Archaeology and the Bible

Some of the most prevalent criticisms leveled against the Bible are concerning its historical reliability. These criticisms are usually based on a supposed lack of evidence from non-biblical sources to confirm the Biblical record. Because the Bible is filled with supernatural claims and is inherently a religious book, many take the position that its record cannot be trusted as historical fact. Some stop there and say that the Bible is still a good book of moral lessons despite historical inaccuracy. Others go further and claim that it cannot be a standard of morality because of its historical errors. Either way, their claims spring from a “guilty until proven innocent” charge based on a lack of outside evidence. Nevertheless, the Bible’s “innocence”, and more specifically its reliability, has been evidenced time and again, particularly in the field of archaeology.

Since the mid-1800s archaeological discoveries have demonstrated the reliability of the Bible record. Here are just a few examples:

  • The Ebla Archive
    In the 1970’s excavations of the Ebla archive in northern Syria uncovered writings dating back to ca. 2300 B.C. These writings verified many names of people and places mentioned in Genesis and other Old Testament books that were, prior to these discoveries, thought to be mythical in nature. The authorship of many Old Testament books came into question because many of these names were formerly thought to be younger than the Biblical record would have them appear.
    For example, the name “Canaan” was in use in the Ebla writings, a name skeptics once said was not used as early as the Biblical record depicts. However, not only is the name used, but the geographic depiction coincides with the Bible as well.
    Also, the word “tehom” (Genesis 1:2) was said to be a word used in much later civilizations than those spoken of in Genesis. It was therefore argued that Genesis must have been written much later then the time of Moses. However, in the writings of the Elba archive, tehom appeared repeatedly as a regular word in their vocabulary, proving its usage some 800 years before Moses.
  • The Hittites (my personal favorite)
    Forty-eight times throughout the Old Testament, the Bible describes a nation known as the Hittites. Due to lack of archaeological support, they were once thought to be a Biblical legend. Then, in the late 19th century, tablets were found at the Assyrian colony of Kultepe (ancient Karum Kanesh), containing records of trade between Assyrian merchants and a certain “land of Hatti”. Soon, the Hittite capital, Carchemish, was discovered at Bogazkoy, Turkey, along with an overwhelming amount of artifacts, verifying the Biblical description.
  • Sargon’s Palace
    It was once claimed there was no Assyrian king named Sargon as recorded in Isaiah 20:1, because this name was not known in any other record. However, French archaeologist Paul-Emile Botta discovered a palace called Dur-Sharrukin (‘the fortress of Sargon’) in the city known today as Khorsabad, Iraq. As it turns out, the event mentioned in Isaiah 20, Sargon’s capture of Ashdod, was recorded on the palace walls. And, if that weren’t enough, fragments memorializing the victory were found at Ashdod itself.

These are only a few of literally hundreds of thousands of archeological finds that confirm the historical integrity of the Bible. Nevertheless, the overarching question remains: So, what? So, a few hundred thousand things that the Bible says happened have been proven as fact. Does that prove the supernatural and spiritual claims of the Bible are reality?

Archaeology may not necessarily prove the Bible’s inspiration directly, or other spiritual claims for that matter. But, it does prove its historicity. Archeology does confirm that the Bible is unique book and must be dealt with as such. It is simply more evidence that demands a verdict. A verdict like the one Sir William Ramsay came to.

Ramsay was educated at Oxford and a Professor at both Oxford and Cambridge. He was a man dedicated to a pervasive anti-biblical bias due to his 19th-century education. For years, he prepared himself to head an expedition into Asia Minor and Palestine, in order to prove that the Bible was the product of ambitious monks, and not the inspired Word of God it claimed to be.

He saw the weakest part in the whole New Testament to be the record of Paul’s travels. He was as equipped as any man could be. He spent fifteen years literally ‘digging for the evidence.’ Then in 1896 he published a large volume, Saint Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen.
The book caused an uproar in the intelligencia throughout enlightened Europe. It was such a shock because the conclusion of the book was in direct contrast to the said goal of Ramsay’s mission. Ramsay spent the next twenty years publishing book after book, overflowing with evidence of the precise, minute truthfulness of the New Testament. Many contemporary skeptics came to turn from their unbelief and accepted Christianity. To this day, Ramsay’s books have yet to be credibly repudiated.

Ramsay’s belief came through his own archaeological confirmation of the Bible and the truth of what it taught. His belief came because “Luke’s history is unsurpassed in respect of its trustworthiness” and that “Luke is a historian of the first rank…. In short, this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.”

Sir Ramsay’s work may prove the historical reliability of the Bible. However, his change of heart from skepticism to belief stands as a testimony of the spiritual vitality of the Bible.

The picture is of a gate leading into the city of Carchemish, the Hittite captial. (Follow the link to see the source)


2 comments so far

  1. […] are numerous sources that yield historical confirmation of the Biblical record, such as in the field of archeology. The fact is, whether it is simply the result of misinformation or plain ignorance of the facts, […]

  2. […] Affirmations (7/10) A few weeks ago, we published a post on confirmation of the Bible offered by Archaeology. The post was purposefully general. […]

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