Archaeology and the Bible

© Kendall K. Down 2010

Much of the Bible has nothing to do with archaeology, for though we may have discovered Nineveh, we have not discovered and never will discover Jonah's footprints in its streets - and even if we did, how would know that they were his?

However archaeology does have a lot to contribute to our understanding of the Bible in terms of language, locations, history and cultural background. I have tried in the sections which follow to give a broad over-view of the subject which I trust will be useful to those who have an interest in it, but which should not be taken as the last word.

Chapters already written
Genesis - 1 Genesis - 2 Exodus - 1 Exodus - 2
Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges
Samuel Kings - 1 Kings - 2 Kings - 3
Ezra-Nehemiah Jeremiah Ezekiel-Daniel Minor Prophets

Note: In the chapters which follow there is a tension between the chronology and dates you will read in other reference works and the requirements of what I call "Revised Chronology". I have tried to consistently refer to the one system as "conventional chronology" and the other as "Revised Chronology" in order to avoid confusion. In addition, the Revised Chronology tends to concentrate on periods rather than dates, so I assert that the Exodus occurred at the start of Middle Bronze I, without giving any date for that event.

I wish to emphasise that conventional chronology is based on the labours of many highly intelligent and dedicated historians and it is no dennigration of them to claim that they may be mistaken. Any historian can have his views overturned at any time on the basis of a new discovery - it is one of the risks of the profession! With Professor Lord Colin Renfrew, I believe that Peter James' book Centuries of Darkness represents such a new discovery and will result in a "seismic shift" in our understanding of ancient history, the details of which are still being worked out.