My years as a student at the state university and as a missionary in France brought me in contact with countless modern and ancient opinions that challenged my simple childhood faith. At the heart of the issue lies the mysterious time before history that has been casually overlooked or purposely avoided in the study of Biblical Archeology. For this reason, I have entitled the study of the time before Abraham as paleoarcheology, by adding the prefix paleo-, which mean old.
Biblical Archeology began 150 years ago but was popularized in the 1920’s by William Foxwell Albright, who is known for having authenticated the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1948. Albright had an Evangelical Methodist background but was successfully schooled in German higher criticism and the Documentary Hypothesis. Initially, his work with Palestinian pottery led to defend the general historical reliability of the Bible, which he wrote prolifically and influentially to support. Unfortunately, his general support for later Biblical history, and even Genesis, did not extend to the Neolithic. In fact, in his later years, he promoted the idea that Jewish monotheism evolved out of Canaanite paganism, through his book Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan. So it has been that the most notable defender of the chronology of the Bible among archeologists was never very strong by Evangelical standards.
Kathleen Kenyon’s evaluation of Jericho between 1952 and 1958 took a devastating toll on Biblical Archeology. Although her work has been refuted, she essentially concluded that Joshua could not have lived at the time that the walls of Jericho fell. From the late 1960’s, processual archeology replaced efforts to validate the Bible and all archeologists are pressured to conform to the new paradigm. Debates arose in the 1990’s between the minimalist and maximalist schools of thought. Today, around 90% of archeologists disbelieve the major events of the Old Testament.
While Evangelical churches do not believe the Documentary Hypothesis, they have been slow to respond to those who use archeology against the Bible. During the last few years since my retirement, I have made it my mission to understand the issues and the most recent research, which I would like to share in this series. During the last year, I have turned my attention to the time before Abraham, which is the most neglected segment of Biblical history. Since I found no comprehensive treatment of the subject, I began writing a book in September 2019. My discoveries have been fascinating and life-changing. Please join me in these weekly blogs. Invite those who might be interested to subscribe on our website. I promise to delight you with information that you will not find anywhere else.