A Look at Acts 2:1-13

While considering the Role of the Bible in the Christian Intellectual tradition as explained by Robert L. Wilken in the Spirit of Early Christian Thought, I paid particular attention to the following four chapters of his book, Chapter 1 “Founded on the Cross of Christ”, Chapter 2 “An Awesome and Unbloody Sacrifice”, Chapter 4 “Seek His face Always”, and finally Chapter 7 “The reasonableness of Faith”

In chapter one of The Sprit of Early Christian Thought it becomes apparent early on that the Bible played a key role in the development of Christian Intellectual Tradition.  Certainly within the beginning of Christendom while the Apostles were still alive the Old Covenant of Scriptures played a significant role, as the majority of believers were Jewish.  But even as the church began to develop and grow and gentiles began coming to faith, there was “an attempt to penetrate more deeply into the mystery of Christ”[1] to understand the apostles teachings, “what was handed on in the churches.”[2]

Made clear by the desire of Christians to be able to defend the faith, the Bible was the source for the substance of this defense.[3]  The first writings of the church were written “by Christians for Christians.”[4]  This would include what we know of as the Gospels, and the Epistles written to the various Christian churches around the Mediterranean.[5]

In Chapter 2, of The Spirit of Early Christian Thought, the focus of discussion was on worship within the church, the Eucharist, and Trinitarian Belief, all of which circled back to a vivid love for the Word of God.  Much of the discussion had to do with the creeds of the faith which were becoming popular at the time; the Creeds were based on Tenets of the Faith procured through Scripture.[6]  The nature of the liturgy was bound to the reading of Scripture, and this often expounded upon the triune Godhead, made clear through the Scriptures.[7]  Some of the greatest Christian thinkers of this period in time were Christian Monks who would daily recite the Psalms and other Scriptures during prayer times.[8]

Adding to the tradition of the Church was the Eucharist, or the partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, while the form of prayers may vary to some extent depending on the particular church, “we know the basic shape differed little from place to place.”[9]  In partaking of the Eucharist, two elements were common, prayer, and readings from the Bible.[10]

Chapter 4, begins with a discovery in 1941, in the desert south of Cairo, Egypt of an unusual find[11], “a colloquy between Origen and a bishop from Arabia named Heraclides..”[12]  A central belief that is common to the Bible both Old and New Testament is that there is but One God, the central theme of the colloquy was that of the Trinity, in essence it came down to was the way the bishop in Arabia teaching and understanding the Scripture to be accord with the belief in one God?  What Origen discovered was the Theology of the Bishop, though sincere was flawed, and because of this dialogue the exact nature of Trinitarian belief was further explained.[13]

Chapter 7, begins by almost making you believe that faith, as it relates to Christianity almost destroyed any intellectual thought processes.  However as you dig deeper into the chapter you discover that this is not the case at all. In fact quite the contrary.  I was thrilled to read that despite criticism, and even errors on the part of well intentioned people, the church as a whole never abandoned the notion that we should continue to think.   In fact, Wilken states,  “Christian thinkers could not be summarily dismissed.”[14]  He goes on to state that, “Faith, however, is a defining term in Christian discourse.  Christianity did introduce something new to intellectual life, namely, that faith is the portal that leads to the knowledge of God.”[15]

It is clear that while sometimes complicated, faith, and intellect go hand in hand.  But what is more amazing to me, is that throughout all of Christendom the Bible was central, anytime someone of faith was bold enough to enter into the glorious throne room, they entered by faith in Christ and His scriptures, and they were key to every positively defining moment in church history.  One cannot separate the Bible from Christianity, just as they cannot separate Christ from Christianity, for Christianity without either ceases to be Christian.

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and was bewildered because each of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?”And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs – we hear them in our own tongues speaking mighty deeds of God.”  And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”  But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”

– Acts 2:1-13 (NASB)

When I got born again, and filled with the Holy Spirit, it was an incredible experience.  It wasn’t due to persuasive speech, or logic, it was an instantaneous experience for me, I wasn’t overly familiar with anything to do with Christianity, never witnessed a Holy Spirit filled church service, or anything like it, when I went to the alter that day, I was handicapped having suffered a stroke, and also having cerebral palsy.  I was instantly healed.

