Zondervan Handbook of Biblical Archaeology. By Randall Price, with H. Wayne House. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017. 408 pages. $42.99 hardcover.
Randall Price (PhD, University of Texas at Austin; ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) is distinguished research professor of biblical and Judaic studies in the School of Divinity at Liberty University, where he teaches doctoral seminars and biblical archaeology. H. Wayne House (ThD, Concordia Seminary; JD, Regent University School of Law) is distinguished research professor of theological studies at Faith Evangelical College and Seminary in Tacoma, Washington.
The Zondervan Handbook of Biblical Archaeology contains 260 images, which amounts to an image every page and a half. This fact alone is what makes this text a delight to peruse and to have as a ready reference for general archaeological observations surrounding various biblical texts. The images are sharp; they bring the past into the present, providing an enhanced understanding of the various Scriptures. The images are not limited to location pictures but contain maps, charts, tables, and drawings. These images allow the reader to transport themselves to the biblical lands and feel as if they were physically present in Israel and other locations.
Additionally, the book resembles a travelogue through the Scriptures. After a brief introduction to biblical archaeology, the discussion is segmented into three sections dealing with the archaeology of the Old Testament, the intertestamental period, and the New Testament. The author acknowledges that the science of biblical archaeology does not prove the biblical text, but rather elucidates it. Through this introduction, the authors weave the brief two-hundredyear history of scientific archaeology through the discussion, showing the developments within the discipline. The current debate between the minimalists and maximalists is succinctly discussed in a manner that anyone could follow. Side panels explain concepts like "Palestine" and "Palestinian," and the abbreviations "BC" and "AD." The author introduces various theories and techniques so that nonspecialists can understand. In fact, the skill of making complex things simple distinguishes the book.
The back matter includes sixteen pages of biblical maps, eight pages of glossary, twenty pages of notes, an extensive bibliography, and extensive indices. The "Scripture and Extra-biblical Index" alone is worth extensive study, and is one reason for the comparison to a travelogue. The index contains many Old Testament references, but few references to the Pauline and General Epistles. Finally, the treatment of the intertestimental period is a brief twenty-seven pages, and as expected, focuses on the Dead Sea Scrolls and Qumran where Randall Price leads a multi-year excavation.
Proceeding Bible book by Bible book, the author discusses the pertinent archaeological resources. These resources, in many cases, provide readers with an exceptional apologetic resource discussing the pros and cons of competing theories. I was somewhat surprised, however, that the author did not discuss the current debate concerning the location of Sodom and Gomorrah. The text could easily serve as a textbook for an introductory course on the topic of biblical archaeology, or to refresh your memory before you tour Israel. And as noted, the images are fantastic, providing an exceptional number of visual stimuli that is frequently lacking in many textbooks.
However, as with many first editions, some errors can detract from the quality of the text. A most humorous one has my colleague, Scott Stripling, opening a new excavation at Bethlehem in 2017. While Stripling did indeed start a new excavation in 2017, it was not at Bethlehem, but at Shiloh. In another case, the book misspells the magazine title Artifax as Artifacts.
The volume provides a generous amount of apologetic material concerning the controversies in biblical archaeology. It also provides the reader with concise and beautifully illustrated information related to archaeological sites. I strongly recommend the use of this book for an introductory course in biblical archaeology.
Donald McNeeley, Tidewater Bible College Virginia Beach, VA