Biblical Interpretation using Archaeological Evidence, 1900-1930

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This study explores how traditional scholars seized upon archaeology to advocate biblical truth. It examines the conflict between critical theories of biblical interpretation and traditional methods. It delineates the tension between scholarship and the business of theology in the process of evaluation of the archaeological evidence at the beginning of the 20th century.


“Elliott has chosen to analyze the pivotal period in the archaeological study of ancient Palestine. The three decades between 1900-1930 saw not just the rise of archaeology in the Middle East as a scientific discipline, but also witnessed an intense battle over how biblical archaeology would be portrayed to non-archaeologists, whether Bible scholars of the general public. . . . Elliott’s book undertakes the analysis of this volatile time by studying the semi-popular and popular publications of the period and the goals and purposes of those writings. . . . providing a step by step analysis of the different stages. . . . It constitutes an important study in the history of religious thought and change in English-speaking world and in particular the USA. It also provides important insights into the development of the archaeology of Palestine and how it became important to different theological movements. Mark Elliott has written this book with clarity of style and with a keen eye for discerning the key elements of the books and essays he discusses. The book leads the reader step by step through the time period as issues develop and the key players change. The reader is at all times clear about where in the debate they are reading.” – Paul. V. M. Flesher

“. . . a fascinating historical examination of the ways in which scholars, primarily American and Protestant, used archaeology in support of an ultra-conservative religious agenda. . . .Elliott examines academicians and theologians who contributed to both sides of this discussion. He includes the famous and the little-known, people with reputations as scholars and as rabble-rousers. . . . Elliott’s discussion of Albright is both timely and important. He polishes the tarnish from Albright’s reputation, with careful research and a thorough understanding of the milieu in which Albright lived and worked. . . . One of the most intriguing elements. . . is Elliot’s discussion of the major role The New York Times played in popularizing biblical archaeology. . . . Elliott’s book has important implications for modern scholarship. He reminds us of the difficulty that scholars, even the best of them, experienced when trying to synthesize the then-enormous amount of archaeological data. Such synthesis is even more complex and problematic today.” – Beth Alpert Nakhai

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
1. Introduction
2. Early Evidence
3. The Victory of “Conservative Criticism” and “Higher Archaeology”
4. Mesopotamia and the Bible
5. The New York Times
6. The Twenties: An Archaeology of Faith
7. Scholarly Interpretations during the 1920s
8. Biblical Archaeology and the Mass media
9. W. F. Albright: A Reappraisal
10. Conclusion
Bibliography; Index

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