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Bad Archaeology: Biblical Archaeology

Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology


We are calling it Biblical Archaeology but the people at Bad Archaeology hate all archaeology & science related to the Bible. They are not hiding their disgust

Of all the forms of Bad Archaeology, creationism is perhaps the worst: its practitioners are frequently not of the honest-but-deluded category but are cynical manipulators whose principal interest is in the power they wield over their disciples and congregations. It’s not the creationist Bad Archaeologists who are confused, but their deluded followers. Creationism was the first hurdle that developing Good Archaeology overcame, back in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The dishonest charlatans who promote it deserve constantly to be exposed as the evil frauds they really are. (Bad Archaeology Website)

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Yet it is to be expected as Jesus warned his followers that they would be hated because the people who hate us, hated him first. You can see that hatred just in the few words used in that quote.

This attitude is unfair for several reasons. One, it is intolerant of other people and their beliefs. The archaeologists behind those words feel that archaeology should only be done their way and the archaeologists should hold the same views as they do.

That is not just unfair but unrealistic. it is also very judgmental on their part as well. They are condemning people, their work, the discoveries they make, and their insight just because they happen to believe in God or a god.

As we said that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the unbelieving world and archaeology. While we agree that there are charlatans working under the guise of religion, there are also charlatans working under their definition of Good Archaeology.

They’re turning a blind eye just means they have lost their credibility. Plus, they cannot prove that they are doing archaeology in the correct manner? There is nothing in history that states that the current scientific method is the correct method to use when searching the past.

All these people are doing is bullying those who disagree with them and name-calling. Such derogatory behavior just provides evidence against them and their point of view.

Biblical Archaeology, which has been described as excavation with a trowel in one hand and a Bible in the other, is a specialised branch of archaeology that often seems to ignore the rules and standards required of real archaeology (Ibid)

There are several things wrong with this statement. First, there is nothing wrong with having the Bible in one hand as it turns out, the Bible is the only historical document that uses the real names of locations in their right time period. Many extra-biblical documents that have been uncovered often only record the name that was used in the era those documents were written.

Without the Bible, no one would know where to dig or if they were actually digging in the right location. If you want to do archaeology in biblical lands, you need the bible to guide you.

The unbelievers who agree with those archaeologists who made those statements are merely throwing the baby out with the bathwater because they hate Jesus so much.

Second, what is real archaeology? In their minds, it is doing archaeology their way and by their rules. But since they are unbelievers, they are the blind, lost, and deceived archaeologists, not the Christian archaeologist

Those unbelieving archaeologists do not have any special insight on how to do archaeology correctly. We know that they don’t as they fail to discover the truth and leave too much information in the ground.

The only way to do archaeology right is to stop listening and following the unbeliever. Instead, the Christian needs to do it God’s way and search for the truth. There are other characteristics involved as well like getting wisdom, knowledge, understanding, being tactful, and to do archaeology in such a way it brings glory to God.

Following the unbeliever and his rules is not going to accomplish any of that.

Conducted for the most part, by people with an explicitly religious agenda (usually Christian or Jewish), it is a battleground between fundamentalist zeal and evidence-based scholarship in which religious, ethnic and national identities are contested and defined. (ibid)

As if the non-believer does not have an agenda when doing archaeology. This hypocrisy not only ruins their credibility but shows how blind they are to the truth.

For one thing, archaeology does not provide the evidence any archaeologist needs. The evidence-based scholarship is not really scholarship based on verifiable evidence. Most often it is made up of theory, hypothesis, assumption, conjecture, and leaps to a conclusion.

Archaeology is just too limited for scholars to really know what took place in the past. As we have said in our books, the conclusions unbelieving archaeologists come to are not verifiable and not based upon fact.

Some Christians make this error as well as they pontificate on discovered mute artifacts. Both sides tend to use partial evidence in their favor and read into the evidence discovered instead of taking it out.

This is why we have such a distorted view of the past. It is not the truth coming out, but the archaeologists’ perspective influenced by their beliefs or unbeliefs.

To an outsider, the very term appears contradictory, at least in the way its practitioners use it. Why not settle for ‘Middle Eastern Archaeology’? The answer, we suspect, is that the sub-discipline wants to dismiss any sceptical notion that archaeology and the Bible don’t mesh and that one undermines the authority of the other. They would much rather use archaeology to back up the stories presented in the Bible as a means of bolstering the faith of waverers. (Ibid)

There is a reason it is not called Middle Eastern Archaeology. Most of the ancient kingdoms surrounding Canaan, the Promised Land, did not write anything on Jesus, the disciples, God’s people the Hebrews, and so on.

The discoveries made to date only show those kingdoms focusing on their own problems any government has had to deal with throughout history. What this means is that a lot more information would be lost, mis-identified, mis-applied and we would not know what we know today about biblical people or events.

All that the people behind these quotes are doing is suppressing the truth and hiding it so people would lose faith in the Bible. We are doing Biblical Archaeology for well over 150 years and we still have people losing their faith.

All because they are not finding what they want and they are doing biblical archaeology. How many more would lose their faith if that discipline was changed and the focus was on ancient middle eastern life?

But that is the strategy of these unbelieving archaeologists. they do not want the Bible to be true for that means they either have to change their lives or they would have to face the reality that there is a coming judgment.

If we can’t find evidence for Solomon’s glorious empire, it must be that we’re not interpreting the archaeological data correctly and that a big discovery is just around the corner (the “Jehoash inscription’ leaps to mind in this context). If contemporary Roman documents don’t mention Jesus of Nazareth, why here’s an ossuary that belongs to James, his brother… It’s all very much centred around contentious objects, poorly-dated sites and great interpretative leaps that the non-religious may find astounding. (Ibid)

This argument is very poor and misrepresents the truth. If we cannot find Solomon’s kingdom it is because we have been digging in the wrong place or it is because the unbelieving archaeologists, like I. Finkelstein and Silberman, are changing the dates of their discoveries, crediting people who should not get credit.

There is more to this lack of finding the right evidence than those archaeologists are letting on. They are merely showing their unbelief and lazy nature. because they do not believe, they degrade those who do.

There is no archaeological reason for them to take this attitude as someone once said that all science is good science and biblical archaeology is providing good artifacts, discoveries using the scientific method in most cases.

These archaeologists that we quoted here are showing that they are not honest. They are showing their arrogance and that they think they are superior to anyone who does not do archaeology their way.

It is not how you do archaeology nor is it how you treat others. But this is what the Christian is going to face no matter if they do chemistry, biology, physics or archaeology, and so on.

It is an uphill battle but the way around it is to search for the truth and present it to believers so that their faith is protected and shored up. there are too many unbelieving archaeologists trying to destroy the faith of believers that we cannot follow in their footsteps and do archaeology their way.

The Bible tells us that the unbelievers cannot do anything against the truth and that is what the believing archaeologists need to go for–the truth. To get to the truth, they need to follow the Spirit of Truth and follow God’s way of doing anything.

© 2021 David Thiessen

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