So what have we found? I think we can reasonably hold the following:
- There is some archaeological evidence that convincingly supports some elements recorded in the Bible (you'd think I'd stop here...but no quitting while ahead)
- There are gaps in what the archaeological record shows, which is to be expected when dealing with a science dealing with fragile/worn items lost for centuries/millennia.
- There are some areas of inquiry, especially in regards to the Exodus and Joshua's conquest of Canaan, that are still controversial. Not surprising, either, since much of archaeology (i.e. dating, translations of partial documents, etc...) is an inexact science.
- There are dangers in trying to ascribe value to archaeological finds since items of interest may turn out to be forgeries.
I'm guessing the next question, then, is how I can offer archaeological evidence up as support of Biblical reliability. Fair question, and the answer is similar to those I've already offered for other areas of evidence. There is no way to empirically prove the Bible is historically reliable within a laboratory. What we can do, though, is build evidence that argues for Biblical credibility and demonstrate that it is possible to examine the foundation for a religious faith in a rational manner. Whether one believes, ultimately, the Bible's claims is another question. But there is no reason to argue that belief in the Bible's historicity is irrational or "blind faith."
Archaeology lends enough credibility that I think it another mark in the Bible's favor. Even the areas where controversy reign include rational and well-reasoned arguments on behalf of those siding with scripture's accuracy. The field has more room for new discoveries, and doubtless many new finds will shed light on some questions currently unanswered. I look forward to the continuing discussion.