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Digging for Answers
An original interview with respected archaeologist, Bryant G. Wood
Bryant G. Wood, Ph.D., is Director of Associates for Biblical Research (check biblearchaeology.org) and editor of Bible & Spade journal. He is adjunct professor at a number of educational institutions. He presently continues extensive archaeological field work. He and his wife Faith live in Harrisburg PA. Dr. Wood has served as an AIIA Resource Associate since March of 1997.
QUESTION: How does archaeology conclusively demonstrate the Bible to be reliable and unique among all the holy books of world religions?
Archaeological discoveries verify the historical reliability of the Old and New Testaments. When com-pared to other religious books, the Bible is unique in that it is the oldest, as testified by the places, people, titles, and events mentioned in the Bible; and the language and literary formats used to compose the Bible. Many scholars today question the validity of Biblical accounts, supposedly based on the findings of archaeology. When the “discrepancies” are examined in detail, however,
it is found that the problems lie with the archaeology (i.e. misinterpretation of evidence, lack of evidence, or poor scholarship) and not with the Bible.
QUESTION: How can archaeology prove helpful to someone seeking for truth to the basic questions about life?
The discoveries of archaeology can be helpful in removing doubts that a person might have about the historical trustworthiness of the Bible. However, archaeology cannot prove everything in the Bible. The miracles described, as well as the spiritual message, must be accepted on faith, which is the basis of our relationship with God. When the truth of Scripture is challenged by skeptics, archaeology can be used to demonstrate that the people, places, and events of the Bible are real.
QUESTION: What archaeological discovery would you point to as the most convincing evidence for the Bible being God’s Word?
Any one discovery can be explained away as coincidence, or an alternative interpretation can be given to disassociate it from the Bible. It is the weight of a myriad of discoveries that demonstrates the Bible to be the Word of God. These discoveries fall into three categories. First, archaeological evidence demonstrates the historical and cultural accuracy of the Bible. Second, the Bible’s message of a loving Creator God who interacts in the affairs of mankind and has provided a means of salvation stands in sharp contrast to the pagan fertility religions of the ancient world, as revealed by archaeology. Third, archaeological findings demonstrate that the Biblical prophets accurately predicted events hundreds of years before they occurred – something that lies beyond the capability of mere men.
QUESTION: Will God ever allow man to discover either Noah’s Ark or the ancient Ark of the Covenant?
Both Noah’s Ark and the Ark of the Covenant (except for gold covering on the latter) were made of perishable material. It would require miraculous conditions for them to survive. To date, there has been no hard evidence that either object still exists.
QUESTION: What is your opinion of the recently publicized ossuary bearing an inscription naming Jesus?
I had an opportunity to view the James Ossuary while attending the annual meeting of the Near East Archaeological Society in Toronto in November 2002. I don’t think there is any question about its authenticity. It has been examined by the Israeli Geological Survey and they have declared it to be authentic. The inscription was published by one of the world’s leading authorities in Hebrew inscriptions, Andre Lemaire, and he could certainly detect if it was a forgery. The only question is whether this could be the ossuary of some other James, rather than the James of the New Testament. The clincher is that the inscription not only gives the father’s name (normal Jewish practice) but also gives the brother’s name, which is highly unusual. There is only one other known instance of a brother being named in an ossuary inscription. The combination of names, the fact that James’ brother Jesus is named, and the date of the inscription makes it virtually certain that this is the actual burial box of James, the brother of Jesus.
QUESTION: What is the most important archaeological work currently going on in terms of evidence for the truth of God’s Word?
At Tell el-Dab’a, ancient Ramesses, the eastern delta of Egypt, evidence is being recovered that relates to the Sojourn and Exodus – events in Israelite history largely written off as legend by today’s critical scholars.
RESOURCE RECOMMENDED by Dr. Wood: The Stones Cry Out, by Randall Price ©1997 Harvest House
SPECIAL NOTE! Dr. Wood is to be the featured speaker at AIIA’s Spring symposium on June 7, 2003. Watch this paper for location and details.