Quiz 13 on Top-Ten Archaeology Discoveries Confirming the Bible
Take this short self-quiz to test your knowledge of week’s three and four lessons on Top-Ten Archaeology Discoveries Confirming the Bible.
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Archive for the ‘Bible’s Reliability’ Category.
Take this short self-quiz to test your knowledge of week’s three and four lessons on Top-Ten Archaeology Discoveries Confirming the Bible.
Take this short self-quiz to test your knowledge of the first two week’s lessons on Top-Ten Archaeology Discoveries Confirming the Bible.
What is the oldest fragment of the Old Testament? Is it contained in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which have fragments dated to 200 BC? No, geologist, Dr. Don Patton reveals that a 1979 archeological discovery that predates the Dead Sea scrolls by 400 years.
The earliest Old Testament manuscript before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls were from A.D. 900 and later. A complete Dead Sea scroll of Isaiah was found and dated to around 200BC. That is an improvement of 1100 years. Then, in 1979 archaeologist Gabriel Barkay with 12 and 13-year-old helpers from a local club found a secret chamber when excavating a site in Jerusalem on a hill [Ketef Hinnom] where St Andrews Church is located. See map below.
Judy Hadley, a girl from Toledo, Ohio, walked up to Dr. Barkay with an object about the size of a cigarette in her hand. It was an amulet scroll, a rolled up piece of silver with writing engraved on the inside. Amulets were worn around the priest’s neck.
The Bible refers to engraving silver this way in Jeremiah 17:1 : “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron; With the point of a diamond it is engraved. On the tablet of their heart, And on the horns of your altars.” Experts took years to cautiously unroll the scrolls and now display them in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. See photo below.
Through innovations in photographic and computer-imaging technology, high resolution digital images were made of the scrolls, which revealed the writing below.
The scrolls were dated to 700 BC, a full 400 years before the oldest Dead Sea fragment.
Amulet 1 says in part “[...]YHW…the grea[t...who keeps] the covenant and [G]raciousness toward those who love [Him] and those who keep [His commandments...]. The Eternal? [...]. [the?] blessing more than any [sna]re and more than Evil. For redemption is in Him. For YHWH is our restorer [and] rock. May YHWH bles[s] you and keep you. [May] YHWH make [His face] shine…” 1
This corresponds to the following Bible verses:
Amulet 2 says in part: “[First line almost completely illegible.] May h[e]/sh[e] be blessed by Yahweh, the warrior [or “helper”] and the rebuker of [E]vil: May Yahweh bless you, keep you. May Yahweh make His face shine upon you and grant you p[ea]ce”. 1
This corresponds to the following Bible verse: Numbers 6:24-26
24 “The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; 26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”’
The last Amulet 2 contains nearly a verbatim transcript from Numbers 6, thus confirming the accuracy of the Bible. This adds to our confidence that the Bible we use is a faithful copy from the original sources.
Archeologist Kathleen Kenyon, who excavated Jericho in the 1950s, claimed that Jericho was destroyed in the 1500s BC so there was no walled city for Joshua to conquer in 1400 BC as reported in the Bible. Was she correct? Geologist, Dr. Don Patton refutes that conclusion using a study by archeologist Dr. Bryant Wood in the video below. (Bryant Wood himself presents his case in this longer-52 minute video here)
Ancient Jericho is located just north of the Dead Sea in Israel. See map below.
The site, known as Tell es-Sultan, is the second most excavated site in Israel (Jerusalem is the first) and is the world’s oldest city dating from 8000 BC. The site is an oasis due to an underground spring (water source).
Four major excavations have been conducted at the site: a German team in 1907-1909, John Garstang in 1930-1936, Kathleen Kenyon in 1950-1958, and an Italian team in 1997-2000. Garstang generally confirmed the accounts of the fall of Jericho in the Bible, while Kenyon refuted the biblical account. Now, Bryant Wood once again confirms the biblical account.
Ancient Jericho was a fortress built on a large mound. At the bottom of the mound was a 12 foot high retaining wall. See diagram below. On top of the retaining wall was a 20 foot high mud brick wall. Farther up on the top of the mound was another 20 foot high mud brick wall. Behind that was the settlement. In addition, people also lived on the slope between the two mud brick walls.
