What does archaeology tell us about the validity of the Old Testament?
I asked this question of Dr. Norman Geisler, author of more than sixty books, in my interview with him for The Case for Faith. His answer was characteristically confident and compelling.
“There have been thousands of archaeological finds in the Middle East that support the picture presented in the biblical record,” Geisler began. “There was a discovery not long ago confirming King David. The patriarchs—the narratives about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—were once considered legendary, but as more has become known, these stories are increasingly corroborated. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was thought to be mythological until evidence was uncovered that all five of the cities mentioned in Genesis were, in fact, situated just as the Old Testament said. As far as their destruction goes, archaeologist Clifford Wilson said there is ‘permanent evidence of the great conflagration that took place in the long distant past.’
“Furthermore,” Geisler added, “various aspects of the Jewish captivity have been confirmed. Also, every reference in the Old Testament to an Assyrian king has been proven correct; an excavation during the 1960s confirmed that the Israelites could, indeed, have entered Jerusalem by way of a tunnel during David’s reign; there is evidence the world did have a single language at one time, as the Bible says; the site of Solomon’s temple is now being excavated; and on and on. Many times, archaeologists have been skeptical of the Old Testament, only to have new discoveries corroborate the biblical account.”
“For example?” I asked.
“The Bible makes about three dozen references to the Hittites, but critics used to charge that there was no evidence that such people ever existed. Now archaeologists digging in modern Turkey have discovered the records of the Hittites. As the great archaeologist William F. Albright declared, ‘There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of the Old Testament tradition.’ ”
Suffice it to say: while not everything in the Old Testament can be tested by archaeology, discoveries have repeatedly confirmed claims made by these Scriptures.
“For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do?”