Posts Tagged ‘old testament’

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 8.32.51 PM.pngThe Tower of Babel is recorded in Genesis 11:1-9.  Critical scholars have traditionally viewed this story as mythical and not historical. There just seemed to not be enough corroborating evidence.

But, recently the Smithsonian Channel’s show titled Secrets aired its first episode of season four titled “The Tower of Babel” which seemingly supports the biblical record.

The episode focused on the Tower of Babel Stele (i.e., stone tablet) from the Schøyen Collection which is the private collection of Norwegian businessman Martin Schøyen. Joseph M. Holden, author of The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Biblestates that “according to most critical scholars, this event [i.e., the Tower of Babel] found in Scripture is mythical and certainly could not have taken place in Mesopotamia, where it is said to have occurred.  Originally, support for this notion was found in the fact that no extra-biblical Mesopotamian record existed that documented such an incredible event.” That is until, apparently, now:

 

On the website of the Schøyen Collection the commentary section on the Tower of Babel Stele states: “Here we have for the first time an illustration contemporary with Nebuchadnezzar II’s restoring and enlargement of the Tower of Babel, and with a caption making the identity absolutely sure. We also have the building plans, as well as a short account of the reconstruction process.”  Apparently the ziggurat in Bablyon was originally built during the time of Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC).

The Secrets episode on the Smithsonian Channel states that there is “some very compelling evidence the Tower of Babel was real.”  Professor Andrew R. George, featured in the episode and the professor of Babylonian history at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, states that “This is a very strong piece of evidence that the tower of Babel story was inspired by this real building.”

Related Articles on The Tower of Babel Stele:

Evidence for Bible’s Tower of Babel Discovered” | The Christian Post May 9, 2017

Ancient Babylonian Tablet Provides Compelling Evidence that the Tower of Babel DID Exist” | Ancient Origins May 8, 2017

Smithsonian Channel Spotlights Stone Tablet Believed to Confirm Biblical Tower of Babel” | Christian News Network May 7, 2017

Tower of Babel Discovered? Ancient Tablet Describes Mesopotamian Structure Built By ‘Multitudes’ ” | Breaking Israel News May 8, 2017

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Post about other biblical archaeological discoveries from this blog include:

50 People in the Old Testament Confirmed Archaeologically

History Has Gone to the Toilets-The Ancient Latrine of Lachish

Virtual Unwrapping of Levitical Scroll

City of Geza

Philistine Cemetery

Ancient Shopping List Provides Evidence of When Bible Was Written

Hezekiah Bulla

12th Dead Sea Scroll Cave Found!

 

 

 

Bible History Daily has an updated list of 50 people in the bible who have been confirmed archaeologically.  It is not an exhaustive list.  It does not include Caiaphas or Pontius Pilate or anyone from the New Testament because it focuses on the Hebrew Bible.  The list of 50 comprises mainly kings, pharaohs, and officials.  It is a nice list of names which also includes who they were, when the reigned, and where in the bible they are mentioned. Here is a quick screen shot of the list:Screen Shot 2016-12-14 at 8.42.46 AM.png

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Post about other biblical archaeological discoveries from this blog include:

History Has Gone to the Toilets-The Ancient Latrine of Lachish

Virtual Unwrapping of Levitical Scroll

City of Geza

Philistine Cemetery

Ancient Shopping List Provides Evidence of When Bible Was Written

Hezekiah Bulla

 

 

 

 

 

 

f2-largeOne of the earliest manuscripts of the Old Testament was revealed by researchers at the University of Kentucky.  This scroll, which contains portions of the book of Leviticus, was discovered in 1970, but was unreadable because it suffered from fire damage 1,500 years ago.  Modern technology made it possible to scan and “virtually” unwrap it without actually touching it and destroying it in its fragile state.  This video from the Wall Street Journal explains the process:

 

Emanuel Tov of the Hebrew University explains its importance,”For scholars, the scroll brings the good news that the text has not changed for 2,000 years.”

