The Bible is Completely Trustworthy

We have just spent four chapters explaining the Bible contains no errors and contradictions. They are simply Bible difficulties. In the next few chapters, we will cover some of the accusations by today’s Bible critics. In chapter 17, we will cover whether science has invalidated the Bible, demonstrating it is unscientific. One of the long-held criticisms of the Bible critic has been that it is full of myths and legends. Are they correct?

There were eight people in Noah’s family: Noah and his wife, three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, and their wives. “The Patriarch Noah saves himself, his family, and a remnant of all the world’s animals when God decides to destroy the world because of humanity’s evil deeds. God gives Noah detailed instructions for building the ark: it is to be of gopher wood, smeared inside and out with pitch, with three decks and internal compartments; it will be 300 cubits long, 50 wide, and 30 high; it will have a roof “finished to a cubit upward”, and an entrance on the side.” (Genesis 6:9-22; 7:1-9)

Even though Noah and his family were warning the people of the pending flood, it was as Jesus said, “In those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away.” (Matthew 24:38-39)

The “sons of God” mentioned in Genesis 6 were disobedient angels. The same expression “sons of God” is found at Job 1:6 and Job 38:7, and is applied to angels. The Apostle Peter supports this interpretation as well, for he writes, “He [Jesus] went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared.” (1 Pet. 3:19-20) Moreover, Jude adds weight to this position, as well, when he writes, “The angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.” (Jude 6)

These rebel angels had the power at one time to materialize in human form, just like the ones who had remained faithful to Jehovah God, as they delivered messages for Him to Abraham, Moses, and others. (Gen. 18:1, 2, 8, 20-22; 19:1-11; Josh. 5:13-15) The “proper dwelling” that Jude speaks of is heaven, which these angels abandoned, to take on human form and have relations that were contrary to nature with the “the daughters of man.” (Dan. 7:9-10) The Bible intimates these rebel angels were stripped of their power to take on human form, as you never hear of it taking place again after the flood, only spirit possession thereafter. These disobedient angels are “spirits in prison,” who had been thrown into “eternal chains under gloomy darkness.” This is more of a condition of limited powers, not so much a place, like a maximum-security prison. (1 Pet. 3:19; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6)

The offspring of these unnatural relations between materialized angels and women were the Nephilim, giant humans of about 9.5 feet tall, who were half angel and half human, demigods. The world had become so corrupt and violent that this is why God brought the flood. It is in this environment that Enoch courageously preached the message of condemnation, which he was commissioned to deliver to that evil world. We know that “all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God, and he was no more, for God took him.” (Gen. 5:23-24)

By faith, Noah “constructed an ark for the deliverance of his family.” (Heb. 11:7; Gen. 6:13-22) Noah was also “a proclaimer of righteousness” who also possessed great courage in preaching under the same conditions Enoch faced. He warned all that a great flood was coming. (2 Pet. 2:5) Try to picture that evil world. The giant Nephilim caused everyone to live in fear, powerful angels materializing to take women, all living in debauchery, yet Noah and his family walked with God, living a righteous life, doing all that God had commanded. Now, imagine having to go out and condemn these people, saying that “a worldwide flood is coming because God has judged you, repent now and be saved!” Imagine the ridicule, the threats that Noah and his family must have faced. How much faith it must have taken to work on that project, day after day, month after month, all the while being taunted and mocked. (Gen. 7:10-24; 8:1-17; 1 Pet. 3:19, 20)

Flood Accounts from the Ancient Near East (ANE)

When compared form-critically to the other major ancient Near Eastern flood accounts (especially the account in Gilgamesh, but also the Atrahasis, Ras Shamra, and Sumerian versions), the Genesis narrative is found to have a remarkably high number of formal parallels to those versions. Wenham has isolated seventeen features the Genesis and Gilgamesh accounts have in common, and these usually occur in the same sequence.[1]

Below are fifteen similarities that this author found.

Flood Similarities between Gilgamesh and the Biblical Account

  1. Divinely planned
  2. Humans were deserting God (biblical), or gods (ANE)
  3. The hero alone gets a divine revelation
  4. A huge ship that has pitch both inside and outside
  5. The hero and his family are saved
  6. Living Creatures are saved by bringing them aboard
  7. There is a storm, resulting in a flood
  8. All are destroyed except those on the ship
  9. The length of the flood is specific
  10. The ship lands on a mountain
  11. Birds are sent out to see if the water has gone down
  12. Global destruction of all life by water
  13. Survivors offer sacrifices to God/gods
  14. The hero is blessed
  15. There is to never be a future flood again

Many students of Scripture are not interested in looking for the ark because they believe the Genesis Flood account to be a legend with no basis in fact. At the opposite end of the spectrum are those who support such a search because they want to prove the historicity of the Flood and thus of Scripture and thereby bring many to the kingdom of God. Though some might, indeed, opt for the truth of Christianity if the ark were to be discovered, it should be remembered that one cannot be argued into the kingdom and that scoffers have always abounded. Most who knew Jesus Christ and witnessed His miracles refused to put their faith in Him and even to accept His resurrection. A more sober approach to a search for Noah’s ark recognizes this to be a legitimate endeavor, which, if successful, would throw light on one of the greatest events of biblical and world history and would provide tremendous confirming support for the Christian faith. Christians who engage in such projects as this one should approach them with an open mind, willing to follow where the evidence leads them.

A comparison of the Genesis and Mesopotamian flood stories shows numerous similarities. Both accounts indicate that the flood was divinely planned and that the disaster was revealed to the flood hero. Both accounts assert that the hero was divinely instructed to build a boat of large proportions in which a limited number of persons embarked along with other living creatures, and that those on board were not destroyed. Both accounts also specify the physical causes of the flood, its duration, the landing place of the boat, and the sending out of birds. And in both accounts the heroes offer a sacrifice after the flood is over, receive a divine blessing, and are given some assurance that a similar catastrophe will never again overtake mankind.

