Thursday, May 28, 2009

NIV Archaeological Study Bible – A Review

Ever since I first read the archaeological supplement in my Thompson Chain Reference Bible I have found the subject of Biblical archaeology fascinating. For that reason I was delighted when Zondervan sent me a copy of the NIV Archaeological Study Bible to review.

The main feature of the Archaeological Study Bible is the inclusion of 500 articles of various lengths (200 words). These are placed under several thematic headings:

Ancient Peoples, Lands and Rulers

These include “The Location of Eden,” “Josiah, Zechariah and Neco II,” “The Annals of Sargon II,” “Babylon,” “Antiochus IV Epiphanes,”

Archaeological Sites

These include: “Beth Shemesh,” “Sheba,” “Hezekiah’s Tunnel,” “Gezer,” "Byblos,” “Thebes,” “Adullam,” “The Pool of Siloam,” “Masada,” “Crete,”

Ancient Texts and Artifacts

These include: “Ancient Creation Narratives,” “The Sumerian King List,” “Ugaritic Liturgy Against Venomous Snakes,” “The Teaching of Amenemope,” “the Apocrypha,”

The Reliability of the Bible

The include: “The Documentary Hypothesis,” “Alternative Theories About The Exodus,” “The Chronology of Ezra and Nehemiah,” “The Canonicity of Esther,” “The Problem of the Septuagint Version of Jeremiah,” “The Unity of Amos,”

Cultural and Historical Notes

These include: “The Golden Calf,” “"The Jewish Calendar,” “The Judges Period,” “Dagon,” “Siege Warfare,” “Idols and Idol Making,” “Baptism in the Ancient World,”

Ancient Voices

Short quotations of ANE writings showing a parallel theme to the passage next to which they are placed.

There are also some helpful charts, a glossary of terms used and the usual complement of maps.

I have to say that despite reading some of the negative reviews of this Bible on-line, I thought that the notes were generally helpful and balanced. They take a conservative view in most cases, presenting the argument well for an early Exodus, the unity of Isaiah and a 7th Century date for the composition of the Book of Daniel. There are obvious difficulties involved in reducing these complex arguments to a 200 word summary, but in most cases this has been achieved while still admitting the possibility of a different interpretation of the evidence. I say in most cases, because the notes take a strongly egalitarian view of the gender passages in the New Testament and do not admit any possibility that this might be not what the archaeological evidence points too, or indeed, that there is any other way of viewing the passages at all!

One of my favourite notes is found on page 1594: "The Legend of the Needle's Eye Gate". It correctly argues that the existence of a 'Needle's Eye Gate' in the wall of Jerusalem is based not on archaeology, but on a medieval legend. Far from illuminating one of Jesus' "Hard Sayings" the legend of the Needle's Eye Gate actually weakens its meaning. Preachers, take note!

So, on the whole, I would recommend this Bible to anyone with an interest in archaeology, as long as they use it to whet their appetite for other more detailed works on the subject. One final caveat: unless you are younger than me or have exceptionally good eyesight I would not recommend the use of the "Personal Size" Version without access to a strong magnifying glass!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Donald J. Wiseman on Archaeological Confirmation of the Old Testament

The following article is now available in both iPaper and PDF:

As you might expect some parts of this article are rather dated and need to be checked against more recent works on archaeology, such as Kenneth Kitchen's On the Reliability of the Old Testament (Eerdmans, 2006).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Alan R. Millard on Archaeology and the Reliability of the Bible

The following article is now available in both iPaper and PDF:

Alan R. Millard, “Archaeology and the Reliability of the Bible,” Evangel 9:2 (1991): 22-25.

Professor Millard concludes:

To set out to seek to ‘prove’ the Bible from archaeology is a foolish and misconceived task. Archaeology and the Bible are seen to complement each other the more the ancient near east is studied with a positive attitude. Often archaeological discover­ies will add to the overall context of the Bible, some will show that the biblical statements or narratives could be true or correct, without being able to prove that they are so, and a few will relate closely to the biblical text, demonstrating its accuracy in various respects. With regard to the trustworthiness of the Bible, there­fore, archaeology is a useful tool for setting the text in its context and so pointing to a fuller evaluation. The better that context is understood, the more trustworthy the Bible appears as an an­cient book. The claims it makes in the spiritual realm can only be proved trustworthy by the exercise of faith, a situation as true in biblical times as it is today.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hitherto Unpublished Lecture by C.F.D. Moule - Jesus: Grounds for the Christian Estimate

