Chapter Summaries of: “Archaeology & The Old Testament” by Alfred J. Hoerth

I. Introduction [Pp.13-16]



Like anything thing else in life, coming to terms with any given subject is the doorway to intelligible discourse.  So, what is archaeology?

 Archaeology is a science or art—or both—which is concerned with the material remains of man’s past. There are two aspects to the archaeologist’s concern.  The first of these is the discovery and reclamation of the ancient remains; this usually involves field excavation or at least surface collecting. 

The second concern is the analysis, interpretation and publication of the findings. [p.14]


An Archaeologist Is not a Geologist: while he knows little about rocks, they are of interest to him when the information in the “rocks” reveal some aspect of an ancient civilization (e.g., regional trade activities)

An Archaeologist Is not a Paleontologist: few archaeologists are trained in fossils, while there are those who know how to recognize bones relative to skeletal human remains.

An Archaeologist Has Geographical Borders:  the fact remains that one has a limited time frame to specialize in a certain part of the globe and the choosing of pre-historic or historic archaeology must be made.

Archaeology is peculiar to Christianity—namely that the biblical issues are foremost in archaeological studies.    [p.15]

An Archaeologist is a historian who is not limited to the written word, but goes beyond and literally digs out remains of ancient peoples.  Through a synthesis of this additional data with the written word, they provide a fuller history of ancient culture than is possible from written sources alone. [p.16]


The value of archaeology to the understanding of biblical knowledge is how it illumines the various ways cultures, and historical settings of the Bible obtain.

Aids in translation and exegesis and it aids in understanding people, places, things, and events in the Bible.


Some people mistakenly use archaeology to prove, confirm, or authenticate the Bible.  While archaeology has served Christianity well by taming it’s Liberal Critics, many Conservative Christians have misappropriated the data much to their own detriment [p.18-19]. 

Halley’s Bible Handbook commits this authentication fallacy because it often uses old and erroneous evidences.  A good rule of thumb is never to assume too much

While Archaeology can demonstrate that Solomon was the king of Israel, it does not then follow, that said discipline can prove he was the wisest man to ever have walked the earth.    Again, archaeology can prove that there was a census when Jesus was born but it does not then follow that Jesus was divine from these proofs. 


The book “The Stones and the Scriptures” put skeptics at bay as author Edwin Yamauchi summarized the relationship of archaeology to the Bible and shows how archaeology has tempered biblical skeptics. Too often he argues, the persistent skepticism is not justified.

Some hold that unless there’s outside confirmation of a Biblical person, it ought not be believed.  Yamauchi basically says that approach is a mistake because what can be known about the past from archaeology is a fraction, of a fraction, of a fraction.

Moreover, he asserts that despite the odds, biblical historicity is supported via archaeology.  The interlocking difficulties that have not yet been so resolved do not alter the overall support of biblical historicity or archaeology.


In the near east, the traveler is immediately aware that ancient ruins are all over the place.  These ancient cities in the Near East are called khirbets or tel(l)s.  This is an ancient cite in which some of the ruins remain visible.

Many tells resemble natural hills or low mesas, and in the nineteenth century this clandestine fact became apparent.  The pre-Greeks of Palestine usually settled atop a natural hill.

Excavating an ancient cite is no easy task.  First one must choose a cite (contingent upon the interests of the archaeologist).  To excavate an ancient cite permission must first be granted by the officials in power.  A Modern staff of archaeologists requires many trained specialists (a team is necessary) such as; Photographers, paleontologists, Geologists, botanists, recorders, who also need adequate funding.

Dwellings (tents are common).  Most tells are too large to entirely excavate so the team must only choose a section to dig.  Before digging, a field architect actually draws out a grid system from which to execute the digging.

When digging, an archaeologist actually isolates strata.  A Stratum is a floor level occupation surface together with walls and debris above and below which belong to it in time.

Archaeology is both science and art and is demonstrated as the archaeologist follows the clues that allow accurate separation of occupation.

Today, most archaeologist’s use the baulk method of excavating which gives the cite a checkerboard appearance.

The archaeologist finds artifacts from the past and must determine from what period they come.  Great care must be taken when excavating for much of the past uncovered is destroyed in the process.  If properly done, a piece of human heritage has been recovered and preserved.

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