The Bible


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   Critics say that the Bible is full of stories and myths, which should not be taken seriously. The validity and truth of the Bible have been questioned, and many people think that it is not a trustworthy source of information. The Bible is the historical account of the Hebrews (Jews), and is just as trustworthy as the accounts of the Persians, Romans, Babylonians, Egyptians, Hittites, or any other civilization. The Bible coincides with other written work, it is historically and scientifically accurate, and it is more reliable than most other religious books.

   Through archaeology the majority of the places mentioned in the Bible have been found, showing the historical accuracy of the Bible. Ruins of the city of Ur (the place where Abraham lived before he went to Canaan) have been found approximately midway between the modern city of Baghdad, Iraq, and the head of the Persian Gulf, south of the Euphrates River, on the edge of the Al Hajarah Desert. Some places mentioned in the Bible are Nineveh, Egypt, Rome, Jerusalem, and Babylon. Other civilizations also wrote about these places. These were actual locations, some of which still exist today and others whose ruins have been found. The writers of the Old Testament and the New Testament knew the geography of Israel quite well, mentioning such places as Bethlehem, the Jordan River, Galilee, the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, and the Sea of Galilee. The places in the Bible are not mystical places, but rather places that existed in the past and some that still exist today.

   The Bible contains many characters, who are also mentioned in the documents of other civilizations. Roman documents, as well as the Bible, speak of Herod the Great, Caesar Augustus, and Herod Agrippa. Persian documents, as well as the Bible, speak of Cyrus the Great and Xerxes (Ahasuerus). Babylonian documents, as well as the Bible, speak of Nebuchadnezzar and other characters. The Bible speaks of the Hittites, an ancient people that are also mentioned in Egyptian records. Documents of the Hittites themselves have also been found. Archaeological excavations found the remains of the Hittite empire in the area where the Bible said it was (Turkey/Syria). According to the Bible, God came in the form of a man named Jesus. Jesus is mentioned in every book of the New Testament except 3 John. Jesus is also mentioned in the writings of several secular authors. Josephus was a Jewish historian who wrote about Him, and Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny the Younger were Romans who wrote about Him. The Babylonian Talmud also mentions Jesus in its writings. Today, scholars generally agree that Jesus was a historical figure whose existence is authenticated both by Christian writers and by several Roman and Jewish historians. Eusebius was a theologian who wrote about the disciples of Jesus and the early Christian church. Thus the existence of the disciples is authenticated both by Scripture and secular writings. An inscription referring to King David was discovered at Tel Dan, a mound in northern Galilee. This inscription from the ninth century B.C. refers both to the 'House of David' and to the 'King of Israel'. Thus the existence of King David is authenticated both by the Bible and by other ancient writings. The Bible says Jesus was brought before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, who sentenced him to death. Jewish sources also speak of Pontius Pilate. The Department of Antiquity of Israel undertook an excavation of the city of Caesarea, the Roman capitol of Judea at the time of Christ. During this excavation, archaeologists found a stone plaque, apparently recording the dedication of a building, with a Latin inscription naming 'Pontius Pilate, Praefect of Judaea'.

   Like any book, the Bible had to be written by someone. Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Amos, Micah, Habakkuk, and Ezra are some of the authors who wrote accounts of their personal visions and experiences. These people obviously existed because they were the ones who wrote the accounts. Paul and some of the other apostles wrote letters, and these letters were made part of the Bible by the early Christian church. Paul signed every one of his letters, so obviously he existed. Peter, James, and Jude also signed their letters, so obviously they existed. The people in the Bible are not mystical people, but rather people that existed sometime in the past.

   The Bible tells of the Great Flood. The Gilgamesh Epic, written on 12 cuneiform tablets, is an ancient Babylonian story which also makes reference to a great flood. Greek mythology also describes a great flood. Among other peoples whose folklore and legends contain accounts of a devastating flood are those of southern Asia, the aborigines of North, Central, and South America, and the natives of Polynesia. The fossil record also shows evidence of a worldwide, catastrophic flood.

   The Bible says that when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River to take possession of the 'promised land', they marched around the city of Jericho in a certain way God prescribed to Joshua, and the walls of the city collapsed. Archaeologists found artifacts (including 80 scarabs that mention various pharaohs by name) which date the fall of the city exactly in accord with Bible chronology (about 1400 B.C.), and they found that the 32-foot-high walls had fallen outward (unlike the walls of any other city, as walls usually fall inward from force of outside attackers). Thus the Bible is consistent with the archeological finds.