 

Because my experience with both Salvation and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit was so sudden, and unexpected, I relate very much to what the text says, “And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting” While I didn’t hear a noise, (though I did have some hearing loss return) it was sudden and it was a dramatic instant encounter that forever changed my life.

Being from a non-religious, Mainline Christian and Jewish culture, and then having the type of experience I had in a Pentecostal Church and being part of a churches involved in Charismatic/Pentecostal/Renewal Theology all influence my initial prejudices of the text.

My process of working through a text involves first prayer, then a reading of the text in at least 3 different English translations of the Bible, and then I note particular words of interest to me within the text and use a concordance to help grasp a better understanding of their meaning in the original languages.  I will often use Bible Commentaries Including the Baker Commentary on the Bible, and The New International Commentary on the New Testament, of course the commentary will sometimes vary depending on the book of the bible I am reading.

The church was new; in fact since the Holy Spirit just now descends upon the church in this text, the church was formed at this moment.  Culturally the world was very different, the primary languages spoken were Greek, and Aramaic.  According to one commentary, the significance of the timing of this event was important because, taking place during the festival of weeks, or Pentecost as we know call it, “Devout Men” (Jews) from all over would have come to Jerusalem[16], in fact the text speaks of men from many nations living in Jerusalem at the time.  They all heard the mysteries of God proclaimed in their own tongues… This would have likely been Italian and Asian dialects.[17]

 While I wasn’t able to gather much in the way of actual citations I do know that tow primary translations of the text are well known, 1) that the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Church in its fullness once and for all, and it was final act symbolizing the start of the church. 2) That the Holy Spirit was poured out to start the church, but that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is also a separate and distinct act which still takes place in believers after being born again.

When the Festival of Weeks had come, being 50 days after the Passover, they, the apostles and followers of Jesus, were all together in a house in Jerusalem.  Instantly God showed up in the Power of the Holy Spirit, an incredible event took place, He showed up audibly (A violent rushing wind) and he showed up visually (like tongues of fire).  All who were present, waiting this out pouring received tongues like fire from the Holy Spirit and began to proclaim the Glory of the Lord in different dialects.  The crowd heard the sound, probably of the rushing wind, but possibly of the tongues, and came to see… They were amazed at the mysteries of God being proclaimed in their native tongues, they came from all over the known world, some were curious as to the meaning of the events, and others mocked them saying, no they are only drunk!

God is glorious; he initiated a new thing on the Day of Pentecost and gave birth to the Church…

Certainly the Holy Spirit was poured out that day on the Church, in what form precisely is still a matter of debate, but the message is clear, God gave his Holy Spirit to the Church for the proclamation of the Gospel, and the New Testament church was birthed.

Regardless of one’s interpretation of the out pouring of the Holy Spirit, and regardless of time or place, as Christians we are instructed to proclaim the Gospel to every creature, we should then as Christians rely upon God to equip us, and be assured that the Holy Spirit is the presence of God that is used for that task.

Because this Holy Spirit was poured out to Jews “Devout Men” I can see myself in this message… Even as an agnostic, I wanted to believe in God, but hadn’t a clue who He was, and yet astonishingly, and instantaneously He showed up, poured himself out for me and revealed His Holy Spirit to me.

 

Bibliography

Baker, William. “Acts.” In Baker commentary on the Bible, edited by Walter A. Elwell. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2008.

Bock, Darrell L. ACTS: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007.

Bruce, F.F. The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Book of the Acts. Grand Rapids: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1988.

Gadamer, Hans-Georg. Truth and Method. New York. Bloomsbury Academic. 2013.

Wilken, Robert Louis. The Spirit of Early Christian Thought. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003.

 

[1] Robert Louis Wilken. The Spirit of Early Christian Thought. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003., 3.

[2] Ibid.

 

[3] Ibid.

 

[4] Ibid.

 

[5] Ibid.

[6] Robert Louis Wilken., 25.

 

[7] Ibid.

 

[8] Ibid., 28.

 

[9] Ibid., 29.

 

[10] Ibid., 29.

 

[11] Ibid., 80.

 

[12] Ibid., 81.

[13] Robert Louis Wilken., 81.

 

[14] Ibid. 164.

 

[15] Ibid. 165.

