Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.
As someone who has spent a substantial number of hours studying in the area of apologetics, the lack of respect by some people for the Bible as a historical source is a source of some irritation for me. Take the Apostle Paul, for example. A question I read recently about evidence for the existence of the man who wrote 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament, was answered by citing Clement of Rome’s letter to the church in Corinth in 95 C.E. and Iraneus’s “Against Heresies” (written about 175 – 185 C.E.), among others. And yes, these are excellent secular examples of confirmation of what any Biblical scholar already knows about Paul. But personally, I prefer to refer to Luke’s account of his conversion, missionary journeys, etc. in the Book of Acts, or to Peter’s reference to him in 2 Peter 3:14-16.
Seriously, I do understand the desire to find extra-biblical sources that confirm what is written in the Bible. It is comforting for the believer, and can be used as a tool in apologetics – if used correctly. But as Christians, we can be confident in what is written in the bible. We fully stand behind the famous words of one of the greatest archaeologists of the twentieth century, Nelson Glueck. In his book entitled “Rivers In the Desert: A History of the Negev,” he wrote “it may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries. They form tesserae in the vast mosaic of the Bible’s almost incredibly correct historical memory”(p. 31).
In fact, the Bible is so reliable historically that any reference to an event, place, or date in the Bible that can be checked for accuracy in modern times has always ultimately stood the test. And you had better believe that many have tried very hard to disprove any part of it that they can. If it were just a matter of a few instances of proven facts, they could be explained away as simply some correct details being inserted into an otherwise flawed literary work. But when one begins to string hundreds of such instances together, the overwhelming weight of such evidence makes the divinely inspired nature of the Bible quite obvious.
For the rest of our time here, let us examine just one such instance. The Bible mentions the Hittite people over and over again in the Old Testament. They are first mentioned in Genesis 15:20 and can be found in all five of the Books of Law, and throughout the Books of History (for example, 2 Kings 7:6). But as recently as the 1800’s, skeptics claimed that the Hittites were a purely fictional product of the Bible because no secular evidence had ever been found that they even existed.
Then in 1882, Archibald Henry Sayce, a British philologist (the study of language in written historical sources), announced in a lecture to the Biblical Archaeology Society in London that not only had the Hittites existed, but that they could be described as the people of a lost empire. He believed that Boğazkale, a province of the Black Sea region of Turkey, was the capital of this empire. In 1906, Hugo Winckler, a German archaeologist and historian, excavated Boğazkale along with Ottoman Greek archaeologist Theodore Makridi Bey for 6 years, proving that the city was indeed part of a once great empire. Among the finds there, were more than 10,000 clay tablets, written in the Hittite language, that once deciphered, allowed them to begin dating the Hittites back to the 14th century B.C.
Again, this is but one example of such confirmation (and yes, vindication) of Biblical historicity. But it serves very well to emphasize the point made by the Apostle Peter as he quoted Isaiah 40:8 in 1 Peter 1:24-25: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.