BAR 38:05, Sep/Oct 2012
In Their Own Words
I am one of those who are still comfortable with the phrase “Biblical Archaeology.” It does not mean that if we uncover a non-Biblical artifact on an excavation we have to throw it away. And it does not mean that we are there in the field to prove that the Bible is true. It does not even mean that our purpose and interest in the work is entirely Biblical. Rather, it is recognizing what our culture’s and our communities’ greatest interest in this enterprise is. Most of the questions we are asked in our public lectures are Biblical. Likewise most of the questions our own students ask us are Biblical. That is also the interest of most of our colleagues from other fields on university faculties. And we know in our hearts that it is our own interest as well.
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I submit that calling our enterprise by other names like “Syro-Palestinian archaeology” for a few years was a useful and significant declaration of independence by archaeologists. But that battle has been won. To dig sites in Israel from the world of the 12th to the 2nd centuries B.C.E. now and say that what we are doing is not about the Bible is pointless.