Updated Professional Journal Summary - Dec.

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Digging in the Land of the Bible - Jill Herzig The professional journal article I chose to review is from "Archaeology" magazine and is entitled "Digging in the Land of the Bible." The reason this is of interest to me is I am currently teaching a Religion class that deals with the Old Testament of the Bible as well as ancient civilizations which includes the birth of Christianity and the Roman Empire. By using a source like Archeology Magazine I can demonstrate, to my sixth grade students, that artifacts found in the area where the Biblical stories take place validates the claims of the scriptures and strengthens their faith.

The importance of studying Biblical archeology is a way to offer insights into the background of Biblical events. The contribution of archeology to history is demonstrated adequately by the closing of Neil Silberman's article." The real contribution of archeology is and will continue to be, the recognition that our biblical heritage is drawn from a mosaic of cultures, ideologies, and economies, and that some of our most profound spiritual and cultural traditions were forged in the vibrant diversity of the ancient Near Eastern World."

To be able to teach students from the Bible is a wonderful opportunity, which is enhanced by the ability to bring real life articles into actuality. We have all grown up reading stories that define our faith. It is exciting to validate some of this theology with real life artifacts. One example archeological insights have proven is the existence of Pontius Pilate. During an expedition in the 1960's, near Judea, a fragmentary building site was uncovered bearing the name of the Roman Governor. This was the first evidence of its kind ever uncovered that validated the presence of this Biblical figure. Later that decade, the remains of a young man were found whose anklebones, were pierced by an iron spike, when he was crucified. This confirms the historical context that Jesus' crucifixion takes place in as well as the brutality of Pontius Pilate's rule.

Another popular artifact that is discussed in my curriculum is the introduction of the Dead Sea Scrolls found mainly in Cave Four at Qumran in1948. This evidence demonstrates that it was important for the Jews to hide their faith, to prevent them from being destroyed, during the time of their revolt against Rome. This coincides well with the information we are studying of how Rome was mainly a polytheistic culture. To see evidence of this struggling religion trying at all costs to preserve their beliefs; adds to the impact of the information we are trying to convey.

Controversy is also prevalent where the studies of theology and archeology meet. In some instances the dates found in the Biblical text are not found to coincide with the dates of the artifacts uncovered at that particular site. The flight of Abraham to Canaan during the Exodus, for example, is not proven as of yet. Some scholars believe that to pinpoint any specific date and time might be near to impossible. It is instead viable that they can reconstruct the social, economic, and political forces of which the Bible speaks so highly of during that time.

In the study of ancient civilizations we figuratively travel to Ancient Egypt and Rome. It is interesting to educate the students on the marvels of the ancient world. We focus on the riches of these cultures as well as the rulers and their roles. The students are very interested and think it would be "cool" to live at this time. Awestruck by the wealth of this people they find it incredible that so few could have so much prosperity. As we delve into the Old Testament their theories change. They see that the rulers get their riches at the price of others. In this case, it is at the price of the early Christians or Jews who are trying to form the basis of a new religion. Showing these two perspectives gives the students a chance to see that depending on what side of an issue they are on, both will perceive themselves as being correct and sacrifice anything, even their own lives to see their beliefs preserved. With the introduction of artifacts that demonstrate the lives these people have led, it brings us closer and gives us an opportunity to see what they were actually like.

My educational focus on these controversies is to remind the students that the Bible is a book of faith and ideology believed by a people. The historical dates may not prove to be accurate in the same sense as a history book or a dated artifact. The concepts and the spiritual guidance it provides, coupled with the archeological evidence, shows that a strong force was, and still is, at work in the minds of people of faith.

-- Anonymous, November 24, 1998

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