But the differences are far greater than the similarities. Most significant among them is that the Babylonian and Assyrian stories are (grossly) polytheistic, while the Genesis narrative is characterized by (an exalted) monotheism. Second, the Mesopotamian deluge comes as a result of the caprice of the gods or because mankind was so noisy that Enlil could not sleep, whereas the Genesis account gives human sin as the cause of the Flood. Third, in the Babylonian account an effort is made to hide from mankind the coming of the flood, but the biblical account gives abundant opportunity to repent. Fourth, Utnapishtim’s ship was cubical, had seven stories, and was some fifteen times larger than Noah’s ark. Fifth, the duration of the flood (rain) was different; Utnapishtim endured a rain of only seven days and nights. Sixth, Utnapishtim was granted immortality while Noah was not. There were also minor differences in the birds that were sent out, those who went aboard the ark, and the landing places of the boats. [2]

Of course, the Bible critic will claim the Bible writer has borrowed their flood myth from those in the Ancient Near East, Gilgamesh specifically. However, it is all these other flood legends throughout history, including the ANE, who have flood stories that are similar to the actual historical account found in the biblical record of Genesis 6-9. The Genesis account has one Almighty God, while the ANE stories have many gods, who are immoral in the extreme. On the other hand, the biblical account sought to remove the immorality and violence from the world. In the ANE, the flood takes place because a god is angry at the world. Even so, highlighting the differences does not erase the amount of explicit similarity. No Christian would want that anyway, as the hundreds of flood legends over the past 4,000 years, which have similarities with the actual historical one found in the book of Genesis, and is evidence of the historicity of that account.

If we are going to accept the Bible as the Word of God, inspired and fully inerrant, it must be historically accurate, with no legends and myths. There are literally dozens of books on biblical interpretation, with almost all of them incorporating the new hermeneutics of higher criticism, biblical criticism. The New Hermeneutics, or Higher Criticism, has opened Pandora’s Box to pseudo-scholarly works whose consequence has been to undermine the Bible as to its trustworthiness. The new Bible scholar has presented the Bible, not as the inspired inerrant Word of God, but as a book by men. If one follows in the path of grammatical-historical interpretation of Old Hermeneutics as opposed to the historical-critical interpretation, or New Hermeneutics, he will arrive at the correct conclusion of the author’s intended meaning. Many of the Bible critics today are Bible scholars themselves who use this New Hermeneutics, known as higher criticism or biblical criticism.

Historical-Critical Method

The historical-critical method is also known as higher criticism. It is used in most universities throughout the United States but far more in Canada, Australia, and countries across Europe. It should be differentiated from lower criticism. Lower criticism is also known as textual criticism, and is the study of families of original language manuscripts, as well as patristic writings, versions, and lectionaries, to determine what the original reading is. Since the job of lower criticism is to restore the text to the original, it is constructive, not destructive. As was stated above, higher criticism is pseudo-scholarship because it has done nothing but weaken and demoralize people’s assurance in the Bible being the inspired and fully inerrant Word of God, and is destructive in its nature. Higher criticism[3] or historical-critical method is made up of many forms of biblical criticism that is harmful to the authoritative, inspired and inerrant Word of God. These include: historical criticism, source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, social-science criticism, canonical criticism, rhetorical criticism, structural criticism, narrative criticism, reader-response criticism, poststructuralist criticism, feminist criticism, and socioeconomic criticism. While we cannot cover each of these in the space allotted, the ones we do will evidence their destructive nature.

Source Criticism

Source Criticism, a sub-discipline of Higher Criticism, is an attempt by liberal Bible scholars to discover the original sources the Bible writer(s), not Moses as our example, used to pen these five books. It should be noted most scholars who engage in higher criticism start with liberal presuppositions. Bible scholar, theologian, and educator Gleason L. Archer, Jr., identifies many flaws in the reasoning of those who support the Documentary Hypothesis. However, this one flaw being quoted herein is indeed the most grievous and lays the foundation for other irrational reasoning in their thinking. Identifying their problem, Archer writes: “The Wellhausen school started with the pure assumption, which they have hardly bothered to demonstrate, that Israel’s religion was of merely human origin like any other and that it was to be explained as a mere product of evolution.”  Wellhausen and those who followed him begin with the presupposition God’s Word is not that at all, the Word of God. They argue it is the word of mere man, and then they reason beyond this based on that premise. As to the impact, this has on God’s Word and those who hold it as such, it is comparable to having a natural disaster wash the foundation right out from under your home.

The first five books of the Bible came to be called the Pentateuch (Greek for “five rolls”), which both Jewish and Christian conservatives view as being penned by the one writer, Moses. Originally, the Pentateuch made up one book; later this was divided into five rolls or scrolls, making it much easier to handle. In our English Bibles, these five books came to be called Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. From the beginning, these writings were accepted by the nation of Israel as a canon. Moses’ successor, Joshua, said: “Be very strong and continue obeying all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you do not turn from it to the right or left. So be very diligent to love the LORD your God for your own well-being.” (Josh. 23:6, 11, HCSB) The Jews accept the Pentateuch with Moses as its writer; this has been the case since 1,500 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Later, Jesus Christ and the writers of the New Testament accepted the Pentateuch as entirely trustworthy, with Moses as its writer who was inspired of God.

For about 3,500 years, Moses’ first five books have been the foundation of the Old Testament, which itself paved the way for the writing of the New Testament. These five books were actually the first mini-canon by which all other Bible books could be compared. Many scholars have claimed, however, that Moses was not the writer of the first five books of the Bible. Their claim is known as the Documentary Hypothesis. Moreover, this hypothesis also calls into question the authorship of the books of Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings.

It was in the latter half of the nineteenth century that higher criticism began to be taken seriously. These critics rejected Moses as the writer of the Pentateuch, arguing instead the accounts in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy were based on four other sources, or writers, written between the tenth and the sixth centuries BCE To differentiate these sources one from the other, they are simply known as the “J,” “E,” “D,” and “P” sources. The letters are the initial to the name of these alleged sources, as you will soon see.

The capital letter “J” is used to represent an alleged writer. In this case it stands for any place God’s personal name, Jehovah, is used. It is argued this author is perhaps a woman as it is the only one of their presented authors who is not a priest. (Harold Bloom, The Book of “J”) They date the part set out to “J” to c. 850 BCE[4] Some scholars place this author in the southern portion of the Promised Land, Judah.[5]

Another writer put forth as “E” stands for the portion that has Jehovah’s title Elohim, God. Most higher critics place this author c. 750–700 BCE Unlike “J,” this author “E” is said to reside in the northern kingdom of Israel. As stated earlier, this author is reckoned to be a priest, with his lineage going back to Moses. It has also been said he bought this office. In addition, it is argued that an editor combined “J” and “E” after the destruction of Israel by the Assyrians but before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, which they date to about 722 BCE.[6]

These same critics hold out the language and theological content of “D,” Deuteronomy, is different from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, thus they have another author. They argue the priests living in the northern kingdom of Israel gathered “D” over several hundred years. However, it wasn’t until much later that “D” was combined with the previous works. It is also said the “D” writer, or source, was also behind Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings (Dtr). These critics strongly suggest this is the book found in the temple by Hilkiah the high priest and given to King Josiah. (2 Kings 22:8) It is further put forth that J/E/D were fused together as one document in about 586 BCE.[7]

The source critics use the capital letter “P” for Priestly. They do that because this part of the Pentateuch usually relates to the priesthood. For instance, things like the sacrifices would be tagged as belonging to this author. Many scholars suggest “P” was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, which they date at 586 BCE Others put forth it was written during the exile of seventy years, the Priest(s) composing this holy portion for the people who would return from exile, while others say it was written after the exile, about 450 BCE These liberal scholars find no consensus on when this supposed author “P” wrote this portion of the first five books. The critics tell us that the final form of J/E/D/P was composed into one document about 400 BCE.[8]

The capital “R” represents the editor(s) who put it together and may have altered some portions to facilitate their social-circumstances of their day. The “R” comes from the German word Redakteur (Redactor), which is an editor or reviser of a work.

