Biblical Archeology

The archaeological investigations of the Bible lands during the last 150 years have reopened the history of the past.

SIEGFRIED H. HORN, Professor of Archeology and History of Antiquity, SDA Theological Seminary

Archeology, ancient history, and the geography of the Bible lands have become important auxiliary sciences for the study of the Bible. During the Middle Ages ministers were trained almost exclusively in sacred theology and philosophy. The Reformers, however, feeling that this training was insufficient, began to place also a strong emphasis on a thorough understanding of the Bible text, and therefore required that ministers should be acquainted with the Biblical languages, Hebrew and Greek. During the last century new disciplines have been added to those in which a minister must be at home, to which belong a knowledge of the historical backgrounds of Bible times and of the cultural, reli­gious, topographical, and climatological environments. A minister who has spent no time in studying these auxiliary sciences cannot lay claim to a rounded-out theological education.

The archeological investigations of the Bible lands during the last 150 years have reopened the history of the past, and have brought to light the religions and cultures of many nations of antiquity. We know now how the people of Bible times were dressed, what they ate, how they spent their days, what kind of furni­ture, musical instruments, and weapons they used. Also we have become familiar with their hopes and fears, their beliefs and concepts, that influenced their lives from the cradle to the grave. Many inscribed and uninscribed monuments have been found in the various Bible lands, covered up by the dust and debris of ages. They have shed light on the Bible and have confirmed many historical passages. Ancient Biblical manuscripts have also been discovered, such as the famous Dead Sea scrolls or the Chester Beatty papyri, which have provided evi­dence that the Bible text has been faithfully transmitted through the centuries. Most of this material is housed in great collections in famous museums of the Old World, including those of the Bible lands, for which reason one can get a firsthand acquaintance with these discoveries only by visiting the lands in which these collections are found.

Bible teachers and ministers alike teach, lecture, and preach all their lives about countries that most of them know only from books or other secondary sources. Since it is difficult without a firsthand acquaintance with the Bible lands to obtain a true picture of life in the Orient, so different from that to which Western man is accustomed, mistaken views can easily slip into lectures and sermons. On the other hand, the presentation of Biblical truth can gain much in forcefulness and conviction if all historical, geographical, or archeological facts used in its presentation are accurate and based on firsthand observations and on an intimate acquaintance with them. These are some of the reasons why a visit to the Bible lands can be a great inspiration to Christian ministers and teachers. Many denominations have recognized the value of such pilgrimages and have sponsored tours for their ministers under qualified guides.

The 1957 Guided Tour to Western Europe and the Bible lands conducted by the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary was planned in such a way that the participating Bible teachers and ministers would have a maximum opportunity for studying the results of the archeological work carried out in the various Bible lands, and to obtain a firsthand knowledge of the countries and places in which Bible history was made. Before the tour began, the participants gathered in Washington, D.C., for an orientation week of intensive study in preparation for their trip. During the actual tour, which then lasted for nine weeks, many famous museums of antiquity in Europe and the Near East were visited, some time was spent in all major Bible lands, and many of those ancient places were visited that played a significant role in Bible history or prophecy.

S. H. HORN


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SIEGFRIED H. HORN, Professor of Archeology and History of Antiquity, SDA Theological Seminary

January 1958

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