Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Archaeological Proof? (2)

From the Errancy Discussion list, 5-4-97:

The more I read of Amateur Apologist's (AA's) archaeological evidence, the
more I wonder if AA isn't Aubrey Matthews. Does anyone know? Anyway, my
response continues from where I left off.

Another stone inscription discovered in the temple of Pharaoh at Thebes 

in Egypt which mentioned an invasion by the Egyptians against Israel 
confirming the presence of Israel at the time of Joshua which was accused 
by many critics of the Bible as fiction. 

AA speaks only of "another stone inscription," but he doesn't tell us 

what this inscription said, so there is no way that we can evaluate it. 
If he will post the text of the inscription, we can then react to it.

Let's suppose, however, that there is an inscription on a temple in Egypt,
which mentions an Egyptian invasion of Israel at the time of Joshua. Unless
the inscription mentioned Joshua, this would not prove that Joshua was an
actual historical person, and it wouldn't confirm that Joshua parted the
waters of the Jordan River as recorded in Joshua 3, and it wouldn't confirm
any of the exploits attributed to Joshua unless the inscription gave
corroborating references to those exploits. As usual, AA is reading
entirely too much into alleged archaeological discoveries.

The countless books written criticizing the Bible were rendered as obselete
and worthless, and had to be removed from the scholarly accounts of history. 

Oh? Could AA give us some specifics here? Exactly which books were
rendered "obselete" [sic] and worthless and had to be removed from the
scholarly accounts of history. Yep, this sounds very much like Aubrey
Matthews. If it isn't, Aubrey should try to establish contact with him.
The two should get along famously.

Also the well known clay cylinder found in Iraq which mentioned King Cyrus
and his decree allowing the various captured natives to be freed back to 

their homelands confirming the Book of Ezra 1:1-3. 

Yes, this cylinder was found and is now on exhibit at the British Museum.
All it proves is that after Cyrus (not Darius the Mede) captured Babylon, he
issued a decree allowing the captive people from Palestine to return home.
It would not prove that "Yahweh stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of
Persia" to issue the proclamation, as claimed in 2 Chronicles 36:22 and Ezra
1:1. Historians see Cyrus's proclamation as a political maneuver to
establish a loyal buffer state in Judah between his empire and Egypt, which
was hostile to him at the time. Neither does the discovery of this cylinder
verify any of the events recorded in Ezra and Nehemiah concerning the 

return of the captives to Judah. As a matter of fact, the census numbers of 
the returning captives given in Ezra 2 contradict the numbers given in 
Nehemiah 7. Perhaps AA knows of some archaeological discovery that 
resolves these contradictions.

Other examples can be quoted such as Genisis 14, God in the Bible tells of
the story of Abraham (Ibrahim) of the defeat of the confederation of five
kings from the East by the small army of Abraham. While the critics denied
the historicity of the biblical account Dr. Nelson Glueck, the leading
archeologist of this century reports:

"Centuries earlier, another civilization of higher achievment had floureshed
between the 21st and 19th century B.C, till it was savagely liquidated by the
kings of the East. According to the biblical statements, which have been
borne out by the archeological evidence, they gutted every city and village
at the end of that period from Ashtaroth Karnaim, in southern Syria thru all
of Trans-Jordan and the Negev to Kadesh-Barnea in Sainai(Genisis 14:1-7)".

Well, pardon me, but I don't see anything in this that would confirm the
claim in Genesis 14:8-16, which claims that Abram took a force of 318 men
against this federation of kings and defeated them and rescued his nephew
lot who had been taken captive by the confederated kings. What
archaeological information does Dr. Glueck, the leading archaeologist of
this century, have that would show us that Abram (Abraham) was an actual
historical person, who with only a force of 318 men was able to defeat this
powerful confederation and "pursue them to Hobah, which is on the left hand
of Damascus" (v:15)? The most that I can see in the sketchy reference that
AA gives to Glueck's "discoveries" is that an invasion from the east
occurred that resulted in the destruction of cities and villages in Syria
and the Jordan region. How does any of this prove any specific event that
the Bible attributes to Abraham and Lot? If AA argues that he intended only
to prove that the Bible was correct in referring to the confederation of
kings from the east, I would ask him to tell us if he is laboring under the
impression that anyone on this list claims that nothing recorded in the
Bible is historically accurate. If so, then he needs to educate himself on
what the real points of controversy are between skeptics and biblicists and
then come back and try to argue his case more intelligently.

And confirming the accuracy of the Bible when it comes to Archeology he
stated: "As a matter of fact, however, it may be stated categoraclly that no
archeological discovery have ever contraverted a biblical reference. Scores
of archeological findings have been made which confirms in clear outline or
in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token,
proper evaluation of biblical descriptions has often led to amazing
discoveries. They form tesserae in the vast mosaic of the Bible's almost
incredible correct historical memory" (Nelson Glueck, Rivers in the Desert,
[New York: Farar, Straus and Cudahy, 1959], p. 31].

Ah, so AA has at last arrived at that old inerrantist claim that NOTHING 

has ever been discovered by archaeologists that disagrees with 
ANYTHING recorded in the Bible. Let's notice that his reference was 
written in 1959 (by the leading archaeologist of this century, of course), 
and so AA seems to be unaware of more recent archaeological discoveries 
and reevaluations of earlier archaeological discoveries that flatly contradict 
what Glueck has claimed about archaeological confirmation of the Bible. 
Let's look at an example of a biblical claim that his been completely 
discredited by archaeological work.