Redaction Criticism

As stated above in our alphabet soup of alleged authors, “J,” “E,” “D,” “P,” and “R,” a redactor is an editor or reviser of a work. Redaction Criticism is another form of Biblical criticism that intends to investigate the Scriptures and draw conclusions concerning their authorship, historicity, and time of writing. This kind of criticism, as well as the others, has done nothing more than tear down God’s Word. R. E. Friedman, the Documentary Hypothesis’ biggest advocate, asserts the “J” document was composed between 922–722 BCE in the southern kingdom of Judah, while the northern kingdom of Israel was composing the “E” document during these same years. Friedman contends that sometime thereafter a compiler of history put these two sources together, resulting in “J/E,” with the compiler being known as “RJE.” Friedman states shortly thereafter, the priesthood in Jerusalem put out yet another document, known today as “P,” this being another story to be added to the above “J/E.” Going back to their authors for the first five books of the Bible, Friedman and these critics claim a redactor, or editor put the whole Pentateuch together using “D,” “P,” and the combination of “J/E.” For them, this editor (Deuteronomist) used the written sources he had available to make his additions for the purpose of dealing with the social conditions of his day. They claim this editor’s express purpose was to alter Scripture to bring comfort and hope to those who were in exile in Babylon. Wellhausen’s theories, with some adjustments, have spread like a contagious disease until they have consumed the body of Christendom. However, the real question is: Do these higher critics have any serious evidence to overturn thousands of years of belief by three major religious groups (Jews, Christians, and Muslims) that the Pentateuch was written by Moses?

These critics have pebbles, each representing minute inferences and implications, or circumstantial evidence at best, they place on one side of the scale. These are weighed against the conservative evidence of Moses’ authorship of the Pentateuch. As unsuspecting readers work their way through the books and articles written by these critics, the scales seem to be tilted all to one side, as if there were no evidence for the other side. Thus, like a jury, many uninformed readers conclude there is no alternative but to accept the idea there are multiple authors for the Pentateuch instead of Moses, who is traditionally determined to be the sole author.

Reader-Response Criticism

The idea the reader is the one who determines the meaning is known as the “reader response.” Without creating too much confusion, it is up to each Christian, as a minister before God, to understand “the spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.” (1 Cor. 2:15) Each of us must determine if an interpretation is correct. However, this is based on the rules of interpretation, and one having a sound knowledge of these rules applied in a balanced manner.

The “reader response” is not of that nature, though. For those who hold this position, all meaning is equal to another, and all are correct. You can have a set of verses and 20 people may give different interpretations, and many may seem the opposite of others. Those believing in the “reader “response” will say all are correct. Under this position, the text allows each reader the right to derive his or her own meaning from the text. This is where you hear “I think this means,” “I believe this means,” “this means to me,” and “I feel this means to me.” The problem with this is the text loses its authority. God and his author lose their authority over the intended meaning of the text. When God inspired the writer to express his will and purposes, there was the intention of one meaning, what the author under inspiration meant by the words he used. If anyone can come along and give it whatever meaning pleases them, then God’s authority over the meaning is lost, and there is no real meaning at all.

The reader does have a responsibility in the discovery of the meaning. He must seek out the intended meaning of the author. He does this by grammatical-historical interpretation.[9] Of course, this requires each of us to have good tools. First, and foremost you would have at least one or two good books on how to interpret God’s Word correctly.[10]  He will have several good literal translations of the Bible, to make comparisons. He would have a couple word study dictionaries, Bible handbooks, Bible dictionaries, Bible background commentaries, a book on customs and cultures of Bible times, a Bible commentary set, among other tools. This may seem like a lot to invest in, but we are dealing with:

  • an opportunity at a relatively joyous and happy life in this wicked world where we live;
  • the correct application of the Bible, as we understand it from our hermeneutical and exegetical studies;
  • an opportunity to draw close to God;
  • an opportunity to become his friend; and
  • an opportunity at eternal life.

The modern intellectual sets aside all of the weaknesses of Higher Criticism because this way of analyzing the texts can get him the answers he desires. Scholars who call themselves conservative, who believe they can investigate the Scriptures, using the same study process as the liberal scholars, but only use aspects of this study approach they deem safe, are saying things that call into question the trustworthiness of God.

Below is a list of just a few comments that are reflective of what some of the most influential authors in the United States, who call themselves conservative Evangelicals, have written as they advocate the Historical Criticism Methodology, and its sub-criticisms. These include Source Criticism, Tradition Criticism, Form Criticism, and Redaction Criticism. Here are just ten things with which these scholars agree, representing the proverbial “tip-of-the-iceberg”:

  • Matthew, not Jesus, created the Sermon on the Mount.
  • The commissioning of the Twelve in Matthew 10 is a group of instructions compiled and organized by Matthew, not spoken by Jesus on a single occasion.
  • The parable accounts of Matthew 13 and Mark 4 are anthologies of parables that Jesus uttered on separate occasions.
  • Jesus did not preach the Olivet Discourse in its entirety, as found in the gospel accounts.
  • Jesus gave his teaching on divorce and remarriage without the exception clauses found in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9.
  • In Matthew 19:16-17, Matthew changed the words of Jesus and the rich man to obtain a different emphasis or to avoid a theological problem involved in the wording of Mark’s and Luke’s accounts of the same event.
  • The scribes and the Pharisees were in reality decent people whom Matthew painted in an entirely negative light because of his personal bias against them.
  • The genealogies of Jesus in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 are figures of speech and not accurate records of Jesus’ physical, legal lineage.
  • The magi, who according to Matthew 2 visited the child Jesus after his birth, are fictional, not real characters.
  • Jesus uttered only three or four of the eight or nine beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12

