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Archaeological Evidence Supporting the Credibility and Accuracy of the Bible

Posted by Tony Listi on December 19, 2007

Old Testament

The Ketef Hinnom Amulets
In 1979, a team of Israeli archaeologists discovered two tiny silver scrolls/amulets, the oldest extant pieces of the Hebrew Bible. These amulets were dated to the 7th c. BC and had the Priestly Blessing from Numbers 6:24-26. This discovery cast doubt on skeptical theories that the Torah was written much later by scribes who learned their monotheism from Zoroastrian priests in Babylon during the Babylonian Exile.

The Merneptah Stela
In 1896, a seven foot slab of black granite was discovered in a temple in Thebes, Egypt. It was erected by Pharaoh Merneptah, son of Ramses the Great. The stela was dated to 1209/1208 BC and reads “Israel is laid waste; its seed is not.” This discovery definitely proves, contrary to some skeptics, that a people known as the Israelites existed and were known in Egypt.

The House of David Inscription
On July 21, 1933, a basalt stone, written in Old Aramaic that mentions explicitly the House of David was found at Tel Dan in Northern Israel, near the foot of Mt. Hermon. It was dated to the end of the 9th or the beginning of the 8th c. BC and also refers to events recorded in the Old Testament Book of 2 Kings. This discovery contradicts skeptics, such as Israel Finkelstein and Thomas L. Thompson at the University of Copenhagen, who claimed biblical figures such as King David and Solomon never really existed historically.

The Moabite Stone/Mesha Stela
In 1868, F. A. Klein discovered a stela written in Moabite around 930 BC. It reads, “I am Mesha, son of Kemoshmelek, the king of Moab, the Dibonite…. And [the god] Chemosh said to me, ‘Go, take Nebo against Israel and I went by night and fought against it…. And I took from there the altar-hearths of Yahweh, and I dragged them before Chemosh. And the king of Israel built Jabaz and dwelt in it while he fought with me and Chemosh drove him out from before me.”

It thus mentions Israel and its God and closely mirrors the Bible, i.e. 2 Kings 3:4-5, “Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheepbreeder, and he regularly paid the king of Israel one hundred thousand lambs and the wool of one hundred thousand rams. But it happened, when Ahab died, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. At Tel Dan in 1993, French scholar Andre Lemaire discovered that “House of David” appeared in line 31 on the stone.

Again, this discovery contradicts the claim that King David never existed and correlates with events testified to in the Bible

Pharaoh Shishak/Shoshenq’s Victory Lists
Archaeologists have long known about the Egyptian Pharaoh Shoshenq and his conquests from the carvings on the temple of Amun at Karnak. This Pharaoh and his exploits can also be found in 2 Chronicles 12 of the Bible, in which he ravages Jerusalem, Rehov, and Megiddo, and Hazor.

In 2003, scientists at Tel Rehov in Israel used carbon dating to confirm that Shoshenq’s lootings took place in the 10th c. BC and that the cities that the Bible mentions Shoshenq conquering actually existed when it said they did. This included the cities mentioned in the Book of Joshua: Beth-Horon (10:10), Gibeon (9:3), Megiddo (12:21), and Gaza (10:41).

Samaritan Ostraca
In 1910, archaeologist G. A. Reisner found 63 potsherds in Samaria with Old Hebrew script on them written in ink called ostraca. They are dated to around 784-783 BC, contain ancient commercial records, and 30 of them name the clan or district of 7 of the 10 sons of Manasseh as well as two daughters of Zelophehad, all of which are mentioned in Joshua 17:2-3.

The Seal of Baruch
In 1975, a bulla or clay seal was discovered in Israel. Written in Old Hebrew, it was dated to around 600 BC and authenticated by Israeli archaeologists. It reads, “Blessed of God, son of Neriah, the scribe.” This is very likely the seal of Baruch mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah: “In the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah…. Jeremiah called Baruch son of Neriah; and Baruch wrote down in the scroll, at Jeremiah’s dictation, all the words which the Lord had spoken to him” (Jer 36:1,4). The fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign is estimated to be around 605 BC, corresponding with the time period of the seal.

In 1996, a second and similar seal was found but with a thumbprint as well.

These discoveries again provide further evidence that the people of the Bible are not fictional characters but actually lived as historical figures.

The Ebla Tablets
In 1964, Italian archaeologists from the University of Rome excavated a palace at Tell Mardikh in northern Syria. Inside they found a library of thousands of cuneiform tablets dating from around 2300 BC. Written in Sumerian and Akkadian, they reveal laws, customs, and events that are in harmony with the Book of Genesis. They also explicitly mention the five undiscovered cities mentioned in Gen 14:8, including Sodom and Gomorrah, that skeptics said never existed.

