Posts Tagged ‘reliability of the bible’

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Recently several bloggers, scholars, and apologists have posted videos on the reliability of the bible.  Three such videos are below, in order of lenght (shortest first, then longest)

1. Does the Bible Have Contradictions?

Sean McDowell, Assistant Professor in the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University, earned a Ph.D. in Apologetics and Worldview Studies from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2014 and is the  author, co-author, or editor of over eighteen books including The Fate of the Apostles, and Is God Just a Human Invention?  In this short video (2:50) answers the question “Does the Bible Have Contradictions?”

 

Michael Licona of Risen Jesus ministries and associate professor in theology at Houston Baptist University recently published a book with Oxford University Press on the same topic: Why Are There Differences in the Gospels?

2. Are the Gospels Accurate?

J. Warner Wallace, a former cold-case homicide detective and continues to consult on cold-case investigations, applied his investigative skills to investigations the reliability of the gospel eyewitness accounts.  He wrote about his in his book Cold-Case Christianity. In God’s Crime Scene, he investigates eight pieces of evidence in the universe to make the case for God’s existence.  In this nine minute video Wallace answers the question: “Are the Gospels Accurate?”

 

3. Can We trust the New Testament?

Michael J. Kruger (Ph.D., University of Edinburgh) is the president and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary and is author of The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament DebateThe Early Text of the New Testament (Oxford University Press), and Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament BooksIn this video (28 minutes) Dr. Kruger is being interviewed by Ratio Christi on the topic, “Can We Trust the New Testament?” The interview covered a wide range of topics from textual criticism to bible contradictions to the development of the NT Canon:

 

Visit my page titled “Is the Bible Reliable” in which I cover the topic of the when the New Testament was written, the manuscript evidence, archaeological evidence, and non-biblical sources concerning the New Testament.

Well, they weren’t really lost but I haven’t seen this circulated and after watching them myself I was impressed.  This series of videos with William Lane Craig on Canada’s longest running daily talk show, 100 Huntley Street, was released in 2009.  They are really good.  Ranging from a minute and a half long to five minutes long, they are concise with some nice animation and text illustrating his points.  Take a look:

Relationship Between Faith and Reason

 

The ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster” and Evidence for God

 

Who Designed the Designer: A Response to Richard Dawkins

 

Best Argument for Belief in God

 

Why is Richard Dawkins So Popular?

 

Can We Trust the Bible Written 2000 Years Ago?

 

Is God a Logical Necessity?

 

How Can Christianity be the One True Religion?

 

Can We Trust Religious Experience?

 

Can There Be Meaning Without God?

 

Can We Be Good Without God?

 

 

 

 

Possibly the first Philistine cemetery has been discovered at Ashkelon, Israel.  They have been excavating this known Philistine city for decades, but have just recently uncovered a burial site which could answer many questions concerning the origins and life of the Philistines, the biblical archenemy of the Israelites.  Ashkelon, was a major Philistine city in the ancient world dating from the 12th to the 7th centuries B. C.  Over 200 individuals have been discovered in this cemetery.  They began digging is Ashkelon in 1985 and this discovery is a nice end cap to the several decade long expedition.

Here is a quick video on the discovery:

 

Some articles on the discovery:

“Discovery of Philistine Cemetery May Solve Biblical Mystery,” National Geographic | July 10, 2016

Possibly the first discovery of its times National Geographic reports:

An unrivaled discovery on the southern coast of Israel may enable archaeologists to finally unravel the origins of one of the most notorious and enigmatic peoples of the Hebrew Bible: the Philistines.

The discovery of a large cemetery outside the walls of ancient Ashkelon, a major city of the Philistines between the 12th and 7th centuries B.C., is the first of its kind in the history of archaeological investigation in the region.

“First-Ever Philistine Cemetery Unearthed at Ashkelon,” Bible History Daily | July 10, 2016

Five known Philistine cities have been discovered, revealing artifacts, but this discovery reveals the Philistines themselves:

Now Ashkelon has yielded the Philistines themselves.

Directed by Lawrence E. Stager, Dorot Professor of the Archaeology of Israel, Emeritus, at Harvard University, and Daniel M. Master, Professor of Archaeology at Wheaton College, the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon discovered the Iron Age cemetery in 2013 and began excavating it extensively in 2014. Three seasons of significant investigation have revealed previously unknown details of the Philistines in death—and life. First of all, the cemetery provides a window into Philistine burial practices.

“Story of Philistines Could be Reshaped by Ancient Cemetery,” The New York Times | July 10, 2015

This site has seemingly been undisturbed for several millennia according the the NYT:

After more than 30 years of excavating the remains of a Philistine city, a team of archaeologists says it believes it has found a cemetery belonging to the ancient people on the outskirts of Ashkelon in Israel.

The team has unearthed skeletons and artifacts that it suspects had rested for more than 3,000 years in the cemetery, potentially offering clues to the Philistines’ lifestyle and perhaps providing some answers to the mysteries of where the Philistines came from. Much has remained unknown about their origins.

“When we found this cemetery right next to a Philistine city, we knew we had it,” said Daniel Master, an archaeologist from Wheaton College in Illinois. “We have the first Philistine cemetery that’s ever been discovered.”

Any great discovery is not without its criticism. Questions about it being the first discovery is under discussion.  Live Science reports:

[E]xperts not affiliated with the excavations are not yet convinced of the claim, saying that the identity of the people buried at the Ashkelon cemetery is not clear-cut and the finding itself has not been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Further muddying the waters, other burials found in known Philistine cities, though never confirmed, also have dibs on the title of “first-discovered Philistine cemetery.”

“First Ever? Discovery of Philistine Cemetery Draws Criticism” Live Science | July 14, 2016

Another quick video on the discovery from CNN:

Here are other posts I have reported on concerning biblical archaeology:

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.”