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Archaeologists At Odds

Some months ago we commented on the important discovery by a team of Italian archaeologists of the 4,500-year-old kingdom of Ebla in Syria. Of particular interest were the many thousands of clay tablets they unearthed. According to Professor Pettinato, of the University of Rome, a language expert working on the site, many familiar Hebrew names mentioned in the Bible are engraved on these tablets. He identified such names as Abraham, Esau, Eber and Israel, and among the places mentioned are Meggido, Hazor and Jerusalem. This mention of Jerusalem is of particular interest to scholars because it is probably about 1,000 years older than any other surviving reference to the famous city. Other important features of the find are accounts of the creation of the world and its subsequent destruction by a great flood. These correspond closely to the Genesis narrative.

Reporting on the discovery the British archaeologist, Professor Harrison, wrote, "This material is probably the most significant of its kind ever to be recovered. Its effect on Old Testament study will be noticeable for many years to come

According to the Biblical Archaeology Review none of the 15,000 tablets has been made available or published in photographic form. It has been alleged that the Syrian Government is deliberately suppressing evidence that parts of Syria were occupied by Hebrews in Biblical times on the ground that the information is "Zionist propaganda aimed at defacing Syrian Arab history".

Professor Pattinato has now resigned in protest at the conduct

of the Director of the archaeological dig, Professor Paulo Matthiae, also of Rome University, whom he accused of agreeing to Syrian demands that the tablets be suppressed. In a letter to the press on May lOth last, Professor Matthiae indignantly denies Professor Pattinato's charges. "I deplore," he writes, "that someone may believe the absurd, offensive and wholly fanciful hypothesis that the Syrian authorities may have 'ordered' anything to the Italian archaeologists. I dismiss with indignation the mere suspicion that I, being a free scholar, may have accepted restrictions from anyone".

Whatever the outcome of this controversy there is no lack of archaeological evidence for the historical accuracy of the Old Testament writings. Such findings have their value, but for the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ His endorsement of the authority and veracity of the Old Testament in its entirety is decisive. He was frequently confronted by men whose minds were steeped in the letter of these sacred writings. Although our Lord rebuked unbelieving Jews for their failure to discern the true meaning of Scripture not once did He discourage their acceptance of its divine authority. "Ye search the Scriptures," He said, "because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of Me" (John 5:39). In these days when Scripture authority is under continual attack we need to place our feet firmly on the unmistakable testimony of our Lord (see e.g. Luke 24:27,44,45).

L0th E.E.C. Member - Greece

A historic development in the grouping of European nations took place on May 28th at Athens. Heads of government of most E.E.C. countries gathered there for the accession ceremony when the Treaty of Rome was signed by the Greek Prime Minister, Mr Constantine Karamanlis, leading to Greece becoming the 10th member of the Common Market from January 1st, 1981.

Many students of biblical prophecy have been impressed by this grouping of Western nations as a possible basis for the development of the great federation of ten kingdoms which will precede the coming of the Son of Man. History has taught us not to speculate dogmatically on the details of prophetic fulfilment. It is clear that some E.E.C. member countries are somewhat disillusioned after early euphoria on the vision of the economic benefits the Common Market would bring. There may be withdrawals; on the other hand, Spain and Portugal are waiting in the wings to follow the example of Greece.

At the time of writing elections of candidates for the European Parliament are in progress. Space forbids further comment this month.