[16] F.F. Bruce. The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Book of the Acts. Grand Rapids: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1988., 54.

[17] F.F. Bruce., 54.

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The Calling of Saul of Tarsus

            Saul of Tarsus later known as Paul, a persecutor of Christians has an encounter with Jesus Christ that will forever change his life. The complexity of his life and spiritual journey and the resulting call on his life that is evident after his encounter with Christ will forever change the Christian faith.

In the Bible, in the Book of the Acts the reader finds mention of the one named Saul, a persecutor of Christians, who being sent by the Chief Priest from Jerusalem to deliver Arrest Warrants for Christians, has an encounter with the Risen Lord that forever changes not only his life, but the direction of a sect of Judaism known as “the way” into a completely new religion, which would become the Christian faith.   This new faith which until this point had consisted of Jewish followers will very quickly become more and more “gentile” all because of the influence of this Jewish scholar from Tarsus, Saul.

BACKGROUND OF SAUL

            From the book of Acts it is hard to get a full sense of the background of who Saul was, however from what can be learned from the Acts of his background a picture quickly develops.  The picture of Saul, his eventual conversion, and ensuing ministry cannot be fully understood without at least some study and the drawing of parallels to the accounts written of by Luke, and the Apostle Paul’s words in his epistles.[3] This picture while probably not complete, does help paint the picture that later develops the readers of Acts understanding of the complete work of the Cross in even the worst of sinners. There is very little in the way of historical records about the person Saul, in fact what, according to Jeffrey Sheler, “Most of what is known of [Saul] Paul comes from his own [New Testament] writings and the Acts of the Apostles.”[4]  And while little else is known apart from these records a few things are certain, Saul was a fervent persecutor of early Christians.  Some scholars have even speculated that he was a part of a group of Pharisees known as Shammaite Pharisees, who were not only strict interpreters of Jewish Law, but also believed to have been possibly quite violent in their efforts to uphold what they believed to be the letter of Jewish Law.[5]

From the Book of Acts alone, we know that he was born in Tarsus, a pupil of Gamilel, and a Pharisee.(Acts 22:3)[6]  This while not a complete biography, seems to be enough of one to support what Luke is trying to accomplish with the narrative of Acts.  The question then must be asked, what is Luke trying to accomplish with his limited background of this man Saul?  Why is a man with such a limited biography given so much time in the pages of Luke’s account of the Acts of the Apostles?

.Saul was not one of the original twelve disciples of Jesus, he was not one of the ones originally chosen by Jesus to be an apostle, in fact he wasn’t even led to faith by any one of the twelve.  What is even more startling, as we can note from the Book of Acts is that very often Paul as he was later known found himself at odds with the Apostles, in his teaching, in his desire to convert Gentiles.   Yet, none of these facts seemed to deter him from going forward with his willingness to fulfill what can only be considered what he believed to be a call from the Jesus himself.[7]

SAUL’S PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS

                We know from Acts 8 that Saul was present at the stoning death of Stephen and that he was instrumental in the ongoing persecution of Christians. Act 8:1-3 reads,  “ And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.”  While this account itself is significant enough to substantiate the insurmountable persecution that followers of Jesus experienced at both the hands and witnessed by Saul what is not clear is how this persecution if at all played a role in his eventual conversion experience.

However, it could be inferred that Saul did understand at the eventual moment of his conversion that he too would experience persecution by his previous contemparies.  Also one must wonder, if the fact that Saul a persecutor of Christians, who later as the apostle Paul experienced persecution himself, somehow could by his own experience better encourage fellow believers.  F.F. Bruce wrote, “The members of those churches needed to be encouraged: they had seen Paul and Barnabas violently assaulted and driven out, and they themselves had certainly had to endure some measure of persecution.”[8]

This, however, is the life a Christian is called to live, and it makes a person wonder, was this all part of God’s divine plan?  Bruce goes on to write,   “It is almost taken for granted throughout the New Testament that tribulation is the normal lot of Christians in this age: it is those who suffer for and with Christ now who will share his glory.”[9]  Saul himself would know this better than most, for as apostle he wrote, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Rom 8:17 NIV)

