An archaeologist who believes in inerrancy of Scripture?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)--Some say that archaeologist Bryant Wood does his research a bit backwards. He looks first to the Bible, then tries to line up the archaeological evidence with the scriptural account.
Wood, though, believes he is doing God's will. Best known as an archaeologist with the Associates for Biblical Research, as well as the editor of Bible and Spade magazine, Wood talked about his view of archaeology during a lecture series Sept. 25-27 at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Wood lectured on such biblical stories as the destructions of Jericho and Sodom and Gomorrah, then showed that archaeological evidence does in fact complement the biblical accounts.
He acknowledged that he is in the minority among his peers.
"When there seems to be this discrepancy between the findings of archaeology and the Bible, almost all scholars will say, 'Well, archaeology provides us with scientific evidence, and so there must be a problem with the Bible.' That gives rise to the idea that the biblical story is some kind of a myth or legend," he said.
But Wood argued that close scrutiny of archaeological evidence always shows that Old Testament stories are indeed historical fact. Wood holds to the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture.
"When the evidence is in and we have the archaeological findings before us, they support the truth of Scripture," he said. "Places that scholars said never existed, in fact existed."
It is important to have conservative scholars within the archaeological community, Wood said, because many archaeologists discredit and mishandle Scripture. This elevation of archaeology above the Bible has led some scholars to suggest that the Israelites never fled Egypt and never conquered Canaan. In fact, these same scholars argue that instead of the Israelites being one common people group -- and descendants of Abraham -- the Israelites were formed when several groups of people with common interests simply came together over a period of time.
"If the biblical account isn't true, then how do we explain the people of the Israel, the nation of Israel?" he asked. "... They, in fact, are saying that there was no conquest, so right away you have to throw away the book of Joshua. But if they didn't come in from outside, [then] obviously there weren't any wilderness wanderings. If there were not any wilderness wanderings then there was no Exodus. There were no patriarchs. This emergence theory as it's called, really does [do] away with the first six or seven books of the Bible. Some of the greatest events in human history that are recorded there, these scholars are saying, are all mythology and folk stories.
"That's why I think it's very important for us as evangelicals to look at this archaeology evidence, to analyze it and to come up with a proper interpretation."
Wood said he simply looks at both the biblical account and the archaeological evidence, then tries to line up both sides.
"That's what the Lord has laid on my heart -- to correlate the findings of archaeology with the Bible," he said. "Most scholars in archaeology are very reluctant to do that, because they're accused of trying to prove the Bible. That's the last thing they want, because then they'll be considered a fundamentalist.
"I guess I'm the point man in this area, and I'm taking all the flak when I do these kind of correlations. I think they're real and valid. We have the biblical record on one hand -- an ancient document that talks about these things -- and we have the archaeology findings on the other hand. They fit and they relate and they seem to go together."
The Bryant Wood lectures can be heard on the seminary's web page at http://www.sbts.edu/bryantwood.html.
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