BIBLE HISTORY - Fact or
I will try and make the issues as simple as possible so we can all start the
series with at least the same basic knowledge with which we can all agree. Those
of you who are experts in the field of archaeology and ancient history, I hope
you will bear with us whilst we get these foundations in place.
The questions which we will address in this weekly series of discussions
revolve around the great, some would say, insurmountable gap between those who
by faith alone believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of G-D and those that
have been educated to believe that the Bible is an agglomeration of myths with
no historical or archaeological basis.
As this will be essentially an archaeological discussion we will devote our
time to the analysis of the Tanakh or "Old Testament" and hope to resolve many
of the outstanding "problems" that the "evidence" seems to suggest.
For example in "Time" magazine's cover story dated December 18th 1995, on
page 69 they pose three major questions and give their answers.
- "Was there a Moses?" and their answer " Charlton Heston notwithstanding,
many scholars contend that Moses was a legendary hero created by the Hebrews
to instill a feeling of national identity and solidarity. Apart from the
Bible, there is no evidence that such a man ever lived."
We will investigate that thesis and find contradictory evidence that is
so striking that you will wonder how the scholars could have been so wrong.
Even the name of the wet nurse of Moses will be found in the Egyptian
- "Did the Exodus happen?" Time's conclusion: " If they really spent 40
years wandering in the desert after fleeing Egypt, the Israelites should
have left at least a few traces. But though scientists have evidence of
human occupation in the Sinai dating to the Stone Age, nothing suggests that
the Israelites were ever there."
We will show that the scientists have in fact found not just traces but
massive evidence that the Children of Israel were there but that even the
route they took matches exactly the Biblical account. They just dated it
- "Did Joshua Conquer the City of Jericho?" Time concluded, "The walls of
this Canaanite City did come tumbling down, say most historians, but
centuries before Moses' protégé could have arrived. When Israelites took
over the Promised Land, the conquest was slow and mostly quite peaceful."
Well, actually, NO. In fact, every single event mentioned in the book of
Joshua can be found in the archaeology of the land exactly. When the book states
that a city was burned, the burnt layer is found; when destroyed by conquest,
the destruction is there; when left alone, the evidence, too, is there and
How, then, can there be such an apparent disparity between what the
"scientists" say and the account in the Tanakh? They must be pretty sure of
their dating methods and their archaeological techniques to totally disregard
the oldest source of written history of this part of the world. What makes them
so sure that their dating methods are correct and that they can totally
disregard a history which, until 200 years ago, was universally taken for
granted as being totally accurate?
For the answers to that, we have to learn something about archaeological
dating methods and Biblical exegesis (scholarship). This week, we will spend
some time on the latter to see why archaeologists and Bible Scholars are so
ready to disregard the "stories" in the Bible and accept what we will show are
very dubious propositions regarding their own dating systems.
As we stated above, until about 200 years ago, it was generally accepted that
the Bible, if not the word of G-D, was at least the basis for an accepted
history of the near east and for many the history of the world. Two separate but
linked events shattered that general understanding. The first, of course, was
the publication of Charles Darwin's
"The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection" and
"The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex." We shall do a series
on the evolution/creation debate at a later time.
This major scientific questioning of the Book of Genesis began the slow
erosion of the general acceptance of the Biblical account. Although most people
did not nor have not until this day read the books, the caricature of mankind
being a descendant from "monkeys" became an almost archetypal reaction to the
"Adam and Eve" story. So the general public really, for the first time, was
given a scientific reason to doubt. In academia, however, there was an even more
devastating theory proposed regarding the origin of the Bible itself. It was
this theory that allowed all future archaeologists to dismiss all the accounts
in the Bible which proved even slightly inconvenient and accept anything else
irrespective of its merits. Non members of academia will be surprised to know
that the vast majority of departments of religion and Bible Studies believe and
teach that the Bible is a concoction of myths, pseudo-history put together as a
political document after the exile and that believers in Universities today
usually reside in the departments of advanced physics and mathematics.
What was this theory that so devastated the belief system in the academic
world? Between 1780-63, an obscure German scholar, Johann Gottfried Eichhorn
proposed the theory that the five books of Moses, The Torah, could not have been
written by one man or G-D. His 3 volume, "Einleitung," started the academic
search for how various different authors had first produced parts of the Torah,
and then, how these various parts came to be redacted (a scholarly term meaning
edited) after the Jewish exile in Babylon. In the next hundred years, many
variations on that theme were proposed until they were finally refined by two
major scholars, Karl H. Graf in 1865-6, and finally by Julius Wellhausen in
1876-77. The theory, now known as the Graf-Wellhausen Hypothesis, is the basis
for how academia now accepts how the Torah came into existence.
I will quote from "The Interpreters Bible Volume 1:
"The Hexateuch (The first six books of the Bible) is composed of four
originally separate documents of which the earliest is that known as J, so
called because of its use of the name Yahweh in the narratives of Genesis.
The second is E, so called because of its use of Elohim prior to the
specific revelation of the name Yahweh to Moses, recorded in Exodus 3:14-15.
These two documents were combined, with the necessary harmonization, to form
a single narrative, JE by a redactor, RJE. The third document, in point of
time, is Deuteronomy D, which is identical in whole or in part with the law
book found in the temple in the reign of Josiah. The combination of JE with
D to form JED was effected by a redactor, RD, who in the process added a
considerable amount of material to the older narratives. While his additions
to the account of the patriarchal and Mosaic periods are severely limited in
scope, and are for the most part of a theological character, those to the
narrative of the Conquest are of such a nature as to alter radically the
representations of JE. For this and other reasons, it is probable that the
Deuteronomical redaction was carried out by different hands, possibly at
different times. The fourth document is P, so symbolized because of the
great amount of priestly legislation it contains. It is postexilic in
origin, and was conflated with JED by a redactor, RP, to form JEDP. This,
allowing for the insertion of some supplementary legislative material, an
occasional narrative, and possibly for some minor Deuteronomic additions,
was substantially the present Hexateuch."
