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Friday, June 16, 2006
 
Bolstering the Bible? ::

Well, we've had Goliath's signature, David's abecedary AND his very own palace, and still it seems the Bible needs "bolstering"! The latest attempt to gain publicity for archaeological excavation work - which is highly expensive, and so no doubt needs the extra publicity a good bit of Bible bolstering is sure to bring - is the much less sexy copper works at Khirbat en-Nahas.

No, they haven't found the very bench where Abigail's jewelry was made, nor that new torque that Deborah ordered but never collected because she was busy over Tabor way.

Actually Khirbat en-Nahas (reported in the New York Times - Science Section) isn't even in Israel, and the site being excavated seems to have been a copper processing works and fortress. The excavation was first reported two years ago (so hardly front page news any more ;) and is being debated (as is right and proper for such finds). The interesting thing about Khirbat en-Nahas is its location in time and space, Khirbat en-Nahas is 30 miles from the Dead Sea and 30 miles north of Petra, so in what was Edomite territory, and the ruins under discussion were operating in the 12th to 9th centuries. So, at issue is whether the Edomites were, or were not at that time "a complex society such as a paramount chiefdom or primitive kingdom".

Now, to anyone interested in the Levant in that period, this is riveting stuff. And whichever way the discussion about Drs Levy and Najjar's archaeological claims goes, the excavations are throwing light on the period.

The trouble is they go on to do "Biblical Archaeology" and claim: "the biblical references to the Edomites, especially their conflicts with David and subsequent Judahite kings, garner a new plausibility."

Ah! What a nice Bible-bolster! Bet it'll bring the sponsors flocking to the University of California, San Diego, hurray for the Bible-bolsterers ;)

But seriously, it is "only" a heated battle over the historicity of David that drives this approach. Sure the state of Israel needs "bolstering", but does the Bible? Wouldn't the stories of David communicate just as well and clearly what God intends humanity to hear, whether David's historicity is "bolstered" or not?

I like my Bible straight, as it comes out of the packet, please please all you well-meaning people stop bolstering my precious book!


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