The Zondervan Handbook of Biblical Archaeology
A Book-by-Book Guide to Archaeological Discoveries Related to the Bible From Genesis to Revelation
by Randall Price and H. Wayne House
When picking up a book covering the entire historical timeline of the Bible, it’s rare to find content that is equally useful for the professor in the academic classroom and the preacher in the pulpit. However, the new Zondervan Handbook of Biblical Archaeology: A Book by Book Guide to Archaeological Discoveries Related to the Bible delivers the full package.
Authors J. Randall Price and H. Wayne House set out to help readers gain discernment for weighing archaeological claims, a worthwhile endeavor considering the many unverified, sensationalist stories that have appeared in the media over the years. They begin by recognizing that archaeology and the Bible intersect at many, but not all, points — and asking how followers of the Bible should reconcile seemingly conflicting evidence.
Like the Bible, archaeology requires sound interpretation. And for those who interpret both correctly, the authors maintain there should be no contradiction. Archaeology, then, becomes a faith-building tool that can help those who love Scripture gain a deeper personal understanding of God’s Word.
Price and House acknowledge that works of archaeologists are often verbose, voluminous and academic. Therefore, they are careful to explain their points using straightforward terminology, making the information accessible to the pastor, Bible student and layperson.
This is by far one of the most up-to-date overall compendiums of archaeological research available, with analysis of data from excavations as recent as the summer of 2017. It includes information from digs by the Assemblies of God Center for Holy Lands Studies in partnership with Nyack College at the possible location of Bethsaida of the Gospels (El-Araj), as well as the recent digs — and important finds — at biblical Magdala.
The authors even include information on some of the newest museum exhibits across the globe, such as the “Gabriel Inscription.”
In addition, the book is brimming with current pictures of the archaeological sites, featuring images on nearly every page. Hundreds of aerial photos and graphics help readers connect visually with the information. One outstanding example is Herodium, the final resting place of King Herod the Great of the Gospels.
There is also an extensive bibliography, which provides an adequate breakdown of the most up-to-date work by top researchers, scholars and archaeologists in the field, as well as some earlier resources from the historical timeline of biblical archaeology.
The authors do a phenomenal job of diversifying their source material, following the works of some of the finest academic scholarship in the field of biblical studies and archaeology today. They are careful to identify the different world views represented, while maintaining a conservative, evangelical perspective.
Although the authors often present their opinions, they also readily disclose alternative interpretations of archaeological data, allowing readers to reach their own conclusions. Having such an informed and weighted interpretation of both the text and the archaeological data can certainly enhance Bible preaching and teaching.
Even after years of traveling throughout the lands and sites of the Bible, this book amazed and surprised me. The authors were continually able to point out details and connections to the text and world of the Bible that I had never seen or didn’t know existed.
The writers display a deep understanding of the original languages of the Bible and a masterful control of the geography, culture and political climates of the different ages of the biblical world. They efficiently highlight and make practical use of ancient texts outside of the biblical corpus that are useful to exegesis of Scripture, but that many students of the Bible overlook.
We would recommend this book to the most advanced teachers in the classroom as well as pastors — even Sunday School teachers or small group leaders.
This is an indispensable resource that belongs in the personal library of every student and teacher of Scripture. This work seeks to help preachers and teachers become even more credible, confident and informed so that their hearers can gain a better understanding of God’s Word.