SAUL’S CONFRONTATION WITH JESUS

            In Acts the ninth chapter again Luke’s narrative turns back to Saul, for it reads, “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:1-2 NIV)  Such was Saul’s mission as he left for Damascus, to find people of “the Way” that he could arrest and return to Jerusalem to face trial or possible death.   It is on this trip however that a series of events take place that will forever alter the course of Saul’s life.  Luke writes,

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”  “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.  “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”  The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. (ACTS 9:3-7 NIV)

While it is apparent from this account that the events that unfolded on this day for Saul where life changing there is no indication that Saul himself had yet to experience a full conversion to the Christian faith.  What began that day was not complete but it did set into motion what Bruce would call the beginning of a “conversion of will, intellect, and emotion which dictate the abiding purpose and direction of his subsequent life and activity.”[10]

Wendell Meyer describes this encounter this way, “that singular moment, as dramatic and important as it proved to be, was only the first installment in the conversion of Blessed Paul the Apostle”[11]  Meyer goes on to describe this singular event as a “catalyst”[12] that set into motion the rest of the events that led to his eventual conversion and call.

SAUL’S CONVERSION AND CALL

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord–Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here–has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus.  At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. (Acts 9:17-20 NIV)

While from the above account from Scripture it would appear that Saul’s conversion and call were instantaneous a deeper reading of the scripture would seem to indicate something quite the contrary.  In the days leading up to the point in which Ananias laid hands on Saul and he was filled with the Holy Spirit, Saul spent three days in prayer and fasting.(Acts 9:10-16)  Not being able to see in a natural sense, it would appear was a good thing for Saul, for it forced him to look inward, and while this itself is not explicit in Luke’s account, we do know that Saul fasted, whether of necessity or choice is not clear, but he did go without food.  It is also clear, that Saul prayed, and eventually had a vision, obviously a spiritual vision and not something he saw with his physical eyes, because at this point Saul was still blind from his confrontation with Jesus.  In this vision Saul learned that a man named Ananias would come to him and he would then see again, both naturally and in a way, new vision spiritually as well.

After the three days, Ananias comes to Paul and greets him as brother, lays hand on his head, and commissions him both into the church and presumably for service.  Immediately Saul is baptized and eats food and according to Bruce  receives, “a return of bodily strength accompanied the influx of new spiritual power.”[13]

CONCLUSION

            What started as a catalyst, an encounter with the risen Lord Jesus, led to eventual conversion and call of a man named Saul of Tarsus who became Paul the Apostle.  This a series of events forever changed Christianity.  How did this fit into the narrative of the Book of Acts?  Fittingly because it was Paul who first understood and was able to successfully lead many gentiles to Christ.  It was Paul who possibly because he was not one of the original tweleve apostles felt that he did not have to answer to them, that he was able to trust more fully in Christ for his direction and freedom.  To equate Christianity with a liberty known apart from the Jewish law, that the other apostles understood.  It was Paul, who knew Christ only as the risen Lord, and not as the other apostles the man Jesus.  Paul had a different experience than the other apostles, something much like many Christians throughout the ages, not first knowing the man Jesus, but knowing the Risen Savior, Christ out Lord.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bock, Darrell L. Acts. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007.

Bruce, F.F. The Book of the Acts. Revised. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1988.

Cross, J.A., and R.B. Rackham. “The Historocity of Acts.” Journal of Theological Studies 50, no. 2 (1999): 515-534.

Du Toit, Andrie B. “A Tale of Two Cities: ‘Tarsus or Jerusalem’.” New Testament Studies 46, no. 3 (July 2000): 375-402.

Elwell, Walter A., ed. Evangelical Dictionairy of Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001.

Fitzmyer, Joseph A. The Acts of The Apostles: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. New York: Doubleday, 1998.

Last, Richard. “”What purpose did Paul understand his mission to serve?”.” Harvard Theological Review 104, no. 3 (2011): 299-324.

Meyer, Wendel W. “Sermon: The Conversion of St. Paul.” Anglican Theological Review 85, no. 1 (Winter 2003): 13-17.

Pabel, Hilmar M. “Retelling the History of the Early Church.” Church History 69, no. 1 (March 2000): 63-85.

Sheler, Jeffery L. “Reassessing an Apostle.” U.S. News & World Report, April 5, 1999: 52-56.

