Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Conquest of Canaan: Did It Happen?, P.1

(Disclaimer: If your faith in Christ can be stumbled when you found out that God did not create the world in 6 24-hour days, then you may skip this series of posts titled 'The Conquest of Canaan: Did It Happen?'. Perhaps R.C Sproul's books better suit you.)

1) Introduction

The Bible is a historical book in the sense that it is a human artifact and, at that, a product within history. This is not the same as saying that all that is recorded in the Bible is historical, which is readily assumed by Christians in general, by fundamentalists in particular. First of all, there is no doubt that the Bible conveys a significant amount of historical events but to say that that is the only reality of the sacred literature is another matter altogether.

Since the Enlightenment, we have been endowed with advanced technology and rigorous methodology to study the past like no other preceding generations. These phenomena have contributed to the advancement of ‘archaeology’. With leveled efficiency to study the past, we are now able to look for corroborative data to substantiate the recorded data in the Bible or to contradict them.

In this present study, I am drawing results from contemporary archeology to be examined along one particular data testified in the Bible, namely the conquest of Canaan. The event when, according to the Old Testament (OT), the ancient Israelites were led by Joshua to conquer the land of Canaan.

Although I am not an archaeologist, I attempt an inter-disciplinary survey through the works of professional archaeologists, biblical scholars, and theologians to seek for collaborate understanding on the historicity of the event.

I will provide a summary of current archaeological evidences in relation to the conquest data found in the OT. For this reason, there is no in-depth discussion of archaeological surveys or introduction to each subjects discussed in this study. However, I have prepared a brief bibliography at the end of this study for those who desire to inquire further into the subject.

Besides, I would like to make it clear that I am aware of the limit of archaeology, its ability to provide historical information, and its relation to the Bible. If in any case, at the end of this study, it is being shown that the archaeological evidences do not support the biblical data; that does not infallibly conclude that the ‘Conquest’ did not happen. It only means that our current state of evidences make it less probable for the ‘Conquest’ to be historical.

On the other hand, if archaeological data are found corroborating with the OT; that does not immediately and necessarily bring about the conclusion that the ‘Conquest’ took place precisely as narrated in the Bible. It is important for one not to confuse the archaeological facts and how these facts can be construed. And I am aware of these slippery connections.

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