Authenticity of The Bible: Archaeological Evidence


Is the Bible a book of fairy tales describing fake events in imaginary places? Uhh, no. Not only is there archeology that confirms the Bible, the Bible is used to confirm archeology!

The Bible Used To Explain Archaeological Finds…
In their book, When Skeptics Ask, Geisler and Brooks talk about a pretty fascinating archaeological find:

The excavation of Gezer in 1969 ran across a massive layer of ash that covered most of the mound. Sifting through the ash yielded pieces of Hebrew, Egyptian, and Philistine artifacts. Apparently all three cultures had been there at the same time. This puzzled researchers greatly until they realized that the Bible told them exactly what they had found.

Some archeologists found it interesting what the Bible had to say about this:
For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up and captured Gezer, and burned it with fire, and killed the Canaanites [Philistines] who lived in the city, and had given it as a dowry to his daughter, Solomon’s wife. So Solomon rebuilt Gezer… (1 Kings 9:16-17).

So the Bible tells us that the Egyptians captured and burned down Gezer in which the Canaanites were living. Later, the Egyptians gave the city to Solomon – who rebuilt it. This explains the fact that “a massive layer of ash” covered the site and “yielded pieces of Hebrew, Egyptian, and Philistine artifacts”.

No wonder the Smithsonian Institution’s Department of Anthropology has an official statement on “The Bible As History” that says:

… much of the Bible, in particular the historical books of the old testament, are as accurate historical documents as any that we have from antiquity and are in fact more accurate than many of the Egyptian, Mesopotamian, or Greek histories. These Biblical records can be and are used as are other ancient documents in archeological work. For the most part, historical events described took place and the peoples cited really existed.

 But, Wait! There’s More!
A seven-foot stele named the Israel Stele, engraved with hieroglyphics, boasts of an Egyptian pharaoh’s conquest of Libyans and peoples in Palestine, including the Israelites. As the stone states:  “Israel — his seed is not.” This is the earliest reference to Israel in non-biblical sources and demonstrates that, as of c. 1230 BC, the Hebrews were already living in the Promised Land and were recognized as an independent ethnic group.

A commemorative hieroglyphic carved on the walls of the Temple of Amon at Thebes tells of Shishak’s conquest of Judah under Rehoboam’s rule ( confirms 1 Kings 14 and 2 Chronicles 12 ).

A three-foot stone slab called the Moabite Stone, tells of the repulsion of king Mesha by the Israelites ( confirms 2 Kings: 3).

On a six-and-a-half-foot black obelisk found in Nimrud, a depiction of Jehu, king of Israel, is kneeling before the Assyrian king, Shalmaneser III (confirms 2 Kings 9-10). This is the only depiction of a Hebrew monarch ever discovered.

A burial plaque, discovered on the Mount of Olives, reads: “Here, the bones of Uzziah, King of Judah, were brought. Do not open.” King Uzziah is mentioned in 2 Chronicles 26.

In addition to these finds, Jericho, Haran, Hazor, Dan, Megiddo, Shechem, Samaria, Shiloh, Gezer, Gibeah, Beth Shemesh, Beth Shean, Beersheba, Lachish, and many other biblical sites have been discovered. Such excavations are extremely significant in demonstrating that fact, not fantasy, is intended in the Old Testament historical narratives; otherwise, the specificity regarding these urban sites would have been replaced by “Once upon a time” narratives with little to no description of actual historical sites.

The list goes on and on and on….

The New Testament…

The NT is constantly confirmed by archaeology. Instead of listing names of places, I’ll give two of the most common rejections of the NT’s historical accuracy.


The Census and Quirinius:

Objection:
(1) There was no such census, (2) Quirinius wasn’t the governor at that time, and (3) people didn’t have to return to their ancestral geographic location (like Bethlehem).
Rebuttal:
(1)We know that the Romans held a census every 14 years and that it was started by Augustus. (2) An inscription found in Antioch tells of Quirinius being governor of Syria around 7 B.C.. (3) A papyrus tells us about the Roman census:”Because of the approaching census it is necessary that all those residing for any cause away from their home should at once prepare to return to their own governments in order that they may complete the family registration of the enrollment…”

Iconium a city of Phrygia?
Objection:
Many archaeologists believe that Luke was completely wrong by saying that Iconium was a city of Phrygia because they believe that Phrygia was actually within Lycaonia.
Rebuttal:
Xenophon, who marched with Cyrus’ expedition through Phrygia, calls Iconium the last city of Phrygia. Other ancient authorities who knew the local conditions speak of Iconium as Phrygian.

These rebuttals shows that Luke, yet again, proves to be an excellent historian.

The New Testament, especially the writings of Luke, is filled with accurate historical data. So much that the studies of both archaeology and ancient history alike have been very impressed. The famous archaeologist and once skeptic Sir William Ramsey wrote, “Luke is a historian of the first rank . . . this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.” The classical historian A.N. Sherwin-White writes, “ … for Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming … any attempt to reject its basic historicity even in matters of detail must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted.” The discoveries of the archaeologist, the pen of ancient Christian historians, and tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts provide evidence that the Bible is a volume which is historically reliable and that its text has been preserved in a pure form. In other words, it is trustworthy.