Wallace, Richard, and Wynne Williams. The Three Worlds of Paul of Tarsus. New York: Routledge, 1998.


[1] Fitzmyer, Joseph A. The Acts of The Apostles: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Doubleday, 1998. 133.

[2] Meyer, Wendel W. “Sermon: The Conversion of St. Paul.” Anglican Theological Review 85, no. 1 (Winter 2003): 13.

[3] Cross, J.A., and R.B. Rackham. “The Historocity of Acts.” Journal of Theological Studies 50, no. 2 (1999): 521.

[4] Sheler, Jeffery L. “Reassessing an Apostle.” U.S. News & World Report, April 5, 1999: 52-56.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Fitzmyer, Joseph A. The Acts of The Apostles: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Doubleday, 1998. 133.

[7] Sheler, Jeffery L. “Reassessing an Apostle.” U.S. News & World Report, April 5, 1999: 52-56.

[8] Bruce, F.F. The Book of the Acts. Revised. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1988. 280.

[9] Bruce, F.F. The Book of the Acts. Revised. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1988. 280.

[10] Bruce, F.F. The Book of the Acts. Revised. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1988. 183.

[11] Meyer, Wendel W. “Sermon: The Conversion of St. Paul.” Anglican Theological Review 85, no. 1 (Winter 2003): 14

[12] Ibid.

[13] Bruce, F.F. The Book of the Acts. Revised. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1988. 189.

“Advice is what we ask for when we alre

“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t” – Erica Mann Jong

“If it is in the Bible, it is so. It’s

“If it is in the Bible, it is so. It’s not even to be prayed about. It’s to be
received and acted upon. Inactivity is a robber which steals blessings. Increase comes
by action, by using what we have and know. Your life must be one of going on from faith
to faith.” – Smith Wigglesworth

“No one can make you feel inferior witho

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

“Friendship is born at that moment when

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
― C.S. Lewis

WILLIAM FOXWELL ALBRIGHT

The following is from a paper I wrote on William Albright.  I hope you enjoy!

 

Introduction

Biblical Archaeology as the name implies is, the branch of archeology that refers “to the science of excavation, decipherment, and critical evaluation of ancient material records related to the Bible.”[1]  Archaeology to some extent or another has always been linked to the Bible.  Most in the field of archaeology would agree that father of Biblical archaeology is none other than William Foxwell Albright.  It is because of his contributions to the field that have paved the way for many students of both the Bible and Archaeology.

            Seymour Gitin writing about Albright said, “He would become a driving force behind a revolution in biblical studies and in the study of the history and religion of ancient Israel.”[2]  Albright was born on May 24, 1891 the oldest of six children,[3] in Coquimbo, Chile to Wilbur and Zephine Albright; American Methodist Missionaries, who were involved in missionary activities in Chile at the time of Albright’s birth.[4]

            As a young boy Albright struggled fitting in with Children of his own age, which has been explained because he was a Methodist living in a predominately Catholic area, an American, and from some reports had visual handicaps which prevented him from participating in regular outdoor activities that were common of children his age.[5]

Early Years

            His earliest education into what would later in life catapult him into the field of Biblical archaeology began at the age of eight when he began to read extensively from his father’s personal library.[6]  At age twelve he along with the rest of his family moved back to the United States, at which time his father ordained in the Methodist Church pastored several small church in Iowa.[7]  As a result of his parents affiliation one publication in particular was a common read for a young Albright, the Methodist Review, this publication which was common in the homes of ministers of the Methodist church included a monthly section, “Archaeology and Bible.”[8]  This publication obviously further aroused the interest that was taking a stronghold in Albright’s life.

            Formal Education and Beyond

            Albright with his initial interest peeked by the readings from his father’s library, sought a formal education that would eventually pave the way for him to become “the father of biblical archaeology.”   He began his college education at Upper Iowa University, where he majored in Latin, Greek, and mathematics.[9]  After completing his degree at Upper Iowa University he taught high school level math and science for a year in Menno, South Dakota.[10]  With extra time on his hands he spent this year studying Akkadian, having previously learned German, Greek, Hebrew and Latin. [11]

            Shortly thereafter, he was accepted into the John Hopkins University Oriental Seminar, and after another summer working as a farm hand in the Midwest he began his formal graduate education.  During his second year he began work on “his doctoral dissertation on the recently discovered Assyrian Deluge Epic.”[12]

