Biblical Archaeology Review 19:2, March/April 1993

Faith and Archaeology—A Brief History to the Present

By Thomas W. Davis

“Can archaeology prove the Bible true?” is no longer a question field archaeologists in the ancient Near East even ask. Instead they ask sociological questions, economic questions, anthropological questions about ancient societies. In the end, the data they unearth may illuminate our understanding of the Bible, but this is not the archaeologist’s primary focus.

This has not always been the case. For about 50 years—from about 1920 to nearly 1970—the Bible, rather than the nature of the archaeological data, directed the kinds of questions archaeologists asked. Theology and archaeology were often intertwined. Leading scholars struggled not only over whether archaeology proved the Bible true, but also over how archaeology should relate to the Bible—in short, what kind of questions archaeologists should ask.

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