I’ve spent the last eight years here in Jerusalem studying Biblical Archaeology. When I began I assumed I’d be studying Archaeology in a way that affirmed the Bible and was in agreement with it’s teachings. After all, it is called Biblical Archaeology! However, I soon came to understand that although the word “Biblical” is part of its name, the field is secular and always has been. The “Archaeology” in the title is what you would expect, the study of the physical remains that ancient people have left behind. The “Biblical” part of the name, however, doesn’t mean adhering to the teachings of the Bible, but rather using the Bible as the main ancient text from this part of the world—the “Biblical” lands. Biblical Archaeology = doing Archaeology in the lands referred to in the Bible.
While many archaeologists reject the spiritual authority of the Bible and even argue about the details of the history it presents, it is important to remember the big picture reality — even secular archaeologists use the Bible as a tool in their excavation work. Why? Because Biblical Archaeology is at work digging up the lands and locations that the Bible talks about. And often the Bible is the ONLY ancient text that gives the historical record about the people who lived in those lands and describes the events that took place there. Without the Bible, Archaeology would be digging blind, guessing the story behind the artifacts, without any way to correctly reconstruct the history it unearths.
So if, as many secular minds would say today, the Bible is not a strong and lasting witness of the past, then why is there a specific field within archaeology distinguished as Biblical Archaeology? The answer is simple. The Bible IS historical and accurate…and therefore as necessary and useful to the field of Biblical Archaeology as a pick and a spade!