- - Wednesday, February 28, 2018

One of the surprising joys of writing my latest book has been to discover that my co-author’s wife was set to publish a book too — and the topic is one that I’ve searched for years to find. And I mean that literally, as I recall asking my Bible professors in college if they knew of a book that does what Lisette Bassett-Brody has accomplished in her new release, Etched in Stone: Archeological Discoveries That Prove the Bible.

The book has already been a bestseller at Amazon and comes with endorsements from big name folks. But beyond the promotional sizzle, there is a serious amount of steak in this book. And it is beautifully laid out and illustrated–a true joy on an aesthetic level.

I asked Ms. Bassett-Brody some follow-up questions about Etched in Stone, hoping to give our readers a taste of both the content of the book and also the heart of the author. Her answers provide all the reasons you need to pick up a copy as an aid in your own Bible study — or even better, pick up a copy for your pastor too.

LAMB: Your pastor, Lon Solomon, wrote in the introduction that you’ve heard him say “The more they dig out of the ground, the more the Bible proves to be true.” In other words, the fact is that learning about archaeological discoveries can produce confidence in the Bible — countering the notion that “the Bible is just a fairy tale.” Do you believe the church has a duty — a delightful duty — to talk more about these findings?

BASSETT-BRODY: I think there would be a tremendous impact on the Christian community if they were aware that physical proof exists for their faith. I know that for myself, I had been a Christian for 17 years before I realized there was tangible evidence that the Biblical stories were historical. I remember being in the Israel Museum thinking “why isn’t this talked about in church more?” I was very excited and encouraged by this “new discovery” and I was convinced that others would be too. Hence, the reason for my book. I definitely believe pastors and preachers should weave archaeology into their sermons whenever possible. It would be a great faith booster!

LAMB: It seems like an initial burst of inspiration also came from your trip to Israel. How much impact does a pilgrimage to that special land have on one’s being able to understand the Bible better — and to understand that the things they read are events that happened in a real time and space?

BASSETT-BRODY: I was having a conversation with a friend of mine one day about my book and the artifacts within, and she said to me, “You mean these places and people are real?” And what could make anything more real than seeing it for yourself? A trip to Israel is very eye-opening. One begins to realize that the Bible not only describes things that existed back then but that still exist today. For example, some of the locations where Jesus spoke were like a natural amphitheater, and He could have easily spoken to more than 5,000 people at once; that there is rock and stone everywhere so that the numerous references to stone would be very natural; or to finally understand what “a city on a hill” looks like when you are staring up at the walls of Jerusalem from the modern streets below. Israel is a very special and spiritual place that should be visited by all Christians. They will not be disappointed.

LAMB: I love your words about these finds, calling them: “physical evidence that God, in his wisdom chose to leave behind.” Looking at Israelite archaeology in this way really brings a sense of gratitude to God for blessing us with some physical confirmations of the sacred book. In that sense, they prompt worship — “Thank you God for confirming the truth of Your Word by this latest dig.” Would that be accurate to say — That archaeology can be a boost to one’s Christian spirituality and worship?

BASSETT-BRODY: Absolutely! What else would give someone confidence in the facts besides tangible proof? God is good and although He requires our faith He clearly understands the importance of evidence. How wonderful He is to have left us so much confirmation through archaeology when He certainly didn’t have to. This should definitely motivate someone to appreciate, honor and worship such a loving, caring God.

LAMB: Any thoughts on how pastors can work archaeological findings into the life of the church?

BASSETT-BRODY: At our church Pastor Lon would often put pictures up on the screen of maps, cities or people to help set the stage for the sermon to come. It was an excellent way to orientate the congregation. I think this would work very well with the artifacts too. So, if the sermon is about David and Goliath the pastor could post a picture of all the large sling stones that have been discovered, and suddenly the idea that a small boy could kill a giant military man with a stone doesn’t seem so far-fetched. (They could also recommend buying a copy of my book…lol).

