I hate to be the one to tell you this. I am not an archaeologist. My major area of study is Hebrew Bible [of which Archaeology is a related area]. I enjoy reading books on linguistics, logic, Hebrew grammar, and Hermeneutics. However, in studying Hebrew grammar, I have studied several inscriptions to understand the history of the Hebrew language. In fact, I got to take a class last semester from Dr. Lawson Younger called West Semitic Inscriptions, where we learned how to read the paleo-Hebrew script, and read the works of some of the greatest scholars in the area of the study of some major West Semitic Inscriptions.
Anyway, I went to my fiance's church last sunday, and one of the members of her congregation asked me if I had heard that Jeremiah's seal had been found. Now, you have to be skeptical about these things. There are so many sensationalists out there with no credibility whatsoever that you need to know where the story is coming from. However, I recognized the word "seal," as we had studied seals in West Semitic Inscriptions class. Hence, since it fit the time of Jeremiah, I thought I should at least do a Google search on it.
What I found was, not that archaeologists have found Jeremiah's seal, but the seal of one of Jeremiah's accusers from Jeremiah 38. And, the lady who found it, is Eliat Mazar, one of Israel's top archaeologists, to whom my professor, Dr. James Hoffmeier, even said was reliable. The letters are exactly the same as those found in the Hebrew Bible. Here is a photo of the seal. For those who cannot read the paleo-Hebrew script, I will write it in square letters beneath, and then, just to give you an idea, of how perfectly they match the Hebrew Bible, I will post the text of Jeremiah 38:1 so you can see exactly how they match up:
Jeremiah 38:1: ‘lk;Wyw> rWxêv.P;-!B, ‘Why"’l.d:g>W !T'ªm;-!b, hy"åj.p;v. [m;úv.YIw:
As you can see, the Hebrew characters used in the seal are identical with the Hebrew characters in Jeremiah 38. The seal just simply reads, "[Belonging] to Gedaliah Son of Pashhur." These seals were used to seal envolopes, and to mark ownership certain pottery. What I found interesting about this seal is not only that it bears a name straight out of the Hebrew Bible, but also that it bears a name which is Egyptian in origin, namely, the name Pashhur. It is Egyptian for, , "The son of Horus."
This is an interesting find on so many levels. Yet, it is gotten nothing as far as media attention. Go look on CNN.com or msnbc.com. However, the whole "Jesus tomb" nonsense a few years ago was repeated ad infinitum ad nauseum. Yet was a horrendus example of scholarship as even unbelieving archaeologists are willing to admit. Also, remember the "Gabrael's Revelation" tablet that got a whole lot of media attention a few months ago. It seems like if it can be interpreted in any way to be against the Christian faith, the liberal media will make mention of it. However, when it comes to finds like this one that can only be interpreted as consistent with the Christian faith, the liberal media completely ignores it. The hypocracy is too unbelievable for words.
I have a feeling that, if we complained, we would probably get a response similar to that of Israel Finkelstein. I found an interesting quotation from him on Wikipedia the other day. He was going after Mazar's methodology, and he said, "The biblical text dominates this field operation, not archaeology." In other words, by it's very nature, archaeology cannot be Biblical!!!!!! He starts with the premise that archaeology can have nothing to do with the Biblical text, and low and behold, when we go out and do the research, the archaeological find has nothing to do with the Biblical text. Note that this is a presupposition that Finkelstein brings to the discussion a priori. According to him, the Bible has nothing of historical, archaeological value to say, period. That is a presupposition that needs to be challanged right of the bat. Being a Van Tillian, I would argue that, because Finkelstein rejects the Bible as inerrant revelation from God, he cannot make sense out of the very archaeology he is doing. He assumes that he can do archaeology autonomiously from God, and yet, I would argue that he has to rely upon the truth of the scriptures to even do his archaeology.
Interestingly enough, my professor, Dr. James Hoffmeier has caught Finkelstein doing just that. In his book Israel in Egypt, the Evidence for the Authenticity of the Exodus Tradition [Oxford University Press. New York, NY. 1996. see pages 31-32], Dr. Hoffmeier discusses Finkelstein's attempted reconstruction of the origins of Israel in a monograph he wrote in 1988 called The Archaeology of the Israelite Settlement (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society). Hoffmeier first summarizes Finkelstein's argument. He says that Finkelstein tries to argue that the Cannanite culture declined in the sixteenth century B.C., and a significant part of the population became nomadic. Then there was a resettlement in the Late Bronze Age, and this resettlement became known as "Israel." The way he tries to argue for this is to show that there were shrines at Shiloh dating from this period that are very large relative to their population, and thus, the people must have been nomadic. However, what Hoffmeier points out about Finkelstein's methodology in arguing for the idea that these are Israelite is instructive. Hoffmeier points out that he offers no extrabiblical evidence from this, but argues from the importance of Shiloh in Joshua. Even when he tries to link these cites to ancient Israel from various aspects, Hoffmeier shows that he is, even at this point, relying upon what the book of Joshua says about them. Such is amazing hypocracy from a man who does not believe that archaeology should have anything to do with the Biblical text! The reason for this is that even Finkelstein is created in the image of God, and he knows deep down in his heart, that he cannot even do his archaeology without revelation from God.
