Is the Bible the Word of God? (Part 2)

How can you prove that the Bible is God's word? Isn't this what you promote as fact? Isn't it based on faith? Pure 100% faith.

In my last column I began discussing the external evidences for the authenticity of God's word.  Before making statements about what the Bible says of itself it is interesting to see that the Bible is authentic and the people of the Bible are real.  Last time I showed that using the same criteria for testing other historical documents and comparing the Bible to other ancient writings its reliability beyond doubt.  Sir Frederic G. Kenyon, who was the director of the British Museum, best sums up the incomparably superior manuscript evidence for the New Testament.  After extensively examining the manuscript evidence he concluded, "It is reassuring at the end to find that the general result of all these discoveries and all this study is to strengthen the proof of the authenticity of the Scriptures, and our conviction that we have in our hands, in substantial integrity, the veritable Word of God." 

There is so much more that can be examined when evaluating the Bible’s authenticity that it is difficult to determine what to leave out.  However, I will focus on the evidence from archaeology in this column.  

Archaeology continues to confirm the authenticity of the Bible.  Professor William F. Albright, a renowned archaeologist and leading linguist in cuneiform and other ancient scripts did not have a high view of the biblical record.  However, after examining and comparing archaeological evidence such as tablets of the Epic of Gilgimesh found at Megiddo and dating to 1400 B.C. to other archaeological evidence such as a tablet fragment found at Nippur he concludes, "The Bible record contains archaic features dating it to before any Mesopotamian version that is preserved in the cuneiform sources."  He also states, "Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the Bible as a source of history." 

One such discovery has been gold jewelry found at Ur.  Before this critics claimed that technology needed to produce jewelry as mentioned in Abraham's time could not have existed.  Genesis 24:22 states that Abraham's servant sent to find a bride for Isaac "took a gold ring weighing a half-sheckel and two bracelets for her wrists weighing ten sheckles in gold."  In 1962 Albright admitted, "During the past 15 years it has become possible to pinpoint the background of the stories of Abraham (Genesis 12 through 24) with a precision wholly undreamed of when the first edition of this survey was written."  Examples such as this has led Professor H. H. Rowley to state that, "it is not because scholars of today begin with more conservative presuppositions than their predecessors that they have a much greater respect for the Patriarchal stories than was formerly common, but because the evidence warrants it."

Rather than disprove the Bible archaeology continues to confirm and illumine the events in it.  Although skeptics have relegated Adam and Eve to mythology clay tablets at Ninevah depict a man, a women and a serpant.  In addition, archaeology confirms the accuracy and superiority of the records of the Hebrew people dating right back to Adam.  Records of other ancient people are far more fragmentary than the Biblical Hebrew record.

Scholars can no longer consider biblical history legendary.  Kenyon summarizes this when he says, "It is therefore legitimate to say that, in respect of that part of the Old Testament against which the disintegrating criticism of the last half of the nineteenth century was chiefly directed, the evidence of archaeology has been to re-establish its authority, and likewise to augment its value by rendering it more intelligible through a fuller knowledge of its background and setting.  Archaeology has not yet said its last word; but the results already achieved confirm what faith would suggest, that the Bible can do nothing but gain from an increase of knowledge."

After examining only a few of the external evidences it is obvious that believing in the Bible is not merely a faith issue.  In fact, not believing its authenticity must require 100 % pure faith.  The uniqueness of the Bible as a historic document demonstrates that the Bible, and thus Christianity, is founded on historical events confirmed in archaeology rather than merely on ethical teachings.  Thus, since it is more than just an elusive philosophy or theology but instead is confirmed by objective investigation we can be confident when we examine the significance of what it says.  However, an examination about the claims the Bible makes about itself, specifically that it is the word of God, will have to wait until a later column.

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©Tom Carpenter
Originally published in the Rockdale/Newton Citizen