The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
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Themes Archive

 
Basis for Believing the Bible
 
    The clergy of Christendom fall into two general classes: the fundamentalists and the modernists, or higher critics. They hold different views on the Bible. The fundamentalist takes it all literally; the higher critic takes it all apart. The fundamentalist contaminates it with paganism, by teaching such doctrines as trinity, eternal torment, purgatory, and other beliefs taught by pagans long before Christ. When apostate Christianity became catholic or universal from and after the fourth century it embraced pagan teachings, in order to appeal to pagans and convert them to a nominal Christianity. In a futile effort to avoid conflict with God’s Word, the fundamentalist clergy twist certain texts to fit in with their paganisms, as Peter said: “The meaning of which the untaught and unsteady are twisting, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (Matt. 15:6-9; 2 Pet. 3:16) Though claiming to build on Bible truth, fundamentalists found their faith on pagan myth. Their misrepresentations of God and Christ cause many to turn away from the Bible. They thus lend themselves as tools for tearing down faith in God and his Word.
    Paul warned against “the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men”, and said that after his going oppressive wolves would rise and waste the flock of God. Such ravenous wolves, Jesus cautioned, would come in sheep’s covering. (Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:29; Col. 2:8) They do now come out of clergy schools, masquerading behind a theological seminary sheepskin to appear as authoritative ministers of God. But whether they are fundamentalists or modernists, they devour rather than build up faith. The modern higher critic does this by saying that the Bible is only myth and legend, that it is not historically accurate, that much of it is fiction and deliberate forgery.