Part of the retaining wall has been excavated on the south side of the tell, and part of the top bud brick wall has been excavated on the north side of the tell. See excavation map above.
The biblical account in Joshua recorded in Joshua 6:20 (NKJV) states: “So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.”
The Hebrew for “fell down flat” conveys that it “fell beneath itself.” There is evidence for this. The mud brick wall above the retaining wall fell down and formed a ramp over the retaining wall. Bryant Wood quotes Kathleen Kenyon’s case notes: “fallen red bricks piling nearly to the top of the revetment. These probably came from the wall on the summit of the bank [and/or] . . . the brickwork above the revetment.” 1Therefore, she found a pile of bricks from the fallen city walls.
In addition, the Joshua passage records that “people went up into the city.” This also is confirmed by the archeological excavations. The people would have to climb the ramp formed by the fallen bricks over the retaining wall and again over the top mud ricks that would have fallen to get to the top and into the city.
In Joshua 6:24 (NKJV) it states that the city was burned: “But they burned the city and all that was in it with fire. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.” This is also confirmed by archeological excavations. On the southeastern side of the tell, excavated by Garstang and Kenyon, they found a three foot thick layer of burned ash and debris. Wood also quotes Kenyon:
The destruction was complete. Walls and floors were blackened or reddened by fire, and every room was filled with fallen bricks, timbers, and household utensils; in most rooms the fallen debris was heavily burnt, but the collapse of the walls of the eastern rooms seems to have taken place before they were affected by the fire.” 1
Both Garstang and Kenyon found many storage jars full of grain, which is very unusual. Conquerors would have taken any grain for themselves, a valuable commodity for food and trade. In contrast, Joshua only allows the taking of metal for the Lord’s treasury in Joshua 6:17-18 (NKJV).
17 Now the city shall be doomed by the LORD to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 18 And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. 19 But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the LORD; they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.”
The biblical account would explain the finding of storage jars full of grain. The Israelis were forbidden to take the grain.
The Bible states that Rahab was spared the destruction. The German excavation of 1907-1909 at the north side of the tell found a 8 foot portion of the mud brick wall that was still standing. They also found houses built against the wall. See photo below. This is likely the place where Rahab lived. Plus, a short distance to the north are hills where the Israeli spies could have hidden as recorded in Joshua 2:16,22 (NKJV)
According to Bryant Wood, Kathleen Kenyon did not study the pottery she excavated. She was looking for expensive pottery from Cyprus (common to the Late Bronze Age 1550-1400 BC) in a poor section of town. Because she couldn’t find it, she concluded that the Jericho destruction occurred much earlier (1570 BC) than the biblical date (1400 BC).
However, daily-use pottery was found with distinctive black and red paint and concentric circles inside, typical of pottery used during the 1450 – 1400 BC period. See photo below. Dr. Wood should know since he is an expert in Early Bronze Age pottery found at the Jericho site.
Therefore, Dr. Wood’s conclusion that the Jericho site is dated 1406 BC is compelling, thus confirming the biblical account, for the following reasons:
For years liberals claimed that the David in the Bible did not exist because of the lack of archeological evidence. Then, in 1993, all that changed when Israeli archaeologist, Avraham Biran discovered Tel Dan Stele (a stele is an inscribed stone).
The archeologists were excavating the gate of an ancient city when they found writing covering three of the stones holding the gate together. Thirteen lines of text were partially preserved, and the writing was ancient Aramaic, dating to the mid-800’s BC.
The stones were probably left by King Hazael of Aram-Damascus, an important regional figure in the late 800s BC. He boasts that he defeated the king of Israel and his ally, the king of the “House of David.” King Hazael of Damascus conquered the Israelite city of Dan sometime in the 840s BC. After he defeated the city, he erected this inscription in a public place to let everyone know he controlled the city. The biblical passage 2 Kings 8:28 records this event this way: “Ahaziah went with Joram son of Ahab to war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth Gilead. The Arameans wounded Joram;”
King Hazael of Damascus refers to the kingdom of Judah by its dynastic name, one frequently used in the Bible: the House of David. This would indicate that the family of David still were in power in Jerusalem. The inscription on the Tel Dan Stele represents the oldest textual reference to the historical King David ever discovered! As Tim Kimberley writes in Top Ten Biblical Discoveries in Archaeology – #2 House of David Inscription 1:
The House of David inscription is significant on many levels. First, contrary to all of the ink spilled touting the silence of David and Solomon from the extra-biblical record there is now proof of a historical king of Israel named David. Second, an Aramaean king would not brag about killing a king who was the relative of a guy who led a backwoods hick town. In order for Hazael to brag about killing a king descending from the House of David, David must have been a well-known and influential king even 150 years after his death.
