External Evidence Tests: Archaeology|
Page 2: A Letter to Time
In December 1995 Time Magazine published a cover story entitled Is the Bible Fact or Fiction? It seems like stories similar to this one run at least annually either around Christmas or Easter. Each time a major publication releases a story like this the facts are similarly distorted. Perhaps in an effort to please the entire readership, or perhaps because of a radically liberal bent, evidence is either ignored or deformed beyond recognition. This article was no exception. In an effort to set the record straight I sent a letter to the editor which was never printed. I have printed it here simply because it gives clues regarding the nature of these distortions and assertions.
Your recent article Are the Bible Stories True? was disappointing to say the least. In an effort to be equitable and unbiased Mr. Lemonick ignored many facts about biblical historicity. Yes, I am a Christian, but this does not mean that I practice a blind faith. My faith is based on a sound understanding of both biblical and historical truths.
To his credit, Mr. Lemonick did point out the crucial archaeological maxim, "absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence," but he seemed to stop there. Argument after argument against biblical accuracy was presented without evidence. Any evidence relating to biblical history was in favor of its accuracy. Overall he cited nine archaeological discoveries made between 1979 and 1995. Each and every one of them points towards the precision of the scriptures.
The only case of evidence presented against the scriptures relates to the investigation of Jericho by Kathleen Kenyon. Mr. Lemonick ignores the amazing discoveries made by John Garstang in 1936, that the walls of Jericho fell outwards as the Bible indicates in Joshua 6:20. Moreover, he leaves out the fact that Kenyon, believing the historicity of the Bible, concluded that there were two walls built at different times; and that the occupation layers from Joshua's time had eroded away or the ruins used by later occupants. Further, John Bimson's theory indicating the fall of Jericho during the Middle Bronze period is missing completely.
The account of New Testament accuracy, by John Elson, is equally distorted. In it he states that the existence of Jesus is not proven. If it is not, then what shall we say about the existence of Aristotle, Homer, or Plato? There are over 24,000 New Testament manuscripts and manuscript fragments dating back to the first and second centuries, versus less than 1,000 for the above three authors combined! Additionally, there are many other non-biblical references to Jesus, such as Cornelius Tacitus, Flavius Josephus, and Thallus. These historical documents, and numerous archaeological findings, will stand up to any test they are put to. This letter is not the forum, but volumes can be (and have been) written to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, the accuracy of the New Testament.
Finally, I should add that there are many (thousands) of other twentieth-century archaeological discoveries corroborating the scriptures that go unmentioned; yet there are none that successfully refute it. This fact combined with hundreds of fulfilled prophecies (which also can be historically supported) and the ability of the Bible to stand up to legitimate internal evidence, external evidence, and bibliographic tests make it one of a kind. It is, without question, the holy and inspired word of God.
It is frustrating to see this continual denial of solid evidence. As mentioned in this letter, nine archaeological discoveries were cited, each confirmed biblical accuracy. Beyond that, assertions were made that the existence of Abraham and Moses were questionable because evidence was lacking. I'll ask again, at what point do we give the document the benefit of the doubt based on thousands of trials and a perfect track record?
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