            He went on to receive his PhD in June 1916 from John Hopkins, and was awarded the Thayer fellowship by the American Schools of Oriental Research in 1919[13] to promote on-site study in the Near East.[14]  Because of political unrest in the area it was considered unsafe to travel and Albright decided to stay at John Hopkins for another two years during which time he taught Semitic languages.[15] In 1920 he became the director American School in Jerusalem.[16]

            Contributions to Archaeology

            While some would argue that Albright spent limited time on actual excavations, his experiences and his knowledge were significant.  It is because of Albrights contributions to Archaeology and while lacking his own prudence in field methodology, he did insist on keeping field journals, that the practice became common place.[17]  In fact, it wasn’t until well after Albright had left field archaeology behind, that he began to write extensively on the purposes and importance of proper methodology of field excavations.[18] 

 

 

Albright, a supporter of the bible used his knowledge of history, and what he learned from Archeological discovery to counter views of Archaeologist such as Julius Wellhausen, “a German higher critic whose Documentary Hypothesis taught there was no real history in the Bible…”[19]  In a challenge to Wellhausen teaching, Albright wrote,

Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition of the Bible as source of history.[20]

 

For many scholars and archaeologist the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah is often believed to be just another story, purely fiction.  In fact according to Randal Price, Theodore Gaster called it a, “purely mythical tale.”[21]

However, Albright being the man who he was believed the Bible to be historically accurate, and had theorized that not only was the Biblical story of the cities true but that they were located beneath the waters south of the Lisan peninsula.[22]  In 1924, together with Reverend M. Kyle he led an expedition to investigate the area, lacking equipment to properly confirm his theory.

It wasn’t until 1960 that Ralph Baney explored the sea floor using both divers and sonar equipment; while Baney did prove that Albright’s theory regarding the waters of the Dead Sea had in fact risen and submerged ancient land areas, he could find no evidence to support Albright claims that there were buried remains of ancient cities.[23]

However during his search Albright did discover on land on the eastern shore in Transjordan man-made structures.  At one site which is known as Babe dh-Dhra, “he found the remains of a heavily fortified and settled community with walled buildings, an extensive open-air settlement, houses, numerous cemeteries and scattered artifacts- all signs that a large population had once lived there.”[24]

While this first site was promising at first, Albright dated the site to the third millennium or Early Bronze Age, and further concluded that the site was used predominately as a pilgrimage center, and while possibly connected to a Biblical Sodom or Gomorrah were not the cities in question.[25]

Whether or not one believes the evidence supports a biblical Sodom and Gomorrah is up for debate, however it was on the theories of the man W.F. Albright that the remains of a once unknown settlement were found in area that could reasonably be believed to be Sodom and Gomorrah.

            Another area in which Albright had a profound impact was in calling into question the date for the Conquest of Jericho.  Albright himself had previously agreed with the date of 1400 B.C. based on the time frames established by the Bible itself.  However, following his excavations of Beitin.  Albright identified Beitin as the biblical Bethel and determined through his findings a destruction level datable to 1250 B.C. he revised his dating of the conquest.[26]

Whether or not this dating of the conquest is accurate is still up for debate, however, because as Price points out, “there were many other invaders coming into Israel during this time that could have been responsible for the destruction.  In 1230 B.C. the Egyptian pharaoh Mernepath conducted some raids…as well as the newly arrived Philistines, who were aggressively seeking to expand their territory.”[27]

           

            Conclusion

            W.F. Albright through his encyclopedic knowledge of Biblical [D1] places, events, and history has left a lasting legacy to the field of Archaeology which biblical maximalist can proud of.  Though his doctrinal views may sometimes veer from orthodoxy, he did hold to the truth that Christianity regardless of the lesser fundamental beliefs, was a belief in Christ and Christ alone as savior. Stating at another time he held to the “essential authenticity of New Testament writings”[28]  While nothing in Archaeology can confirm the spiritual implications and truths of Scripture for the individual searching for religious truth, and nothing can confirm the without question the miracles contained in the pages of the Bible.  Archaeology can help us to as Price put it, “read between the lines and affirm what was thought to be impossible to certify…”[29]   Speaking on the subject Albright is recorded as saying,

Though archaeology can thus clarify the history and geography of ancient Palestine, it cannot explain the basic miracle of Israel’s faith, which remains a unique factor in world history.  But archaeology can help enormously in making the miracle rationally plausible to an intelligent person whose vision is not shortened by a materialistic world view .[30]

           

               

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Albright, William F. “From Abraham to Joseph.” The Biblical Archaeologist (The American Schools of Oriental Research) 36, no. 1 (February 1973): 5-33.

