During the month of May, I happily dipped in and out of the part history, part theology memoir, The Red-Haired Archaeologist Digs Israel by new-to-me author, Amanda Hope Haley. I requested it on something of a whim from NetGalley, because of its blend of faith, Bible, history and archaeology content which just sounded so me!
In The Red-Haired Archaeologist Digs Israel, Haley takes us on a journey through the lands of the Bible – past and present – with a trowel in one hand, a camera in the other, and plenty of sun cream. To show us how Christians can use archaeological finds to better understand Israel’s history, read the Bible in its original context, and comprehend today’s religious conflicts in the Holy Land. What begins as a search for the meanings of ancient Scripture also gives a clearer perception of our current neighbours and how Jesus would have us love them today.
While most of the narration is based on a two-week trip Haley took with her husband and parents through the Holy Lands, Haley also reflects back on her many years working on several dig sites and tells. If I am honest these are the bits I enjoyed the most, as Haley described the wonderful and everyday finds, and how they can inform us about the lives of those living in the time of King David, Herod, Jesus and his disciples! However through her family holiday she is able to show us more sites, including: Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the Dead Sea and Galilee.
Haley as a Harvard-trained biblical archaeologist, scholar and author brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this exploration of the history of the Bible, but also as a practicing Christian, Haley shares with us her awe, wonder and meaning that these discoveries inspired within her. I enjoyed seeing and experiencing the Holy Lands through her eyes, especially as it is not somewhere I think I will be able to visit anytime soon. What with the ongoing pandemic and the recent violence that erupted again between Hamas and the Israeli government.
Another unexpected side to this memoir was Haley’s discussion on the ongoing tensions between the peoples of Israel and their neighbouring Arab countries, particularly Palestine, Jordan and Egypt. Sadly these are not just tensions that have come about since Jewish settlers came back to the lands after the devastation of WWII and the holocaust, instead these tensions stretch back thousands of years – chronicled in the Bible itself. I liked how Haley didn’t take sides and tried to give a fair assessment of the wrongs and rights on both sides.
All in all The Red-Haired Archaeologist Digs Israel by Amanda Hope Haley was an easy, interesting and faith-filled read, that taught me more about the historical and modern contexts to help me understand better both the Bible and God’s people. Good read ⭐⭐
Now I’d love to hear your thoughts: Have you read this? Any recommendations for other books about the Holy Lands and the history of the Bible?