Saturday, March 18, 2006

Ancient alphabet offers clue to biblical history

Dr. Ron Tappy of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary displays his blockbuster find from excavations in Israel: a rock with the oldest extant example of Hebrew writing.

Archaeologists led by a Bible professor from Pittsburgh made an extraordinary discovery in Israel last summer.

Their excavation team found the oldest example of the Hebrew alphabet ever seen.
The inscription, from the 10th century B.C.E., is written in the same script as early parts of the Hebrew Bible.

“Anything written in the days of Solomon,” would have been written in this alphabet, says Dr. Ron Tappy, professor of Bible and archaeology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Tappy presented his findings at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History March 8.

The discovery supports the theory that Kings David and Solomon built a powerful kingdom that extended its influence over Judah, says Tappy. It also supports the history in the Bible, especially from I and II Kings. “Most people who have personal faith will be thrilled by (this discovery). The challenge is for the revisionists who say David and Solomon didn't exist.”

Some historical revisionists claim that the Kingdom of Judah is a myth and the Bible wasn't written until the Hellenistic period. “They claim if anybody occupied Canaan in the 12th Century B.C.E., they were illiterate,” says Tappy.

The Tel Zayit excavation proves that not only could they write, the Judeans also could build fortifications and walls of some size. (The team uncovered a circle of monoliths used to defend against invading armies.)

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