LAMB: What are your top 5 favorite findings — in terms of confirming the truth of the Scripture.

BASSETT-BRODY: 1) The discovery of the city of Bethsaida would have to be at the top because it was discovered by Edward Robinson using nothing more than the Scriptures and a compass. If this doesn’t prove the historicity and reliability of the Bible I don’t know what does! Furthermore, excavations at this site have unearthed a history dating back to King David.

2) The walls of Jericho is another great one because many believed this city never existed since there was no archaeological evidence. But in 1907 German archaeologist Ernst Sellin and Carl Watzinger discovered the city ruins. Since then many excavations have taken place and all seem to agree that the biblical Jericho has been found. According to John Garstang, who headed an excavation team in 1930, the biblical account is confirmed in detail. For example, it was determined that the walls fell down by some sort of quake, that there was an intense fire that took place, and that Jericho was, in fact, the gateway city to Canaan just as the Bible describes. Furthermore, the poorer part of this town, with its thin walls, was the only section still standing which gives credence to the idea that Rahab could have lived there and that she and her family were protected just as God had promised.

3) Brick without straw is an interesting one. In 1883, Swiss Egyptologist, Edouard Naville was excavating one of the ancient treasure cities of Pithom, Egypt and he discovered a wall made of bricks. Some layers had bricks with a liberal amount of straw, some had less straw and some had no straw at all. Leave it to God to leave behind evidence of something so unlikely to be discovered more than 3,000 years later.

4) The discovery of a people known as the Hittites comes to mind because once upon a time Bible critics insisted that this group did not exist. There is no archaeological evidence to support them they said. But in 1906 more than 30,000 text fragments were unearthed in the ancient Hittite capital of Hattusha, Turkey. Today, the University of Pennsylvania offers a degree in Hittite civilization where you will learn about their agriculture, governing body and language. How’s that for biblical confirmation?

5) Death by Crucifixion cannot be ignored. One could say that the entire Christian faith lies on the truth of this form of punishment. Some claimed that crucifying people did not exist during Jesus’ day but now there is overwhelming evidence that crucifixion was known as early as the 6thcentury B.C. and was practiced by the Persians, Seleucids, Carthaginians, and Romans.

The biblical account of Jesus’ death on the cross is verified in numerous historical and medical ways. First, the victim would be whipped with a flagrum which caused bruising, tearing of the skin, and the exposing of muscle, veins, and bowels. If they survived this, victims were then tied and/or nailed to a wooden beam just as the Bible describes. They were left this way for several days, dying a slow and painful death, where passers-by would verbally abuse them. Once the victim’s lungs began to fill with fluid, the only way to breathe would be to push themselves upward. If they were unable to do so they would die faster and this is why the soldiers often broke the victim’s legs. Of course, we know that Jesus was already dead by the time they came to break his legs so that “not one of his bones was broken.” Furthermore, with the amount of blood loss Jesus would have suffered, He would have been in hypovolemic shock causing low blood pressure, and extreme thirst. But it doesn’t end there. Due to the low blood pressure from all the blood loss, the heart will try to compensate by beating very quickly causing fluids to collect in a sack around the heart and lungs. This is why when the soldier plunged his spear into Jesus’ side “blood and water flowed out.” This 2,000-year-old account is spot on with everything we now know about severe and sustained blood loss. It took the medical field centuries to figure out what the Bible already knew.

So now we jump ahead to 1968 in northern Jerusalem where the late Dr. Vassilios Tzaferis is heading an excavation for the Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums. Here he uncovers an ankle bone nailed to a piece of wood. It seems that the nail hit a knot in the wood causing it to bend and curl. Later the foot had to be amputated in order to remove the body from the cross. With this find, Christians and nay-sayers alike can rest assured that the biblical account of Jesus’ death on the cross is historical and accurate to the smallest detail and that what He did for us on the cross brings peace with God and everlasting life.

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