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Can the Bible be trusted?

04 October 2012, 14:14

Can the Bible be trusted? 

It is a known fact that most Christians don’t know there own Bible. They don’t even know or care when, where and why the Bible was written yet they will proudly declare the glaring authenticity of the Holy Bible.  Most don’t even go to Bible study, but they will continue to argue that it is the inerrant, infallible and undisputed “word of God”. Well is it that true? 

In order to answer that question it would depend on who you speak to. For instance, a Christian deciphers the Old Testament part of the Bible, with what one could call for want of a better phrase, “Jesus Goggles”. In other words they look back at the Old Testament in the perceived “light” of the New Testament.  That explains why they do not see any problems, errors or contradictions that riddle the Old Testament. They see it as a period full of meaningful types, shadows and warnings that result in directing all mankind to Christ. Their conviction would be: so what as we have a new one, that is better, perfect and it supersedes the Old Testament. 

Therefore it is imperative to find out about the Hebrew Bible from an unbiased and professional source. If it was discovered that the Hebrew Bible on which the Old Testament is based is kosher than Christianity is kosher. But if it is found that the Old Testament records historic events that did not actually take place; it then becomes a book of fiction and Christianity has no trustworthy foundation. 

This point cannot be disputed because Jesus, Paul and Peter quoted from and believed the Old Testament to be factual. They mention Job, Samson, Jonah, Noah’s flood, the Exodus, Abraham, Moses and the Ten Commandments, etc many times in their teachings and sermons. You would think that Jesus as God would surely have known if the person and events he referred to in his sermons where factual or not. 

If I erect a statue in Pretoria of Chief Tswani and this Chief did not actually exist I am lying to and deceiving future generations who think that he was a real person. If the Bible records an historical event as if it happened then there should be evidence that we can find today. Remember, nowhere in the Bible is flat out forgery of any divine scriptural event or revelation or text ever forbidden. Christian apologetics overcome Bible errors by saying it is the word of God and God fights his own battles, therefore we don’t have to. That kind of reasoning might have worked in the Middle Ages or as an explanation to a child but it does not hold water. 

We have to listen to what unbiased archaeologists have discovered in order to make sense out of the Bible. This is important because a Christian archaeologist will look for evidence to support and fit in with preconceived ideas garnered from the Bible. We have to let the evidence speak for itself as it where. When archaeologists have done this a different story emerges; one that the Vatican and Protestant Christian Churches have wisely kept from their adherents for there own long term survival. 

The archaeological pursuits of Finkelstein and Silberman have unearthed hither to unknown facts about the Hebrew Bible that have blown the Bible out of the water. You can follow these segments (1) each segment is 51 minutes long. If you don’t have time, just watch the summation in video 4: The Book. They were also broadcast on BBC. No one has debunked their work and in fact they have glowing references from most of their peers. 

Mark Wylie reviews there book (2) The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts 

In "The Bible Unearthed," Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman display a rare talent among scholars--the ability to make specialized research accessible to a general audience. In this book the authors reveal how recent archaeological research forces us to reconsider the historical account woven into the Hebrew Bible. Among the conclusions they draw are:

1) The tales of patriarchs such as Abraham are largely legends composed long after the time in which they supposedly took place. This is seen in anachronisms such as the use of camels, not domesticated in the Near East until nearly 1000 years after Abraham's time, in many of the stories.

2) There is good reason to believe that the Exodus never happened. Had migrants to the number of even a small fraction of the 600,000 claimed in the Bible truly sojourned in the Sinai Peninsula for 40 years, archaeological evidence of their passage would be abundant. In fact, there are no traces of any significant group living in the Sinai at the supposed time of the Exodus.

3) The Israelite "conquest" of Canaan, such as there was, was far from the military invasion of the books of Joshua and Judges. Many of the cities described as being conquered and destroyed did not even exist at the time, while those that did were small, unfortified villages, with no walls to be brought down, by blowing trumpets or otherwise.

4) While there is evidence that a historical David existed, and founded some sort of ruling dynasty known by his name, there is good reason to believe that he did not rule over the powerful united monarchy described in II Samuel. One reason for doubt: Jerusalem, portrayed as the great capital of a prosperous nation, was during the time of David little more than a village.

5) Neither Israel nor Judah emerged as organized kingdoms until significantly after the supposed period of the united monarchy. Israel does not appear as a recognizable kingdom until the time of the Omrides of the 9th century BCE, while Judah does not appear as such until the late 8th century BCE, at the time of kings Ahaz and Hezekiah.

Along with their revision of the biblical account of history, Finkelstein and Silberman attempt to explain the origins of the Hebrew Bible, suggesting that the composition of much of the Bible can be tied to the religious agenda of King Josiah of Judah during the late 7th century BCE. While the origins of the Bible will never be known with certainty--there simply isn't enough evidence--Finkelstein and Silberman definitely provide a plausible interpretation.

The authors, as I noted above, do a superb job of making their work understandable to non-specialists; since even college history majors often don't study the ancient Near East, they take care to include sufficient background information for the reader to understand the context of their account. Anyone with an interest in the subject will find "The Bible Unearthed" to be fascinating reading. And anyone who thinks the Bible is an accurate history book should definitely read it.


The Patriarchs >

The Exodus >

The Kings >

The Book >


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