Have the discoveries of archaeology verified the reliability of the Bible, or are we still to take the Bible only on faith?
Over the centuries, there have been many criticisms brought against the Bible concerning its historical reliability. These criticisms are usually based on a lack of evidence from outside sources to confirm the biblical record. Since the Bible is a religious book, many scholars take the position that it is self-endorsing and cannot be trusted unless there is some kind of validating evidence from non-biblical sources. In other words, the Bible is always questioned unless proven reliable, and, as a result, a lack of outside evidence places the biblical account in doubt.
This standard seems to be really different from that applied to other ancient writings, even though many of them, if not most, have a religious element. They are considered to be accurate, unless there is evidence to show that they are not. Although it is not possible to verify every inci-dent in the Bible, the discoveries of archaeology since the mid-1800s have revealed the reliability and trustworthiness of the Bible narrative. Following are some examples: The discovery of the Ebla archive in Northern Syria in the 1970s has revealed that the Bible’s story about the Patriarchs is true. These documents, written on clay tablets from around the year 2300 b.c., demonstrate that personal names and places in the Genesis account are genuine. The name Canaan was in use in Ebla—a name critics once said was not used at that time and was used incorrectly in the early chapters of the Bible. The word tehom (“the deep”), in Genesis 1:2, was said to be a late word demonstrating the late writing of the creation story. However, it has been found that it was part of the vocabulary at Ebla and was in use some 800 years before Moses. Ancient customs reflected in the stories of the Patriarchs in Genesis have also been found in clay tablets from Nuzi and Mari.
The Hittites were once thought to be a biblical legend, until their capital and records were discovered at Bogazkoy, Turkey. Many thought the biblical references to Solomon’s wealth were greatly exaggerated. But recovered records from the past show that the king indeed was extremely wealthy and that indeed his prosperity was as the Bible said. It was once claimed there was no Assyrian king named Sargon, as recorded in Isaiah 20:1, because this name was not known in any other record. Then, Sargon’s palace was discovered in Khorsabad, Iraq. The very event mentioned in Isaiah 20, his capture of Ashdod, was recorded on the palace walls. In addition to this, fragments of a stela memorializing the victory were found at Ashdod itself.
Another king who was in doubt was Belshazzar, the king of Babylon named in Daniel 5. The last king of Babylon in recorded history was Nabonidus. But tablets have been found showing that Belshazzar was Nabonidus’ son who served as coregent in Babylon. Again the Bible record comes through by showing that Belshazzar could in fact offer to make Daniel the third highest ruler in the kingdom for reading the handwriting on the wall. (Daniel 5:16.)
These are only a few of the many accounts of the Bible that have been verified by the archeological spade of time. If you are ever tempted to question the accuracy and truth of the Bible, just remember that it has been tested and questioned over the centuries, and has passed every test brought upon it. Because Jesus said, “I am coming again,” we can have full confidence that He will, based upon the trustworthiness of His Word.
Pastor Mike Baugher is a retired minister of the gospel. If you have a question you would like Pastor Mike to answer, e-mail it to: email@example.com, or mail it to: LandMarks, Steps to Life, P. O. Box 782828, Wichita, KS 67278.