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Archaeology and the Bible

An Interview with Dr. Bryant G. Wood
First in a series of original interviews with AIIA’s three Resource Associates

This month we begin a three-part series of never-before-published interviews with AIIA’s three Resource Associates, each of whom have training, experience, and expertise in some particular area of apologetics. Dr. Bryant G. Wood is currently Director of Associates for Biblical Research (described below), and adjunct professor at six well-respected educational institutions-including Messiah College in Grantham PA. He has been quoted in many national publications, including TIME magazine, in recent years, and continues extensive archaeological field work. He and his wife live in Harrisburg PA.

AIIA: How has archaeology enhanced Biblical credibility?

Dr. Wood: In every instance where the findings of archaeology pertain to the Biblical record, the archaeological evidence confirms, sometimes in detailed fashion, the historical accuracy of Scripture. In those in-stances where the archaeological findings seem to be at variance with the Bible, the discrepancy lies with the archaeological evidence, i.e. improper interpretation, lack of evidence, etc., -not with the Bible.

AIIA:  Is archaeology still helpful today in the search for the truth about who man is?

Dr. Wood: Yes, in that archaeology pro-vides a continuous stream of new information about man’s past.  This new information generally has to do with the material culture and history of man. Archaeology can provide only limited information on the spiritual and religious side of man.  We must depend on Divine revelation for that aspect of the nature of man. With a clearer picture of the material culture and history of man’s past, however, we gain a better understanding of who man is.

AIIA:  What archaeological discovery has had the all-time greatest Biblical impact?

Dr. Wood: Probably the Dead Sea Scrolls have had the greatest Biblical impact. They have provided Old Testament manuscripts approximately 1,000 years older than our previous oldest manuscript.  The Dead Sea Scrolls have demonstrated that the Old Testament was accurately transmitted during this interval.  In addition, they provide a wealth of information on the times leading up to, and during, the life of Christ.

AIIA:  How likely is it that any discovery as important as the Dead Sea Scrolls will be made before the year 2000?

Dr. Wood: The exciting thing about archaeology is that a momentous discovery could be made at any time.  It is difficult to measure the importance of any one discovery over another. Two current projects which have the potential to provide far-reaching evidence concerning critical attitudes toward the Old Testament are the possible unearthing of a Bronze Age archive at Hazor, and my own excavation of the fortress of Ai (Joshua 7-8) at Kh. al-Makater.

AIIA:  Please offer a brief comment on the Shroud of Turin and the likelihood of discovering Noah’s Ark.

Dr. Wood: Both subjects are beyond my area of competence. Validating the authenticity of the Shroud depends upon the thoroughness and extent of laboratory testing. Regarding the Ark, no hard evidence has yet been found to substantiate the hearsay reports of its survival.

AIIA:  What resources on modern archaeological discovery would you recommend?

Dr. Wood: Unfortunately, there is no single book which adequately summarizes the evidence from an evangelical perspective. A good book which covers a few topics is Digging for Answers by Garry Brantley (Apologetics Press, 1995). An excellent compilation of raw data from Palestine is The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land (Ephraim Stern, ed., The Israel Exploration Society & Carta, 1993). To stay current with recent finds, however, it is necessary to subscribe to one or more periodicals. I would recommend membership in the Associates for Biblical Research (ABR), an organization  dedicated to upholding the truth of Scripture, of which I am director. A $35 per year membership supports our ongoing research and provides a bimonthly newsletter and quarterly magazine, Bible and Spade, to keep individuals abreast of the latest discoveries in Biblical archaeology. Also visit our web site at http://www.ChristianAnswers.Net for information on recent finds and the research that ABR is doing. ABR PO Box 125 Ephrata PA 17522 800-430-0008