A few weeks ago I was contacted by an Anglican minister from Wales with an enquiry about the rights to the works of the late Professor Charlie Moule. To cut a long story short (it is included in the article if you are interested), he had been sent a copy of the original text of a lecture given in Cambridge in 1968. After successfully tracking down the executor of the Moule estate I am now delighted to publish for the first time this fascinating piece of work:

Alan R. Millard on How Can Archaeology Contribute to the Study of the Bible

The following article is now on-line in both iPaper and PDF:

Alan R. Millard, “How Can Archaeology Contribute to the Study of the Bible?” Evangel 9:1 (1991): 9-12.

This is the first of two articles on biblical archaeology - both are well worth reading.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Another Painless Way to Support

Many of my regular readers will know that I hope to be able to make developing these websites my full time job. At present the sites attract around a million visitors each year. Of these only six support the sites by regular giving. I know many others click through the Google ads and links to and - and for all of these I am extremely grateful.

As the current site income amounts to around 6% of that which I would need to go full-time I am always on the look-out for other ways of generating revenue without placing any extra burdens on my visitors in what we all recognise is a very difficult time. I am also conscious that there is a limit to how much space can be given over to advertising before it becomes annoying.

For these reasons I was pleased to learn about the Swagbucks scheme. Basically Swagbucks works by replacing your normal search engine in your browser and awards you points (called Swagbucks) randomly as you use it. Swagbucks uses Google results so it normally gives you the results you're looking for (I have found this to be true in around 95% of the searches I have done using it). The points acrued can then be exchanged for various goods and services - including vouchers (currently 45 Swagbucks = $5 Amazon voucher). If you recommend a new user you receive up to 100 points (as the new user earns them). With this in mind I am suggesting that you might consider signing up to Swagbucks using the link below. I am hoping that at least 100 people would sign up and support me in this way.

Search & Win

For other ways to support the websites, click here.

Ernest F. Kevan on The Principles of Interpretation

The following article is now on-line in both iPaper and PDF:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Codex Sinaiticus: Text, Bible, Book

The British Library is hosting a two-day conference on the 6th and 7th of July 2009 on behalf of the Codex Sinaiticus Project. The conference will celebrate the virtual reunification of Codex Sinaiticus, an outstanding manuscript which ranks as one of the oldest and most complete Bibles in existence. The event will offer a unique opportunity to hear leading experts from around the world speak about the making, history, text, transmission, conservation and digitisation of this monumentally important manuscript.

Confirmed speakers:
Daniel Batovici
Christfried Böttrich
Christopher Clarkson
Archbishop Damianos
Eldon J. Epp
William Frame
Nicholas Fyssas
Harry Gamble
Juan Garcés
Peter Head
Juan Hernández
Dirk Jongkind
Father Justin
Rachel Kevern
Jan Krans
Ekaterina Krushelnitskaya
René Larsen
Amy Myshrall
Panayotes Nikolopoulos
David Parker
Peter Robinson
Ulrich Schmid
Ulrich Schneider
Helen Shenton
Emanuel Tov
David Trobisch
Kristin de Troyer
J. Verheyden
Klaus Wachtel
Steven Walton

The conference will be complemented by an exhibition at the British Library which will highlight the history of this great book from the time of its creation over 1600 years ago to its twenty-first century appearance in digital form.

To find details on how to book a place at this fascinating event please go to the conference page on the Codex Sinaiticus website where you will also be able to find out more about the manuscript and the work of the Codex Sinaiticus Project:

Everett F. Harrison on the Phenomena of Scripture

The following article is now on-line as both iPaper and PDF:

Thursday, May 07, 2009

J. Stafford Wright on How Moses Compiled Genesis

The following lecture is now on-line as both iPaper and PDF:

J. Stafford Wright, How Moses Compiled Genesis: A Suggestion. London: Church Book Room Press, n.d. pp.16.

Stafford Wright presents an alternative to the Documentary Hypothesis of the formation of the Pentateuch. My thanks to the Church Society for their kind permission to reproduce this article.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Alan R. Millard on the Old Testament and History

The following article is now available on-line in both iPaper and PDF:

Alan R. Millard, "The Old Testament and History: Some Considerations," Faith & Thought 110.1, 2 (1983): 34-53.

Professor Millard recounts how time and again the theories of OT critics have been brought to naught by archaeological discoveries that demonstrate the credibility of the Old Testament.