Archaeology And Knowing The Bible Is True

Jerusalem,_Davidson_center_3869I’ve read on a rather regular basis criticism of the Bible—it’s a myth, it clashes with known truth, was written by anonymous people after the fact, was mistranslated, and more. Sadly, these accusations never come with proof. They are simply empty lies put out by one disbelieving person or another, then repeated without verification.

In truth, a person can corroborate that the Bible is true by using clear evidence and deductive reasoning.

In making the case that prophecy supports the Bible’s claim to be God’s word, I primarily used the latter. But clearly deductive reasoning must start with some reliable, verifiable point. The same is true when discussing archaeology as a means by which we can know the Bible is true.

Ironically, skeptics for years said the Bible was not true because there was no corroborating evidence for many of the places, people, or events in the Biblical accounts. It is the same absence-of-evidence argument that atheists today use about God’s existence.

During the cross-examination phase of a Hitchens/Lane debate about the existence of God, Dr. Lane asked, Would you agree that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence? Mr. Hitchens simply responded, I do not.

But any thinking person can see that absence of evidence has nothing to do with actual existence. The people groups in the Amazon jungle, for example, may have no evidence that computers exist, or the Internet. Obviously their ignorance of computer technology does not cancel its existence. Does their lack of evidence reduce existence to relativity? (Computers and the Internet don’t exist for them.) That reduces “existence” to that which has impact.

If we believe words have meaning and are true to that meaning, then clearly the absence of evidence has no bearing on actual existence (as opposed to perceived existence).

Here’s how this relates to the Bible. Despite the earlier failure of archaeology to uncover physical evidence to corroborate some Biblical history, more recent finds have reversed that trend. For example, I have a newspaper article written in 2003 that reports about an archaeological find confirming the existence of Simeon, the devout Jew who spoke a blessing while holding the infant Jesus. Until scholars uncovered previously invisible lines of inscription, no extra-Biblical evidence verified that Simeon had ever lived. Now scholars not only realize the monument they were examining marked his tomb, they have a verse of the Bible etched in the stone, directly tying the tomb with the New Testament narrative.

Archaeologist Dr. John McRay (Ph.D. from the University of Chicago) and author of Archaeology and the New Testament, is quoted by Lee Stobel in The Case for Christ as saying this:

The general consensus of both liberal and conservative scholars is that Luke is very accurate as a historian. He’s erudite, he’s eloquent, his Greek approaches classical quality, he writes as an educated man, and archaeological discoveries are showing over and over again that Luke is accurate in what he has to say.
(emphasis mine)

Last year, Christianity Today identified the top ten archaeological finds in 2014 that support facts introduced in the Bible and long thought to be inaccurate or unreliable or even fabricated. Here’s one of those:

In recent decades, some archaeologists and Bible scholars have argued that David and Solomon were minor or mythological leaders and not the major rulers depicted in the Bible. But the discovery this summer of six clay seal impressions—or bullae—from the 10th century BC indicate significant administrative activity at a remote outpost at Khirbet Summeily near Gaza, on the ancient border between Judah and Philistia. The bullae are the latest in a series of discoveries that support the existence of a major Jerusalem-based kingdom in the 10th century. (“Biblical Archaeology’s Top Ten Discoveries of 2014” by Gordon Grovier, Christianity Today)

For more specifics on these archaeological finds regarding David, see the Nova article “The Palace of King David.”

The point is simple. Archaeological finds, such as the ones listed above, continue to appear and are being studied. These discoveries verify Biblical accounts. Consequently, it is logical to accept as true the Bible’s record of events, even those not yet corroborated independently. Absence of extra-biblical evidence does not mean that no evidence exists or has existed. The presence of such evidence adds another verifying piece to the picture of the Bible as a true and historical account when intended for that purpose.

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