Sep 12, 2011

Biblical Archaeology: Illumination, Probability, not Proof

“For those who have the specific purpose of engaging the biblical text, archaeology’s primary role vis-à-vis the Bible should be illumination and probability, not proof. We must learn to enter the biblical world and harmonize it with the text without the burden of ‘proving’ historical reliability, much less theological truth. And yet, with presuppositions aside, the weight of evidence leads us to more historical probability than the ‘minimalists’ allow.”

John M. Monson, "The Role of Context and the Promise of Archaeology in Biblical Interpretation," in The Future of Biblical Archaeology, ed. James K. Hoffmeier and Alan Millard (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), 317.



Kevin McKinney said...

While proof is not always the primary purpose, it is often hard not to draw certain conclusions when the evidence is so strongly weighted in one direction. I often find myself hoping for proof in my own research and must remind myself to examine the facts first. Fortunately, the facts generally lead to a singular conclusion.

Charles Savelle said...

I am not sure that drawing conclusions is inappropriate as long as you realize the tentative nature of conclusions based on the limitations inherent in archeological evidence. In archaeology, cold hard facts are rare since interpretation plays such a significant role in assessing the evidence.