The Value and Limitations of Archaeology (Part 8) (The Covenant & the Cross #13)

We always like to start out with the Word of God, and today’s passage of Scripture is Psalm 119:105 which reads: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from James McCosh. He said: “The book to read is not the one which thinks for you, but the one which makes you think. No book in the world equals the Bible for that.”

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 8)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Michael A. Harbin.

Today, let’s begin by considering History and Writing

Egyptian history is normally thought to have begun a couple of centuries after it did in Sumer. Recently, new discoveries of early writing in Egypt have been made. Some have suggested that this pushes the date of Egyptian writing prior to that of Mesopotamia, but the figures are still subject to review and revision. After writing began in Sumer and Egypt, a new form of writing was developed in Elam (in the Zagros Mountains of what is now Iran) a century or so later. Another new form developed in the In-dus Valley region (modern Pakistan) a couple centuries after that, followed by yet another new form in China, the last “cradle of civilization,” approximately 1,500 years after Sumer.

Each of these new forms apparently started with some type of pic-to-graph that later became more abstract so that the symbols represented sounds. In Mesopotamia and Egypt, the symbols generally resembled syllables. The early Elamite and Indus Valley scripts have yet to be deciphered. In China, the symbols represented words (which in Chinese essentially consist of one syllable). The transition to an alphabet did not occur until about 1800 BC, when writing developed in the region of what is now Israel and Lebanon. Hebrew writing developed out of that. Later this “alphabet” was adopted by the Greeks and subsequently by the Romans, from whom we received it.

Now, as we look ahead, the topics we have surveyed thus far constitute part of what is often called biblical introduction. They lay out some of the issues we deal with as we study the Bible and work with the multitudes of critics. Each of these points could be substantiated in great detail. For our purposes, we must content ourselves with this brief survey, which is a necessary background for our overview of the Bible. Admittedly, this introduction has addressed issues of the Old Testament more than the New Testament. However, the time covered in the Old Testament is much greater and much further removed from us. It is also the foundation for the New Testament, and we will build on that foundation as we proceed.

We will work with the developing canon as we follow the historical events, bringing in data from extra-biblical sources when they touch on the issues at hand. And as we look at the contents of the biblical books, we will evaluate them as historical documents that demand our critical attention.


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