Many other examples could be listed, but these should demonstrate that one cannot use the same study approach as the liberal scholars, the Historical Criticism Methodology, and not end up undermining the trustworthiness of Scripture. These alleged conservative scholars who are supposed to be defenders of God’s Word, but have chosen to give ground to the enemy of that Word. Dr. Robert L. Thomas in the Jesus Crisis asks, “Who will defend the Synoptic Gospels if those expected to do so have gone over to the other side of the enemy?” (p. 27)[11]

People today have the belief that reason and logic are the primary sources of knowledge and truth and should be relied on in searching for and testing the truth of things. Yes, many intellectuals today are rationalistic. According to the Webster’s Dictionary, rationalism means “reliance on reason as the basis for establishment of religious truth.” In other words, the Bible is not the inspired, fully inerrant Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16), where “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet. 2:21) Rather, for the rationalist who accepts everything in human terms, the Bible is nothing more than the Word of man, as opposed to being the result of divine actions. They see the miracles within Scripture as being nothing more than myths, legends, or folk tales.

Does Archaeology Support the Bible?

“An archaeologist is a historian who is not limited to the written word, but goes beyond and literally digs out remains of ancient peoples.”[12]

Being involved in an archaeological dig is exciting.  The hard work involved in an excavation is made worthwhile when one discovers relics and evidence of occupancy from an ancient time.

an-archaeological-dig-with-some-tools-of-the-trade

An archaeological dig with some tools of the trade

Not only is the excavation process important, but also the careful recording of finds and analysis is essential for future reference and research.

Biblical Archaeology falls under the umbrella of general archaeology, but this area of archaeology also has a guidebook—the Bible. It is typical and well accepted in many academic fields, such as Classics, to use primary documentation alongside archaeological evidence.

Dr. Nelson Glueck, an experienced archaeologist and head of the American School of Oriental Research was quoted by another notable archaeologist, Dr. Clifford Wilson as stating:

“I have excavated for 30 years with a trowel in one hand and a Bible in the other.  In matters of historical perspective … I have never yet found the Bible to be in error.”[13]

Many secular archaeologists refer to the Bible but consider it a collection of myths, whereas Biblical Archaeologists, of the non-liberal school of thought, rely on the Bible to provide historical and geographical information.  Secular archaeologists may point the finger at Biblical Archaeologists and accuse them of bias. It is important to note those making these accusations likewise hold a biased viewpoint and build their arguments based on a particular school of thought.

Biblical Archaeology is helpful to those wishing to be informed for many reasons including:  a) it is helpful to gain an understanding of the context and cultural practices of people groups mentioned in the Bible; and b) Biblical Archaeology helps to provide a rebuttal to Bible critics.

  1. Archaeology is helpful to gain an understanding of the context and cultural practices of people groups mentioned in the Bible.

“Archaeology is an important tool that enables a person to put on twentieth-century BC glasses when reading about the story of Abraham, fifteenth-century BC glasses when reading about the life and work of Moses, and first century AD glasses when reading the stories of Jesus and his disciples.” [14]

Archaeology moves the reader from written events to engaging with actual objects associated with specific peoples of that time. There is a wealth of finds from the Levant including manuscripts, seals, and ostraca, which provide written evidence of transactions and laws illustrating the everyday lives of people mentioned in the Bible. Buildings and their interior decorations provide us with an understanding of the wealth and creativity of those living during that period.  Pottery and glassware, tools and weaponry illustrate the advancement of society.  Tombs reflect values in those societies including how much they cared for relatives, how they viewed the afterlife, and what possessions were important enough to take with them into the next world.

Details about people, such as the Canaanites and Philistines, become clearer through archaeology.  For example, the Bible tells us in detail where the Philistines lived within the Levant, and about their interaction with the Israelites, but archaeology takes us one step further by providing clues as to how they existed in the area.  The discovery of beautiful pottery shows a clear link to Aegean prototypes, but also proof of local manufacture. The Relief of Rameses III of Medinet Habu further provides detail of the headdress and attire of a typical Philistine warrior.  As Leen Ritmeyer notes, the feathered headdress of the “Sea Peoples” makes them clearly distinguishable from the Egyptians and we can see for ourselves “the cruelty in their faces.”[15]

No archaeologist can ever conclusively prove a theory but will provide an argument and corresponding evidence.  A general example here is with regards to the search for Troy. Heinrich Schliemann wanted to demonstrate the historical accuracy of Homer’s Iliad by finding Troy.  He did excavate Troy, but in reality, it did not confirm the events in the Iliad took place, but rather “that it is historically accurate in its geographical placement of the site.”[16]

This is true for Biblical Archaeology.  We cannot prove what happened by archaeology. However, the opposite is also true, archaeology does not disprove what the texts reveal.  Hoerth and McRay correctly conclude that:

“The Bible does not need confirmation of its theological truths or its historical references in order to do that for which it was written and canonized, that is, to produce faith in the hearts and minds of its readers.” [17]

What the Bible Archaeologist can do is to put forward a hypothesis based on the Bible and search for corresponding evidence.  For instance, if one looked at the period of King Josiah, an archaeologist would expect to find evidence of the Israelites’ return to faith in God. In 1979 Israeli archaeologist Gabriel Barkay made an important discovery while excavating an Iron II period tomb. Barkay found two tiny silver scrolls which contained prayers etched on the inside.  These prayers are found in Numbers 6:24-26 and the amulets worn by the people buried in the tomb indicate they were not relying on pagan ritual but rather blessing and protection from the God of Israel. [18]

silver-amulet-scrolls_side-view

One of the silver scrolls found by Gabriel Barkay

  1. b) Archaeology is helpful to provide a rebuttal to Bible critics.

Michael Avi Yonah remarked that Archaeology has been a useful tool and people that at one time were only mentioned by name in the Bible. The Hittites have become “vividly clear through archaeology.”[19]

Critics at one stage doubted the existence of the Hittites and would resort to the argument they must be an invention of the writer, but archaeology has shown that lack of evidence does not prove anything other than the need for further investigation. Archaeology will never reveal everything we would like it to, as over time buildings and contents are destroyed, artifacts deteriorate, and sites are robbed.

Unfortunately, when there has been an absence of archaeological evidence to back up texts within the Bible, critics often argue, based on their premise the Bible is not a reliable source, that places or people referred to were fictitious.  However, they are either silent or find another criticism when archaeology then finds evidence that fits in perfectly with the Bible.

