM in order to pee.

While you would not agree, theologians believe many physical limitations are a direct result of the Fall of man into sin with the accompanying curse of death. The fact that life-forms deteriorate and die in itself is not easily explainable. That there are scientific reasons for death is quite evident; but why the conditions exist that bring about death are more difficult to postulate. Why then did not the accidental life forms continue to adapt, progress, expand, in a state of perpetual increase and improvement without the need to die? I don't have any answers and I am dissatisfied with the answers that science gives us.


Archaeology and the Bible

Post 18

royalrcrompton

Hi Giford

As for the Israelites living in anarchy prior to the giving of the Ten Commandments : no I am not suggesting that there was total anarchy but a movement toward it that God chose to check.

The conscience is the human moral compass which distinguishes us from other living beings. It is our safeguard against a dog-eat-dog anarchy; but only to a point. As youngsters our consciences smite us when we do that which is against it. Nobody can claim to have never been checked by the conscience or reproved by it. It is universal.

But the conscience can be seared. Pharaoh's conscience became seared in his repeated acknowledgment of his sin but in his recurring obstinancy to forbid the Israelites to be set free. The Bible terms this as " hardening. " Paul speaks of this hardening of the conscience in 1 Tim. 4:2. If there are no effective laws based on the moral compass ( with which God has endued man), there will be a slide into anarchy. That is the way it was prior to the Flood as God declared the human race wicked. For reasons unknown, He chose only to spare eight souls.

The tendency to lawlessness is easily seen in the historical record -- especially as it concerns conquering nations. The defeated were plundered, murdered, ravished and abused at the privilege of the victors. They had no laws to uphold against the vanquished. Even during the Second World War this same lawlessnes was rampant. The Russians were subjected to horrific Nazi atrocities as were the Chinese in suffering the Japanese advances -- particularly around Nanking. Even the Americans, Canadians and British forced the the German women -- that was one of the spoils of conquest, demonstrating that a so-called Judeo-Christian society can revert to extreme selfishness and commit the unthinkable. As the Nazis and their puppets were done in and with local law suspended, it was open season. The military and government authorities on the Allied side did very little to curb these acts; a few tsk. tsk. token warnings not to do such things.


Archaeology and the Bible

Post 19

TRiG (Ireland) A dog, so bade in office

222.12 EXO

200 is religion
220 is Bible

History is in 900. Science is in 300-600.

TRiG.smiley - book(Former school library assistant.)


Archaeology and the Bible

Post 20

royalrcrompton

Yes, the DVD has been filed under the Bible section since its main theme is a religious one -- the Exodus account of the Bible. There are also scientific and historical aspects to the presentation that question the ages-old, acknowledged route of the Exodus and the location of the supposed Red Sea crossing.


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