You will find this same problem in The New York Times as well when they talked about Mazar after she found what she believed to be the palace of David. Consider this quotation from this very article:
Hani Nur el-Din, a Palestinian professor of archaeology at Al Quds University, said he and his colleagues considered biblical archaeology an effort by Israelis "to fit historical evidence into a biblical context." He added: "The link between the historical evidence and the biblical narration, written much later, is largely missing. There's a kind of fiction about the 10th century. They try to link whatever they find to the biblical narration. They have a button, and they want to make a suit out of it."
Even Israeli archaeologists are not so sure that Ms. Mazar has found the palace - the house that Hiram, king of Tyre, built for the victorious king, at least as Samuel 2:5 describes it. It may also be the Fortress of Zion that David conquered from the Jebusites, who ruled Jerusalem before him, or some other structure about which the Bible is silent.
I think we could rewrite that whole first paragraph to display the bias of "historical minimalists," as Dr. Hoffmeier calls them:
Historical minimalism is an effort to fit historical information into an exclusively extrabiblical context. The link between historical evidence and Biblical narration, [written very close to the events] is very strong. The Bible provides us the history of the tenth century. The historical minimalists will do anything they can to avoid any connection between the Biblical text and archaeology.
Notice how the shoe is on the other foot now. You see, the historical minimalists have their presuppositions as well.
Mr El-Din likewise has his presuppositions. In fact, [and the New York Times completely ignores this], Al Quds University is an Arab university! You don't think that this Arab professor has his biases? Again, totally left out, and totally ignored.
Of course, I am not accusing them for this. We all have our presuppositions. However, what I *do* criticise them for is not recognizing their presuppositions as well as holding to presuppositions that cannot provide the preconditions for the intellegability of reality. This is where I believe the discussion needs to go.
For instance, as a case in point, after dismissing the Bible as historically accurate, this article then relies upon the Bible by giving the Fortress of Zion as a possible palace for David. How can that be a possible palace of David if the Bible is unreliable to tell us that such a place existed in the first place! If archaeology cannot be formed by the Biblical text, as these people say, why is it that they rely upon the Bible so much when they get in trouble?
These prejudices keep coming up in this article. Note for instance:
Archaeologists debate "to what extent Jerusalem was an important city or even a city in the time of David and Samuel," he said. "Some believe it was tiny and the kingdom unimportant." The site of ancient Jerusalem, stuck between two valleys on a ridge south of the Temple Mount, is very small, less than 10 acres.
Israel Finkelstein, another renowned archaeologist, has suggested that without significant evidence, Jerusalem in this period was "perhaps not more than a typical hill-country village."
Notice how Finkelstein automatically assumes that, because of silence, it is "perhaps not more than a typical hill-country village." This is simply a logical fallacy. Simply because someone doesn't have evidence for something doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. For instance, up until the nineteenth century, no one could find any evidence that the Hittites existed. Now, we have not only discovered Hittite archaeological sites, but we have also discovered their language and their literature, and, in the process, discovered the earliest Indo-European language known to man.
You see, Finkelstein's argument must assume that we have adequate knowledge of the archaeology of Jerusalem. The problem is that there is so much more work yet to be done, and, in point of fact, the political instability of the area has contributed to the inability to do archaeology. Hence, Finkelstein's argument not only is an argument from silence [which is always a logical fallacy], but, in order for one to even have an inductive argument [i.e: it is not likely that any evidence will turn up], one must rely upon an adequate knowledge of the Archaeology of Jerusalem, which is something we simply do not have.
Finally, and I think most devistatingly showing Finkelstein's bias, what does the statement "without significant evidence, Jerusalem in this period was 'perhaps not more than a typical hill-country village.'" assume? That the Bible is not "significant evidence." Pure and simple. Again, Finklestein's atheistic view of archaeology is shining through plain as day. Yet, it is quoted at the end of this article, as if it were somehow significant, that one of the reasons why the dig was undertaken was to prove the accuracy of the Biblical account. So what. Everyone has their presuppositions. Reasoning is impossible without them. As we have seen, these people quoted in this article are just as biased as the people who were doing the dig, and it is sad to see this completely slip under the radar.
However, I have to say one more thing in relation to the seal I discussed at the beginning. Finklestein has, indeed, commented on it, and his comments are very telling:
Dozens of bullas from the period already have been found, some of which turned out to be fakes," he said
In other words, rather than be driven to counter-example of his view that archaeology cannot be Biblical, he is willing to make the outragious statement that this might have been a forgery. As Dr. Hoffmeier told us in class, forgeries are simply not found on controlled digs like this. It is amazing to see a brilliant man like Finklestein say some of these things all because he refuses to recognize the presuppositions he brings to the table.
I suspect this is why the liberal media has not made too much of this story. The only way that this story can be interpreted is as consistent with the Bible. Now, I am obviously not resting my Christian faith on this discovery. I am a Christian because of the fact that only Christianity can provide any way to know anything. However, I think it is amazing when this seal is not even mentioned by CNN.com, msnbc.com, and abcnews.com, and yet, they promote the whole "Lost Tomb of Jesus" nonsense. It is an abosolutely unbelievable demonstration of bias from people who are "just publishing the facts."