   Archaeology has unearthed hundreds of square feet of royal 'wallpaper' from the palace of Sennacherib, who was emperor of Assyria from 705-681 B.C. His palace was at Nineveh, and the 'wallpaper' consists of enormous stone slabs with the most intricate illustrations of Sennacherib's victories chiseled out on them. The great importance of these, together with long narrative inscriptions and clay cylinders bearing detailed accounts of all the emperor's campaigns, is that they give Sennacherib's own official version of his invasion of Israel in 701 B.C. This is also described in great detail in three books of the Bible. When comparing the two the result is a total vindication of the Bible as historical fact. The Bible says that while Hezekiah was king in Jerusalem, Sennacherib proceeded to attack his minor walled cities, and then besiege Hezekiah in Jerusalem. Sennacherib's account says the same. The Bible says that Hezekiah tried to appease Sennacherib with homage. The latter says the same (except that it exaggerates the amount of treasure which changed hands, as the Assyrians tended to do). The Bible says that Sennacherib's troops had to withdraw for a time. Sennacherib's records say the same. The Bible says that in the meantime Hezekiah constructed a remarkable water tunnel to supply the city from outside sources during the siege, which would inevitably be resumed when the Assyrians returned. That tunnel has been found and can be examined by anyone today. The Bible says Sennacherib returned, and his forces were destroyed by a divine act. Sennacherib's records go strangely silent about this final result. He claims no victory, and it is a historical fact that the Assyrians fought no more major battles for years.

   The Bible speaks of the invasion of Israel by Assyria, and the conquest of Judah by Babylon. Assyrian and Babylonian documents agree with the Biblical accounts. The Assyrians made a monument called the Black Obelisk on which Jehu, king of Israel, is depicted kissing Shalmaneser's feet. Shalmaneser was one of the rulers of Assyria.

   In the book of Daniel, the kingdom of Babylon was conquered and divided between the Medes and the Persians. According to other documents, in 539 B.C. the Babylonians were defeated by the Persian king Cyrus the Great, who had defeated Media. Media was politically subservient to Persia; the Persians, however, regarded the Medes as equals, and thenceforth the two peoples were considered as one. Thus the Bible and other documents coincide about the fall of Babylon.

   Persian documents state that Cyrus the Great was an able and merciful ruler. Significant among his deeds was his granting of permission to the Jews to return from their exile in Babylon to their native Israel to rebuild the Temple of Solomon. This coincides with the Biblical account of the Jews return from exile. The events in the Bible are not mystical events, but rather actual events.

   What most scholars find hard to believe are not the historical aspects of the Bible, but rather the spiritual aspects. It is impossible to prove that the Bible is the written word of God, but certain passages of Scripture make it believable.

   The Bible says that Earth is a circle suspended in space (Isaiah 40:22; Job 26:7). It did this without the aid of an orbiting satellite, and it expressed this as a fact 1000 years before Columbus discovered it. The Bible also states that ocean currents or "paths" flow through the sea (Psalms 8:8). Again, Columbus discovered this when he sailed to America on one current and back to Spain on another. The Bible says that the water cycle keeps the land watered (Job 36:27; Ecclesiastes 1:7; Amos 5:8), and it says that the winds form a circulating system (Ecclesiastes 1:6). This wasn't discovered by scientists until centuries after the death of Columbus. The Bible also says that blood sustains life (Leviticus 17:11). The Bible tells of the division of Earth (Genesis 10:25), and the division of languages (Genesis 11:9). The Bible gives a logical way of protecting oneself from diseases: "But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it." (Genesis 9:4). It is hard to believe that these men would have known these things so many years before science proved them. Thus it is believable to say that these things were revealed to them by God.

   An important part of the spiritual aspect of the Bible is prophecy. Certain prophecies were made hundreds and even thousands of years before their fulfillment. Prophecies have been fulfilled in the Old and New Testaments, and there are still prophecies of the end times left to be fulfilled. How would these prophets know about the future unless it was revealed to them by God?

   The Bible has clearly stood the test of time, written thousands of years ago and still in use today. Many countries, including the United States, have used the Bible as a guideline for their laws. The entire law and religion of the Jews is based on the Old Testament. The Bible has had a great influence on the world, and people worldwide have considered it to be logical, valid, trustworthy, and true.

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