Breaking News Israel reports:

This week, incredible cutting-edge technology allowed archaeologists to finally read the contents of a burned 1,500-year-old scroll found near the Dead Sea in 1970. The remarkable discovery of verses from the Book of Leviticus, which matched, letter for letter, the Hebrew text still in use today, is the first instance of one of the Five Books of Moses ever found in a Holy Ark.

On Wednesday, researchers in Kentucky and Jerusalem announced in the Science Advances journal the success of new technology called ‘virtual unwrapping’. A complicated and difficult process based on the technology used in medical CT scans, researchers said it “represents a significant leap forward in the field of manuscript recovery, conservation, and analysis”.

The technique allowed scientists to read the Ein Gedi Scroll, a charred, ancient parchment discovered in an ancient destroyed synagogue on the shores of the Dead Sea more than forty years ago which has sat on a shelf, untouchable and indecipherable, ever since.

The scroll contains the first eight verses of Leviticus and dates from either the 1st or 2nd century CE and when compared to the Torah used today it is identical.  This is the earliest discovery of an Old Testament manuscript since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947.

Articles/Videos:

“Researchers Reconstruct Early Version of Old Testament Text From Burned Scroll,” Robert Lee Hotz | Wall Street Journal, Sept 21, 2016

“Burned Mystery Scroll Digitally Unraveled Reveals Bible Unchanged for 2,000 Years,” Adam Berkowitz | Breaking Israel News, Sept 21, 2016

“Computers Decipher Burnt Scroll Found in Ancient Holy Ark,” Michael Greshko | National Geographic,  Sept 21, 2016

“Scientists Use ‘Virtual Unwrapping’ to Read Ancient Biblical Scroll Reduced to ‘Lump of Coal’ “ Ian Sample | The Guardian, Sept 22, 2016

“From Damage to Discovery Via Virtual Unwrapping,” William B Seales, et. al | Science Advances, Sept 21, 2016

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Post about other biblical archaeological discoveries from this blog include:

City of Geza

Philistine Cemetery

Ancient Shopping List Provides Evidence of When Bible Was Written

Hezekiah Bulla

 

 

Israel ostraca literacyWho would have thought that a shopping list on some pottery fragments would reveal when the Old Testament was possibly written.

Here is the issue: Some skeptics state that low literacy rates in ancient Israel  would prohibit the Old Testament from being written prior to the Babylonian captivity and that it was invented during the Jewish exile to solidify their Jewish identity, indicating that the events  never really occurred but were fabricated or legendarily developed.

Significance: This discovery and new research is challenging the scholars wanting to push the early Old Testament composition to after the Babylonian captivity.  Skeptics have attributed the writing of several biblical texts such as Joshua, 1 and 2 Kings, and the early Old Testament to after the siege of Jerusalem.  This theory “holds that the biblical texts were written as a result of the exile to Babylon, when the composers began to think about their past and put their history to parchment.”  This discovery begins to poke holes into the idea that major portions of the Hebrew scripture were written during or after the exile to Babylon, but actually written during the late 7th century BC.

 

Here is a link to another video on this subject.

If you want to explore the issue in more depth here are some articles:

“Discovery: Ancient Inscriptions Suggest Hebrew Bible Older Than Many Believed” | The Stream – This excerpt is the best single article to get the facts as well as the significance of this discovery as it relates to biblical reliability:

Israeli mathematicians and archaeologists say they have found evidence to suggest that key biblical texts may have been composed earlier than what some scholars think.

Using handwriting analysis technology similar to that employed by intelligence agencies and banks to analyze signatures, a Tel Aviv University team determined that a famous hoard of ancient Hebrew inscriptions, dated to around 600 BC, were written by at least six different authors. Although the inscriptions are not from the Bible, their discovery suggests there was widespread literacy in ancient Judah at the time that would support the composition of biblical works.

