Introduction to Sunday School Resource Material

Sunday School Resource Material 


Why do we need it?

  • Help students to love and delve into the Word of God
  • Talking points for bible interpretation and application
  • Three thrusts:
    • GLOW (help them visualize Scripture)
    • KNOW (enrich understanding of Scripture by research findings)
    • SHOW (that Scripture is true and accurate)
Topics as at Oct 2006:

The Tabernacle, The Temples of Solomon, Herod, Ezekiel Jesus’ parables and similes
Levitical priesthood, Feasts and Festivals, the Sacrificial system Life of Christ: early years, year of popularity, year of opposition, final months, post-resurrection
Deities (OT, NT) Early apostolic missionary journeys
Jericho (classic case of biblical dating) Paul’s missionary journeys and journey to Rome
Tyre (classic example of fulfilled prophecy) Historical Accuracy of the Book of Acts
Genesis and Evidence Paul’s Epistles
Exodus Peter’s Epistles
Numbers Galilee Fish and Fishing
Joshua Rulers in the New Testament
Judges Money, Dwellings and Fortifications in the Biblical Period
Daniel The Philistines, People of the Patriarchal Period
Song of Solomon Shepherds and sheep-rearing
Nahum and Nineveh Biblical animals, birds and insects
United Kingdom (Saul, Ishbosheth, David, Solomon) Biblical herbs and spices, trees and plants
Kings of the Northern Kingdom, Southern Kingdom  
Assyrian Empire  
Neo-Babylon Empire  
Persian Empire and the Return of the Exiles  

  • Topical approach e.g. Life of Christ, The Tabernacle, Journeys of Paul.
  • Suitable as supplement for SS Presentations or as a stimulus for class discussions and further research.
  • Visuals are a basis for JSS and Intermediate teachers into art and craft materials.
  • Read also the Notes page (as indicated by the symbol “(n)”) for details and sources.
  • Consult the Glossary, List of Archaeological Place-names and Sites, and other material to make sense of the text.

  • Biblical archaeology: The systematic study of past human life and cultures of the Bible by the recovery and examination of remaining material evidence, such as graves, buildings, tools, and pottery.
  • The proper use of archaeology in relation to the Bible is to confirm, correct, clarify, and complement the Bible’s theological message (n2).
  • The better we are able to understand the original meaning of the message, as communicated in the ancient world, the better we will be able to apply its timeless truths to our lives in the modern world.
  • Archaeology cannot prove the truth of the Bible. Believing otherwise makes faith the slave of reason. For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Co 5:7).
  • Archaeology and science are best used to illuminate Scriptures. Faith must rest firmly on the inerrant and absolutely accurate Divinely inspired truth of Scriptures.

Dr. Clifford Wilson, an archaeologist and former Director of the Australian Institute of Archaeology, wrote a 17-volume survey, Archaeology-the Bible and Christ, which brings together over 5,000 facts relating archaeology to the Bible. He begins vol 17 by stating,
“Archaeology is highly relevant for Bible studies, consistently demonstrating that the Bible is the world’s most accurate history text-book …. This present volume (and each of the other volumes) takes its place in offering significant evidence to show how archaeology illustrates, explains and verifies the integrity and authenticity of God’s own Word of Truth.”
He closes by stating,
“It is remarkable that where confirmation is possible and has come to light, the Bible stands investigation in ways that are unique in all literature. Its superiority to attack, its capacity to withstand criticism, its amazing facility to be proved right after all, are all staggering by any standards of scholarship. Seemingly assured results “disproving” the Bible have a habit of backfiring. Over and over again the Bible has been vindicated. That is true from Genesis to Revelation, as we have seen in this book.”

  • Limits of archaeology:
    • Confined to the realm of the material world,
    • Not exact and involves some interpretation,
    • Does not deal with ideas, philosophy, poetry, wisdom, etc. that we have in the Bible,
    • Incomplete Picture, very limited information – Only a little of what is written or created survives – Alexandria Library burned to the ground,
    • Results of many major excavations are pre-1936. Examples of re-excavations: Megiddo, Jericho, Shechem and Gezer.
    • Only a few sites have been surveyed,
    • Only a few surveyed sites have been excavated. Most sites unexcavated (>5,000 ruins in Israel and Jordan, only 30 with major excavations),
    • Only a few excavated sites are actually examined,
    • Only a few examinations are eventually documented, reported and published properly,
    • Only ≈10% of the 500,000+ cuneiform tablet texts lying in museums have been translated and published,
    • Archaeology as a science has grown so much more work to do. Verification is difficult. Past excavations cannot be replicated. Ease of findings depends on the existing conditions of the stratums.
    • Data from excavations can often be interpreted in several ways (n1).
  • Archaeology cannot provide all the answers.

