How to Incorporate Biblical Archaeology into Your Preaching

Does archaeology have any role in preaching? What is there point of intersection?

Archaeology is not central to preaching, but it can play an informative role primarily in the areas of context and content. It is one of the sources that ought to be used to gather information about a particular text that is being preached. Other disciplines are also to be brought into the study: geography, linguistics, history, economics, politics, and so forth. Archaeology can serve to illuminate a text, that is, to help fill in the picture given by the Bible. 

 

How Archaeology and Preaching Collide

In addition to my seminary teaching, I was a Senior Pastor of a church for seven years, and I often preached both morning and evening, and now I serve as a Pastor of Preaching and Teaching at another church. I am often asked, how do I use my academic training and work in archaeology in my preaching? Do I use that material at all? The two fields of preaching and archaeology seem to be strange bedfellows. Many people do not commonly think of the two of them together. At best, they are seen as tangential. Is there a connection? Do the two relate? Does archaeology have any role in preaching? What is there point of intersection?

What Is Preaching?

The most basic form of knowledge is definition, thus our comments begin at this point. What is preaching? Phillips Brooks gave a famous definition of preaching in his Yale Lectures of 1877, in which he said, “Preaching is the communication of truth by man to men.” This is fine as far as it goes, but it is rather vague and not really helpful for our purposes. A better working definition of preaching is provided by Haddon Robinson: “Expository preaching is the communication of a biblical concept, derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical, and literary study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit first applies to the personality and experience of the preacher, then through the preacher, applies to the hearers.”1 The very heart of preaching, therefore, is the proper understanding of the Word of God and then its application to the church and the world. In brief, preaching relays to people the context, content, and consequence of a biblical passage.

Why Archaeology?

Within this working definition, archaeology is not central to preaching, but it can play an informative role primarily in the areas of context and content. It is one of the sources that ought to be used to gather information about a particular text that is being preached. Other disciplines are also to be brought into the study: geography, linguistics, history, economics, politics, and so forth. Archaeology can serve to illuminate a text, that is, to help fill in the picture given by the Bible. It can enlighten us regarding the material aspects of daily life and can help us to understand how people lived in ancient times. It illustrates for us the type of pottery they used, the coinage that was used, the type of houses they built, and so much more. Archaeology can also help us to see the broader historical contexts of the Bible, and how the biblical story fits into the overall picture of ancient Near Eastern history.

Archaeology provides an earthiness to Scripture, and it helps to anchor the texts in the realia, that is, real and everyday life.

The Wall of Jericho

A good example of the role of archaeology in informing a biblical text is a study of the story of Rahab hiding the Israelite spies at Jericho in Joshua 2 which took place in the early Iron I period. In verse 6 of that chapter, we read that Rahab had brought the spies “up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof.”

Read More

Share
Tweet
+1
Share