It occurred to me how paltry Old Testament archeology is. Think of all of the artifacts, people, structures, cities, dynasties covered in the books of the Old Testament, and virtually no trace. Compared to Egypt, Mesopotamia, even Phoenicia, there’s meager physical and extra-Biblical documentary evidence for Israel’s existence.
Most notably, think of the Temple: not a stone upon a stone. The Ark of the Covenant, Urim and Thummim, and some other artifacts disappeared already with the Babylonian Captivity. The brazen serpent on a pole was destroyed by King Josias (Josiah) because it had become an object of idolatry. And now “evangelical” Protestants and some Jewish sects pore over ever square inch of the Holy Land trying to turn up artifacts–any artifact–of the Old Testament. How do we explain this absence?
Providence. The Old Testament is done, over, finito, kaput. And when it ended, God wished that virtually all physical memory of it be effaced. God sent the Romans to level the Temple. For the Temple was merely a type of Christ and His Church. The Ark of the Old Covenant needed to vanish so we might focus instead on the Ark of the New Covenant—the Blessed Virgin Mary. The brazen serpent is gone, but the True Cross remains. Etc., etc. The action of King Josias is a model for what God did with the rest of the paraphernalia of Old Testament worship. Had these artifacts persisted, they would have tempted Jew and Gentile alike into idolizing mere types and shadows when the Reality was present among us.
In contrast, virtually none of the relevant artifacts of the New Testament have perished. The True Cross, the Crib, the Seamless Garment, Our Lady’s Veil, the Shroud of Turin, the Sudarium, the Holy Grail–the list goes on and on. We still have them. These relics, plus the Holy Sepulchre, the Cenacle, and the tombs of the Apostles, are all in the hand of Catholics, or separated brethren who retain valid orders and offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
But these the Protestants do *not* seek! Their hearts are veiled. How sad it is, how many Protestants search in vain for the Ark of Moses, while refusing to seek the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession; they scale Mt. Ararat in search of scraps of gopher wood from Noah’s Ark, while relics of the True Cross have been dispersed over the world. I’ve venerated a fragment of the True Cross even here in my current parish, on the edge of the Driftless Area.
Cf. a different take on the same issue, which I’ve written up here.