Unfortunately, today a seemingly impenetrable divide separates lay studies and sermons, on the one hand, from the academic study of the Bible and archaeology, on the other. To this we may add the yawning gap between what scholars do and what much of the media does. For example, an ABC special that aired last year showing Christiane Amanpour and her son watching the sunrise from Mt. Sinai more or less ignored the state of the archaeological field today. This show could have been produced a generation ago.
I do not think the American public is apathetic or indifferent. On the contrary, as many readers of BAR know, a small cadre of devoted readers pride themselves on staying attuned to the most recent developments in the field of Biblical archaeology. In relation to the larger population of the United States as a whole, however, this is a very small group. When we add the fact that the media is hesitant to take on some of the real current questions that are challenging the field, the situation is even worse.
What we in academia observe is a stubborn refusal by large sectors of the population to accept climate change and global warming as factors to be taken seriously. But cancer research—everyone takes that seriously. The study of religion—and especially the Bible and archaeology—often falls into the former category.