Biblical Archaeology—Silencing the Critics – Part 4
|By: ATRI Staff; ©2006|
|There are a number of striking cases where the Bible has been directly confirmed by archaeology. In this article the authors list 25 examples as they conclude their look at “biblical” archaeology.|
Biblical Archaeology—Silencing the Critics – Part 4
Examples of Archaeological Confirmations
As Dr. Edwin Yamauchi points out for Scripture generally, “There are a number of striking cases where specific passages have been doubted (it is a rare passage that has not be questioned by some critic) and have been directly confirmed. There are many more items and areas which have afforded a general illumination of biblical backgrounds, making the narratives more credible and understandable.” He proceeds to quote the noted scholar D.J. Wiseman, now retired, formerly Professor of Assyriology at the University of London who writes:
- When due allowance has been paid to the increasing number of supposed errors which have been subsequently eliminated by the discovery of archaeological evidence, to the many aspects of history indirectly affirmed or in some instances directly confirmed by extra-biblical sources, I would still maintain that the historical facts of the Bible, rightly understood, find agreement in the facts culled from archaeology, equally rightly understood, that is, the majority of errors can be ascribed to errors of interpretation by modern scholars and not to substantiated “errors” of fact presented by the biblical historians. This view is further strengthened when it is remembered how many theories and interpretations of Scripture have been checked or corrected by archaeological discoveries.
In the chart below, we consider just a few examples of hundreds that could be cited. In all the following examples, and many more, critics doubted what the Bible declared. Allegedly, these places, people, and things were anachronistic, errors, or myths. The “scholarly” conclusion was that the Bible was merely a human document and not very trustworthy. But thanks to archaeology, it was the authority of the critics that was silenced, not the authority of the Bible. In contrast to critical views, archaeology has proven the historicity and biblical time frame of many biblical events like these.
1.Abraham and the patriarchs and the city of Ur (Genesis 11:28-31)
- Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch
- The five cities of the plain (Genesis 14:2)
- Scores of additional biblical cities, e.g.:
- Within the past hundred and fifty years however, all of these cities have been uncovered, some receiving additional archaeological attention in recent years. The importance of the discoveries is apparent when we realize that the excavation of these cities, and dozens more, has produced material that confirms the Scriptures at point after point.
- The use of straw in brick making (Exodus 15:13-18)
- The general date and route of the Exodus
- Sennacherib’s failure to capture Jerusalem and his death at the hands of his own sons (2 Kings 19:35-37)
- Jehoiachin’s exile in Babylon (2 Kings 25:27-30)
- The unconquered status of the cities of Lachish and Azekah (Jeremiah 34:7)
- Ezekiel’s dating of events by the years “of king Jehoiachin’s captivity” (Ezekiel 1:1; 8:1ff.)
- The Psalms of David as a tenth century composition and the book of Daniel as a sixth century B.C. composition (every chapter in Daniel but one clearly states this)
- Nabonidus and Belshazzar (Daniel 5)
- The time of Nehemiah’s return, and Sanballat and Tobiah as his enemies (Nehemiah 2:1,10,19; 4:1-3, 7-8; 6:1ff.)
- The drachma coin in Nehemiah (Nehemiah 7:70)
- The census at the time of Christ’s birth (Luke 2:1-3)
- Sergius Paulus, the proconsul of Paphos (Acts 13:6-7)
- The relationship between Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe (Acts 14:6)
- The district of Macedonia (Acts 16:12)
- The magistrates of Philippi (Acts 16:20)
- Herod’s Temple and winter palace (Luke 1:9; Matthew 2:4)
- The pools of Siloam and Bethesda (John 5:2; 9:7)
- Peter’s house (Matthew 8:14)
- Jacob’s well (John 4:5-6)
- Artemis’ temple, statues, and altar (Acts 19:27-28, 35)
- The Ephesian theatre and Golden House of Nero (Acts 19:29; 25:10; 1 Peter 2:13)
These examples again prove that “archaeological discoveries have shown that these critical charges and countless others are wrong and that the Bible is trustworthy in the very statements that critics have set aside as untrustworthy.