    ARCHAEOLOGY SUPPORTS THE BIBLE

    Just as in the case of the evolutionary scientists, the higher critics have been forced to retreat from former positions by the advance of knowledge. During the nineteenth century the higher-critic scoffers were loud in their denunciation of the Bible’s position that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, one of their arguments against it being that writing was unknown at the time of Moses. When they had to give ground on this point they did so grudgingly, and arbitrarily said that even if writing was known it was not widely used and Moses did not know the art. But further discoveries made the rout of the higher critics complete. Now it is acknowledged that writing was widespread in Abraham’s time, that it was used by not only adults but children, whose textbooks have been found. Writing was known before the Noachian flood. Clay tablets with writing on them go back to the fourth millennium before Christ, reaching into the life span of Adam. In fact, archaeology indicates that Adam wrote, and along with others such as Noah, Shem, Isaac and Jacob provided written documents from which Moses compiled the book of Genesis, down to chapter 37 verse 2.
    Adam was used to write the account of creation, and Noah and his three sons wrote of the global flood they survived in the ark. This contradicts the contention of higher critics that Moses merely purified the many different creation and flood stories widely circulated among the heathen. Archaeological discoveries indicate that by his very style Moses showed he was quoting the records of Adam on creation and Noah and his sons on the flood. The higher critic’s claim here is similar to his position regarding monotheism and polytheism. He says polytheism was first, then the Hebrews by a purifying process developed monotheism. Archaeology disputes this. The Sumerians are about the most ancient people known to archaeology, and at the end of their culture they had a pantheon of 5,000 gods. But as their past is penetrated the number diminishes, for earlier they had only 750 gods. Farther penetration takes us back to the time when there was but one deity, the Sky-God, from whom the Sumerian pantheon of 5,000 gods descended. As monotheism was corrupted into polytheism, the true, original accounts were also corrupted to fit in with the variety of false gods. The Bible contains the true, original accounts, and shows monotheism as being first. Polytheism and corrupted accounts followed. Archaeology supports this position, the higher critics notwithstanding.
    Scorn has been heaped upon the story of the tower of Babel. (Gen. 11:1-9) Yet in Mesopotamia archaeologists have discovered the remains of a number of temple towers, and one of these is believed by many Bible scholars to have been the tower of Babel. Under the picture of a restoration of this site we read: “A restoration of Babylon and the Tower of Babel. The tower . . . was begun in the third millennium B.C. but not completed until Nebuchadnezzar’s reign.” George Smith, staff member of the British Museum, in his book Chaldean Account of Genesis, translates the writing found on an ancient fragment which tells of the destruction of one of the Babylonian temple towers, as follows: “The building of this temple offended the gods. In a night they threw down what had been built. They scattered them abroad, and made strange their speech. The progress they impeded.” On this Joseph Free observes: “This account may be a later reflection of what actually occurred when God came down at the time of the building of the Tower of Babel and scattered the people abroad, confounding their language.”—Archaeology and Bible History, page 46.
    Another striking evidence of the historical accuracy of the Bible account is the case of forty-seven monarchs, aside from those of Israel and Judah. They are mentioned in the Bible, but their names were missing from secular history. “For this reason the learned leaders of ‘higher criticism’ relegated these forty-seven monarchs to the columns of mythology. They were grouped among ‘the fables and folklore of the Old Testament’ which this deluded school mistakenly taught was one of the basic weaknesses of the text. Then one after another these disputed monarchs began to rise from the dead in an archaeological resurrection. In some cases a burial mound was uncovered; in others, an annalistic tablet, a boundary marker, or a great building inscribed with the monarch’s name. Now, all forty-seven of these presumably fabulous characters have been transferred from the columns of ‘mythology’ to the accepted records of established history.”—Page 22 of Dead Men Tell Tales, by Dr. Harry Rimmer.
    Another vindication of the Bible’s accuracy occurred when there arose a clash between Moses and the famous Greek historian, Herodotus, commonly called “the father of history”. Herodotus lived in the fifth century before Christ, and he wrote that the Egyptians grew no grapes and drank no wine. More than a thousand years earlier Moses had written about a cupbearer whose duty was to supply wine for Pharaoh’s table. (Gen. 40:9-13) The critics, in harmony with their policy, accepted Herodotus as their authority and rejected the Bible account as erroneous. But now archaeologists have found among the frescoes that decorate the tombs of Egyptian antiquity some that picture the Egyptians caring for the vines, gathering the grapes, pressing out the juice and storing it in stone or clay jars and skin bottles.
    Leaving Egyptian scenes and skipping down to the time of Israel’s entry into Canaan, we come to the miraculous fall of the walls of Jericho and that city’s overthrow by the Hebrews under Joshua. When no archaeological confirmation of the Bible account was available the historicity of it was glibly disputed. This is no longer possible. The Bible tells us that when the Israelites crossed the Jordan that river’s waters stopped flowing, heaping up and backing up for some time to allow the Israelites to cross the flood-stage Jordan dry-shod. (Josh. 3:14-17; 4:18) This stoppage of the waters of the Jordan was miraculous; but these waters have since been stopped by natural means. At flood stage they were stopped for sixteen hours when a landslide of the high west bank cut off the flow of waters, A.D. 1267. Centuries later, in 1927, a similar landslide at the same place dammed up the river for twenty-one hours. During that time persons crossed and recrossed the river freely on foot. Incidentally, these two blockages of the river occurred at the same place as did the stoppage of Jordan’s waters in Joshua’s time.
    As for Jericho itself, the Scriptural account shows that the walls were to fall down, but apparently not every section, for Rahab’s house on the wall was to remain a place of safety for her and her family. The city was under a curse and not to be looted, but was to be burned. Joshua pronounced a curse upon anyone who rebuilt it. (Josh. 2:15; 6:5, 17, 18, 20, 22-24, 26) According to the Bible account, all these conditions were met in the city’s destruction. Does archaeology confirm it? Yes. Professor Garstang began excavations at Jericho in 1930. He found that the double walls surrounding the city had fallen down the slope, as if toppled by an earthquake or some such unseen hand. Houses had been built on rafters that bridged the tops of the two walls, and in one section part of the wall still stood, and could have been where Rahab’s house had been preserved in the Biblical catastrophe. The excavators found evidence of intense fire. The city had been burned. This is not unusual in such cases, but this was no ordinary burning, because the layer of ashes was unusually thick and it appeared that all available fuel had been gathered to accomplish a thorough destruction. The city had not been looted, for provisions of dates, barley, oats, olives and other foodstuffs were found, charred by the flames. Also, the archaeologists estimated that there had not been any substantial rebuilding of the city until five hundred years later. This would be about the time of King Ahab, when the Bible tells that it was rebuilt.—1 Ki. 16:33, 34.

