The Bible’s Historical Accuracy – Doug Post

Doug Post

The first verse of the Bible declares, “In the beginning God…” Without explanation, God is introduced to the reader, whether one knows Him or not, and whether one believes in His existence or not. God simply bursts upon the scene. The Bible does not provide some twelve-step program to help one come to belief in God, nor does it provide an apologetic preface for God’s existence. God just “is.” But, of course, as the Bible unfolds, we are presented with overwhelming information proving God’s existence, so much so, David writes: “The fool has said in his heart there is no God” (Psa. 14:1).

Those of us who believe in the existence of God do so because of all the available evidence. First, there is the external evidence which includes nature, science, and philosophy. These elements are outside the Bible, but which have credible information, corroborating what the Bible teaches. Second, there is the internal evidence, evidence which comes from the Bible itself. However, concerning the Bible, there are essentially, two competing and contrary views regarding its nature and authenticity. One view says, “Scripture is true because I believe it is true.” The other says, “Scripture is false because I believe it is false.”

Each above statement or claim, whether positive or negative, is subjective, that is, each claim is unsubstantiated, not having the evidence supporting it. They are mere assertions or opinions, not facts. On the other hand, for any claim to be accepted as true, then it must have supporting or corroborating evidence. Having such evidence, then each claim or view could be stated as, “I believe the Bible because it is true,” or “I do not believe the Bible because it is false.” Therefore, what evidence exists for the credibility and accuracy of the Bible?

Internal Evidence—The Bible’s Own Claims

The fundamental issue at hand, for any assertion, is whether it has evidence or facts to substantiate its claim. However, fair judgment of the facts must also play a role in determining a claim’s validity. For instance, in the Old Testament, Jephthah made a vow, but the question is, did he keep his vow, and how was it kept (Judg. 11:30-40)? Understanding how to approach the Bible is necessary for one to reach a conclusion. The Bible, itself, says that its entirety (related facts) must be sought out in order to arrive at truth (Psa. 119:160). Since God condemns not only murder (Ex.20:13), but also human sacrifice (Deut.18:10), then Jephthah could not have sacrificed his daughter, because God would not have granted or accepted such a vow. Suggesting otherwise, however, would have God contradicting Himself, which is exactly why skeptic and atheists alike point to such passages. However, they, too, are obligated to deal fairly with the facts, and must conclude the plausibility that this is, indeed, the proper understanding.

Additionally, the Bible claims to be inspired or God breathed. Paul wrote Timothy declaring: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

The primary object of inspiration is Scripture – the Bible. All of the Bible, every word, is said to be God-breathed or inspired. But this also means that those who wrote the Bible, were supernaturally aided while writing down what God desired, because the Bible also claims that those who wrote were inspired by God to write:

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Pet. 1:20-21).

The Bible claims for itself a direct relationship with God, constantly affirming its own truthfulness and supernaturally, inspired nature. Therefore, even its human authors could, in no way, corrupt God’s message as found in Scripture. Accordingly, the Bible is a product of God.

When it comes to Science, the First Law of Thermodynamics states that matter, including energy, “cannot be created or destroyed.” In essence, matter and energy cannot create itself. Therefore, this one Law, alone, proves the existence of God since matter and energy cannot create itself. There must be a Cause to their creation and existence. Science is unable to measure, ascertain, or explain this fact. Obviously, God, is the Creator, and His word explains this fact (Gen. 1).

Moreover, not only does the Bible claim for itself inspiration and truthfulness, it also claims inerrancy. Since it claims to be inerrant, then it can be trusted as being wholly true. After all, it is of Divine origin. While the Bible is not a science book, when it speaks of scientific matters it is completely accurate. When it speaks of historical matters is also completely accurate. When the Bible speaks of historical figures or places, it can be accepted as truthful.

The most fascinating evidence in all of this, is that the Bible is not just one book, but is a collection of 66 books. Together they comprise what is referred to as Sacred Writings or Scripture, or the Word of God. The Bible was written over a period of 1,600 years by 40 different writers. Yet the message, with its emphasis on Christ, is remarkably unified and coherent. Since the bulk of the writers were eyewitnesses to the existence of God, to people, places and events, the evidence of their claims cannot be ignored.

External Evidence–Scientific, Historical, and Archaeological

As previously mentioned, the Bible is not a Science book and, typically, does not deal, directly, with scientific topics as do Science books used in school. While the Bible is not a Math book, it does use some math, and when it does, it uses it accurately. For instance, Daniel uses addition and correctly concludes with the accurate answer of 70 (Dan. 9:25-27). This is truth. Therefore, when the Bible uses math, we can expect a correct answer, even though it is not a Math book. The same is true with Science. When the Bible addresses matters that Science teaches, the Bible is correct.

For instance, at one time, Science taught that the earth was flat, yet the book of Isaiah tells us that God “sitteth upon the circle of the earth” (Isa.40:22). The point here, that thousands of years before the telescope, satellites, and space travel, the prophet was aware that the earth was not flat. Therefore, when the Bible speaks about the earth it is accurate. Moreover, Job writes that God, “hangeth the earth upon nothing.” No, the earth is not being held up on the back of a mythical god, but as God describes, it hangs upon nothing.

Some scientists are on record declaring that matter, itself, is eternal, which goes against everything Science teaches:

Many have argued (and some still do) that the universe is eternal; there never was a time when it did not exist. But Moses wrote: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). But, as Dr. Robert Jastrow has pointed out: “Modern science denies an eternal existence to the Universe…” (15). This is one of the clear implications of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Everything is “running down.” It must have been, therefore, “wound up” at some point in the past (Jackson, 20).

