The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Another Interesting Archaeological Find

I've always been intrigued by the work of archaeologists and its impact on scriptural studies. In recent years archaeology and its related sciences have increasingly confirmed the historical accuracy of the Bible thereby turning much of modern scriptural scholarship on its head. This, of course, has exposed the little secret shared by these scholars: most modern scriptural scholars don't believe what is written in Scripture. It makes you wonder why they didn't select a different subject to study, one they could believe in, like, for example, UFOs.

They're an interesting bunch, these scriptural scholars. They like to think that they're scientific in their approach, and yet their conclusions are almost always driven by subjectivity. They force the Bible to meet standards of historical accuracy that far exceed the standards by  which other ancient texts are measured. And then, when archaeology or epigraphy (the study of ancient documents) uncover truly scientific evidence that runs counter to their pet theories, they try everything and anything to save these theories from the truth. As I said, an interesting bunch.

I look forward to their response to the latest discovery that could eventually impact Old Testament studies. A team of Austrian archaeologists working in northern Egypt has identified the size and extent of an ancient city buried under farmers' fields and a modern town. (Read more here.) They accomplished this using radar imaging that clearly identified ancient streets, cemeteries, houses, temples, palaces and other buildings. It is believed that the ancient city, located in the Nile delta region northeast of Cairo, was once the capital city of the Hyksos for the century of so they ruled Egypt.

The Hyksos, thought to be of Semitic origin, had invaded and conquered Egypt during the 17th century B.C. and dominated the Nile valley until they were overthrown in the mid-16th century B.C. The city identified by the Austrian archaeologists is believed to be their capital city, Avaris. The Hyksos were also the rulers of Egypt we encounter in the Book of Genesis during the time when Joseph became a senior administrator. Future excavations could unearth valuable information about this critical period of Egypt's history and even provide references to Joseph and the Jewish people who eventually settled in the country.

Radar imaging, while valuable, certainly doesn't replace good, old fashioned digging and the ability to examine artifacts firsthand. Unfortunately, because the buried city is beneath a modern town extensive excavation may not be possible. What we ultimately learn of the Hyksos and their relationship with the early Jewish people may, therefore, be limited. Nevertheless, it's all very interesting and I expect we'll hear more about it,

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