    REFUTING THE ATTACK ON DANIEL

    The opinion of higher critics generally about book of Daniel is that book is a forgery. They say the book was not written by Daniel in the sixth century before Christ, as the Bible states, but was written about 165 B.C. by an unknown person who merely used Daniel’s name to give stature to his writing. One reason they do this is that they think Daniel’s statements concerning the abomination that makes desolate were based on Antiochus Epiphanes’ polluting of the temple at Jerusalem in 168 B.C. (Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11) They deliberately put the writing of the prophecy after what they consider its fulfillment, since they do not believe in the power to prophesy. “Critics treated prediction as incredible, so they based their work on the assumption that prophecies were written after the events predicted had already occurred.” But that Daniel’s prophecy about “the disgusting thing that causes desolation” was not fulfilled in 168 B.C. is apparent, for when Jesus mentioned it two hundred years later its fulfillment was still future. The higher critics should date the book’s composition after Jesus’ time. More than that, to be consistent they should date the writing of the book after 1914, for that is when Christ’s second presence began invisibly and he spoke of this abomination as being a part of the visible sign of his second presence! (Matt. 24:15) How unscholarly the higher critic’s folly!
    Another objection raised against the book of Daniel is that certain stories in it are nothing but myths. They point to the account of the three Hebrews thrown into the fiery furnace, and say such things were not done. However, excavators at Babylon found what they thought at first to be a brick kiln, until they read the inscription on its base: “This is the place of burning where men who blasphemed the gods of Chaldea died by fire.” Scoffers also ridicule the story of Daniel in the den of lions, saying that there is no evidence that such type of punishment was practiced. Mere failure to confirm something does not condemn it as false. However, in this case some confirmation was forthcoming, for excavators revealed a deep pit having this inscription: “The place of execution where men who angered the king died torn by wild beasts.” We do not say this pit and this kiln are the ones the Bible mentions, but they show such things existed.
    One point the critics worked overtime was Daniel’s mention of Belshazzar as king of Babylon. Secular history indicated that Nabonidus was the last king of Babylon, and it knew nothing of any Belshazzar. So the higher critics claimed this as further proof that the book of Daniel was written centuries after Daniel’s time, and that that explains how the writer made this terrible blunder of listing a mythical character as the last king of Babylon. They thought another slip was made when the writer spoke of Daniel’s being raised to “third ruler in the kingdom”, for one made prime minister was usually second in the kingdom. (Dan. 5:1, 29, 30) But now these criticisms are heard no more, for inscriptions by Nabonidus himself relate his prayers for his eldest son, Belshazzar. One Babylonian cuneiform text says concerning Nabonidus: “He entrusted a camp to his eldest, first-born son; the troops of the land he sent with him. He freed his hand; he entrusted the kingship to him.” King Nabonidus was often away from the city of Babylon, and in his absence his son Belshazzar acted as king. Belshazzar made Daniel third in power instead of second because he was second in power, first place being held by his father Nabonidus.
    While Belshazzar was acting king, Babylon was taken by Darius and Cyrus. Darius said he slew the king when he took the city, but an inscription of Cyrus claims that he took the king captive. There is no conflict. As the Bible shows, the night Darius entered the city King Belshazzar was slain. (Dan. 5:30, 31) But later Cyrus took King Nabonidus captive.
    “Come now, and let us reason together” on some of the evidence that Daniel wrote the book in the sixth century B.C., and not some faker four centuries later. (Isa. 1:18) No secular history before Christ preserved any record of Belshazzar’s existence. How would a forger of 165 B.C. know it, when everyone else, including the historians, were oblivious to it? Or, how would a second-century-B.C. impostor know Nebuchadnezzar was the one who had conducted the extensive building operations in Babylon? (Dan. 4:30) Secular history had not handed down that fact, and archaeologists have unearthed the evidence only in comparatively recent times. One higher critic lamely alibied: “We shall presumably never know.” But the writer of the book knew, for it was Daniel, and he lived during the reigns of both Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar! And did not Christ Jesus say Daniel wrote the book? (Matt. 24:15) So of what weight are the idle vaporings of the higher critics?
    The Jewish historian Josephus indicates that the book existed before the time of Artaxerxes (probably Artaxerxes III, who began reigning about 474 B.C.). He claims some of the prophecies of Daniel were pointed out to Alexander the Great when he entered Jerusalem in 332 B.C. The book of Daniel is found in the original copies of the Septuagint, which was translated from Hebrew into Greek during the third and second centuries B.C. A fragment of the book of Daniel was found with the recently discovered Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, which the radiocarbon clock has allowed Biblical scholars to date in the second century B.C. So the book of Daniel existed during that second century, it had been copied, it was well known enough to be accepted into the Bible canon, it had been translated as a part of the famous original Septuagint, and was associated with the venerated scroll of Isaiah. It could not have been a recent writing by an impostor of that second century, known by everyone as a book that was a stupid hoax. Also, the first book of Maccabees, which is almost contemporary with the events of the second century related in it, not only presupposes the existence of the book of Daniel but actually betrays acquaintance with it. (Compare 1 Maccabees 2:59, 60 with Daniel 3:26, 27; 6:22.) This proves Daniel must have been written long before, and had become established as an authentic record. In all the above the evidence is overwhelming. Just as Daniel was delivered from the lions’ den, so the book of Daniel has been delivered from the liars’ den!

