Thursday, May 8, 2008

Palace of Queen of Sheba Found?

In the "not-so-fast" category, there is a news story circulating that archaeologists have discovered the palace of the Queen of Sheba and the location of where the Ark of the Covenant may have been stored at one time. But there are a number of issues of concern here:

1. As far as I can tell, this report is not being announced or supported by any peer-reviewed paper. It is only being announced in media outlets that I've never heard of. It would help lend at least some credibility to the claim if it was being announced in the AP or something.

2. The Bible does not actually claim that Solomon was married to the Queen of Sheba, only that she came to Palestine to seek his wisdom. Now, it's not out of the realm of possibility that they did, in fact, marry. It was not uncommon in the ancient world for alliances between countries to be made and consummated through strategic marriages. But whether that's true in this particular case remains speculation.

3. The idea of the Ark of the Covenant being carried off to Ethiopia is based on this legend of Solomon being married to the Queen of Sheba. So again, we're very much in the realm of speculation.

4. Many scholars now believe that "Sheba" was located in modern-day Yemen, not Ethiopia.

So why do I bring this up? Well, it serves as a good reminder of how Christians need to use critical thinking skills before we get on the "greatest discoveries of the Bible" train. God is the God of truth. This is why I think God's people should avoid sloppy thinking in his name. A good lesson for our children.

Here is my favorite paper on this topic (one that is required reading for my students and highly recommended for ALL high school students and Christians): "Fantasies, Legends, and Heroes: What You Know May Not Be So and How To Tell The Difference," by Bob Passantino

No comments: