I’d like to discuss both Biblical and Book of Mormon archaeology. Most people believe the Bible is on solid archaeological footing, but that isn’t actually true. Many books have questionable authorship, and many places remain unidentified. In a previous post, I discussed Questions about the Exodus: there isn’t a shred of evidence that it actually happened. During Passover celebrations in 2001, Rabbi David Wolpe created international headlines in Israel by proclaiming to his Jewish congregation in Los Angeles, “the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way it happened, if it happened at all.”
I’ve been listening to a podcast from Yale University discussing the Bible. There are definite similarities between the Babylonian story of Gilgamesh and the stories of Adam and Noah. Some people, such as Bishop Rick, have said
I think it is accurate to state that the flood story in the bible is both myth and a forgery. It is obviously a myth for reasons too numerous to mention here, but it is also copied from other cultures/religions, thus making it a forgery.
It could very well be a myth. While some scholars believe the story is a myth, National Geographic put together a documentary called “In Search for Noah’s Flood”. They discuss various flood stories, and make the case that a large, localized flood must have influenced these various cultures to write of this flood. While there is no proof of a flood, it seems like a plausible explanation.
Recently I discussed a couple of sites in the Dead Sea region that some people believe are the sites of Sodom and Gomorrah. While some people love to claim the Bible is actually a collection of myths, Dr. Carole Fontaine of the Andover Newton Theological School said, “Archeologists often find themselves hooted and hollered out of town, when they first suggest things like, ‘I’ve found Troy, or look, we’ve found Sodom and Gomorrah.’ But history has shown that in fact, the more you dig, the more you find. It’s amazing how accurate the Bible sometimes turns out to be.”
Speaking of hooting and hollering, John Hamer recently recorded a famous comment regarding Book of Mormon archaeology. He said,
The scholarly consensus on the alleged antiquity of the Book of Mormon was expressed way back in 1973 in Dialogue by Michael D. Coe, among the foremost Mayanist scholars, who wrote: “As far as I know there is not one professionally trained archaeologist, who is not a Mormon, who sees any scientific justification for believing the historicity of The Book of Mormon, and I would like to state that there are quite a few Mormon archaeologists who join this group”
The best Book of mormon archaeological site seems to be Nahom. I’ve previously blogged about Nahom, and Daniel C. Peterson called it a “bulls eye”. In the video called Journey of Faith (distributed by FAIR), a few BYU scholars state,
Daniel C. Peterson, Professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic, BYU, “The finding of Nahom strikes me as just a tremendously significant discovery.”
Noel B Reynolds, director of FARMS, BYU, “The gazetteers of Joseph Smith’s day listed no such place.”
Peterson, “What it really is, is a kind of prediction by the Book of Mormon, or something that we ought to find.”
William J Hamblin, Professor of Middle Eastern History, BYU, “Now the chances of finding that exact name from the exact time, in that exact place, by random chance, are just astronomical.”
Peterson, “And to find it in the right location, at the right time, is a really striking bulls eye for the book and there are those who say the book has no archeological substantiation. That’s a spectacular substantiation right there, it seems to me. Something that would have been unexpected. It’s so unlikely that Joseph Smith could have woven into his story on his own.”
Hamblin, “The Book of Mormon has text, has made a complex prediction and modern archeology actually confirms that prediction.”
Peterson, “It’s a direct bulls-eye, as precise as you could wish it to be.”
I don’t think non-Mormon scholars are as impressed with the site as Peterson, but non-Bible believing scholars aren’t impressed with Sodom and Gomorrah either. So, must we always believe that lack of evidence argues against historicity of the Bible or Book or Mormon, or is there reason to believe that some of these stories that scholars call myths, forgeries, or pious frauds really might have some historical use? Is it true that “the more you dig, the more you find?”