“Handwriting Dating to the Seventh Century B.C. Analyzed” | Archaeology – a quick summary from Archaeology:

The analysis suggests that at least six different people, ranging in rank from the commander of the fort down to the deputy quartermaster, had written these texts. All of the writers used proper spelling and syntax. Similar ostracons have been found at other border forts, suggesting that writing was widespread, at least within the Judahite army. Israel Finkelstein [of Tel Aviv University] thinks the ancient kingdom of Judah may have had an educational system, since literacy was not limited to the elite. “This is really quite amazing, that in a remote place like this, there was more than one person, several people, who could write,” he told Live Science. Finkelstein also claims that if literacy were widespread at the time, it would support the idea that portions of the Bible could have been compiled before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.

New Evidence on When Bible Was Written: Ancient Shopping Lists” | The New York Times – Essentially scholars analyzed a shopping list, but has impact on possible biblical composition dates:

The requests for wine, flour and oil read like mundane, if ancient, shopping lists. But a new analysis of the handwriting suggests that literacy may have been far more widespread than previously known in the Holy Land around 600 B.C., toward the end of the First Temple period. The findings, according to the researchers from Tel Aviv University, could have some bearing on a century-old debate about when the main body of biblical texts was composed.

Algorithmic Handwriting Analysis of Judah’s Military Correspondence Sheds Light on Composition of Biblical Texts – Proceedings of the National Academy of Science – A portion of the abstract:

By using novel image processing and machine learning algorithms we deduce the presence of at least six authors in this corpus. This indicates a high degree of literacy in the Judahite administrative apparatus and provides a possible stage setting for compilation of biblical texts. After the kingdom’s demise, a similar literacy level reemerges only ca. 200 BCE.

“The Bible Is Really Old, Handwriting Analysis Reveals” | Live Science -A quick selection of this article:

The shards, found at a frontier fort dating to around 600 B.C., were written by at least six different people, suggesting that literacy was widespread in the ancient kingdom of Judah, said study co-author Israel Finkelstein, an archaeologist and biblical scholar at Tel Aviv University in Israel.

“We’re dealing with really low-level soldiers in a remote place who can write,” Finkelstein told Live Science. “So there must have been some sort of educational system in Judah at that time.”

The writing shows that the kingdom had the intellectual resources to write and compile large chunks of the Old Testament during this period, he added.

“Parts of Bible may have been written earlier than expected, archaeologist say” | The Guardian:

Israeli mathematicians and archaeologists say they have found evidence to suggest that key biblical texts may have been composed earlier than some scholars think.

Using handwriting analysis technology similar to that employed by intelligence agencies and banks to analyze signatures, a Tel Aviv University team determined that a famous hoard of ancient Hebrew inscriptions, dated to around 600 BCE, were written by at least six different authors. Although the inscriptions are not from the Hebrew Bible, their discovery suggests there was widespread literacy in ancient Judah at the time that would support the composition of biblical works.

So, never look down on your shopping list again.  It just might turn up centuries later to tell us something about you.

Resources: Some books on the reliability of the Old Testament.

On The Reliability of the Old Testaement by K. A Kitchen –  Kitchen is professor of Egyptology and Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Archaeology at the University of Liverpool.  He concludes this monumental study with “What can be said of historical reliability? Here our answer – on the evidence available – is more positive.  The periods most in the glare of contemporary documents – the divided monarchy and the exile and return – show a very high level of direct correlation (where adequate data exist) and of reliability.  . . . In terms of general reliability – and much more could have been instanced than there was room for here – the Old Testament comes out remarkably well, so long as its writings and writers are treated fairly and evenhandedly, in line with independent data, open to all.” (499-500)

The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable and Relevant by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. –  The amazon.com description: “In this thought-provoking book Walter C. Kaiser Jr. makes the case that the Old Testament documents are both historically reliable and personally and socially relevant. He begins by looking at the origins of the Old Testament books and how well their texts were preserved. Next he explores Old Testament history, giving close attention to the book of Genesis, the patriarchal narratives, and the chronicles of the kings of Judah and Israel. He then surveys the larger questions of the trustworthiness and authority of the various Old Testament genres: historical narrative, wisdom and prophecy. Lastly, Kaiser probes the relevance of the Old Testament for Christian faith today.”