Do Recent Archaeological Discoveries Confirm the Historical Reliability of the Bible?

Christian:   I do agree there is tension between some of the stories in the Bible and the current archaeological record like the Exodus, Darius the Mede, and the size and scope of the empire of David and Solomon, for instance. However, based on the previous track record, I’m not willing to side 100% with the “consensus of experts.” Here is why. If I had sided with the consensus of experts in 1854 about Belshazzar, I would have been wrong. If I had sided with the consensus of experts in 1884 about the Hittites, I would have been wrong. If I had sided with the consensus of experts in 1961 about Pilate, I would have been wrong. If I had sided with the consensus of experts in 1968 about the burial of crucified criminals in private tombs, I would have been wrong. If I had sided with the consensus of experts in 1993 about David, I would have been wrong. Based on that record, I prefer to wait and see what future archaeological finds will uncover, though I have already admitted there is a tension with what we have so far discovered archaeologically and what the Bible says in a few certain areas.

 

Gary:  I am more than willing to admit that some of the Bible’s historical claims have been confirmed by recent archaeological discoveries. But the big question is: What does that prove? Even if we discover evidence that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David and Solomon existed, does that evidence prove the supernatural claims of the Bible? Does it prove that Jacob wrestled with an angel? Does it prove that David killed a lion with his bare hands? Does it prove that a sea parted down the middle when Moses prayed to his god and lifted up his hands? Do any of the recent archaeological discoveries in any way confirm the historicity of even one alleged supernatural biblical event?  That is the key issue.

Even if archaeology eventually confirms that 100% of the historical claims (unrelated to supernatural events) in the Bible are true this in no way confirms the reality of the supernatural claims in the Bible, such as the Six Day Creation, a world wide flood, the parting of a (Red or Reed) Sea, talking donkeys, walking/talking snakes, the existence of Yahweh, or that the man Jesus is a god who at this moment sits on a golden throne in a place called heaven. What we really need is good evidence for the SUPERNATURAL claims of the Bible. Other than alleged eyewitness testimony of seeing a reanimated first century body, does such evidence exist?

I don’t think so.

Imagine if we find that King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table really existed. Imagine if every historical claim in the story about these men is found to be true. Is that proof that they fought against flying dragons? Of course not.

I don’t think Christians realize just how outrageously improbable and frankly ridiculous their supernatural claims appear to non-Christians. Asking us to believe that a three-day brain dead, bloated, decomposing, first-century corpse was magically brought back to life by an ancient middle-eastern deity; then given super-hero supernatural powers that enabled him to appear and disappear between cities, walk through locked doors, and levitate into outer space; based almost entirely on claims by a group of peasants and one Jewish rabbi that they saw this corpse alive again, is absolutely PREPOSTEROUS to us.

The evidence for the supernatural claims of the Bible is poor. Even if five THOUSAND people from long ago claimed to have seen Cinderella’s pumpkin turn into a carriage, and a group of rats turn into her footmen, the overwhelming majority of modern, educated people, probably including yourself, would reject this very improbable eyewitness claim. Why then do Christians treat claims of the very improbable reanimation of a dead first century body differently?

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2 thoughts on “Do Recent Archaeological Discoveries Confirm the Historical Reliability of the Bible?

  1. Excellent. I wish I’d written this!
    An analogy I’ve used is of archaeologists in the future uncovering the remains of King’s Cross Station in London and concluding that therefore Harry Potter must really have existed. The conclusion, as with the historical evidence for certain of the bible’s stories, is completely unwarranted.

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    1. Exactly. Just because historical evidence has confirmed the existence of Pilate, for instance, doesn’t mean he wrung his hands in indecision over the disposition of Jesus at his trial as the Gospel writers claim. Such behavior completely contradicts the Pilate described by Philo.

      The writers of the Gospels were writing religious propaganda, not history textbooks. Therefore, each of their claims must be verified before believed, and, just because one claim is found to be true doesn’t mean that all their other claims are automatically historical facts.

      Liked by 2 people

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