Biblical Archaeology Review 32:5, September/October 2006

First Person: Covering Controversy

Scholarly debates help us better understand the Biblical world

By Hershel Shanks

We are sometimes accused of sensationalizing finds and their relationship to the Bible in order to sell magazines. At other times, we are accused of unjustly debunking claims related to the Bible in order to be controversial.

Neither is true. Our coverage is determined by the discoveries themselves and the interpretations that scholars give them. In a sense we are a prisoner of the archaeologist’s spade and the scholar’s interpretation. We do not create these things; we report them, mostly by printing the words of the archaeologists and scholars themselves.

We recently reported the discovery of the pool where the New Testament tells us Jesus cured a blind man—a sensational find.1 We debunked the claim of other scholars who thought they had found a pool where John the Baptist baptized early followers.2 (But we also opened our pages to the scholars who made the claim.3)

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