The Greatest Commandment and Archeology

First I will share the greatest commandment and then I will share how I think archeology can relate to it.

34 But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him: 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment.” 39  -Matthew 22:34-39

Jesus said that we are not only to love God with all our heart and soul, but with ALL OUR MIND. Does it sound like He wanted us to turn off our minds when we consider spiritual things? No, it sounds like using our minds is one of the most important things. As we study the Bible, are we allowed to use our intellect to help us learn? It certainly sounds like it. Not only are we allowed to use our minds, we are supposed to. I believe the Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit and, as we read it, the Holy Spirit can help us to understand things we might not understand otherwise. At the same time, we are to use the mind that God has given us to search the scriptures like those whom Paul called “noble-minded” in the city of Berea: “for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11)

I read many views on this verse particularly noting the different ideas about what the mind represents. The one I liked the most stated: “Our mind is the faculty of understanding, what enables us to imagine and think and reason.”

Archeology is “the study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and the analysis of artifacts and other physical remains.” Any “study” involves thinking and reasoning. Obviously, thinking and reasoning is done with our minds, thus, the connection between the greatest commandment and archeology. As the Bible is a historical book which discusses the past, present, and future, it is subject to archeological review as much as any other book if not more so because of its claims.

In High School, I cut my teeth on a book titled “Evidence that demands a Verdict, Historical Evidences for the Christian Faith” by Josh McDowell. Few titles better describe a book and there is a chapter in the book that is called “The Reliability of the Bible” that has a part called “Confirmation by Archaeology.” It is a relatively short portion of the book but one of the quotes found there is by Millar Burroughs, American biblical scholar, a leading authority on the Dead Sea scrolls and professor emeritus at Yale Divinity School:

“On the whole…archaeological work has unquestionably strengthened confidence in the reliability of the Scriptural record.”

I understand that much of the content of the Bible is questioned in our day including the historic accuracy that it contains. I would be the last person, at this time, to try and explain that we have evidences for everything in scripture. However, I think archaeology is an interesting area where we continue to learn as discoveries are made.

The Associates for Biblical Research track archeological finds that relate to the Bible. Below, I have featured several of the many videos they have made of exciting archeological finds for Christian believers. There is no question that there is disagreement on the intersection of the Bible and archaeology. Here is an article that proves this. It must be noted, however, that Christians have reasonable cause to be excited by the thousands of tangible finds that seem to validate the historicity of the Bible.

Here is the video that inspired this post:

Since I have made the case that the Christian is to use his/her mind, other Bible verses must be mentioned. The Bible puts our intelligence in perspective:

34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? -Romans 11

16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? -1 Corinthians 2

And then there is these verses (two of the most recognized verses of scripture):

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

-Proverbs 3

There will be times when things are not so easy to understand: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known (1 Cor. 13:12).

So, no matter how much we study, and we should wish to be like the “noble-minded” Bereans, we will only know things in part in this life. That is a given. When these times occur, the verses from Proverbs 3 instruct us.

May God bless your study of His Word.

Chris Reimers

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Recent articles about the final video above:

Israeli Archaeologists Find Biblical Name ‘Jerubbaal’ Inked on Pot From Judges Era

Rare ‘book of Judges’-era inscription found in southern Israel

3 Responses to The Greatest Commandment and Archeology

  1. SLIMJIM says:

    Good post! I too cut my teeth with apologetics’ with Josh McDowell’s classic:

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