Archive for the Archaeology/Anthropology Category

Biblical Archaeology Review and Me

Posted in Archaeology/Anthropology on 24 March 2007 by Maggie
My faith is not connected to any particular religious dogma. What I have to say here is based on my views as a scholar. I’ve researched various religions and belief structures for 45 years now, and I don’t mind telling you that I see the same thing over and over: closemindedness. People are so self-centred in their beliefs that they either forget there is a big picture that includes the rest of the world, or they choose to believe they can change the big picture with their own dogma, primarily by trying to bury and ignore the existence of any theory or practice outside their own.
There is a big picture. There are other faiths, other belief structures and there are other civilisations in this world that aren’t likely to bend to the whims of one small group or another. Believe me, on this planet, Christianity is only a small part. So is Judaism. Think about that long and hard.
I don’t believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible any more than I believe that The DaVinci Code is based on unequivocal facts. It’s all theory. It’s all speculation. In the case of the Bible, I believe a great many stories were based on events, but were being used as teaching tools for a fledgling civilisation, rather than eyewitness accounts. It’s a book full of metaphors, some more obvious than others. A single person may have been used to represent a group, particularly in the Old Testament. In fact, it is more likely that this is the truth, than that a single person could have said or done all that is claimed by the author. Still, through archaeological discovery and the study of history, we find more and more that solidifies our essential beliefs, whatever they may be.
I’ve been reading Biblical Archaeology Review for years. It is a proven, reputable and quality publication approaching the historical viability of documents, events and stories surrounding the Bible, both Old and New Testament, as well as the surrounding climate of other communities and cultures. That is how it should be.
I have been reading BAR in more detail than I ever have before in the last few months because of Simcha Jacobovici’s travesty regarding the ossuaries found in the Talpiot Tomb. I have suddenly realised from reading letters in BAR’s forum, that a good many of their readers are unfortunately stuck in their personal dogma. They are coming down hard on BAR for their coverage of key finds that may not be Biblical.
How horribly narrowminded can people be? Oh, nevermind. I know. It’s a prevalent condition in the United States. It’s “my way or the highway”. How dare you threaten my Judaeo-Christian belief structure by proving the existence of non-Jews/non-Christians in our Holy History!
I want to bring emphasis to a couple of points made by BAR’s editor, Herschel Shanks, in the most recent issue (March/April). In “First Person”, his very first paragraph says this:
I wonder how many readers noticed it: This is the third consecutive issue of BAR in which a major article draws a historical analogy from another culture and applies it to the Bible or Biblical culture. To put it another way: In these non-Biblical cultures, history was uncovered and interpreted in a way that could have been applied to the Bible and Biblical culture.
Later on he says, Only very rarely does archaeology either prove or disprove the Biblical text.

How very true this is, in both statements.
These discoveries and discussions are relevant and important to the history and culture of the area, and thus contributing factors to how the Biblical environment evolved. This is important. Never discount the value found in the artifacts and the information discovered in the realm outside the Biblical. It is an everpresent part of who we are as products of that Biblical environment.

Now the next conundrum. Can we open the minds of the closed-minded and help them see that there’s room for all…and that without the others, their reason to exist in their current religious structure would cease to be, or even more startling, might never have existed?