How Can Archaeology Confirm the Biblical Record

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©1997
Recently there has been much interest in biblical archeology among Christians whose attention to archeology is primarily apologetic—i.e., how it confirms the biblical record. Such confirmation is hardly surprising to the one who knows that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, but it has been an unexpected occurrence to those who have believed that the Bible is merely the record of fallible men.

How Can Archaeology Confirm the Biblical Record?

(A more thorough treatment of this topic is found in our Ready with an Answer (Harvest House, 1997.))

Recently there has been much interest in biblical archeology among Christians whose attention to archeology is primarily apologetic—i.e., how it confirms the biblical record. Such confirmation is hardly surprising to the one who knows that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, but it has been an unexpected occurrence to those who have believed that the Bible is merely the record of fallible men. Such critics had expected that archeology would disprove Christian claims in many areas.

In what way does archeology confirm the biblical record? Primarily by demonstrating that it is trustworthy where it can be tested. Obviously, archeological data is still relatively sparse and biblical claims cannot be tested everywhere, so archeology can hardly be expected to confirm every statement of biblical history, geography, culture, etc. What we do have is the knowledge that there are no final problems because the Scriptures are the inerrant Word of God.

The significant point is this: When sufficient factual information becomes known and is properly interpreted, it always confirms the biblical record. In cases where a discovery initially seems not to confirm the Bible, sufficient factual data is never encountered in order to disprove a biblical statement. Given the thousands of minute details in the Bible that archeology has the opportunity to disprove, this confirmation of the biblical record is absolutely striking. As scientist and Christian apologist Dr. Henry M. Morris points out, “It must be extremely significant that, in view of the great mass of corroborative evidence regarding the biblical history of these periods, there exists today not one unquestionable find of archeology that proves the Bible to be in error at any point.”[1]

Dr. Clifford Wilson ends Volume 17 of his series of volumes that survey the archeological confirmation of the Bible by concluding that

…it is remarkable that where confirmation is possible and has come to light, the Bible stands investigation in ways that are unique in all literature. Its superiority to attack, its capacity to withstand criticism, its amazing facility to be proved right after all, are all staggering by any standards of scholarship. Seemingly assured results “disproving” the Bible have a habit of backfiring. Over and over again the Bible has been vindicated. That is true from Genesis to Revelation, as we have seen in this book.[2]

In essence, from the perspective of the hope of biblical critics—if that hope was to be proved correct—archeological research has provided vast opportunities to establish their critical view of the Bible. Their belief was that the Bible merely constituted the error-filled writings of men, and was of no particular or lasting spiritual importance. But their hopes have consistently been smashed, for the Bible has stood up to the investigation of a type that has not been hurled at any other book of history.

In conclusion, we need to remind ourselves of the spiritual implications of biblical archeology:

The serious investigator has every reason for great confidence in the reliability of both Old and New Testament Scriptures…. However, the historical material—seen through archeology to be of remarkable integrity—is penned by the same men who witnessed and recorded the miracles and elaborated on spiritual realities. It is reasonable to believe that they would be as reliable in those areas as they are in the areas now subject to investigation by archeology.[3]

Notes

  1. Citing Henry Morris, The Bible and Modern Science (Chicago: Moody Press, 1956, rev.), p. 95, in Josh McDowell, More Evidence That Demands a Verdict (Arrowhead Springs, CA: Campus Crusade for Christ, 1975), p. 70.
  2. Clifford Wilson, Archeology, the Bible and Christ, vol. XVII: Archeological Outlines and a Final Survey (Victory: Australia: Pacific Christian Ministries, 1995), p. 62.
  3. Clifford Wilson, Rocks, Relics and Biblical Reliability (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1977), pp. 124-25.

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