Alter, Stephen G. “From Babylon to Christianity: William Foxwell Albright on Myth, Folklore, and Christian Origins.” Journal of Religious History, March 2012: 1-18.

Davies, Philip. “What Seperates a Minimalist from a Maximalist?” Biblical Archaeology Review 26, no. 2 (Mar/Apr 2000): 24-27.

Dressel, J.P. “Reading Between the Lines: W.F. Albright “in” the Field and “on” the Field.” Near Eastern Archaeology 65, no. 1 (March 2002): 43-50.

Freedman, D.N, and L. Lederer. William Foxwell Albright. Vol. 1, in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 234-235. Detroit, Michigan, 2003.

Freedman, David Noel, ed. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm B Eerdmans Publishing, 2000.

Gittin, Seymour. “The House Thar Albright Built.” Near Eastern Archaeology 65, no. 1 (March 2002): 5-10.

Keiger, Dale. The Great Authenticator. April 2000. http://www.jhu.edu/~jhumag/0400web/32.html (accessed December 11, 2012).

Pfeiffer, Charles, ed. Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers/Baker Book House, 2000.

Price, J. Randall. The Stones Cry Out. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1997.


[1] Price, J. Randall. The Stones Cry Out. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1997: 26.

[2] Gittin, Seymour. “The House Thar Albright Built.” Near Eastern Archaeology 65, no. 1 (March 2002): 5.

[3] Alter, Stephen G. “From Babylon to Christianity: William Foxwell Albright on Myth, Folklore, and Christian Origins.” Journal of Religious History, March 2012:4.

[4] Freedman, D.N, and L. Lederer. William Foxwell Albright. Vol. 1, in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 234-235. Detroit, Michigan, 2003: 234,235.

[5] Alter, Stephen G. “From Babylon to Christianity: William Foxwell Albright on Myth, Folklore, and Christian Origins.” Journal of Religious History, March 2012: 4.

[6] Alter, Stephen G. “From Babylon to Christianity: William Foxwell Albright on Myth, Folklore, and Christian Origins.” Journal of Religious History, March 2012: 4.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Alter, Stephen G. “From Babylon to Christianity: William Foxwell Albright on Myth, Folklore, and Christian Origins.” Journal of Religious History, March 2012: 5,6.

[10] Ibid. 6.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Alter, Stephen G. “From Babylon to Christianity: William Foxwell Albright on Myth, Folklore, and Christian Origins.” Journal of Religious History, March 2012: 7.

[13] Gittin, Seymour. “The House Thar Albright Built.” Near Eastern Archaeology 65, no. 1 (March 2002):5

[14] Alter, Stephen G. “From Babylon to Christianity: William Foxwell Albright on Myth, Folklore, and Christian Origins.” Journal of Religious History, March 2012: 7.

[15] Ibid. 7.

[16] Gittin, Seymour. “The House Thar Albright Built.” Near Eastern Archaeology 65, no. 1 (March 2002): 6.

[17] Dressel, J.P. “Reading Between the Lines: W.F. Albright “in” the Field and “on” the Field.” Near Eastern Archaeology 65, no. 1 (March 2002): 44.

[18] Ibid. 45.

[19] Price, J. Randall. The Stones Cry Out. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1997. 324.

[20] Ibid. 325

[21] Ibid. 110

[22] Ibid. 113.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Price, J. Randall. The Stones Cry Out. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1997. 114.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Price, J. Randall. The Stones Cry Out. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1997. 145.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Alter, Stephen G. “From Babylon to Christianity: William Foxwell Albright on Myth, Folklore, and Christian Origins.” Journal of Religious History, March 2012:7.

[29] Price, J. Randall. The Stones Cry Out. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1997. 263

[30] Ibid. 262


 

 

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