For instance, the Pool of Siloam for many years had been considered by scholars to be a fabrication of Bible writers. James J Charlesworth of Princeton Theological Seminary made the observation, “Scholars have said that there wasn’t a pool of Siloam and that John was using a religious conceit”[20] (to illustrate a point). When the actual Pool of Siloam was unearthed in the exact location where John said it was, some scholars were surprised. However, to the Biblical Archaeologist, it made perfect sense that archaeology will agree with the Bible.[21]

Another example, of critics making a wrongful and premature conclusion regarding the Bible, is Nazareth. Skeptics argued the town did not exist before the 4th Century AD.  In 2009 a dwelling was unearthed in Nazareth that dates to the time of Jesus and Archaeologist Yardena Alexandre of the Israel Antiquities Authority finds this house, along with other evidence including older discoveries in nearby tombs, suggests this out of the way hamlet contained around fifty homes on approximately four acres. [22]

Biblical Archaeology is indeed helpful and can provide us information, which works hand-in-hand with our knowledge of the Bible. It serves to illustrate the Bible and provides  an understanding of the geographical and historical situations mentioned in it. Biblical Archaeology also helps to provide a response to Bible critics. The accusations of bias and lack of evidence work both ways and the Bible believer can rest assured that although Archaeology can illuminate, it neither proves nor disproves theological truths, which remain immutable.[23]

Is Biblical Archaeology Necessary for Faith?

The Age of Enlightenment, beginning in the 17th Century, had positive and negative results for Christians. It helped to remove tradition and superstition, which had held many in shackles by the dominating religion and allowed people to question institutions and find personal faith through the Bible. The negative result was the Bible came under scrutiny and many universities after this time approached the Bible with hostile criticism.

I studied at a secular university and the Bible was treated as classical literature that provided facts on attitudes and traditions but little more than that. It is relegated to the category of writings such as the Iliad and considered to be based on myths. Believers, of course, have good reason not to hold to the secular view. As well as spiritual reasons for faith in Christ, there is also proof within Scripture and outside evidence found in primary documents and through archaeology.

I Peter 3:15 states that we as Christians should be prepared to give reasons for our faith, and it can feel overwhelming in the 21st Century to tackle the many criticisms that come our way. Archaeology is helpful to give answers. It is not a magic bullet but offers responses to those who consider the Bible of no historical relevance.

It has long been the position in Biblical Archaeology that archaeology does not “replace our faith.” The Christian faith, of course, needs no outside source to legitimize the Bible. Faith is through Christ alone. However, when there are continual attacks or questions as to whether people or events in the Bible occurred, it can help our faith to know that archaeology has provided much strong evidence in support of the Bible.

One current area of controversy is the dating of the Exodus and events such as the fall of Jericho. There are many opinions on the matter. Alfred J Hoerth in Archaeology and the Old Testament explores the many excavations at Jericho and opinions of archaeologists such as Carl Watzinger, John Garstang, Kathleen Kenyon and Bryant Wood. In the early 1900s, Watzinger excavated at Jericho and concluded it was unoccupied during the Late Bronze Age.

In the 1930s, Garstang excavated for several seasons and his conclusion was he had found: a collapsed city wall, and a residential area (“City IV”) dating to approximately 1400. Kenyon excavated in the 1950s and agreed that Garstang had found tombs, pottery and possibly a building dating to the period he suggested. She excavated a few Late Bronze Age finds, but her techniques found the double city wall belonged to a much earlier Bronze Age. She put the destruction of Jericho before the time of Joshua.

Once Kenyon’s work became available for study in the 1980s, Wood looked at the evidence and concluded that Kenyon was correct the double wall was indeed constructed at an earlier time but the finds of pottery, scarabs, as well as the carbon dating suggested the city was destroyed at the date Garstang suggested, approximately 1400. Wood further found Kenyon had based her conclusions on the absence of certain imported pottery but had ignored local pottery, which Wood found to be Late Bronze Age in date.

Many universities, however, have overlooked the conclusions of Wood and instead treat Kenyon’s opinion as absolute. This strongly suggests that there is academic bias and an unwillingness to properly examine all informed opinions. It would be illogical for anyone to ever consider one opinion on archaeological findings as irrefutable. It also would be equally unreasonable for academics to then build on the opinions of an individual like Kenyon, without considering the new data and conclusions. It should always be expected in archaeology that fresh evidence is often revealed from the dirt and an old theory will then be re-examined.

The Christian needs to be aware that university bias exists, but there is ample evidence from the soil to show the Bible is historically reliable. Key people mentioned in the Bible did exist, and we can show this from archaeology. For example, King David was ruler over Israel and is mentioned in the important discovery of the Tel Dan Stele. Before the Stele was discovered, many academics argued that King David was an invented character.

Many locations mentioned in the Old and New Testaments have been excavated and show evidence of what we would expect, for example, the occupation of the Philistines and Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, and Gaza. Outside sources like the Merneptah Stele and the Obelisk of Shalmaneser III attest to events in the Bible. The Merneptah Stele gives an account of Shishak’s invasion of Judah. 1 Kings 14 and 2 Chronicles 12 reveal how Pharaoh Shishak invaded during the reign of King Rehoboam, the son of Solomon.

The Obelisk of Shalmaneser III is a six and a half foot black obelisk discovered in Nimrud’s palace in 1846. Jehu, King of Israel (2 Kings 9-10) is shown paying tribute and kneeling before Shalmaneser III.

the-black-obelisk-of-shalmaneser-iii-is-housed-in-the-british-museum

The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III is housed in the British Museum.

Regarding the New Testament, those who assert Jesus was a myth are in a minority and never taken seriously. Secular academics may argue over events, but never the existence of Jesus, as there is too much evidence to refute that Jesus never existed. Writings such as Josephus and Tacitus specifically refer to him and furthermore archaeology continues to confirm the existence of other characters mentioned in the New Testament such as Pontius Pilate and the High Priest Caiaphas both recorded in Luke Chapter 3.

The Pilate Inscription was located in the ruins of Caesarea Maritima in 1961. This inscription proclaimed “Pontius Pilate Prefect of Judea, has dedicated to the people of Caesarea a temple in honour of Tiberius.”