The Siloam Tunnel (or Hezekiah’s Tunnel)
In 1838, a 1750 foot long tunnel was found in Jerusalem. In 2003, Israeli and British scientists tested the organic material within the plaster lining of the tunnel to date the tunnel to around 700 BC. The researchers published their findings in the September 2003 issue of Nature.

According to 2 Kings 20:20 and 2 Chronicles 32:30 (and perhaps verses 2-4), a great tunnel was built during the reign of Hezekiah (727-698 BC) to cut off Assyria’s water supply (who Israel was at war with) and secure their own supply. Again, Scripture seems to match up with science, archaeology, and history.

The Nuzi Tablets
In 1925 at Nuzi in Northern Iraq, 4000 cuneiform tablets written in Akkadian were found and dated to 2300 BC. They describe customs parallel to those written in the Book of Genesis, such as a barren wife giving a slave (such as Hagar in Gen 16) to her husband (Abram) to produce an heir OR a father choosing a bride (like Rebekah in Gen 24) for his son.

This proves skeptics wrong who have called certain practices in the Bible cultural anomalies.

Evidence for The Exodus

Amarna Letters
In the late 19th century, a series of cuneiform letters dictated by the Pharaohs Amenhotep III (c. 1391 BC) and Tutankhamen (1330 BC) were discovered. It tells of groups of foreigners that were brigands or “disenfranchised peoples on the outskirts of society.” To the clean-shaven Egyptians, the bearded Jews of the Bible probably would have counted as uncivilized riffraff.

The Hatshepsut Chapel
Historian Robert Stieglitz of Rutgers University argues that the carvings on a chapel of Egyptian Queen Maakare Hatshepsut refer to the expulsion of a group of “foreigners amongst them”-a reference that closely mirrors Numbers 11:4, which states that the Israelites fleeing Egypt included “a mixed multitude” and not just the Israelites.

The Habiru
In 1887, more cuneiform tablets were discovered in Egypt, written by Canaanite scribes in Akkadian. They are the correspondence between vassal kings in Canaan and the Egyptian pharaohs around 1330 BC. They mention a people known as the “habiru” attacking cities in Canaan and causing trouble in Egypt itself. The letters contain eerie similarities with the biblical accounts of the Jewish conquest of the region of Canaan. For instance, the vassal Abdu-Heba of Jerusalem writes to the Egyptian pharaoh that “the Habiru sack the territories of the king” and insists that “if there are archers [sent] this year, all the territories of king will remain (intact); but if there are no archers, the territories of the king, my Lord, will be lost!”

New Testament

The Pontius Pilate Inscription
In 1962, an Italian archaeologist found inscription at Caesarea Maritima on the coast of Israel south of Haifa, the center of Roman administration of the region at the time of Christ. It reads, “Tiberius, Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea.”

This discovery proved that Pontius Pilate actually existed, for no such hard evidence existed until then.

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Quotes: Faith–Reliability and Credibility of the Bible

Posted by Tony Listi on November 19, 2007

“There’s more evidence that the Bible is a reliable source than there is for any other book from the ancient world…. I could talk about the Bible’s unity-sixty-six books written in different literary styles by perhaps forty different authors with diverse backgrounds over fifteen hundred years, and yet the Bible amazingly unfolds one continuous drama with one central message. That points to the existence of the divine Mind that the writers claimed inspired them. And there’s the Bible’s transforming-from the beginning, it has renewed people; given them hope, courage, purpose, wisdom, guidance, and power; and formed an anchor for their lives. While early Islam was spread by the sword, early Christianity spread by the Spirit, even while Christians were being killed by Roman swords.”
-Dr. Norman L. Geisler
qtd. in The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel

