Ten years ago, The World of Archeology and Science was inaugurated as a regular feature of MINISTRY. In that January, 1973, issue we assured our readers, "With the veritable archeological explosion now taking place in Palestine (some 70 separate digs under way during the past year) you will look forward to The World of Archeology and Science section." The new feature was placed under the direction of Siegfried H. Horn, professor of archeology, Andrews University, respected as one of the world's most knowledgeable scholars in archeology.
Horn's own introduction to the regular feature declared its purpose to be to keep busy ministers informed of "new archeological or scientific discoveries, of trends in the thinking of scholars, and of recent literature in the areas of research." The aim was to make available nontechnical, but thoroughly reliable, articles reflective of the current level of archeological knowledge.
Horn reluctantly had to give up coordinating the feature after only one year because of increased responsibilities at Andrews University Theological Seminary. Thus, the January, 1974, World of Archeology and Science section carried the notice "A regular feature sponsored by Lawrence T. Geraty." Because Geraty was conversant primarily with the field of archeology, he asked Robert H. Brown, newly appointed director of the Geoscience Research Institute, to assist in supplying articles on science and suggested that the February, 1974, byline include both names. A year later the two topics were separated, and columns devoted to each.—Editors.
In this past decade more than one hundred articles on Biblical archeology have appeared in MINISTRY—all but two of them written specifically for a clergy readership. The twenty-six authors have included ordained ministers, field archeologists, editors, and a museum curator, although most have been college and university professors. A preponderance of writers have been from the United States, but Australia, France, Germany, Israel, and the Philippines have been represented also. Only four women have contributed articles. The five most published contributors were Lawrence T. Geraty (with 22 articles), William H. Shea (12), Larry G. Herr (10), Siegfried H. Horn (8), and Orley M. Berg (6)—all authorities on their topics. If MINISTRY readers have kept up with what these scholars have provided, their archeological fare will have been balanced, comprehensive, and the equivalent of a respectable semester's course in Archeology and the Bible.
In terms of Horn's original goals, new archeological discoveries have indeed been shared with readers. MINISTRY was among the first periodicals to break the "Ebla story" (see "Archeological Update From Syria, Israel, and Jordan," February, 1977). Since the original announcement, there have been three other in-depth essays on the Ebla finds in Syria and their significance for the Bible—particularly the patriarchal period and the language in which the Bible was written (see "The Ebla Tablets: Archeological Find of the Century?" May, 1978; "Ebla Reveals Her Secrets," November, 1979; and "Update on Ebla," January, 1982). Biblical sites whose current excavation results have been reported in some depth—usually by the excavators them selves—include Heshbon (6 articles), Jerusalem (2 articles), Babedh-Dhraand Numeirah (possibly Sodom and Gomorrah), Ammon, Caesarea, Capernaum, and Hormah.
Because of the greater time span of the Old Testament period, the majority of MINISTRY'S articles on archeology have dealt with the Old Testament, but fifteen articles have been of special significance for the New Testament. For instance, two important discoveries during the decade that related to the Dead Sea Scrolls were promptly reported and evaluated. Readers learned the significance of the Temple Scroll for the New Testament and early church, but in another article they were counseled to be skeptical about the presence of New Testament manuscripts at Qumran.
Notable discoveries that have been important for the Old Testament included the find of a cuneiform tablet that may refer to Nebuchadnezzar's madness, and several seals or seal impressions that mention not only the same names as Old Testament person ages but also names that likely refer to the Biblical characters themselves! Out standing among these is Baruch, the secretary of Jeremiah. (See "Seals Owned by Biblical Personalities Identified," December, 1979.)
Among the many other inscriptions fully discussed in MINISTRY for their Biblical significance are those found at Caesarea referring to Pontius Pilate and the existence of Nazareth in Jesus' time, the Cyrus cylinder, the black obelisk of Shalmaneser III depicting Israel's king Jehu, the Balaam oracles found on a plaster wall in the Jordan Valley, the Mari archive, and the Elephantine papyri.
