Ahab and Jezebel
I am once again plodding through the 800 plus page magnum opus of evangelical Christian apologists Josh and Sean McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict. (I can only stomach this very biased fundamentalist Christian propaganda in small bites.) Here is a quote from pages 374-375:
Some contemporary scholars claim that the question of the relationship of the Old Testament and ANE [Ancient Near East] civilizations has become less relevant. A high level of cynicism and suspicion is evident on the more skeptical side of modern scholarship when dealing with the OT. One such example of this suspicion can be seen in Thomas Thompsons’ comments on the OT:
“We have seen that the biblical chronologies are not grounded on historical memory, but are rather based on a very late theological schema that presupposes a very historical world-view. Those efforts to use the biblical narratives for a reconstruction of the history of the Near East, in a manner comparable to the use of the archives at Mari and similar finds, can justly be dismissed as fundamental [flawed in a fundamental way].” (Thompson, HPN, 315)
Thompson here seems to take the stance of many who follow the higher criticism (arising in the nineteenth century) that critiques the formation of the Bible. This assumption is that writers of the Bible had no direct memory of the historical events they recorded. They are said to have set down a tradition and to impose the worldview of their own time as they wrote about much earlier times. Carrid argues that these scholars hold that the history of Israel in the OT is “nothing more than a Judaic “Iliad”, “Odyssey”, or even “Winnie-the Pooh.” (Currid, AEOT, 172-173)
Thompson’s statement, however, is not characteristic of the majority of scholars today. In fact, many critical scholars still see historical value extending back to David/Solomon. Walton suggests that challenges to Thompson’s view have come from “competent Assyriologists and Egyptologists such as K. A. Kitchen, D. J. Wiseman, A.R. Millard, K.L. Younger, and J. Hoffmeier, who not only refute some of the charges leveled by skeptics, but also provide evidence of the Bible’s reliability through their cultural and comparative studies.” (Walton, ANETOT, 36)
[emphasis in bold type, Gary’s]
Gary: The bolded statement above is blatantly false. It is an example of the frequently used practice of wildly exaggerating the strength of the fundamentalist Christian position, made famous by another evangelical Christian apologist, William Lane Craig: “The majority of scholars agree (with my fundamentalist Christian agenda) that…”. The overwhelming majority of scholars do NOT believe that the biblical accounts in the Old Testament beginning with David and Solomon are historical reliable. In fact, some historical reliability is not seen in the OT accounts until the Israelite king, Omri, the father of King Ahab! The existence of David, Solomon, and their immediate descendants are still in the realm of speculation!
The McDowells quote five scholars who support their fundamentalist Christian views yet refer to this handful of experts as “many“. That is a fringe, Mr. and Mr. McDowell! A fringe is a more accurate description of the number of Near East scholars who share your view of the historical reliability of the Old Testament.
Why are so many conservative Christian apologists so dishonest? Admit the truth, father and son McDowell: The existence of every character in the Bible prior to King Omri is unproven. The entire Old Testament prior to this Israelite king may very well be ancient near east mythology!