More on Biblical Archaeology

In a very interesting article, “Is Glueck’s Aim to Prove that the Bible Is True?” (Biblical Archaeologist 22.4 [1959], pp 101-108), George E. Wright continues on the topic of contrasting Biblical Archaeology proper with “proving the Bible.” After the publication of Nelson Glueck’s Rivers in the Desert: A History of the Negeb, a non-technical introduction to his post-War survey of the Negev, J. J. Finkelstein took issue with some of Glueck’s statements, namely this quite striking pronouncement on p. 31 of that book: “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference.” There is also Glueck’s reference to “the almost incredibly accurate historical memory of the Bible, and particularly so when it is fortified by archaeological fact” (p. 68). And while Finkelstein is also reported in the article to have taken issue with some statements of Wright, these two are of more interest, particularly for discovering a seemingly purposeful misreading of intention through selective quotation or memory on Finkelstein’s part.

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Who bowed the heavens, bowed His head

The Forerunner beheld our Enlightenment, who has brought light to all mankind, draw near for baptism: and he rejoiced in soul while his hand trembled. And he shewed Him to the people, saying: ‘Behold, the Redeemer of Israel, who sets us free from corruption.’ O sinless Christ our God, glory to Thee.

The hosts of angels were filled with fear, as they saw our Deliverer baptized by a servant and receiving witness through the coming of the Spirit. And the Father’s voice was heard from on high: ‘He upon whom the Forerunner lays his hand, the same is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.’ O Christ our God, glory to Thee!

The streams of the Jordan received Thee who art the fountain, and the Comforter descended in the form of a dove. He who bowed the heavens, bowed His head, and the clay cried aloud to Him that formed him: ‘Why dost Thou command of me what lies beyond my power? For I have need to be baptized of Thee.’ O sinless Christ our God, glory to Thee!

Wishing to save man gone astray, Thou has not disdained to clothe Thyself in the form of a servant. For it befitted Thee, as Master and God, to take upon Thyself our nature for our sakes. For Thou, O Deliverer, hast been baptized in the flesh, making us worthy of forgiveness. Therefore we cry unto Thee: O Christ our God and Benefactor, glory to Thee!

Hymn, Tone Two, From Vespers of Theophany, by John the Monk; tr. from The Festal Menaion

Epiphany

‘Lord Babe, if Thou art He
     We sought for patiently,
Where is Thy court?
Hither may prophecy and star resort;
Men heed not their report.’—
     ‘Bow down and worship, righteous man:
     This infant of a span
     Is He man sought for since the world began!’—
‘Then, Lord, accept my gold, too base a thing
For Thee, of all kings King.’—

‘Lord Babe, despite Thy youth
I hold Thee of a truth
Both Good and Great:
But wherefore dost Thou keep so mean a state,
Low-lying desolate?’—
     ‘Bow down and worship, righteous seer:
     The Lord our God is here
     Approachable, Who bids us all draw near.’—
‘Wherefore to Thee I offer frankincense,
Thou Sole Omnipotence.’—

‘But I have only brought
Myrrh; no wise afterthought
Instructed me
To gather pearls or gems, or choice to see
Coral or ivory.’—
     ‘Not least thine offering proves thee wise:
     For myrrh means sacrifice,
     And He that lives, this Same is He that dies.’—
‘Then here is myrrh: alas, yea woe is me
That myrrh befitteth Thee.’—

Myrrh, frankincense, and gold:
And lo from wintry fold
Good-will doth bring
A Lamb, the innocent likeness of this King
Whom stars and seraphs sing:
     And lo the bird of love, a Dove,
     Flutters and coos above:
     And Dove and Lamb and Babe agree in love:—
Come all mankind, come all creation hither,
Come, worship Christ together.

Christina Georgina Rossetti, before 1866