 In 1990 an ossuary was found in Jerusalem’s Old city and contained the words “Yeosef bar Qafa – Joseph son of Caiaphas” and it has been well accepted the Caiaphas in this inscription is the High Priest mentioned in the New Testament.

caiaphas-ossuary-housed-in-the-israel-museum

Caiaphas Ossuary housed in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem

These are just a handful of examples, but the Christian can be assured there is ample evidence found through archaeology for one’s faith to be increased. The skeptics will always highlight something controversial, but there are myriads of outside proofs, be it primary documents or archaeological finds that highlight the people and sites mentioned in the Bible did exist and were not made up as is sometimes asserted by opponents.[24]

Yes, the detective-like investigation of archaeologists over the last 150 years has helped better understand the civilizations of ancient times by digging in their remains. Therefore, we have found one time after the other that archaeology has vindicated the Bible against the Bible critic. The Bible critic was fond of vehemently saying that absolutely this person did not exist or that event did not take place. However, time after time, archaeology would undercover evidence that silenced them.

Claims That Belshazzar Is Missing From History

Daniel 5:1; 5:11; 5:18; 5:22; 5:30 (English Standard Version)

1 King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousand.

11 There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and King Nebuchadnezzar, your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers,

18 O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty.

22 And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this,

30 That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed.

In 1850 German scholar Ferdinand Hitzig said in a commentary on the book of Daniel confidently declaring that Belshazzar was “a figment of the writer’s imagination.”[25] His reasoning was Daniel was missing from history, only found in the book of Daniel itself. Does this not seem a bit premature? Is it so irrational to think that a person might not be readily located by archaeology, a brand new field at the time, especially from a period that was yet to be fully explored? Regardless, in 1854 there was a discovery of some small cylinders in the ancient city of Babylon and Ur, which is southern Iraq. The cuneiform documents were from King Nabonidus and they included a prayer for “Belshazzar my firstborn son, the offspring of my heart.” This discovery was a mere four years after Hitzig made his rash judgment.

Of course, not all critics would be satisfied. H. F. Talbot making the statement, “This proves nothing.” The charge by Talbot was the Belshazzar was likely a mere child, but Daniel has him as being king. Well, this critical remark did not even stay alive as long as Hitzig’s had. Within the year, more cuneiform tablets were discovered, this time stating he had secretaries, as well as a household staff. Obviously, Belshazzar was not a child! However, more was to come, as other tablets explained Belshazzar was a co-regent king while Nabonidus was away from Babylon for years at a time.[26]

One would think the critic would concede. Still disgruntled, some argued the Bible calls Belshazzar, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, not the son of Nabonidus. Other suggests that Daniel nowhere mentions Nabonidus. Once again, both arguments are dismantled with a deeper observation. Nabonidus married the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, making Belshazzar the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. Both Hebrew and Aramaic language do not have words for “grandfather” or “grandson.” “Son of” also means “grandson of” or even “descendant of.” (See Matthew 1:1) Moreover, the account in Daniel does infer Belshazzar is the son of Nabonidus. When the mysterious handwriting was on the wall, the horrified Belshazzar offered the third place in his kingdom, to whoever could interpret it. (Daniel 5:7) The observant reader will notice Nabonidus held first place in the kingdom, while Belshazzar held the second place, leaving the third place for the interpreter.

Darius the Mede

One would think the critic would have learned his lesson from Belshazzar. However, this is just not the case. Daniel 5:31 reads: “and Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.” Here again, the critical scholar argues Darius does not exist, as he has never been found in secular or archaeological records. Therefore, The New Encyclopedia Britannica declares this Darius is “a fictitious character.”

There is no doubt that, in time; Darius will be unearthed by archaeology, just as Belshazzar has. There is initial information that allows for inferences already. Cuneiform tablets have been discovered that shows Cyrus the Persian did not take over as the “King of Babylon” directly after the conquest. Rather he carried the title “King of the Lands.”[27] W. H Shea suggests, “Whoever bore the title of ‘King of Babylon’ was a vassal king under Cyrus, not Cyrus himself.” Is it possible that Darius is simply a title of a person that was placed in charge of Babylon? Some scholars suggest a man named Gubaru was the real Darius. Secular records do show that Cyrus appointed Gubaru as governor over Babylon, giving him considerable power. Looking to the cuneiform tablets again, we find that Cyrus appointed sub-governors over Babylon. Fascinatingly, Daniel notes that Darius selected 120 satraps to oversee the kingdom of Babylon. (Dan. 6:1)

Archaeology is continuously bringing unknown people to light all the time, and in time, it may shed more light on Darius. However, for now, and based on the fact that many Bible characters have been established, it is a little ridiculous to consider Darius as “fictitious,” worse still to view the entire book of Daniel as a fraud. In fact, it is best to see Daniel as a person, who was there in the midst of that history, giving him access to more court records.

Archaeologists have in many ways increased our understanding of the way things were in ancient times by digging among the remains of past civilizations. Hence, it does not surprise the archaeological record repeatedly harmonizes with what we read in the Bible. Sometimes, archaeology has even vindicated the Bible.

The Bible Is Historically Reliable

1 Kings 4:20 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

20 Judah and Israel were as many as the sand by the sea. They were eating and drinking and rejoicing.

Archaeological evidence reveals that there was a population explosion in Judah during and after the tenth century B.C. when the peace and prosperity David brought made it possible to build many new towns.[28]

Under Rehoboam, the Son of Solomon, Israel broke away from Judah, forming two nations: the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel to the north, and the two-tribe kingdom of Benjamin and Judah to the south. The northern kingdom of Israel conquered the land of Moab. King Mesha of Moab raised sheep. He was forced to give the king of Israel 100,000 lambs and another 100,000 rams. When Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. So King Joram set out from Samaria and prepared Israel for war. His first move was to send a message to Jehoshaphat king of Judah: “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Would you join me and fight him?” “I’m with you all the way,” said Jehoshaphat. “My troops are your troops, my horses are your horses. Which route shall we take?”[29] (2 Kings 3:4-27) Amazingly, in August of 1868 in Jordan, the Mesha Stele inscribed stone (also known as the “Moabite Stone”) was discovered. This Stele gives the account by King Mesha of Moab.

2 Kings 17:6-18 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Fall of Israel

In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

Exile Because of Idolatry

And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced. And the people of Israel did secretly against the Lord their God things that were not right. They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. 10 They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, 11 and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the Lord carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the Lord to anger, 12 and they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this.” 13 Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.”

14 But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God. 15 They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them that they should not do like them. 16 And they abandoned all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. 17 And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and use divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger.18 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only.

Archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon comments, “One might have a suspicion that some of this is hyperbole.” But is it? She adds, “The archaeological evidence of the fall of the kingdom of Israel is almost more vivid than that of the Biblical record. … The complete obliteration of the Israelite towns of Samaria and Hazor and the accompanying destruction of Megiddo is the factual archaeological evidence that the [Bible] writer was not exaggerating.”[30]

2 Kings 24:8-15 English Standard Version (ESV)

Jehoiachin Reigns in Judah

Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father had done.