The second of Horn's original goals for the archeology section was to share trends in scholarly thinking. This has been done through a series by Anson Rainey, of Tel Aviv University, on the general methods of archeology and their limitations, as well as by regular reports of highlights from the annual meetings of the American Schools of Oriental Research and the Society of Biblical Literature. Not only have trends been reported but there has been an attempt to help readers evaluate news and views. Typical of such efforts have been William Shea's reviews of books and films about the search for Noah's Ark, as well as the articles dealing with controverted points of Biblical chronology by such recognized authorities as E. R. Thiele. Chronology articles discussed the dates for the Babylon captivity, the dates for the Hebrew kings, and the trustworthiness of Ptolemy's canon in light of the dispute concerning the value of his astronomical observations.
Some articles have spoken to special Seventh-day Adventist concerns: the light archeology throws on the origin of the Sabbath, the earliest mode of baptism, views of sin and judgment contemporary to the Old Testament, the date and interpretation of the prophecies of Daniel, and the nature of the daily cycle. But most contributions have been of general interest. Some of the stories from the history of archeology that never grow old have been repeated: the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and the consequent opening up of Egyptian history, Tischendorfs amazing discovery of early Biblical manuscripts at St. Catherine's Monastery, the rediscovery of the Hittites, and the saga of the identification of Biblical Debir. Specific texts that have been elucidated by archeology have been the subject of MINISTRY articles. These include Exodus 3:21; 2 Kings 13:5; 18:16, 17; Isaiah 20:1, 2; and Daniel 8:14.
One of the contributions of archeological discovery has been a better under standing of Biblical customs and practices. MINISTRY has focused on covenants and treaties, child sacrifice, life in a typical town, early church lamps, baptism, and what can be learned from coins. Readers have also learned about high places, temples, altars, water systems, Solomon's royal cities, the King's Highway, and the tomb of Christ. Series of articles have explored the relationship between Israel and Assyria, the historicity of Esther, and the seven churches of Revelation.
The third of Horn's original goals for this section was to share notices of recent archeological literature, including the best books and magazine articles. An annual book review article appeared between 1971 and 1975, although this feature has not been continued. Certain key books have been reviewed since then, of course, such as the two major books on Ebla by Matthiae and Pettinato. Reader's attention was called to the Biblical Archeology Review through a review article and the announcement of a special subscription price. Quotations of interest to ministers have been shared in MINISTRY and obituaries of the following archeological giants who died during the decade have been published: Albright, De Vaux, Glueck, Lapp, Wright, and Kenyon.
Another of Horn's plans was to make known the availability of archeological visual aids of interest to ministers. Three different slide sets have been recommended along with special prices on three booklets by Siegfried Horn: What Is New in Biblical Archeology (a lecture given in Australia, printed as a MINISTRY insert in 1980), Archaeology After Thirty Years (a lecture prepared for the naming of the Horn Archeological Museum at Andrews University in Michigan in 1978), and Relics of the Past: The World's Most Important Biblical Artifacts * (a guide to the archeological holdings in major world museums of interest to Bible students). Horn also promised to announce opportunities to participate in archeological expeditions and tours of the Bible lands. Not only have several such announcements appeared but also notices of ministers' seminars on archeology, invitations to join the Horn Archeological Museum as a member, and an invitation to contribute to the Cairo Genizah Documents' Preservation Fund.
As we look back over the past ten years it is with some pride of accomplishment. All the original goals have been met either wholly or in part. One obviously wishes even more could have been done. Requests by certain other periodicals and books to reprint particular MINISTRY articles on archeology are a heartening development that indicates we must be meeting someone's needs. More important, have we met your expectations? The letter columns of MINISTRY have contained an average of only slightly more than two letters a year commenting on the archeology articles specifically. Almost all of these have been from ministers appreciative of the archeological emphasis in a general way. At least two ministers wrote that they subscribed to MINISTRY because of the articles on Biblical archeology. One minister said he uses the archeology articles in class. Only one letter was negative: "You print too much that is questionable concerning diet, Bible prophecy, archeology, theology, science, pastoral care, and Sabbath observance." We wish the writer had been more specific with regard to what was questionable archeologically!
Our goals remain the same as when Siegfried Horn outlined them in 1973. But we want to know from you whether they are being met and how we can improve. Take this opportunity right now to tell us what you think of what appeared so far and what you would like to see discussed in the future. We will make every effort to meet each request eventually. Your input is needed. Please fill out the opinion poll and send it to us.
And thank you in advance for your help in setting the tone for our next decade!