In my many years of ministry I have heard the above statement more than once and often from well educated people of intellect. I am dismayed to discover that 99% of the time their conclusions are not based on research, evidence, knowledge and history but all too often on hearsay, rumor and innuendo! They relegate the Bible to the same level as Grimm’s Fairy Tales but have absolutely NO BASIS for the conclusions they have come to.
CONSIDER THE FACTUAL EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THE HISTORICITY OF THE BIBLE:
A Common Flood Story. Not just the Hebrews (Gen. 6–8), but also Mesopotamians, Egyptians, and Greeks all report a flood in primordial times. A Sumerian king list from c. 2100 BC divides itself into two categories: those kings who ruled before a great flood and those who ruled after it.
The Code of Hammurabi. This seven-foot black diorite stele, discovered at Susa and presently located in the Louvre museum, contains 282 engraved laws of Babylonian King Hammurabi (fl. 1750 BC).
The Nuzi Tablets. The some 20,000 cuneiform clay tablets discovered at the ruins of Nuzi, east of the Tigris River and datable to c. 1500 B.C., reveal institutions, practices, and customs remarkably congruent to those found in Genesis.
The Existence of Hittites. A century ago the Hittites were unknown outside of the Old Testament, and critics claimed that they were a figment of biblical imagination. In 1906, however, archaeologists digging east of Ankara, Turkey, discovered the ruins of Hattusas, the ancient Hittite capital at what is today called Boghazkoy, as well as its vast collection of Hittite historical records, which showed an empire flourishing in the mid-second millennium BC.
The Merneptah Stele. A seven-foot slab engraved with hieroglyphics, also called the Israel Stele, boasts of the Egyptian pharaoh’s conquest of Libyans and peoples in Palestine, including the Israelites: “Israel — his seed is not.”
Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. In addition to Jericho, places such as Haran, Hazor, Dan, Megiddo, Shechem, Samaria, Shiloh, Gezer, Gibeah, Beth Shemesh, Beth Shean, Beersheba, Lachish, and many other urban sites have been excavated, quite apart from such larger and obvious locations as Jerusalem or Babylon.
Shishak’s Invasion of Judah. First Kings 14 and 2 Chronicles 12 tell of Pharaoh Shishak’s conquest of Judah in the fifth year of the reign of King Rehoboam, the brainless son of Solomon, and how Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem was robbed of its treasures on that occasion.
The Moabite Stone. Second Kings 3 reports that Mesha, the king of Moab, rebelled against the king of Israel following the death of Ahab.
Obelisk of Shalmaneser III. In 2 Kings 9–10, Jehu is mentioned as King of Israel (841–814 BC).
Burial Plaque of King Uzziah. Down in Judah, King Uzziah ruled from 792 to 740 BC, a contemporary of Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah. Like Solomon, he began well and ended badly. In 2 Chronicles 26 his sin is recorded, which resulted in his being struck with leprosy later in life.
Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. King Hezekiah of Judah ruled from 721 to 686 BC. Fearing a siege by the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, Hezekiah preserved Jerusalem’s water supply by cutting a tunnel through 1,750 feet of solid rock from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam inside the city walls (2 Kings 20; 2 Chron. 32). At the Siloam end of the tunnel, an inscription, presently in the archaeological museum at Istanbul, Turkey, celebrates this remarkable accomplishment. The tunnel is probably the only biblical site that has not changed its appearance in 2,700 years.
The Sennacherib Prism. After having conquered the 10 northern tribes of Israel, the Assyrians moved southward to do the same to Judah (2 Kings 18–19). The prophet Isaiah, however, told Hezekiah that God would protect Judah and Jerusalem against Sennacherib (2 Chron. 32; Isa. 36–37).
The Cylinder of Cyrus the Great. Second Chronicles 36:23 and Ezra 1
A FEW MORE FACTS TO CONSIDER: Most people are unaware of the 38 volumes set of the Early Church Fathers covering the generation that followed the apostles plus the first three centuries of faith. It is well worth reading.
What About the Reliability of the New Testament as Historical Documents
- “Astounding” number of ancient manuscripts extant: 5,000 Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin and 9,000 other–totaling over 24,000 manuscript copies or portions of the New Testament. These are dated from 100 to 300 years after the originals. (There are no original manuscripts [“autographs”] extant, but the number and similarity of copies allows scholars to reconstruct the originals.)
- Early fragments: John Ryland manuscript 130 A.D. in Egypt; Bodmer manuscript containing most of John’s gospel 150-200 A.D.; Magdalen fragment from 26believed by some to be within a few years of Jesus’ death; Gospel fragments found among the Dead Sea Scrolls dated as early as 50 A.D.
- Comparison with other ancient documents (available copies versus the originals):
Caesar—10 copies—1000 year gap
Tacitus—20 copies—1000 year gap
Plato—7 copies—1200 year gap
- F. Bruce: “There is no body of ancient literature in the world which enjoys such a wealth of good attestation as the New Testament.”
- William F. Albright: “Thanks to the Qumran discoveries, the New Testament proves to be in fact what it was formerly believed to be: the teaching of Christ and his immediate followers circa.25 and circa. 80 AD.”
So how do I put this overwhelming evidence to effect in my day-to-day life? Whenever I come upon someone voicing such a statement as, “The Bible is not reliable and filled with myths,” I ask them three questions:
- Have you taken the time to actually ready all sixty- six books of the Bible to see what they say?
- Tell me how you have researched the large amount of evidence regarding the Bible such as the existence of Hittites?
- Are you really content to stake your life, future and eternity on hearsay rumors and innuendo or are you ready to discover the facts?
If they say they have no interest then simply say, “If you ever do please contact me and I’d be please to made some study recommendations.” If they say yes then ask they to take the 21 Day Challenge in the Gospel of John (available for a free PDF download at www.toeternity.org.).
Ignorance of the Bible and Christian history is without excuse when we have easy access to the greatest archeological, historical and eyewitness accounts cover the past 2000 years. Investing a few hours searching for the truth may result in an eternity in the Kingdom of God.