Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Using the Bible to Test Hypotheses

Alice C. Linsley

In the July-August 2011 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review Hershel Shanks speaks about the prejudice and suspicion that one encounters in academic circles and among professional archaeologists toward those who maintain that the Bible is a source of reliable information for scientists. I have had this experience as a Biblical Anthropologist and I've written about my experience here and here.

Here is what Hershel has to say:

In the highest, most sophisticated levels of professional Biblical archaeology, there is a certain prejudice against the Bible.

I take as my text a passage from a new book of which (full disclosure) the Biblical Archaeology Society, publisher of BAR, is a copublisher with the Israel Exploration Society. The book, written by my good friend Ronny Reich of Haifa University and excavator of the City of David,1 is titled Excavating the City of David (reviewed in this issue). It is a magnum opus that will be read and studied a hundred years from now; but it does treat dismissively the excavation of another good friend, Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University. (Ronny even accuses Eilat of acting “unethically,” but that is another matter.2)

One of Eilat’s crimes, according to Ronny, is using the Bible as a guide to where to excavate. Let me unpack this: As Eilat read the Bible, it seemed to indicate just where King David’s palace might be buried in the City of David—at least, it did to her. On this basis, she decided to dig there.
(Read it all here.)

In my 35 years of research, the Bible has proved to be a reliable source of information. Kinship analysis of the Genesis King lists has made it possible to reconstruct a clear picture of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the Horite Hebrew rulers listed in the Genesis King lists. This data has also been confirmed by findings in various other disciplines, including DNA studies, climate studies, migration studies, linguistics and archaeology.

In particular, the Biblical data has explained how the royal marriage pattern drove Kushite expansion out of Africa. It has also served to identify an earlier migration of the Ainu from the Nile to Northern Japan and the Eastern seaboard of Canada.

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