Philosophy Lite: Archaeology confirms many Bible passages

Jan. 4, 2011 at midnight
Updated Jan. 6, 2011 at 7:07 p.m.

By Raymond Smith

Archaeology is the systematic recovering of ancient artifacts in order to understand primitive cultures or to verify names and dates in the Bible.

Christianity is under attack today as never before in our country's history. Some of the books on today's market may tend to cause more doubts than faith, and some are saying the Bible cannot be trusted. That's where archaeology can bolster a person's trust in the Bible's accuracy.

The number of finds in the hundreds of digs in the Near East over the last 100 years corroborate many historical events and provide a greater accuracy of the dates involved. Many battles mentioned between Jewish and opposing forces are now verifiable because of the inscriptions on stone that have been discovered. Of interest is the fact that the Assyrian and neighboring kings never recorded any defeats; only their victories.

Probably the most notable discovery was that of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Discovered in 1947 in caves at Qumran, the writings cover a span of time between 250 B.C. to 70 A.D. While there was a slight amount of differences in spelling and style, the message remains essentially the same as recorded in scripture. The point here is the extreme care with which ancient scribes copied the manuscripts for future generations. Our Bible has come to us with a great devotion to accuracy.

An early discovery was the Epic of Gilgamesh, which records the Babylonian account of the flood. Recorded in stone on several tablets, it dates from the late third millennium B.C.

The inscription of Mesha, king of Moab, records his successful revolt after the death of Ahab. He lists the villages taken from Israel by the help of the Moabite god Chemosh (2 Kings 1:1 and 3:4-27). The black obelisk of Shalmaneser III shows 13 Israelites under king Jehu bearing tribute to Shalmaneser (841 B.C.). The defeat of Ashdod by Sargon II (Isaiah 20:1) is recorded on his palace walls in Assyria. The campaign of the Assyrian king Sennacherib against Judah (II Kings 18:13-16) is recorded on the Taylor Prism recovered at ancient Nineveh. The assassination of Sennacherib by his own sons (2 Kings 19:37) is recorded in the annals of his son Esarhaddon. The fall of Nineveh as predicted by the prophets Nahum and Zephaniah (2:13-15) are recorded on the tablet of Nabopolasar. The freeing of the captives in Babylon by Cyrus the Great (Ezra 1:1-4 and 6:3-4 is recorded on the Cyrus Cylinder. The existence of Jesus is recorded by Josephus, Suetonius, Thallus, Pliny the Younger, the Talmud and Lucian.

I could list many other archaeological discoveries, but space does not permit. If you are interested, there are many good books available, as well as the Internet.

Dr. Nelson Glueck made many notable finds in the 1950s and 1960s. He made this famous statement: "It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference."

Raymond F. Smith is a deacon at Fellowship Bible Church in Victoria and President of Strong Families of Victoria



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