The Value and Limitations of Archaeology (Part 4)

(The Covenant & the Cross #9)

We always like to start out with the Word of God, and today’s passage of Scripture is Acts 8:30-31 which reads: “And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from William P. White. He said: “The Bible is a harp with a thousand strings. Play on one to the exclusion of its relationship to the others, and you will develop discord. Play on all of them, keeping them in their places in the divine scale, and you will hear heavenly music all the time.”

Today, we are going to continue our overview of some topics that will help us as we study the Bible throughout future episodes.

Our topic for today is titled: “The Value and Limitations of Archaeology (Part 4)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Michael A. Harbin.

Today, let’s consider The Problem of Non-written Sources.

Most of the material we recover through excavation is ambiguous. Archaeology provides two types of data: some of the material is in written form, but the vast majority is non-written. Interpreting various artifacts included in the latter category can be quite puzzling. Recently, my family went to Spring Mill State Park in southern Indiana, which contains a restored American frontier village. Within the museum is one exhibit that shows a number of tools used by the pioneers who lived there. Viewers are asked to try to guess what these isolated tools were used for. Some were relatively easy to identify, but we found it impossible to guess the use of others that have been replaced by more sophisticated mechanisms in our more technological society. Many of the tasks that those pioneers performed on a daily basis are now obsolete and forgotten. The disparity is even greater when we are looking at another culture. And while we might recognize a particular item, such as a ceramic pot, deciding how it was used is another question and often opens intense debate.

Even when we can determine what the use of an item was, it tells us little about the person who used it. We can deduce a certain level of technology. We might be able to infer a certain socioeconomic status (such as a comb made out of ivory suggests a rich person as the owner). But beyond this, we know little.

On our next broadcast, we will continue looking at “The Value and Limitations of Archaeology.”

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