A well-featured example of biased interpretation is the school of Biblical historians known as “Biblical Minimalists” (aka the “European School,” the “Copenhagen School” or even “Deconstructionists”) who hold that the OT was written during the Persian period (4th c BC) or even the Hellenistic period (3rd and 2nd c BC). These scholars include Niels Peter Lemche, Thomas Thompson, John Van Seters and Philip R. Davies. Their views are extreme and even difficult to know how to address. For example, Lemche challenged the authenticity of both the Tel Dan (“House of David”) and the Ekron (“Padi king of Ekron”) inscriptions, insinuating that they might have been faked by the excavators (see Shanks 1997: 36-38)’

  • Distinguish Facts (proven by archaeology, epigraphy, witness of independent writers, etc) from Tradition (e.g. Queen Helena, Arab culture).
  • Archaeology is not an exact science, despite what its secular adherents believe.
  • Distinguish between interpretations based on Ideology (e.g. wanting to prove King David’s rule to bolster Israel’s claim on Jerusalem, over-zealous “proving” the Bible, “minimalist” position) from Possibilities (alternative sites, other archaeological layers yet to be uncovered, yet uncovered evidence)
Making Scripture GLOW:

KNOW what the Bible says:

SHOW accuracy of the Bible:

Reliability of Scripture:

  • The serious investigator has every reason for great confidence in the reliability of both Old and New Testament Scriptures …. However, the historical material – seen through archaeology to be of remarkable integrity – is penned by the same men who witnessed and recorded the miracles and elaborated on spiritual realities. It is reasonable to believe that they would be as reliable in those areas as they are in the areas now subject to investigation by archaeology. (Dr Clifford Wilson, Rocks, Relics, and Biblical Reliability, Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan/Richardson, TX, Probe, 1977, pp 124-125)
Help needed!

  • FEEDBACK on relevance
  • CORRECT factual or photographic errors
  • ADD materials (cite references and websites if any) on the topics
  • UPDATES (eg. Pool of Siloam, Jul 2005)
End Notes:

  • NAS Version Verses quoted are from New American Standard Bible (NAS) Updated Version (1977) unless otherwise stated.
  • Weights and measures Conversion rates are generally those based on the “Metrology and Calendar” slides unless they are quoted from sources.
  • Reproduction All slides are the property of The Fisherman of Christ Fellowship Ltd, and may often use copyright material or images for internal use. Please be careful in reproducing them outside the Fellowship, unless you seek permission from the original sources.
  • Israel not Palestine The land of Israel is called variously “the Holy Land” (Zc 2:12), “the Promised Land”, Palestine, Canaan, etc. Since the land is the covenant land given by God to the Israelites, I refer to it as Israel (the nation of Israel is most often referred to as “Israel” also).
  • The term “Palestine” was first officially used by the Romans. In 70 AD the Romans crushed the First Jewish Revolt, destroying the Temple. The Second Jewish Revolt in 132 was led by Rabbi Akivah and Bar Kokhba. After a 3-year struggle, the victorious Roman emperor Hadrian banned Jews from Jerusalem. To remove every trace of its Jewish past, he rebuilt Jerusalem as a Roman city named Aelia Capitolina, and changed the name of the country from Judea to Syria Palaestina or Palestine (derived from “Philistia”) (alternative view, n).
  • In Ottoman Turkish times, Eretz Yisrael (“Land of Israel”) and Eretz Hakodesh (the Holy Land) were used to designate the area surrounding Jerusalem and including areas from the Litani river in the N to modern Eilat. Under the British Mandate, Eretz Yisrael became part of the official designation in Hebrew (“Palestina A’Y” meaning “Palestine – Eretz Yisrael” in full). The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, signed on 14 May 1948, used the term “Eretz Israel”. In 20th c political usage, “Eretz Israel” stands for only those parts under the Mandate.
  • To avoid any unscriptural connotation, it is best to simply refer to the land that God promised to the Israelites as “Israel”, or “the Land of Israel” (LOI for short).
  • Northern Kingdom of Israel is differentiated from the land Israel by the abbreviation NKI. Likewise, the “Southern Kingdom” is abbreviated to “Judah” or SKJ. The name “Israel” thus had a secondary and more restricted meaning; it was sometimes used as a name for the northern tribes (as distinct from Judah), and when the kingdom divided (1 Ki 12), it became the name of the independent N state. Refer to the Glossary and Abbreviations list for the whole list.