    SOME TESTIMONIAL EVIDENCE FOR THE BIBLE

    We have gone into some detail on the book of Daniel because it has been at the center of the higher critic’s target. His attacks on the other parts of the Bible can be similarly withstood. Actually, these hypercritical skeptics and doubters are camp followers of the agnostics and atheists. They appear to be first cousins of the former and second cousins of the latter. They certainly seem to speak the same language. But the speeches of all three classes are vain and empty, and archaeology has voided many of the arguments they aim at God’s Word. Though not having space to present more archaeological details, we do offer as interesting testimonial evidence of the Bible’s accuracy a few statements by archaeologists and other scholarly sources.
    Here are two statements concerning the Hebrew Scriptures. “I do not think it will be long possible, even if it is now possible, for us to deny the remarkable accuracy of detail in the narratives of the Old Testament. Incidents hitherto regarded as legend, have been proved historical by recent discovery ... There is actual history at the back of all of the narratives.” “It is therefore legitimate to say that, in respect of that part of the Old Testament against which the disintegrating criticism of the last half of the nineteenth century was chiefly directed, the evidence of archaeology has been to re-establish its authority, and likewise to augment its value by rendering it more intelligible through a fuller knowledge of its background and setting.”
    Following are some statements relating to the Bible as a whole. “No major contention of Scripture has been proved unhistorical.” “Archaeology contains irrefutable proofs of Biblical statements. Detailed accounts of almost innumerable discoveries dug up by pick and spade from ancient tombs and buried cities in Bible lands ably support the Scriptures.” “This writer once thumbed through the book of Genesis and mentally noted that each of the fifty chapters are either illuminated or confirmed by some archaeological discovery—the same would be true for most of the remaining chapters of the Bible, both Old and New Testament.” Concerning the wealth of archaeological findings as they relate to the Bible, one archaeologist said: “In the bewildering mass of all this evidence which together would weigh so many tons that the figure, if computed, would appear fabulous, there is not one word, one testimony, or one fact that has contradicted or disproved a single line of the Holy Bible.”
    Three final quotations relate to higher criticism. “The asserted historical inaccuracies in Daniel are not statements which are disproved by history, but only statements which have seemed difficult to harmonize with the meager accounts of secular historians. The asserted historical inaccuracies have, moreover, been steadily diminishing before the increasing knowledge of the times of Cyrus ... The growth of our knowledge of this period shows how cautious one should be in doubting the historical accuracy of the Biblical records.” “During the last ten years the science of Biblical archaeology has shown Bible criticism to be unsound in its premise and wrong in its conclusions.” “One of the most brilliant modern archaeologists, representing one of the greatest universities in the world, said in Iraq: ‘I was brought up a “Higher Critic”, and consequently disbelieved in the actual truth of the early narratives of the Bible. Since then I have deciphered thousands of tablets, and the more I learn, the more I believe the Bible to be true.’”
    All of this testimonial evidence for the Bible’s truthfulness is a welcome confirmation of faith, but in view of much better testimonial evidence it is not required by true Christians. That better testimony we have in Jesus’ prayerful expression to Jehovah: “Your word is truth.” (John 17:17) Archaeology is required by some to provide a basis for their belief in the Bible. But there is a better basis than that.