Due to the previous lack of archeological evidence, many liberal scholars claimed that the nation of Israel was nothing more than a backwoods hick town during the reign of David and Solomon. Those scholars claimed that the Bible grossly exaggerated the influence of those kings. With the Tel Dan Stele, we have confirmation that the accounts in the Bible are true.
The most important archeological discovery of the 20th century is in the opinion of many the Dead Sea Scrolls. Watch this video and read more….
In 1947, the same year that the United Nations voted to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, a fifteen year old Bedouin shepherd boy named Muhammed edh-Dhib and his cousin Jum’a Muhammad noticed some cave openings while shepherding some goats in the Qumran region of the Dead Sea.
They are written in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Nabataean, mostly on parchment, but with some written on papyrus and bronze.1 Roughly 40% of the scrolls are books from the Hebrew Bible, 30% are books (such as Enoch, Jubilees, etc) that were not canonized in the Hebrew Bible and the remainder is sectarian documents about the beliefs of the group (Essenes) that copied the scrolls. There are fragments from every book of the Old Testament except Esther, and a complete copy of the book of Isaiah. (ironically, there is only one instance in the New Testament where Jesus is reading from a scroll. That scroll is Isaiah: (See Luke 4:16-20). The Dead Sea manuscripts have been dated from 300 BC to 70 AD.
For example, this is one of oldest known copies of Genesis, the fragment above contains the description of the first three days of the creation of the world: (Genesis 1:1–2) “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was formless and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep; And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Today, the scrolls are housed in The Shrine of the Book, located in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The entire collection is also viewable online at http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/ and http://www.deadseascrolls.org.il/
What is the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls? Until their discovery, the oldest complete Old Testament had been 900AD. A complete Dead Sea scroll of Isaiah was found and dated to around 200BC. That is an improvement of 1100 years.
“Comparing the biblical scrolls to the standard Hebrew Masoretic text has proven the remarkable precision in the copying of Scripture. In other words, the Hebrew Old Testament we read today is the same one Jesus read.”2 Liberal criticism that the Bible we have today is an inaccurate copy of the original has been disproven by the Dead Sea Scrolls.
In this short video, John Ankerberg interviews Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, Professor at Dallas Theological Seminary about the efforts to discredit the Bible by using the Telephone Game as an analogy.
Here are the points that Dr. Wallace makes:
We have 10-15 manuscript copies (fragmentary from papyri) from the New Testament. These copies date within decades of the original documents. This is unheard of for any other manuscripts from Greco-Roman literature. Nevertheless, many still try to claim that the Bible is unreliable.
Often the Telephone Game is used to discredit the Bible. The game is played by whispering a message from one person to the next and comparing the last person’s message to the first person’s to see how garbled the message became. Then, they say that the same process was used to construct the Bible. However, this is not at all what happened with the New Testament manuscripts.
First, the New Testament manuscripts were written, not transmitted by voice, so the messages wouldn’t have become as garbled. Second, there was not a single line of transmission but multiple lines. Third, we don’t have just one copy at the end to compare with the original, we have all copies to compare to the original. With all of these copies, it is very easy to reconstruct the original message.
If we throw out New Testament manuscripts as unreliable, then we would have to throw out all of ancient history. Rather, we can feel very confident that the Bible has been accurately copied from the original.
Greg Koukl, radio talk show host and founder of Stand To Reason, has written an excellent book, Ancient Words: Reflections on the Reliability and Proper Use of Scripture. 1 In this book he explains why the ancient New Testament manuscripts provide us with assurance that we can trust the Bible.