According to David Jacobson (BAR 27:03 May/Jun 2001) in the Histories of Herodotus, written in the second half of the 5th c BC, the term Palaistine is used to describe the entire area between Phoenicia and Egypt – in other words, the Land of Israel. He cites Roman authors like Ovid (1st c AD), Statius and Dio Chrysostom as also using the Latin Palaestina in the same sense. He postulates based on etymology, that the Greek word for “wrestler” (palaistes) and the name Palaistine-which share seven letters in a row, including a diphthong – is strong evidence of a connection between them. Since Jacob was called Yisrael (“God’s wrestler”), he believes that the Greeks used Palaistine to denote the land of Israel.

  • Archaeological sites identification:
    • There are four sources of information to locating an archaeological site:
      1. Toponomy: the study of place names within a region and is a branch of lexicology. There are 475 places that are named in the Bible. Of the hundreds of locations that have been identified some names have been preserved exactly, or close to what is used in the Bible e.g. Jerusalem has continuously been occupied since before the time of Joshua, through David, Jesus and on through today. The name has stayed the same throughout history.
      2. Tradition: The tradition surrounding a particular site will often times assist in identifying a particular biblical location.

      • Indigenous peoples that live around a site, such as Bedouins who travel to seasonal locations, or people that permanently live in an area pass stories about locations down through the generations. It is these stories that can then help an archaeologist locate a site.
      • One problem with tradition and stories is that often times there can be 2 or 3 different locations claimed to be a certain place e.g., many places are identified as Cana of Galilee (Jn 2). Stories and tradition are seldom 100% accurate, but they provide valuable clues.

      3. Literary Sources: Particular sites can be found from descriptions in historical literary writings e.g., Js 15 describes Judah’s tribal allocation of which certain cities are located in the Shephelah, the Wilderness, and the Negev regions – In the wilderness: Beth-arabah, Middin and Secacahl and Nibshan and the City of Salt and Engedi; six cities with their villages (v 61-62)
      4. Archaeological Indications: Sometimes a location is excavated based on evidences that indicate archaeological artefacts or monuments could be present.

