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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Another archaeological find tells us something we already knew

Several news outlets reported last Friday the discovery of the earliest known Hebrew writing.  It’s an inscription on an ancient piece of pottery, which was dug up over a year ago during excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa, close to Israel's Elah valley.  It has been dated from the 10th century BC, the era of the reigns of David and Solomon.  Some scholars are hailing it as an important breakthrough because it means that the Bible could have been written earlier than the 6th century BC and that Israel already existed in the 10th century.

What is considered a major discovery in some circles is being met with a collective yawn among conservative evangelicals.  Yes, it’s nice to find things like this, but the text of the Bible itself has already answered questions about when the Bible was written and when Israel became a nation.  Liberal scholars’ fascination with this piece of pottery is rooted more in their dismissal of the reliability of the Bible itself than in their love of discovery.

The assumption among many skeptical scholars is that the Bible was written around 600 BC.  They base that assumption on yet another assumption that the Hebrew language did not exist in written form before the 6th century BC.  Tied to those assumptions is the further assumption that there is no hard evidence that Israel existed as a nation prior to that time, either. 

If liberal and secular scholars would simply lend some measure of credibility to the accuracy and reliability of the Bible, they would experience a far greater accuracy and reliability in their own assumptions.  Simply starting with the dates of the reigns of the Medo-Persian, Babylonian, or Assyrian empires and walking the timeline backward according to the chronological records of the Bible would have prohibited such ridiculous assumptions about the date of the origin of Israel.  According to biblical records, the date of the Exodus took place in the 13th century BC at the latest

Further, the Bible itself should also have led scholars to assume a much earlier date for the writing of the Old Testament.  Moses’ authorship of the Pentateuch has been accepted by Christians since the dawn of the Church due to the Bible’s manifold references to the Pentateuch as the “law of Moses.”  John 1:45 tells us exactly who wrote the law, when Philip said to Nathanael, “We have found him of who Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  The Greek there is even more explicit, referring to Jesus as “whom Moses wrote in the law.”  Again, this means that the Pentateuch was written in the 12th-13th centuries BC at the latest. 

The Bible itself also records that David is the author of at least a portion of the Psalms.  Jesus recognized him as such when quoting Psalm 110:1 in Matthew 22:43-44.  That indicates that at least a portion of that book was written in the 10th century BC.  Added to these are many other proofs from the text of the Word that long before the 6th century BC, the Bible was beginning to be written, the Hebrew language existed, and the nation of Israel was born.

So will the find of a 10th century piece of pottery turn the skeptics into true believers?  Not likely.  Similar archaeological finds corroborating the text of the Old Testament have done little to temper such skepticism in the past.  Meanwhile, the archaeological evidence will continue to mount, confirming as fact a conviction that we have held all along…the Bible is true.

Posted by Greg Birdwell

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