Jerusalem Captured

10 At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged.11 And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to the city while his servants were besieging it, 12 and Jehoiachin the king of Judah gave himself up to the king of Babylon, himself and his mother and his servants and his officials and his palace officials. The king of Babylon took him prisoner in the eighth year of his reign 13 and carried off all the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the Lord, which Solomon king of Israel had made, as the Lord had foretold. 14 He carried away all Jerusalem and all the officials and all the mighty men of valor, 10,000 captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained, except the poorest people of the land. 15 And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon. The king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officials, and the chief men of the land he took into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon.

2 Kings 25:27-30 English Standard Version (ESV)

Jehoiachin Released from Prison

27 And in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, Evil-Merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, graciously freed Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. 28 And he spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat above the seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon. 29 So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table, 30 and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, as long as he lived.

This event is recorded in the Babylonian Chronicle, many series of tablets recording major events in Babylonian history, discovered by archaeologists. On this, we read: “The king of Akkad [Babylon] . . . laid siege to the city of Judah (iahudu) and the king took the city on the second day of the month of Addaru.”[31] Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin into exile to Babylon. However, later, when Jehoiachin king of Judah had been in exile for thirty-seven years, Evil-Merodach became king in Babylon and let Jehoiachin out of prison. Jehoiachin took off his prison garb and for the rest of his life ate his meals in company with the king. The king provided everything he needed to live comfortably. (2 Kings 24:8-15; 25:27-30, MSG) This is evidenced by governmental documents found in Babylon, which list the provisions given to “Yaukîn, king of Judah.”[32]

David Noel Freedman (1922 – 2008), son of the writer David Freedman, was a biblical scholar, author, editor, archaeologist, and ordained Presbyterian minister (Th.B., Princeton Theological Seminary, 1944).[33] In reference to the Bible and its historical accounts, Freedman commented, “In general, however, archaeology has tended to support the historical validity of the biblical narrative. The broad chronological outline from the patriarchs to NT times correlates with archaeological data. … Future discoveries are likely to sustain the present moderate position that the biblical tradition is historically rooted, and faithfully transmitted, though it is not history in the critical or scientific sense.” In addition Freedman goes on to discuss the efforts of the Bible criticism, with their higher criticism, “Attempted reconstructions of biblical history by modern scholars—e.g., Wellhausen’s view that the patriarchal age was a reflex of the divided monarchy; or the rejection of the historicity of Moses and the exodus and consequent restructuring of Israelite history by Noth and his followers—have not survived the archaeological data as well as the biblical narrative.”[34]

Lessons of Jericho

Jericho was once thought to be a “Bible problem” because of the seeming disagreement between archaeology and the Bible. When the archaeology is correctly interpreted, however, the opposite is the case. The archaeological evidence supports the historical accuracy of the Biblical account in every detail. Every aspect of the story that could possibly be verified by the findings of archaeology is, in fact, verified.

There are a number of theories as to how the walls of Jericho came down. Both Garstang and Kenyon found evidence of earthquake activity at the time the city met its end. If God did use an earthquake to accomplish His purposes that day, it was still a miracle since it happened at precisely the right moment, and was manifested in such a way as to protect Rahab’s house. No matter what agency God used, it was ultimately the faith of the Israelites that brought the walls down: “By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days” (Heb. 11:30).

The example of Jericho is a wonderful spiritual lesson for God’s people yet today. There are times when we find ourselves facing enormous “walls” that are impossible to break down by human strength. If we put our faith in God and follow His commandments, even when they seem foolish to us, He will perform “great and awesome deeds” (Deut. 4:34) and give us the victory.[35]

The Reliability of the Bible

When it comes to archaeologists, they will differ in their observations, even among conservative evangelical biblical archaeologists. The extreme differences go from what is known as the minimalist view, which disagrees with the historicity of the Bible (it cannot be trusted), while the maximalist view is that we can trust the historicity of the Bible. While it is true many scholars are coming to the point of trusting the historicity of the Bible, this does not equal evidence of its trustworthiness. One must look at the evidence and arguments of both sides, and then make a decision. William Foxwell Albright (1891 – 1971) was an American archaeologist, biblical scholar, philologist, and expert on ceramics. From the early twentieth century until his death, he was the dean of biblical archaeologists and the acknowledged founder of the Biblical archaeology movement.[36] He writes, “There has been a general return to appreciation of the accuracy, both in general sweep and in factual detail, of the religious history of Israel. … To sum up, we can now again treat the Bible from beginning to end as an authentic document of religious history.”[37]

Today we inhabit a world flooded with an overwhelming mass of information in many fields, and an unparalleled range of opinions on everything. This includes loud denunciations of the Old Testament as very largely late fiction of very little historical value. No novelty! In 1753, Astruc tried to separate Moses’ accounts in Genesis into parallel strips of text (‘J’ and ‘E’ – imaginary sources). At least he entitled his work honestly as ‘Conjectures….’ In 1805/6, with no independent evidence at all, De Wette speculated that in 621 BC the Hebrew priests fraudulently invented Deuteronomy (source ‘D’). Finally, in 1878 for his Prolegomena, Wellhausen set all the ‘Law’ elements (‘D’ and ‘P’) of the Bible’s first five books (the Pentateuch) later than the imagined ‘J’ and ‘E’ narratives, giving a guesswork ‘evolutionary’ reconstruction of ancient Hebrew literature (‘J’; then ‘E’; then ‘D’; and then ‘P’), religion (primitive folk-religion; then the prophets; then priestly rituals) and history (no patriarchs, very little ‘exodus’, rudimentary monarchy/ies; sophistication only in and after the Babylonian exile). All these entire structures were, and remain, 100% hypothesis, with no supporting external data. Modern-day ‘minimalism’ which dates the Old Testament only from around 400/300 BC, as mostly fiction, is merely the logical outcome of older attitudes. With variations, such ‘critical’ dogmas are continually repeated in stark isolation from almost any use of external controls over their validity, unless the controls are bent to fit the theories, instead of correcting them; which is an invalid procedure.

