Jun 15

Biblical Evidence, Not!

Clickbait - aka how archaeologist get funding.

Go, watch the video. It only takes a minute or so.

What were we told we were going to see?


Which suggests to me that the item under discussion either mentions a Biblical figure, place, or event and can be used to verify their historicity or historical context.

But that is not at all what we get. Instead we have a jar with a name that happens to show up in the Bible. There are about 2600 proper nouns in the Bible. Not saying Ishbaal was the "John Smith" of its day, but the likelihood of a name being on a piece of pottery found in Israel being a name in the Bible is pretty high.

But, no one but archaeologist care that a pot with a name on it is found. Half the world cares if you can somehow tie it to the Bible. Even just enough to get people to pay attention.

And this is why doing research about the Bible is so hard. If you want attention for your work in that part of the world, and attention equals funding, then you have to tie what you are studying to either the Bible or the accepted chronology of Egyptian dynasties (don't get me started).
"I want to dig up this hill."
"So what?"
"Did I mention that it near a well that is mentioned in Exodus and might be tied to the 40 years of Wandering?"
"Here is 50K dollars and comely young grad student."
1 year later
"So, what did you learn about Moses and the Israelites?"
"Uh...this piece of pottery has Egyptian words on it? Er...I mean I have proof that travelers from Egypt, who might have been the exodusing Israelites, traveled past ehre in about 1200 BCE!"
"Wonderful! We will put out a press release 'Evidence of Exodus Discovered!' Have another 50K and another comely young grad student!"

OK, slightly tongue in cheek but that is how it works.

Worse, if people find something they cannot explain it "has religious significance." Which is archaeologist for "give me money and I will figure it out." Not that the fault lies with the archaeologist, the fault lies in the funding and the coverage. People have political and theological axes to grind and will pay for proof of what they already believe. Media outlets want to sell ads.

Sorry, you may have noticed that this is hot button for me.

Moral of the story: Just because a news story says something is tied to the Bible does not mean it actually does, nor even that the scholars in question think that it does. Just that soemone wants you to think that long enough to sell you something.

Leave a Reply