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  1. #1 by Kelly on July 6, 2011 - 6:11 am

    What shocks me is that there are people out there that still cling to the false claim that the Bible has been proven wrong when the Bible has been proven authentic through history and archeology time after time!

    Great blog Billy it was full of amazing information that I hadn’t come across yet! Thanks! 🙂

  2. #2 by Geoffrey Charles on July 9, 2011 - 12:26 am

    Surely there is evidence for some biblical claims.

    However, this doesn’t mean that Bible is wholly reliable.

    Mainstream scholarship doesn’t accept the basic claims of the Exodus story. Period.

  3. #3 by studentsforchristianity on July 9, 2011 - 1:03 am

    “However, this doesn’t mean that Bible is wholly reliable.”

    This almost seems to mean that you’re asserting that since there are unexplained accounts in the Bible, we cannot trust the Bible. But this appeals to the Nirvana fallacy because every single thing doesn’t need to have a detailed explanation. Perfection is unrealistic.

    • #4 by Geoffrey Charles on July 9, 2011 - 1:16 am

      “This almost seems to mean that you’re asserting that since there are unexplained accounts in the Bible, we cannot trust the Bible.”

      I’m not asserting that. Not at all. I’m asserting that we CAN trust the biblical claims when the evidence for them is warranted. However, evidence for the Exodus story is lacking. Therefore, mainstream scholarhip rejects it as historical.

  4. #5 by studentsforchristianity on July 9, 2011 - 1:27 am

    1) I don’t want to create a strawman, so I’ll let you list the things that we would expect to find if the Exodus account were true.

    2) Do you have any other reason to believe the Exodus story to be false (besides the lack of evidence.) If not, rejection of the Exodus account (on the basis of lack of evidence) would be extremely weak.

    • #6 by Geoffrey Charles on July 9, 2011 - 1:36 am

      1) Scholarly consensus around the basic claims of the Exodus story.

      2) Lack of scholarly consensus around the basic claims of the Exodus story, and pre-monarchic Israelite history for that matter.

  5. #7 by studentsforchristianity on July 9, 2011 - 1:47 am

    1) Ummm. That’s not really what I was asking for. How about you list the things these scholars would expect to find if the Exodus account were true.

    2) This is just a blatant appeal to authority. Truth isn’t truth just because a majority of people believe in it. That in mind, do you have any other reasons?

    • #8 by Geoffrey Charles on July 9, 2011 - 2:34 am

      1) I don’t know, the experts could answer you better, but if I had to make a guess: evidence for millions of people wandering in the wilderness. Evidence for massive military conquest of Canaan.

      2) If used properly, an appeal to authority is not a fallacious argument. My point is that scholarly consensus is meaningful, especially to laypeople. Generally, the burden of proof is on the detractor from the scholarly consensus opinion. I side with the consensus. How about you?

  6. #9 by studentsforchristianity on July 9, 2011 - 5:36 am

    1) In fact there is a great confusion among historians about the chronology of history before 1000 B.C.E. It really just depends on your opinion about that. Here’s a site that kinda’ holds to what I think about the Exodus.

    http://www.ensignmessage.com/archives/exodusscptcs.html

    2) Yes, and I’m saying you’re using it improperly. Why? Because (1) we’re dealing with ancient history, (2) most scholars of antiquity tend to have a biased opinion on the matters, and (3) you’re using it as proof against the Exodus.

  7. #10 by Geoffrey Charles on July 9, 2011 - 1:41 pm

    No, there is scholarly consensus regarding the basic claims of the Exodus story. They are considered highly legendary.

    see relevant chapters 4, 7, 8, and 11 in this book: http://wxy.seu.edu.cn/humanities/sociology/htmledit/uploadfile/system/20100501/20100501214912789.pdf

    Regarding your link, Dr. Bietak’s work was referenced as providing evidence for the Exodus. Here’s a quote from Bietak himself ” archaeology does not provide any trace of Israelites before the Iron Age” (BAR, Dec 2006) The other sources are from rogue scholars trying to upend an established scholarly paradigm.

    I shouldn’t be surprised; believers tend to flock to the rogue scholars who support their worldview.

    We’re dealing with ancient history, therefore scholarly consensus is very important, not improper. Everyone has bias, let’s not resort to ad hominem here…

    Lack of evidence is my argument, the scholarly consensus supports me.

    • #11 by Molon Labe on July 11, 2011 - 9:40 am

      If everyone has bias, as Geoffrey admits, then are we to assume that the scholars are immune? Consensus is not necessarily truth, even if it is “scholarly.”

      • #12 by Geoffrey Charles on July 11, 2011 - 11:38 am

        No.

        Scholarly consensus shows us laypeople the most common interpretation of historical data by the experts.

  8. #13 by Kelly on July 10, 2011 - 2:35 am

    I’m not sure how much evidence would be left behind, even with millions of people, as they did not stay in one place too long and wondered all over the place, therefor did not make permanent structures or the like that archeologists could find evidence for. Just a thought…

    • #14 by Geoffrey Charles on July 11, 2011 - 11:42 am

      Millions of people would probably leave some garbage. Deserts are prime environments for preserving ancient garbage.

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