Before the Bible
Exactly when God first created the earth and put life on it is unknown. Close to 100 years ago, astronomers and mathematicians calculated the existence of the earth to be 2 billion years, and life on earth to be 300 million years. Through studies of the many sciences, most believe that the earth is around 4.5 billion years old. This is actually of no importance, but it’s interesting to some. All that’s important is God (Matt 6:33).
According to James Ussher (and I haven’t heard of any disagreements from anyone) the creation of us began in 4004 B.C. Genesis 1:1 says,
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
And Genesis 1:2 says, “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God (the Holy Ghost) moved upon the face of the waters.”
There are many that believe there was a wide gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.
God made us in His own image and after his likeness (Gen 1:26), and that explains why there were others before us that were not quite like us, such as Neanderthal man (around 24,000-130,000 years ago).
Neanderthals (or Neandertals) are our closest extinct human relatives. There is some debate as to whether they were a distinct species of the Homo genus (Homo neanderthalensis) or a subspecies of Homo sapiens. Our well-known, but often misunderstood, fossil kin lived in Eurasia 200,000 to 30,000 years ago, in the Pleistocene Epoch.
Neanderthal man was thick-skulled and heavy-boned; he stooped forward and could not hold his head as erect as we do. He was chinless and probably incapable of speech, he was very thick-set, not quite one of our species. Yet, his brain-case was at least as large as ours, and there can be no dispute about his inclusion in the genus Homo.
Many people believe in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, also recognized as Natural Selection or Survival of the Fitness. But where did everything come from, the Big Bang? Where did space come from so there could be a Big Bang?
Darwin’s Theory suggests that man evolved from an ameba to whatever up to the Neanderthal Man and on up to what we are today.
Problem here is that Neanderthal Man, Paleolithic Man, and Cro-Man all became extinct. Adam and Eve did not evolve from anything they were created by God.
We may not be the first beings created, but we are the first beings created in God’s likeness and after his image. And not only that, to prove how much we mean to God, everything He created, besides us, he just spoke into existence. He made us with His own hands and breathed life into us (Gen 2:7).
Archaeology and the Bible
The data recovered from archaeological excavations can be used by the biblical scholar in many ways. Archaeology has provided the basic chronology for both the Old and New Testaments. Our knowledge of the biblical languages – Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek – has greatly increased through ancient texts discovered in excavations.
Entire civilizations mentioned in the Bible have been resurrected by the work of the archaeologist. Occasionally archaeology has provided data that has clarified the meaning of a biblical text. The meaning of the term Millo in 2 Samuel 5:9 formerly puzzled scholars. Discovery of a vast stone terrace that supported structures in David’s Jerusalem – the “millo” – makes clear what the ancient term meant.
Stratigraphy and Typology
Excavation proceeds on a scientific basis by employing the twin principles of stratigraphy and typology. Stratigraphy refers to the different layers or strata that make up the tell (areas built up by successive settlement at a single site).
The first task of field work is to untangle the different layers found in the tell and establish a stratigraphic sequence. Each layer represents a separate part of the site’s overall history and must be distinguished from other layers to avoid confusion.
Archaeologists normally excavate in 5 x 5 meter squares and leave a catwalk or balk either of 1/2 or 1 meter unexcavated along the perimeter. The balk reveals the different layers to the trained eye. All objects and remains recovered from each layer are kept separate, their exact locations carefully noted.
During the last forty years, greater emphasis has been given to the principle of stratigraphy, thanks to the pioneering efforts of Kathleen Kenyon, resulting in greater precision and more accurate results.
Perhaps most importantly, archaeology has brought the biblical world to life and allowed us to understand it on its own terms. The illustrative value offered by archaeology cannot be overemphasized. Through archaeology the biblical text and the world in which it was written have been given flesh by the dedication of countless excavators working on thousands of ancient sites.
Archaeology: Recovering Ancient Societies