BPK,Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin

Biblical inspiration. The German excavations (shown here) of Babylon from 1899 to 1917 were driven in part by a desire to fill German museums with artifacts and in part by hopes of finding the Tower of Babel. The capital of the biblical king Nebuchadnezzar (604–562 B.C.E.) was unearthed instead.

“To what end this toil and trouble in distant, inhospitable and danger-ridden lands?” Delitzsch asked during his first lecture. The answer: “The Bible.” For Delitzsch, the archaeologists’ work could only diminish the biblical history: “Now that the pyramids have opened their depths and the Assyrian palaces their portals, the people of Israel, with its literature, appears as the youngest member only of a venerable and hoary group of nations.”

(Excerpts from Delitzsch’s three lectures appear online at www.biblereview.org, under Keep Reading.)