      • Sites are discovered by conducting ground or aerial surveys. Aerial surveys are successful because moisture has a tendency to collect around stone structures such as walls and building. When these structures are underground the moisture causes the ground to appear darker in colour.
      • Another way is to randomly cut a hole or trench in a mound of earth where there may be a particular city. If evidence is found an excavation can begin.
      • Sometimes there are chance discoveries. The most famous occurring in 1947 when a shepherd boy in the hills about 16km S of Jericho threw a rock at a sheep to scare it down. The rock went into a cave and he heard a smash that sounded like the breaking of glass. He went up and found a broken jar that contained a scroll. The boy took a piece of the scroll to antiquities dealers in Bethlehem and Jerusalem hoping to sell them. The antiquities dealers were astonished; the pieces of scroll were the oldest pieces of manuscript they had ever seen. Today these manuscripts are called, “The Dead Sea Scrolls.” They contain biblical and extra-biblical literature. Every book of the OT has been found except the book of Esther. 11 different caves have been discovered.
  • Archaeological ages:
Dates (BC)
9000 – 4500
4500 – 3150
Early Bronze
3150 – 2200
Middle Bronze
2200 – 1550
Late Bronze
1550 – 1200
Iron Age I
1200 – 1000
Iron Age II
1000 – 586
539 – 332
332 – 63
63 BC – 324 AD
  • Periods of History Summary:
    • The Creation to the Flood
    • Noah’s Ark and the Flood
    • Post-Flood World – Babel & Mesopotamia
    • Patriarchs
    • Captivity by Egyptian Pharaohs
    • Egyptian Exodus & Conquest of Canaan & Judges
    • Kings of Judah & Israel – First Temple Era
    • Assyrian Conquest of Israel & Judah
    • Babylonian Captivity & Return of Judah (Jews)
    • Persian Empire – Second Temple Era to NT Times
    • Alexander the Great & Macedonia/Greece
    • Intertestamental Period
    • Roman Empire & Emperors
    • Life of the Messiah
    • Acts & Paul’s Missionary Journeys
    • Seven Churches of Revelation
    • Post-Apostolic Church (Early Church Fathers)
    • Universal (Catholic) Roman Empire Church
    • Eastern Church (Constantinople) & Western Church (Rome)
    • Islam Start & Spread
    • Crusades
    • Ottoman Empire
    • Protestant Reformation Churches
    • Restoration Movement Churches
  • Important Periods in Israel’s History:
Dates (BC)
The Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph
2050 – 1800
The Exodus and the Conquest
1450 – 1400
The Judges Deborah, Jephthah, Gideon and Samuel
1400 – 1050
The United Kingdom Saul, David, Solomon and Rehoboam
1050 – 931
The Northern Kingdom (Samaria) Destruction and captivity under Assyria
931 – 722
The Southern Kingdom (Judah)
Destruction and captivity under Babylon
931 – 586
Defeat and destruction of Jerusalem
The period of exile in Babylon
605 – 536
Return of the captives, rebuilding of the Temple and of Jerusalem
536 – 440
The period ‘between the Testaments”
440 – 6
  • Dominant powers in Israel’s history:
Dominant Power
Dates (BC)
Hittites and the Egyptians
2000 – 900
900 – 606
605 – 539
538 – 331
Alexander and the Greek Dynasties
330 – 63
Rome After
  • Hebrew, Israelite or Jew?
    • Hebrews are descendants of Eber (aka Heber Lk 3:35), a great-grandson of Shem (Gn 10:21; 11:16). It was first mentioned as an epithet for Abram (Gn 14:13). Thus Abram (Abraham) was both a Hebrew and a Semite, born of the line of Heber and Shem, but neither an Israelite nor a Jew. Both Sunnite Arabs and Jews are Semites and Hebrews, since Ishmael and Isaac were born of Abraham. However, in Ex 3:18; 5:1-3 “Hebrews” and “Israel” appear to be used as synonymous terms (cf Ph 3:5; 2 Co 11:22 where Paul uses it to describe his heritage).
    • Israelites The descendants of Esau (Edom) became known as Edomites, while the descendants of Jacob (Israel) became known as “Israelites”, or collectively “Israel”. 
    • Jew Those who interchange the words “Jew” and “Israelite” call Abraham a Jew, though he was neither of these. The word “Jew” is not used in the Bible until nearly 1,000 years after Abraham. One of Jacob’s children was Judah (Hebrew “Yehudah”). The first Jews were the children of Judah, and were called Yehudim (“Judahites”).(as used in Je 32:12; 34:9). Thus strictly speaking, the descendants of the other 11 tribes are not Jews.
    • In Greek the name is Ioudaioi (“Judeans”). Most EVV use the word “Jew,” which is a modern, contraction of the word “Judahite.”  In OT, “Jew” = “Judahite;“ in NT “Jew” = “Judean.”
    • After the Exile “Jew” replaced “Israelite” as the most widely-used term for one of God’s covenant people since, by then, virtually all Israelites were in fact members of the tribe of Judah, the N tribes (“Israel” in the narrow sense) having lost their identity after the fall of Samaria in 722 BC. The exceptions were chiefly members of the tribe of Benjamin (Ez 1:5; Ph 3:5), which had been linked with Judah since the division of the kingdom.
    • “Jew” and “Jewish” should not be used in the generally accepted sense when speaking of the period before the Exile.”
  • Ancient Tablets:
Ancient Tablets Supporting Old Testament Accuracy
Biblical Significance
Ebla Tablets 15,000 23rd c BC Semitic language
Sodom and Gomorrah
Gn 10-11
Gn 14, 19
Mari Tablets 20,000 18th c BC Nahor
Patriarchal customs
Cutting covenant
Gn 11
Gn 12-50
Gn 15
Nuzi Tablets Several thousand 15th c BC Servant heir
Birthright sale
Household idols
Gn 15-16
Gn 25
Gn 31
Ras Shamra Tablets Several thousand 15th c BC Immoral Canaanite
Religious practices
Judges, Kings, and Chronicles
Amarna Letters 300 14th c BC Invading Habiru Joshua
Babylonian Chronicles 4 7-6th c BC Fall of Nineveh
Capture of Jerusalem
Fall of Babylon
2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Jeremiah, and Daniel