We've moved!

Check out our new site at
and be sure to update your bookmarks.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Bible's Secrets—Exposed (by Archaeology)!

A NOVA program called "The Bible's Buried Secrets" premiered last night on PBS, highlighting the archaeological studies that contradict a literal reading of the Bible. The program explores who wrote the Bible—when and why—and examines the origin of monotheism and the idols that suggest God had a wife.
According to William Dever, an emeritus professor of Near Eastern archaeology and anthropology at the University of Arizona who worked on the show, trying to "prove the Bible" is misguided, and "if we resurrected someone from the past, one of the biblical writers, they would be amused, because for them it would have made no difference. I think they would have said, faith is faith is faith—take your proofs and go with them," he tells program writer-producer-director Gary Glassman in a Q&A. "The fact is that archaeology can never prove any of the theological suppositions of the Bible. Archaeologists can often tell you what happened and when and where and how and even why. No archaeologists can tell anyone what it means, and most of us don't try."
To Dever, the Bible is "didactic literature," full of stories that provide meaning and a morals, composed by many different writers. There's no archaeological evidence to prove the existence of biblical patriarchs like Abraham, he says, and other stories, like the narrative of Moses and the Exodus, have been exaggerated and elaborated. "Are we to become unbelievers if we can't prove that Abraham ever lived?" he asks. "What is the story about? It's a story about freedom and faith and risk. Does it matter exactly how Abraham and his clan left, and when they arrived in Canaan, or where they settled? What really matters is that Abraham is seen later by Jews and Christians as the father of the faithful. Abraham moves out on faith to a land he has never seen. ... We are talking about a journey of several hundred miles around the fringes of the desert. So it's an astonishing story. Is it true? It is profoundly true, but it's not the kind of truth that archaeology can directly illuminate." —Heather Wax