The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8
“Are the Bible’s Stories True?” asks a Time magazine article. “Was Abraham a myth? Did the Exodus happen? Did Joshua conquer the city of Jericho? Was there a Moses?” ask segments of the article. Typical of so many secular articles focusing on archaeology and biblical history, the author cites recent archaeological finds but leaves the reader with the impression that until science documents events in the Old Testament, this book had better be left in the category of religious myth. Statements such as “There is no direct evidence, other than the Bible, to suggest that Abraham’s exploits… ever happened.” And Abraham is not the only person whose historicity is questioned. Unless there is undeniable confirming evidence from archaeology, some theologians and scientists refuse to accept any part of the Bible as history.
Question: Do these learned men know something that common people don’t know? Or is it the other way around? Is faith blind? Or is it that blind men refuse to accept evidence no matter from what source it comes? Seemingly, an inscription which is dug up, having been buried for 2000 years, bears the full weight of truth. But, a document which has been preserved for the same period of time by dedicated scholars who approached the preservation of the documents with an avid devotion which goes far beyond scientific care, counts for nothing but religious myth.
If I believed everything I read coming from the pen of alleged authorities, I would have to reject the trustworthiness of the Bible along with historical figures such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I would also reject the idea that there was ever a Moses who gave the law and led the Israelites out of Egypt. Of course, that would result in having to explain how someone thought this all up.
How careful were the scribes who preserved Scripture? According to the Old Testament, when the law was given, it was immediately placed in the Ark of the Covenant and considered holy beyond anything which human pen had ever written. The Ten Commandments were carved by the very hand of God, Moses told us. But then, if we believe the skeptics, he never lived. Try explaining that to Jews, Christians, and Moslems the world over.
When Christianity threatened the existence of Judaism, a group of scribes and scholars arose known as Massorites, to whom both Christians and Jews owe a tremendous debt of gratitude. Forming schools in Tiberias, Jerusalem and Alexandria, these dedicated scholars collected and preserved ancient manuscripts. They added vowel points to the text, codified and unified it. They also gave the world a tremendous amount of information which helped future scribes accurately preserve the texts of Scripture.
For example, the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, contains 50 chapters in English; but keep in mind, in ancient days there were no chapters, so these scribes would count the exact number of words in the entire book and record that information. They would note the middle word, the middle letter, and minute details that you find unimportant, but if you were copying something by hand, it would help you tremendously to know if you had left out a sentence or even a word.
Is the Bible historical? Or is it to be rejected as religious myth until proven historical? Frankly, until the past century scholars—both believers and non-believers—never considered the Bible to be anything but accurate history. May God deliver us from the assumption that the Bible is untrue until proven otherwise by archaeology--which, incidentally, is an ally, not an enemy, of biblical history.
Resource reading: Isaiah 40:1-8.