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To what extent does archaeology inform us about our understanding of the Old Testament?

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Introduction

To what extent does archaeology inform us about our understanding of the Old Testament? The Jewish scriptures that made up the Old Testament were written over a period of a hundred years during a time when the Israelites were established and prosperous, but also during the times when the whole religion and lifestyle were under threat throughout exiles and national crises. Biblical scholars study the evidence within the scriptures themselves and also use other resources such as prehistoric documents and archaeological findings in order to inform us more thoroughly about the Old Testament. Archaeology is a modern science calling for much patience and skill. Generally speaking there are three kinds of archaeology. The first is ruins of buildings, homes, temples and fortifications. These reveal culture, worship, social structure and manner of life. The second is artefacts, pots, lamps, weapons and ornaments. These reveal something about wealth and culture. The third is inscriptions, also known as epigraphic material. This reveals what people wrote about. We have to be cautious about what archaeology can prove. ...read more.

Middle

However, it is argued that the accuracy of the historical accounts might have been sacrificed in order to put emphasis on the theological point. It is very difficult for events in the Old Testament to be accurately dated for many reasons. The main reason is that many of the written records have not survived. This is because many of the texts were written on insubstantial materials and the climate was not particularly dry and therefore could not preserve the texts. Another reason is that much of the Old Testament originated as oral traditions rather than written, which means whilst being passed on from one person to another, the real translation could have sometimes been changed through misunderstanding or false impression. This makes it extremely difficult for scholars to work out which parts are historically correct and which are not as elements may have been removed or added. Texts occasionally referred to features which were thought to be of a later date than the story itself and therefore scholars have to decide if the older parts of a narrative were correct or had been altered. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the past, thousands of tablets covered with cuneiform have been discovered. They provide information about the Biblical world before 100 BC. After that time alphabets with letters not made up of combinations of triangles begin to emerge and we are on our way to the Hebrew script known to Biblical scholars. Names found through archaeology can provide more clues to the dating or geographical setting of particular events in the Old Testament because when scholars find evidence of other people with comparable names to those of characters in the Bible, it can suggest a background for the Biblical writings. To conclude, archaeology can help to inform us more about events that happened in the Old Testament and help us understand what happened and who was involved more than we already do. However, we cannot always rely on archaeology to inform our understanding of the Old Testament as archaeologists and scholars do not always know the truth behind evidence found, they are only able to use what they see with their own eyes and make educated guesses with what they already know. Rosa Lenders 6J ...read more.

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