FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Trial lawyer Mark Lanier cross-examined contemporary archaeologists who have questioned the accuracy of the biblical account during the Joan & Andy Horner Lecture Series at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Sept. 4.
Like archaeologists, Lanier said, lawyers are often trying to “reconstruct history” from various lines of evidence. But some archaeologists have ignored basic rules that must be followed in law courts in order to discover the truth of a case. Lanier accused archaeologist Israel Finkelstein, for example, of ignoring or misrepresenting evidence in order to deny biblical accuracy, as when he argues that the story of Jericho’s fall in the book of Joshua is false.
Archaeologists must be fair in representing their evidence, competent in their research and honest in admitting their own biases, he said. They must not “over-reach” and claim that evidence proves something that it does not, and they must avoid sensationalism.
"Every time I get a chance, I am going to urge scholars—from the left, from the right, from the center—to be scholars, to be fair, to be honest, to do their homework, to check their citations,” Lanier said. “I know too many judges who, if these documents [that is, books by Finkelstein and other authors] had been presented as a brief in a court of law, the judge would have sanctioned and tried to remove the license of the lawyer that wrote them, because you can do so much damage with dishonesty and deceit."
Lanier founded the Lanier Law Firm in 1990 and serves as a board member for the American Schools of Oriental Research and for the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research.
To learn more about The Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible exhibition or about the lecture series at Southwestern’s campus in Fort Worth, Texas, visit