The Archaeological Study Bible: An Illustrated Walk Through Biblical History and Culture (Zondervan, March 2006) is a valuable recent reference work.
The book’s objective is to provide information on archaeological discoveries that impact the Bible by giving insight into Biblical customs, cultures, history, and geography.
The book is edited by two theologically conservative Old Testament professors, Walter Kaiser of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary near Boston and Duane Garrett of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.
Many popular works on archaeology do not respect Scripture as true. This reference is a refreshing exception in that it treats the Biblical text as historically accurate and respects the Bible as an authoritative divine text.
The book is attractive with lots of interesting color pictures—almost 500. It is very helpful that archaeological notes are placed alongside the Biblical text, making it easy to access the reference material while reading through the Bible.
There are some negatives to the Archaeological Study Bible. First, it uses the NIV translation which sacrifices accuracy for readability. The New American Standard Bible (NASB) is the most accurate modern version and would have been a better choice for use in a study Bible. However, the Archaeological Study Bible is published by Zondervan which also publishes the NIV (currently the best-selling translation). Thus the choice is understandable from a business perspective, although misguided from a scholarly perspective. I hope an edition of this study Bible will be published soon based on the NASB text.
Second, the work is poor, even harmful in Genesis. It downplays Creation and questions whether the Flood was global. Such an approach contradicts the book’s own position on Scripture as historical and authoritative.
Third, the book is weak on maps and diagrams. More maps would help the reader better follow the text and commentary. To maximize its benefit, the ASB should be used in conjunction with a good Bible atlas. The font size is also pretty small and is tiring after a while.
Finally, the book does not stick rigorously to its purpose—there are many devotional and doctrinal notes which have little to do with archaeological insights on the text.
Despite these negatives, on the whole this is a useful reference work, and I recommend it.
Soli Deo Gloria.
This is the sixth article in a series on Biblical Archaeology.
Read the prequels:
1. The Mystery of Tsinnur
2. Copper Country
3. One Night of Sin Spawns Centuries of Havoc
4. Blown to Pieces
5. Joseph’s Grain Silos Found in Egypt?
Read the sequel:
7. Lost Treasures of the Bible
For more articles on Biblical Archaeology, see the Eyewitness to Jesus series on ancient documents that show the Gospel of Matthew is an eyewitness account.
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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Tuesday July 29, 2008 A.D.
Read my July 2008 Bible-Science newspaper column:
Age of the Earth 3 — Genealogies.
And He answered and said, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”