Koukl addresses the claims of author Bart Ehrman that the Bible cannot be trusted because of the many variations among the ancient manuscripts. Ehrman claims that there are more wording variations (variants) among the ancient manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament. However, is Ehrman’s conclusion, that the Bible cannot be trusted, true? Koukl emphatically says no. Here are the reasons why:
First of all, the only way that you can have a massive number of variants is to have a massive number of manuscripts. Scholars consider this a good thing, not a bad thing. The more manuscripts you have, the better you are able to reconstruct the missing original document.
To understand, let’s look at a simple example that Koukl uses. You hand-write the directions to a recipe on a sheet of paper. Then you make handwritten copies and send them to three friends. They in turn make handwritten copies and send to ten other friends. There are thirty-four copies of the recipe. Now, assume that your original copy is destroyed and the three copies to your friends are destroyed. That leaves thirty copies to reconstruct the original.
You obtain the surviving handwritten copies and spread them out on a table. In the process of comparing them, you notice some differences. Twenty-six of the copies are virtually the same except for misspelled words and abbreviations. Three list some ingredients in a different order, one has a phrase inverted (such as “mix then chop” instead of “chop then mix”) and one includes an ingredient not mentioned in any other list.
The misspellings and abbreviations are inconsequential and so is the order of ingredients. The inverted phrase stands out and can be easily repaired. The extra ingredient stands out too and can be thrown out because it only appears on one copy and not any of the others. The original document can be reliably reconstructed. Therefore if you have many copies of a manuscript with many diverse variations, you can reconstruct the original with a high degree of confidence. This is a simplified example of textual criticism and illustrates how all ancient documents, not just religious texts but historical and literary writings, are reconstructed.
Koukl says that we can accurately reconstruct an ancient document from copies based on the answers to the following three question:
First, let’s look at some ancient secular writings:
Now, let’s compare that to biblical ancient writings:
|John Rylands Papyrus||Codex Sinacticus||Chester Beatty Papyri|
Even though most of the papyri are fragmentary, about 50 manuscripts contain the entire New Testament. In addition, there are 10,000 copies of the New Testament that were translated into Latin and later translated into Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, and Georgian that are 300-500 years removed from the original. Plus, the early church fathers quoted the Scriptures in their writings. Just using these quotations, you could reconstruct virtually every New Testament verse.
A textual variant is any difference between two texts and typically includes spelling, word order, omission, addition, substitution, or a total rewrite of the text. There are insignificant and significant variants. Insignificant variants do not affect the meaning of the text. Well over half of the variants in biblical ancient documents are spelling errors or immaterial differences in abbreviation or style. Other variants occur in only one manuscript, and these mistakes are easily corrected.
That leaves about 1% of the biblical variants that are significant. However, professional textual critics can resolve most of these conflicts and recover the original with a high degree of confidence. In most modern Bible translations these conflicts are noted or stricken from the text and noted. In no case do any of the questioned texts change any doctrine in the Bible. In total, only 40 lines (or 400 words) are affected.
The conclusion? Virtually all of the differences in the New Testament documents are minor and inconsequential when reconstructing the original. Of all the variants, there are only 400 words that are in doubt and none affect any significant doctrine. We can be very confident that our modern Bible is an accurate reconstruction of its original writing.
Gregory Koukl, Ancient Words: Reflections on the Reliability and Proper Use of Scripture (Signal Hill, CA-Stand to Reason, 2011)
In this short video Lee Strobel lays out the case in support of the Bible and refutes the claims of the DaVinci Code that the Gnostic books have the same authority as the Bible.
Here are the points that Less Strobel makes.
The New Testament is reliable because:
Claims by Dan Brown, author of the DiVinci Code, disputing the reliability of the Bible, are without merit. He claims that the Gnostic books, such as the Gospel of Judas, have the same authority as the Bible, but this is false, as Lee Strobel explains. The Gnostic books were written long after the New Testament was written and do not have the evidence to back them up as the Bible does.
We can have strong confidence in the reliability of the Bible.
In this Slideshare presentation Robin Schumacher explains why we can trust the Bible.
Here are some of the points that Robin Schumacher makes:
The reliability of evidential material can be assessed by asking the following three questions:
A “meaningful” example is 1 Thessalonians 2:7 where Paul describes himself as gentle or as “little children,” a one letter difference between: “epioi” vs. “nepioi”
We have sound evidence that the Bible is reliable