Is the Bible historically accurate? (part 24)

The Authenticity of the Bible – The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict – Josh McDowell Part 6

In the next few days I will be sharing portions of the article “Archaeology and the new Atheism:The Plausibility of the Biblical Record,” Apologetic Press. Dewayne Bryant is the author and in the third portion he notes:

Archaeology demonstrates solid connections between the biblical record and ancient history, in contrast to Christopher Hitchens’ assertion that it is an implausible record. Consider the following:

The United Monarchy

David’s existence has been questioned frequently. Examples of petty monarchs ruling miniscule kingdoms in the Near East find rare mention in ancient sources, yet generally their historicity is taken at face value with minimal skepticism. Even Gilgamesh, the hero of the Epic of Gilgamesh, is thought to have been a historical figure ruling in Mesopotamia between 2600-2700 B.C. based on a reference in the famous Sumerian king list. Yet, David’s historicity is viewed with extreme suspicion, even though there are references to David found in the Tel Dan Inscription and the Moabite Stone, as well as numerous references in the Hebrew Bible. Indeed, Gilgamesh is thought to have been a real person despite being the semi-divine hero in a mythical composition, which also includes such fantastic details as a beast-man named Enkidu, a divinely sent creature of destruction called the Bull of Heaven, and a plant that can grant the person who eats it eternal life. David is frequently labeled a myth despite the solid evidence in favor of his existence.

After the evidence is surveyed, it is apparent that much of the criticism of the Bible arises—not from intense scrutiny of the evidence—but from ignorance of it. The overwhelming weight of the archaeological and historical evidence firmly places the Bible in the sphere of reality rather than myth.

EDITOR’S NOTES: The original article can be found at: http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=968

As of April 8, 2011, Dewayne Bryant holds two Masters degrees, and is completing Masters study in Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology and Languages at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, while pursuing doctoral studies at Amridge University. He has participated in an archaeological dig at Tell El-Borg in Egypt and holds professional membership in the American Schools of Oriental Research, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the Archaeological Institute of America.

I will be sharing portions of the article “How Do We Know that the Bible Is True?,” by Dr. Jason Lisle, Answers in Genesis, March 22, 2011. Here is the third part:

The Bible is an extraordinary work of literature, and it makes some astonishing claims. It records the details of the creation of the universe, the origin of life, the moral law of God, the history of man’s rebellion against God, and the historical details of God’s work of redemption for all who trust in His Son. Moreover, the Bible claims to be God’s revelation to mankind. If true, this has implications for all aspects of life: how we should live, why we exist, what happens when we die, and what our meaning and purpose is. But how do we know if the claims of the Bible are true?

Some Typical Answers

Begging the Question

Some have cited 2 Timothy 3:16 as proof that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. This text indicates that all Scripture is inspired by God (or “God-breathed”) and useful for teaching. That is, every writing in the Bible is a revelation from God that can be trusted as factually true. Clearly, if the Bible is given by revelation of the God of truth, then it can be trusted at every point as an accurate depiction. The problem with answering the question this way is that it presupposes that the verse itself is truthful—which is the very claim at issue.

In other words, how do we know that 2 Timothy 3:16 is true? “Well it’s in the Bible,” some might say. But how do we know the Bible is true? “2 Timothy 3:16 assures us that it is.” This is a vicious circular argument. It must first arbitrarily assume the very thing it is trying to prove. Circular reasoning of this type (while technically valid) is not useful in a debate because it does not prove anything beyond what it merely assumes. After all, this type of argument would be equally valid for any other book that claims to be inspired by God. How do we know that book X is inspired by God? “Because it says it is.” But how do we know that what it’s saying is true? “Well, God wouldn’t lie!”

On the other hand, some Christians might go too far the other way—thinking that what the Bible says about itself is utterly irrelevant to the question of its truthfulness or its inspiration from God. This, too, is a mistake. After all, how would we know that a book is inspired by God unless it claimed to be? Think about it: how do you know who wrote a particular book? The book itself usually states who the author is. Most people are willing to accept what a book says about itself unless they have good evidence to the contrary.

So it is quite relevant that the Bible itself claims to be inspired by God. It does claim that all of its assertions are true and useful for teaching. Such statements do prove at least that the writers of the Bible considered it to be not merely their own opinion, but in fact the inerrant Word of God. However, arguing that the Bible must be true solely on the basis that it says so is not a powerful argument. Yes, it is a relevant claim. But we need some additional information if we are to escape a vicious circle.

The truth of the Bible is obvious to anyone willing to fairly investigate it. The Bible is uniquely self-consistent and extraordinarily authentic. It has changed the lives of millions of people who have placed their faith in Christ. It has been confirmed countless times by archaeology and other sciences. It possesses divine insight into the nature of the universe and has made correct predictions about distant future events with perfect accuracy. When Christians read the Bible, they cannot help but recognize the voice of their Creator. The Bible claims to be the Word of God, and it demonstrates this claim by making knowledge possible. It is the standard of standards. The proof of the Bible is that unless its truth is presupposed, we couldn’t prove anything at all.

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