But from around 1800 till the present, in today’s ‘Middle East’ an entire world of the ancient Near East – the world also of the Bible – has been progressively unveiled. The systematic exploration of hundreds of sites, and the discovery and decipherment of thousands of texts covering 3,000 years, in some 20 ancient languages and over a dozen scripts, we owe to archaeologists, and to the labours of Assyriologists, Sumerologists, Egyptologists, Hittitologists, and other specialists. Thus, we now have a vast, detailed, if unevenly-preserved, background to the Old Testament’s literature, religion and history. This provides a radically different perspective. By way of example, we now touch briefly on sample topics and periods in the Old Testament affected by these external, essentially factual resources.[38]

This chapter will argue that the Old Testament is a compilation of reliable historical writings. The divine authorship of the Old and New Testaments will not be argued for until chapter twenty-eight. The goal of this chapter is to show that the Old Testament is not a book of religious myths. It records historically accurate data; therefore, it should be considered historically reliable.[39]

Dr. Leong Tien Fock, B.E. (Hons) in Civil Engineering from the University of Malaya, M.A. in Old Testament Studies from Wheaton College, M.A. and Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from University of California, Los Angeles.

The Bible has been subjected to an incredibly extensive and intensive scrutiny by critics. Yet, unless one only reads the critics’ work, it has not only survived the trial but has in fact thrived in it. Christians should be familiar with a defense of the Bible even in the absence of an offense. For the intellectual and spiritual climate we live in is such that the claims of the Bible do not seem or feel real. We need to be able to consciously affirm in our heart that the Bible is reliable and trustworthy.

The reliability of the Bible is fundamental to the credibility of the Christian faith. All Christian doctrines, including the doctrine of the Bible as the Word of God, are based on the Bible. Given the often vicious and seemingly credible attacks on the Bible, a Christian who is confronted with them may find his faith shaken or even shattered. This essay is written with the conviction that it is possible for anyone who is not already prejudiced against the Bible (or who is at least willing to temporarily suspend such a bias) to see that there is a remarkably solid basis to believe in the reliability of the Bible.[40]

We have in the New Testament essentially what the authors originally penned, and the texts have been confirmed time and again by various means. Tough questions will always have to be addressed, but we have a highly evidenced document from which to proceed.[41]

Many more quotes by leading Bible scholars could have been chosen. Again, while these quotes do not make what is said true, they do demonstrate that many esteemed Bible scholars in their perspective fields trust the Bible as the inspired, fully inerrant Word of God. Do not just read the books by the critics, read both sides, which will help you better determine the truth.

Recommended books:

[1] Duane Garrett, Rethinking Genesis (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991), 27.

[2] Geoffrey W. Bromiley, ed., The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988), 319-21.

[3] In chapter 7, we will go into higher criticism’s Documentary Hypothesis, which undercuts Moses as being the author of the Pentateuch.

[4] Symbols: a. for “after”; b. for “before”; c. for “circa,” or “about.”

[5] Mark F. Rooker, Leviticus: The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2001), 23.

[6] Ibid., 23.

[7] Ibid., 23.

[8] Ibid., 23-24.

[9] By “historical” is a reference to the setting in which the Bible books were written and the circumstances involved in the writing. By “grammatical,” we mean determining the meaning of the Bible by studying the words and sentences of Scripture in their normal, plain sense. Roy B. Zuck.

[10] INTERPRETING THE BIBLE: Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics by Edward D. Andrews

[11] BASICS OF BIBLICAL CRITICISM: Helpful or Harmful? [Second Edition] F. David Farnell, Thomas Howe, Thomas Marshall, Benjamin Cocar, Dianna Newman, and Edward D. Andrews

[12] Alfred J Hoerth, Archaeology and the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich, 2007) 16

[13] Clifford and Barbara Wilson, The Stones Still Shout!  (Pacific Ministries, Melb, 2005) 97

[14] Alfred Hoerth and John McRay, Bible Archaeology (Grand Rapids, Mich, 2005, 12

[15] Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer From Sinai to Jerusalem (Carta, Jerusalem, 2000) 42

[16] Hoerth and McRay, op. cit. 11-12

[17] ibid, 12

[18] James K Hoffmeier The Archaeology of the Bible (Lion, England 2008) 111-112

[19] Michael Avi-Yonah Introducing Archaeology (Cassell, London, 1973) 11

[20] http://articles.latimes.com/2005/aug/09/science/sci-siloam9

[21] T Maugh Biblical pool uncovered in Jerusalem, www.latimes.com, 9 August 2005

[22]  Is this the Nazareth home where Jesus prayed? www.dailymail.co.uk, 22 December 2009

[23] This section on Archaeology was from article writer Tania Fenwick, from August 2012, Bible Translation Magazine.

[24] This section on Archaeology was from article writer Tania Fenwick, from November 2012, Bible Translation Magazine.

[25] Das Buch Daniel. Ferdinand Hitzig. Weidman (Leipzig) 1850.

[26] When Babylon fell, Nabonidus was away. Therefore, Daniel was correct that Belshazzar was the king at that time. Critics still try to cling to their Bible difficulty by stating that no secular records state Belshazzar was a king. When will they quit with this quibbling? Even governs in the Ancient Near East were stated as being kings at times.

[27] This evidence is found in royal titles in economic texts, which just so happens to date to the first two years of Cyrus’ rule.

[28] Archaeology of the Bible: Book by Book, by Gaalyah Cornfeld, 1976, p. 99.

[29] The Message (MSG)

[30] The Bible and Recent Archaeology, by Kathleen M. Kenyon, 1978, p. 97.

[31] Archaeology of the Bible: Book by Book, p. 177.

[32] IBID, 177

[33] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Noel_Freedman

[34] The Bible in Modern Scholarship, edited by J. Philip Hyatt, 1956, p. 297.

[35] See the article that was originally produced by Dr. Bryant Wood and the Associates for Biblical Research. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission from ABR, www.BibleArchaeology.org

[36] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Foxwell_Albright

[37] History, Archaeology, and Christian Humanism, by William Foxwell Albright, 1964, pp. 294-296.

[38] The Factual Reliability of the Old Testament by  Kenneth A. Kitchen

http://www.theologynetwork.org/christian-beliefs/the-bible/getting-stuck-in/the-factual-reliability-of-the-old-testament.htm

[39] Dr. Phil Fernandes A chapter from his doctoral dissertation

© 1997, Institute of Biblical Defense, All Rights Reserved

http://instituteofbiblicaldefense.com/1997/05/old-testament-reliability/

[40]http://theagora.blogspot.com/2007/09/historical-reliability-of-old-testament.html

[41] Why I Believe The New Testament Is Historically Reliable, Written by Gary Habermas on 02 July 2008.

http://www.apologetics.com/index.php?catid=39:historical-apologetics&id=165:why-i-believe-the-new-testament-is-historically-reliable&Itemid=54&option=com_content&view=article