We only wish space were available to continue our discussion of showing how archaeology continually confirms Scripture. Indeed by 1958 “over 25,000 sites from the biblical world have been confirmed by some archaeological discoveries to date.” Forty years later, the list is longer. But let us refer the interested reader to the 17-volume survey, Archaeology—the Bible and Christ by Dr. Clifford Wilson, which brings together over 5,000 facts relating archaeology to the Bible. Dr. Wilson begins volume 17 by stating,
- Archaeology is highly relevant for Bible studies, consistently demonstrating that the Bible is the world’s most accurate history text-book…. This present volume (and each of the other volumes) takes its place in offering significant evidence to show how archaeology illustrates, explains and verifies the integrity and authenticity of God’s own Word of Truth.
He closes by stating,
- It is remarkable that where confirmation is possible and has come to light, the Bible stands investigation in ways that are unique in all literature. Its superiority to attack, its capacity to withstand criticism, its amazing facility to be proved right after all, are all staggering by any standards of scholarship. Seemingly assured results “disproving” the Bible have a habit of backfiring. Over and over again the Bible has been vindicated. That is true from Genesis to Revelation, as we have seen in this book.
In essence, from the perspective of the hope of biblical critics—if that hope was to be proved correct—archaeological research has provided vast opportunities to establish their view of the Bible. Their belief was that it merely constituted the error-filled writings of men and was of no particular or lasting spiritual import. Their hopes have consistently been smashed: the Bible has stood up to the investigation of a type that has not been hurled at any other reputable book of history.
We cannot stress this strongly enough: given the thousands of minute details recorded in the Bible, if the Bible were only the writings of men, surely archaeology would have proven it by now. Modern archaeology has thoroughly disproven the Book of Mormon, as we indicated in our Behind the Mask of Mormonism and as Mormon experts Jerald and Sandra Tanner have detailed in Archeology and the Book of Mormon. Modern archaeology has also corrected the writings of many other ancient and new texts. But modern archaeology has never corrected the Bible beyond legitimate adjustments because of new knowledge, such as translation errors relative to Bible backgrounds and the correct use of titles of Israel’s neighbors. How do we account for what must be viewed as a startling fact, apart from the claims of the Bible itself, that indeed, we have in our possession the literal Word of God?
In conclusion, we cannot but end our discussion by reminding ourselves of the spiritual implications of biblical archaeology:
- The serious investigator has every reason for great confidence in the reliability of both Old and NewTestament Scriptures…. However, the historical material—seen through archaeology to be of remarkable integrity—is penned by the same men who witnessed and recorded the miracles and elaborated on spiritual realities. It is reasonable to believe that they would be as reliable in those areas as they are in the areas now subject to investigation by archaeology.
- Edwin Yamauchi, The Stones and the Scriptures (New York: J. B. Lippencott, 1972), p. 20.
- Ibid., p. 186.
- Joseph P. Free, revised and expanded by Howard F. Vos, Archeology and Bible History (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), p. 16.
- Most of these are taken from Free and Vos, passim, who list them chronologically by subheading, “Archeological Confirmation Concerning…”
- Free and Vos, p. 14.
- Norman Geisler, Christ: The Theme of the Bible (Chicago: Moody Press, 1969), p. 29n, citing D. J. Wiseman, “Archeological Confirmations of the Old Testament” in Carl F. Henry, ed., Revelation and the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1958), pp. 301-302.
- Published by Pacific Christian Ministries, P. Box 311, Lilydale 3140, Victoria, Australia.100.
- John Ankerberg, John Weldon, Behind the Mask of Mormonism (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1996, 2nd ed.), pp. 282-290; Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Archeology and the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, UT: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1969).
- Clifford Wilson, Rocks, Relics, and Biblical Reliability (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan/Richardson, TX: Probe, 1977), pp. 124-125.