Some scientists have argued that matter is still being created, which once again, is contrary to what Science, itself, teaches:

The book of Genesis states that Jehovah’s creative activity concluded with the sixth day of the initial week (2:1-2). Accordingly, there is no creation of “matter” being effected today. This is perfectly consistent with the First Law of Thermodynamics, which asserts that according to present processes, matter is not being created now (which further suggests that it cannot create itself ). It may be altered in form (e.g., from a solid to a gas), but it is neither being created nor destroyed. Yet contrast these facts with the contention of Bertrand Russell — just forty-five years ago: “There is no reason why the world could not have come into being without a cause; nor, on the other hand, is there any reason why it should not have always existed” (7). These statements are absolutely absurd, and no self-respecting intellectual would echo them today. But the Bible is wonderfully current (20,21).

When the Bible addresses topics or issues, which Science also addresses, its conclusions are accurate. This is also true when it comes to historical people and places. For instance, the existence of King David had been called into question for many centuries. Many skeptics and atheists claimed that David was myth and downplayed the concept of the existence of an organized, ancient Israel. Of course, if David were a mythical figure, then surely their idea of a Messiah would also be mythical since the Bible claims Jesus comes from David’s bloodline. However, all of that changed in 1993 when the Tel-Dan stele was discovered wherein there was an inscription concerning Israel as the “house of David.” Evidently the inscription was made by an enemy king of Northern Israel, and the inscription, in part, says, “King of Israel, and I killed Ahaziah, son of Jehoram of the house of David.” Regarding the Tel-Dan stele history and the significance behind it:

Apparently, Hazael created the victory stele in celebration of killing these kings at the battle at Ramoth Gilead in 841 B.C. as recorded in 2 Kings 8:28-29. Hazael was mistaken in his historical narrative; while both kings did die related to the battle, Hazael was not personally responsible for their deaths. The son of Ahab, Jehoram, was wounded and went to Jezreel to get over his wounds. That turned out to be a terrible decision costing his life. Scripture reports that the prophet Elisha orders one of his students to go to Ramoth-Gilead for a conference with Jehu who was the military commander. Jehu and the student met in an upper room separate from everybody else. The messenger told Jehu that he would be anointed a king and that he was to act as an agent of divine judgment against the house of Ahab. (Jehoram was the son of Ahab and would have been king). Jehu then secretly entered Jezreel where Jehoram was recuperating from wounds suffered in battle. When Jehoram tried to escape, Jehu shot an arrow which ended up killing him immediately. When Ahaziah discovered Jehu had killed Jehoram he tried to escape as well but ended up suffering the same fate. Jehu caught up with Ahaziah and he was mortally wounded and died several days later. Jehu assassinated both the Judah Jehoram (the son of Ahab), and the king Ahaziah (from the house of David). Because they both died shortly after the battle, Hazael mistakenly believed he had killed them both” (waystofaith.net).

There are multitudes of other such archaeological finds, substantiating persons, places, and events during the Patriarchal age in the Old Testament such as the Nuzi, Mari, and Ebla tablets. Even though confirmation for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is still lacking, there is external evidence regarding the prophet Balaam, son of Beor (Num. 22:1-24:25). The Merneptah Stele (Egyptian Pharaoh, Merneptah), found in 1896, which is dated to around 1210 BC, has a sole reference to “Israel.” The Stele demonstrates that the Israel was recognized as a people in the land of Canaan. In 1846, “The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III” was discovered. On it is the inscription concerning king Jehu of Israel (2 Kings 10:34). Of course, much more archaeological discoveries could be mentioned but this will suffice for our purposes.

The New Testament also has much external evidence supporting its historical accuracy. Such evidence is made manifest by the likes of Augustus Caesar, Tiberius, Gaius, Claudius, Nero, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian (Barnett, 229). Then there are contemporary historians such Josephus, Pliny, and Tacitus, ll providing vital information concerning Jesus, Christians, and various places and events of the first century. In the past, critics tried to discredit Luke, accusing him of being an inaccurate historian; however, the books of Luke and Acts (both replete with references to cities, Roman provinces, and political figures) have now been substantiated by external evidence. Critics once scoffed at his reference to Lysanius as the “tetrarch of Abilene” (Luke 3:1), but archaeologists have since found two Greek inscriptions proving that Lysanius was indeed the tetrarch of Abilene in AD 14–29. Luke’s use of technical terminology, like proconsul, procurator, Asiarch, praetor, and politarch, has been challenged in the past, but evidence has vindicated his accuracy and the overall accuracy of the New Testament.

Additionally, an abundance of archaeology discoveries also substantiate much of the New Testament, so much so that many critical attacks against the historicity of the New Testament have been reversed. Most of the geographical details associated with the life of Jesus in the Gospels have been substantiated. These include places such as the Pool of Siloam, the Pool of Bethesda, Jacob’s Well, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Cana, Capernaum, Chorazin, the residence of Pilate in Jerusalem, and “The Pavement” in John 19:13.

Works Cited

1. Barnett, Paul W: Is the New Testament Historically Reliable? Cowan, Steven B., and Terry L. Wilder. In Defense of the Bible: a Comprehensive Apologetic for the Authority of Scripture. Nashville, TN: B & H Academic, 2013.

2. David. 11/14/2019. https://waystofaith.net/the-house-of-david-stele/

3. Jackson, Wayne: The Bible and Science. Courier Publications. Stockton, CA, 2000.

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Author: Editor

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