I’ve said this many times, but I’ll keep repeating it: if I could do my education all over again, I would have gotten an MA in archaeology. Here is an excellent quote from a now very dated, but excellent introduction to archaeology and the study of the New Testament; it captures the importance of approaching the study of the NT using both the literary and non-literary evidence:
For it is only when we pit real people up against their real historical situations that we can ever hope to recover their true social, economic, and religious settings. Texts and monuments are but two routes to the recovery of historical actuality. Sooner or later these routes must intersect, and only then will we be closer to the world we endeavor so hard to recreate. (Meyers & Strange, Archaeology, The Rabbis and Early Christianity, 30)
I hope to spend a week participating in a dig next summer at Bethsadia with the Bethsaida Biblical Archaeology project.