Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Conquest of Canaan: Did It Happen?, P.10

10) Conclusion: The Conquest and The Reliability of the Bible for Our Life

With extensive excavations at the sites recorded in the Bible, archaeologists had come to deem the data of a massive military conquest to be unverifiable. No matter one dates the Conquest event to 15th or 13th century BC (despite some who date it to the 2nd millennium BC), the Conquest narrative does not fit into the sociological environment in Canaan at that time. Though that is the case, this incongruity does not stop scholars from continuously studying the Conquest data to explore other possible factors that are responsible for the Conquest account to be included in the book of Joshua "to this very day".

Given such conclusion, one might ask whether does that mean the Bible is useless and unreliable in all matters? No. It only means the ‘Conquest’ did not take place. Many parts of the Bible are, first and foremost, not historical textbooks. No doubt there are sections within the Bible that are historical, in the sense of bearing witness to events happened in the past, yet this study shows that there are also portions that are not historical to which we need to acknowledge. The bottom line is that the Bible is an ancient religious document belonging to faithful communities spanning a few thousand years. The documents in the Bible were authored, gathered, and canonized to describe and to convey religious messages to these communities.

Finally it is good to bear in our mind that archaeological conclusion is always provisional. New discoveries will always overthrow, change, or strengthen our understanding. Again, this study is not to devalue the Bible or its function within the communities of faith. It is my hope that the communities will come to a deeper understanding of the nature of the sacred Scripture.

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