Joshua 8 reports that the Israelite forces sacked and destroyed the
city of Ai during their invasion of Canaan, an attack that acccording to
Bible chronology would have occurred around 1406 B. C. First Kings 6:1
states that the construction of the temple began 480 years after the
Israelites came out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign.
Solomon began to reign in 970 B. C., so 480 years before the 4th year of his
reign would have been 1446 B. C. The Israelites wandered in the wilderness
for 40 years, so according to biblical chronological the Israelites crossed
into Canaan around 1406 B. C., and Ai was allegedly destroyed by Josuha's
forces immediately after Jericho was destroyed (Joshua 6-8). If NOTHING
has ever been found by archaeologists that disagrees with ANYTHING 

recorded in the Bible, the archaeological excavation of Ai should have 
confirmed the biblical account of Joshua's destruction of Ai, but, 
unfortunately for AA and Nelson Glueck, the leading archaeologist of 
this century, such was not the case.

Joseph Callaway, a conservative Southern Baptist and former professor at
the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, excavated the Ai runs and made
discoveries that contradict the Bible record. His finds were reported in
*Biblical Archaeology Review*:

"The evidence was mainly negative. There was a great walled city there
beginning about 3000 B. C., more than 1,800 years before Israel'[s 

emergence in Canaan. But this city was destroyed about 2400 B.C., 
after which the site was abandoned.

"Despite extensive excavation, no evidence of a Late Bronze Age
(1550-1200 B.C.) Canaanite city was found. *In short, there was no
Canaanite city here for Joshua to conquer*" ("Joseph A. Callaway:
1920-1988," November/December 1988, p. 24, emphasis added).

The same article quoted a statement that Callaway himself had 

made in announcing the results of his nine-year expedition to the 
Ai ruins:

"Archaeology has wiped out the historical credibility of the conquest
of Ai as reported in Joshua 7-8. The joint expedition to Ai worked nine
seasons between 1964 and 1976... only to eliminate the historical
underpinning of the Ai account in the Bible " (Ibid., p. 24).

Here is what the ultraconservative Holman's Bible Dictionary says about Ai.
Perhaps AA will let us know if he thinks this information confirms the "100%
truth and accuracy of the Bible":

"The general location of the city is known to be about 10-12 miles
north of Jerusalem in the central hills of Palestine. This would be about
the same distance from Jericho. William F. Albright identified Beitin as the
city of Bethel and then concluded that et-Tell (a site one mile southeast of
Beitin) was biblical Ai. Excavations conducted in the 1920s (John Garstang),
1930s (Judith Marquet-Krause and Samuel Yeivin), and 1960s and 1970s 

(Joseph Callaway), however, produced some disturbing evidence in light 
of Albright's 1939 proposal. It seems that et-Tell was first occupied as early 
as the fourth millennium (3200-3000 B.C.) and continued to thrive until the 
end of the third millennium (2200 B.C.). The problem is that the site has no
evidence of being inhabited during the next 1000 years which includes the
time of the Israelite invasion. Callaway found a small village without
defense walls lasting from 1220 to 1050 B.C. This has resulted in some
speculations concerning Albright's theory and the Bible story. 
"The suggestions for solving this problem are basically three: (1) the
Bible contains an inaccurate or legendary story built on the earlier fame of
the city; (2) the Israelites actually destroyed Bethel (not Ai), but the
twin cities (see Ezra 2:28; and Neh. 7:32) were considered to be the same,
or (3) further archaeological evidence will reveal a different site for Ai.
Because of the Bible's historical accuracy, many scholars today dismiss the
first idea. The second and third proposals, however, will require further
archaeological evidence before this dilemma is solved." 

*Eerdmans Bible Dictionary,* another conservative reference work, 

says this about Ai:

"Excavations at the site [et-Tell] have been conducted by J. Garstang
(1928), J. Marquet-Krause (1933-35), and J. A. Callaway (1964-72).... 
"Excavations indicate that an unwalled village was established at the
site ca. 3100, followed by a series of walled cities (3000-2860, 2860-2720,
2720-2400). The latest of these Early Bronze Age cities demonstrates
significant Egyptian influence, including public buildings, a large temple
in which were found numerous alabaster vessels, and a stone-lined 

reservoir. The city was violently destroyed ca. 2400, most likely at the 
hands of Amorite invaders, although some attribute its conquest to the 
Egyptian Fifth Dynasty. Ai was then abandoned and lay in ruins until 
ca. 1200 (Iron Age I), when it was resettled by farmers from the hill 
country. The village was not fortified and appears to have been 
abandoned for good following a minor skirmish ca. 1050. 

"The lack of evidence for an occupation of the site during the period
assigned to the Conquest (thirteenth century) creates difficulties in
understanding the conquest of Ai as recorded in Josh. 7-8. W. F. Albright
suggested that the account may refer rather to the conquest of nearby
Bethel, proposing that Ai may have served as a fortified outpost for the
city (cf. 8:17); note also the similarity in Hebrew terminology and the
potential for confusion between Bethel "the city" (Heb. ha'ir) and Ai "the
ruin" (ha'ay). Some scholars suggest that evidence of Late Bronze Age
settlement may have been eroded, as at Jericho. Most likely, however, the
discrepancy necessitates a reexamination of the nature and date of the
conquest" (1987, p. 34).

Contrary to what AA claims, archaeological excavations have also 

discredited the biblical account of Joshua's conquest of Jericho, but I 
will address that point in my next posting when I reply directly to AA's 
claim that archaeology confirms the biblical account. Meanwhile, AA 
may be interested in explaining to us why he would claim that NO 
archaeological discoveries have been made that disagree with what 
is recorded in the Bible when that is patently untrue. Nah, he won't do 
that. I predict that he will ignore everything that contradicts his position 
and probably run to another list, regurgitate the same old nonsense, 
and hope that there will be no one on the list informed enough to 
oppose him.

Farrell Till

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