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Archaeology and History

An Introduction:

     Archeological evidence as it relates to the historical reliability of the Biblical text (both OT and NT)—presumably especially the NT reliablity regarding its report(s) of Jesus' life and his teaching would be foremost—might be understood as a necessary, but not sufficient condition for the trustworthiness of the Bible with respect to the historical claims it explicitly or implicitly makes.

     So, a good question to ask is what sort of archeological and historical evidence is available to get a sense of the historical reliability of the texts? It should also be pointed out that its historically accuracy is not a necessary or sufficient condition for the truth of the theological claims the Bible makes. That’s because to one degree or another, it can be claimed the Bible or parts of the Bible are not to be understood in literalist terms.

     In contemporary times (the last thirty years or so), there are two main labels that are used to describe the views of archeologists who have done field work and they are “maximalists” and “minimalists.” Rather than thinking there are only two disparate camps, their are other schools of thought that can be undersood in terms of degrees in a continuum between the two. The maximilists conclude that field work (and perhaps their worldview) leads them to think the archeology so far provides a suffcient basis to consider Biblical history in the text as generally reliable and should be given the benefit of the doubt regarding historical claims that cannot be confirmed. Archeology didn’t have to confirm its reliability, but in fact it did. An example of that—or close to that—would be Nelson Glueck who said in the 1950s,

“Proving or disproving the Bible, Glueck said, was a fool’s errand. “Those people are essentially of little faith who seek through archaeological corroboration of historical source materials in the Bible to validate its religious teachings and spiritual insights,” he wrote in Rivers in the Desert, and he probably should have left it there. Instead, he continued: “As a matter of fact, however, it may be categorically stated that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference.”

     On the other side the debate are the minimalists (or Copenhagen school) who think archeology (and perhaps their worldview) shows that the history and geography contained in the Bible does not provide a sufficient basis for providing reliable information for what happened in ancient Israel; and, that the Bible should not be given the benefit of the doubt regarding historical claims that cannot be confirmed. This view has been fueled in part because there have been numerous forgeries (sometimes pious forgeries) and false claims.

On-line articles


          The Institute for Biblical Archaeology

          The Biblical Archaeology Society (BAS)

          Alleged Historical Errors in the Gospels (Dr. Tim McGrew, Apologetics315)

          An Archeological Dig That Reignites the Debate Over the Historical Accuracy of the OT (Smithsonian)


          Questioning the Timeline for the Ancient World (PatternsofEvidence)

Christianity Today’s recent “Top Ten Discoveries for Biblical Archeology”

          For 2023

          For 2022

          For 2021

          For 2020

          For 2019

          For 2018

          For 2017

          For 2016

          For 2015

          For 2014

          For 2013


          Ten Crucial Archaeology Discoveries Related to the Bible (Crossways)

          Ten Most Significant Discoveries Found in the Field of Biblical Archaeology (Blogger: Tim Challes)

          Sensation Before Scholarship: Gospel Fragment Tantilizes Experts (Previous forgeries make annoucements of new archeological discoveries difficult to believe) CT: Gordon Govier

          Finding God in a Box (Have archaeological discoveries like James ossuary served or obscured the quest to verify the Bible?) CT: Steven Gertz

          Scholars Aim to Bust Archaeological Fantasies (Peer review can take years—but academic society says that some claims can be dismissed in a few blogs.)

          Archaeology Points to Jesus (Gordon Govier)

          Biblical Archaeology (Wikipedia)

          The Search for Biblical History (What do we do if archaeology contradicts the Bible?) CT

          Questioning The Timeline of the Ancient World (PatternsofEvidence)


Some Video


          Top Ten Biblical Archaeology of 2022 (Bible and Archaeology)

          Unearthed: The Archaeology of the Bible Explained (Expedition Bible)

          External Evidence for the Truth of the Gospels and Acts (Tim McGrew, Apologetics315)

          Authenticity of the Apostolic Witness (Bauckman, Laidlaw College)

          The Reliability of the Books of Acts (McGrew, Ratio Christi)

          Archeological Evidence for Samuel (Dr. Timothy Kennedy, Calvary Wallingford)

          Unearthing Herod’s Tomb (Oddessy)

          Mystery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Parable)

          11 Archeology Finds for the Gospel (Dr. Titus Kennedy, Dr. Sean McDowell)

          The Archeology Evidence for Jesus (Dr. Titus Kennedy, Dr. Sean McDowell)