That, in a nutshell, with some more modern variations, is how the Torah is
assessed by the vast majority of Biblical scholars. Is it any wonder therefore,
with so much editing going on, that archaeologists feel no need to take any
story seriously from an historic point of view? If they cannot find evidence of
destruction on a site at a particular time, it is very easy then to dismiss the
Biblical account and accept that the archaeological dating is correct and the
Bible just got it wrong.
Well, we will demonstrate it is not quite as easy as that. Firstly, we will
show that the archaeological dating system is completely wrong and based on an
early false premise. Secondly, we will show that with the advent of computers,
the structure of the Torah seems to have a unity to it that would make it
impossible for it to have been redacted. The Hebrew letters of the Torah seem to
make up a string which like the number of pi cannot be altered without making it
an entirely different entity. Visit us when we do the series "Codes in the
We will explore what might happen if we start with a completely different set
At the moment, we find that, as Time magazine stated, where there is an
excavated archaeological site, the evidence tends not to support the Biblical
account. We will, on occasion, start with the assumption that the Biblical story
is correct and the conventional chronology is in error. What we will find is
startling and exactly as stated in our original announcement. Every major
historical biblical event can be quite clearly seen in the archaeology and
In order to do that, we must first look more closely at how archaeology dates
its strata, and we will begin to do that next week. We hope you will join
Prior to the sessions on introductory archaeology, we thought it might be
interesting to attach a file which not only gives details of the conventional
chronology. but a hint regarding the revised chronology
(To download this Microsoft Word Document, place your mouse cursor on the
underlined link and click your right mouse button, select "save link as"
from the menu to copy this file to your hard-drive.).
You will see that the work is more than 10 years old and has been reviewed by
many experts, none of whom have yet been able to produce a cogent argument
*** Questions, and Answers ***
- " Why do you leave the "O" out of G-O-D? Is this political correctness or
This question, posed in many ways, was the most frequent.
Before giving a full answer, let me give you all some background of where
we are and my own personal philosophy as to the best way of presenting this
As you now know, we have, in a sort of miraculous way, been inundated
with requests to participate from thousands of people of various faiths and
some with none. Christians, Moslems and Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and Pagans,
even atheists all fascinated by this wondrous volume, The Bible. My purpose
in presenting these interactive sessions is the uncompromising search for
the TRUTH. I believe that no faith should ever feel threatened by such a
search and if it is, it may be time to question that faith.
Having said that, I also believe that people's sensibilities should be
respected in the context of a program such as this one, provided that this
does not cause the search for truth to be compromised. The spelling of the
word G-o-d was one of these cases.
There are a number of people who take Exodus 20:7, which states " Thou
shalt not take the name of the Lord thy G-o-d in vain," to include a
prohibition against any unnecessary use of G-o-d's name.
Their interpretation involves not in any way destroying that name
especially in its written form. That is the origin of the Jewish concept of
"Geniza," the most famous of which is probably the Cairo Geniza -a
repository of old medieval documents. Any document that contained the
Tetragrammaton ( the four letter Hebrew name of G-o-d) could not be
destroyed. It may be no coincidence that the only book of the Tanakh not
found in the Dead Sea Scrolls was the Book of Esther, the only book that
does not contain the written name of G-o-d.
Hence there a number of Christians and Jews who prefer not to read or
write the complete word G-o-d because that written word would eventually be
"destroyed" in its literal sense on the web. Do I think it a big deal
personally? No. Do I think it compromises the search for TRUTH to use a
hyphenated form of the name? No. Should I continue to do one thing or the
other for fear of offending some people? What do you think?
My own personal feeling is the word "G-o-d" is an English translation and
there should be no harm in using it.... I await comments.
- That brings me to a question which has not yet been asked but I know will
be so I will address it in the same context. That is the use of BC/AD or
BCE/CE for dating. That is going to offend all sorts of people so I will
make a decision for everyone now based not on personal feelings but rather
on scholarly considerations. The vast majority of all scholarly papers use
the designation BC/AD. We will be quoting from large numbers of them
frequently so it is pointless going from one system to the other and
therefore we will use the BC/AD system. I hope those who are upset about
that understand that no disrespect is meant and does not imply anything
other than the most useful means of designating dates.
BCE = "before the common era"
CE = "common era"
- We have been greatly moved by the messages of support, offers of help and
various contributions. We do need all the help we can get in view of the
fact that we are growing by as many as 1,000 people per DAY. If everyone
contributed even $1.00 per month our ability to cope with this surge would
be greatly enhanced, but we know that many will leave it to others to help.
We just ask you to understand our difficulties and hope you can assist us
even in a very small way.
The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection
The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex
Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures (ISBN: 0827602529)
Tanakh: A New Translation of the Holy Scriptures According to the
Traditional Hebrew Text (ISBN: 0827603665)
The Artscroll Tanach (ISBN: 0899060692)
The Interpreter's Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes by Abingdon
Only volume 2 is available in print.
The New Interpreter's Bible: General Articles & Introduction, Commentary and
Reflections for Each Book of the Bible Including the Apocryphal/Deutroca
also on CD-Rom (0687019680)
Who Wrote the Bible?: Richard Elliot Friedman
( out of print)
In the Beginning by Nathan Aviezer (ISBN:
A wonderful book by a world renowned Scientist. Must reading for
anyone who thinks the creation-evolution debate is over