“There have been thousands-not hundreds-of archeological finds in the Middle East that support the picture presented in the biblical record. There was a discovery not long ago confirming King David. The patriarchs-the narratives about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob-were once considered legendary, but as more has become known these stories are increasingly corroborated. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was thought to be mythological until evidence was uncovered that all five of the cities mentioned in Genesis were, in fact, situated just as the Old Testament said. As far as their destruction goes, archaeologist Clifford Wilson said there is ‘permanent evidence of the great conflagration that took place in the long distant past.’ Furthermore, various aspects of the Jewish captivity have been confirmed. Also, every reference in the Old Testament to an Assyrian king has been proven correct; an excavation during the 1960s confirmed that the Israelites could, indeed, have entered Jerusalem by way of a tunnel during David’s reign; there is evidence the world did have a single language at one time, as the Bible says; the site of Solomon’s temple is now being excavated…. Samuel says that after Saul’s death his armor was put in the temple of Ashtoroth…while Chronicles reports that his head was put in the temple of a Philistine corn god named Dagon. Now, archaeologists thought that must have been an error and therefore the Bible was unreliable. They didn’t think enemies would have had temples in the same place at the same time…. [Archaeologists] confirmed through excavations that there two temples at that, one each for Dagon and Ashtoroth…. As it turned out, the Philistines had apparently adopted Ashtoroth as one of their own goddesses. The Bible was right after all…. The Bible makes about three dozen references to the Hittites, but critics used to charge that there was no evidence that such people ever existed. Now archaeologists digging in modern Turkey have discovered the records of the Hittites. As the great archaeologist William F. Albright declared, ‘There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of the Old Testament tradition. The noted Roman historian Colin J. Hemer, in The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History, shows how archaeology has confirmed not dozens, but hundreds and hundreds of details from the biblical account of the early church. Even small details have been corroborated, like which way the wind blows, how deep the water is a certain distance from shore, what kind of disease a particular island had, the names of local officials, and so forth. Now, Acts was authored by the historian Luke. Hemer gives more than a dozen reasons for why Acts had to have been written before A.D. 62, or about thirty years after Jesus’ crucifixion…. So here you have an impeccable historian, who has been proven right in hundreds of details and never proven wrong, writing the whole history of Jesus and the early church. And it’s written within one generation while eyewitnesses were still alive and could have disputed it if it were exaggerated or false. You don’t have anything like that from any other religious book from the ancient world…. Prominent historian Sir William Ramsay started out as a skeptic, but after studying Acts he concluded that ‘in various details the narrative showed marvelous truth.’ The great Oxford University classical historian A.N. Sherwin-White said, ‘For Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming,’ and that ‘any attempt to reject its basic historicity must now appear absurd.”
-Dr. Norman L. Geisler
qtd. in The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel

“The only reason why anyone should accept the Bible as divinely authoritative is because it has miraculous confirmation…. First, the Bible is miraculously confirmed by the fulfillment of predictive prophecies, and second, it’s confirmed by the miracles performed by those who purported to be speaking for God. The Bible is the only book in the world that has precise, specific predictions that were made hundreds of years in advance and that were literally fulfilled. According to Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy, there are 191 predictions in the Old Testament about the coming of Christ, including his ancestry, the city in which he would be born, that he would be born of a virgin, precisely the time in history when he would die, and so on. In fact, Psalm 22:16 says his hands and feet would be pierced; verse 14 says his bones would be out of joint; verse 18 talks about the casting of lots for his garments; and Zechariah 12:10 says he would be pierced, as Jesus was with a lance. That’s obviously a picture of his crucifixion-however, it was written before crucifixion was even implemented as a method of execution by the Romans. The Jews stoned people to death back then. And, of course, Isaiah 53:2-12 has perhaps the most amazing predictions about Christ in the entire Old Testament. It foretells twelve aspects of his passion that were all fulfilled-he would be rejected, be a man of sorrow, live a life of suffering, be despised by others, carry our sorrow, be smitten and afflicted by God, be pierced for our transgressions, be wounded for our sins, would suffer like a lamb, would die with the wicked, would be sinless, and would pray for others. In Old Testament times, the Jewish rabbis did consider this to be a prophecy concerning the Messiah. That’s the opinion that’s really relevant. Only later, after Christians pointed out this was obviously referring to Jesus, did they begin saying it was really about the suffering Jewish nation. But clearly that’s wrong. Isaiah customarily refers to the Jewish people in the first-person plural, like ‘our’ or ‘we,’ but he always refers to the Messiah in the third-person singular, like ‘he’ and ‘him’-and that’s what he did in Isaiah 53. Plus, anyone who reads it for themselves will readily see it’s referring to Jesus. Maybe that’s why it’s usually skipped over in synagogues these days. So here you have incredible predictions that were literally fulfilled in the life of one man, even though he had no control over most of them. For instance, he couldn’t have arranged his ancestry, the timing of his birth, and so on. These prophecies were written two hundred to four hundred years in advance. No other book in the world has this. The Bible is only book that’s supernaturally confirmed this way.
In the Bible-which, remember, we’ve seen is historically reliable-we have prophets who were challenged but who then performed miracles to establish their credentials…. [Examples] Unlike Jesus, miracles were not a sign of Muhammad’s ministry. It wasn’t until a hundred and fifty or two hundred years after his life that his followers invented miracles and ascribed them to him….
When you add this up-the historical reliability of the Bible as authenticated by archaeology, the miraculous fulfillment of clear predictive prophecies, and the performance of documented miracles-you get a supernaturally confirmed book unlike any other in history.”
-Dr. Norman L. Geisler
qtd. in The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel

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