The aim of The Biblical Archaeology Review is to make available in understandable language the current insights of professional archaeology as they relate to the Bible. No other publication is presently devoted to this task.
While on occasion we may make an original contribution to knowledge, that will be unusual. Our primary function will be reportorial. However, we hope that we will often say things better and more understandably than they have been said before. And that in itself is a contribution.
Our readers vary. Many are professional archaeologists themselves. Others are casual Bible-readers with almost no background in archaeology. We hope to have something to say to both—and to those in between. The professional may find himself skipping over unnecessary explanations. The beginner may find that after a few issues he knows more than he thought.
Our readers differ in other ways. Not only are they of different religions (or no religion), they also have different kinds of commitments to the Bible. For some, the Bible is the sacred word of God against which all truth is to be measured. For others, the Bible is the literary remains of an ancient civilization which may be dissected and analyzed just like any other ancient literary document.
On this point, we have our own commitment which we shall make explicit at the outset. Our commitment is to scientific truth, not to sacred truth. Not that we deny or denigrate the validity of sacred truth. Simply that sacred truth is for each man or woman to find on his or her own, in his or her own way. We do not believe it is likely to be found through a study of Biblical archaeology, but we have no objection to someone’s finding inspiration here. On the other hand, neither do we believe one’s faith will be destroyed by a study of Biblical archaeology—regardless of the archaeologists’ findings. If it is, it is a faith based on too shallow a version of sacred truth. In short, our view of the parameters of faith is that they do not infringe upon, nor are they threatened by, a search for scientific truth. Conversely, even the broadest search for scientific truth leaves plenty of room for faith. The rest is up to each reader.
We have other commitments in The Biblical Archaeology Review. We have a commitment to accuracy. That goes without saying.
We also have a commitment to be interesting. That means we will focus primarily on the new, the unusual, and the controversial. And there is much in archaeology that is all three—new, unusual and controversial.
And we have a commitment to independence. We shall call the shots as we see them. To use a current metaphor, we will not tilt toward our friends or against those who may not like us.
Finally, we have a commitment to openness. Our pages are available. We have always been offended by a legend which appears below the masthead of many magazines: “Unsolicited manuscripts must be accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope.” It is hard to imagine a more insulting suggestion to a prospective contributor. Our attitude is just the opposite. We welcome your suggestions. We ask for your reactions. We want your contributions—scholar and layman alike.l And we value our readers—every one of them.
We hope that you will both enjoy and learn from The Biblical Archaeology Review. As the seasons pass, one by one, we hope that you will look forward to receiving our next issue.