Monday, February 07, 2005


Three highly controversial findings continue to provoke discussion on the validity of the Bible:
Right now, for instance, three highly technical disputes have erupted over materials linked to scripture: In the most important development, scholars say tests on remains from a dig in modern-day Jordan indicate the biblical country of Edom existed during the era of kings David and Solomon, if not earlier. The find could undercut sceptics of biblical history.

Prosecutors in Israel filed fraud charges on December 29 involving a purported first-century inscription of Jesus' name. But this month a prominent archaeology magazine will assail the government's scientific evidence. New testing indicates the "Shroud of Turin," a celebrated relic said to be Jesus' burial cloth, could actually date from his time.

That opposes scientists' earlier conclusion that the artefact is a fraud from the medieval era.

Of the three the findings on Edom strike me as the most interesting and relevant:
the important Edom research has added fuel to one of the hottest archaeological disputes of recent years.

The Bible reports that Edom was a well-defined land southeast of the Dead Sea that had kings before Israel (Genesis 36:31, 1 Chronicles 1:43), barred Moses during the Exodus (Numbers 20:14-21) and warred with King David (2 Samuel 8:13-14, 1 Kings 11:15-16).

But many scholars have claimed the Bible got it wrong, and no Edomite state existed before the eighth century. Part of their thinking stemmed from the fact that physical evidence of Edom was lacking. Meanwhile, Lemche's camp claimed that far-later writers invented David and Solomon and their kingdom, which the Bible says began around 1000 BC.

Related to that, Tel Aviv University archaeologist Israel Finkelstein made a controversial bid to shift the usual dating of major sites in the Holy Land to say they came just after Solomon's reign. Unlike Lemche's group, Finkelstein doesn't deny there was a Solomon -- but his theory means the Bible's record of Solomon is hugely distorted. The argument between Finkelstein and most archaeologists' older chronology was pursued in Science magazine and at a recent radiocarbon summit in Britain.

Now comes the report on Edom, in the current edition of the quarterly Antiquity, by Russell Adams of Canada's McMaster University, Thomas Levy of the University of California, San Diego, and other colleagues.

They say pottery remains and radiocarbon work at a major copper processing plant in Jordan indicate settlement in the 11th century BC and probably before that, with a nearby monumental fortress from the 10th century era of David and Solomon. They are convinced the site was part of the Edomite state.

University of Arizona archaeologist William Dever had been skeptical about Edom's existence that early but says this "discovery is revolutionary" and lends credibility to the biblical kingdom of David and Solomon.

It's not surprising at all that we find from the article that "archaeologist Israel Finkelstein made a controversial bid to shift the usual dating of major sites in the Holy Land to say they came just after Solomon's reign." These are folks who constantly ciriticize those who seek to use the Bible as an archaeological template, a lens through which to view findings in Palestine and other Biblical lands. But they have their own set of biases, not based on any text--reliable or not--but based on their own assumption (and desire) that the Bible is false.

I understand that bias is unavoidable in such instances, but it is the assumption that those who hold the Bible in disdain are those who are unbiased and somehow scientific that tends to blow my gasket. The good news is, the Bible is confirmed every time hard evidence comes to light.

More evidence needs to be gathered on the James ossuary, the Turin and proposed Edom site. But one thing is sure, I'm confident James the brother of Jesus did exist, Jesus was buried and raised again and Edom did exist, just as the Bible says it did.

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