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Review of ‘Evidence for the Bible’

Clive Anderson and Brian Edwards provide a great service by producing a biblical archaeology book accessible to many whilst facilitating the means to dig deeper. The layout is clear and amply illustrated with relevant photographs. The text is chronologically focussed commencing from creation and continues following the timeline of the Bible. A smaller succinct booklet of the same is also available. In support of the flood, tablets of ancient flood epics are referred to demonstrating that the awareness of a worldwide flood is consistently represented in a vast number of ancient cultures worldwide.

The authors are realistic and objective concerning what the book is set out to achieve. In their own words, “Whilst artefacts can never prove the authority of the Bible, they can and do show that the events described in the Bible occurred in time and history.” This means that biblical archaeology is a formidable apologetic and is an essential tool in countering the speculative and dismissive claims of the theological liberals and the biblical minimalists. In the same way that no serious and credible historian would deny the existence of Jesus, secular archaeologists that take an interest in the Bible lands cannot ignore the Scriptures and would be foolish to do so.

Locations are provided as to where the various exhibits can be viewed. The top three mentioned in this book are the British Museum in London, the Louvre in Paris and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. It should be considered that over 25,000 archaeological digs have been carried out in the Bible lands and there is an enormous quantity of these finds which are being sifted and that discoveries are being made constantly.

Archaeology is a relatively recent formal discipline and it should be understood that absence of evidence for certain phenomena does not equate to evidence of absence. The classic example is the Exodus whereby as yet, there is no substantiative evidence in support. Nevertheless with a nomadic community sojourning in a desert of that size from that era, what evidence would someone realistically expect to find? Of the biblical characters that have been substantiated by archaeology, the overwhelming majority were wealthy individuals who had possessions, materials or buildings that were costly and would endure.

Another favourite assumption of the biblical sceptics is the idea that King David was merely a legendary hero. Anderson and Edwards explain that the Moabite stone which can be viewed in the Louvre Museum, Paris, is dated around 840BC and almost certainly refers to ‘The house of David’. Admittedly the letter D is missing though, no other sensible reading of that text would make sense. Additionally the Tel Dan inscription, which can be viewed in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, refers to either the ‘house of David,’ or ‘City of David’ and the point is axiomatic, in that it refers to the existence of King David.

It is no secret that the so- called higher critics are pejorative in their attitude towards the events that the prophets described since they set out from the supposition that predictive prophecy is not possible. However the correct procedure should be firstly to establish the time that the prophecy was uttered and to allow the evidence to either substantiate or negate that. For the keen enquirer, Anderson and Edwards provide an extended note on a dozen fallacies of archaeology. To assume predictive prophecy whether biblical or pagan must be written after the event falls under the fallacy of ‘religion skews truth.’

Other extensive notes at the back of the text include the date of the Exodus, Quirinius and the census, the resurrection accounts and others. Also an archaeological timeline of the Bible is given with respect of the various bronze and iron ages, through to the successive empires. A timeline is given from Abraham to Solomon which is vital in establishing an accurate timeline (cf. 1 kings 6:1). A further timeline is provided for the kings of Israel and Judah as well as the Egyptian Pharaohs, Hittite Kings (there was a time some archaeological scholars dismissed the possibility of them even existing), Assyrian kings, Babylonian kings, Persian kings, Roman Emperors and Israel in the New Testament period.

There is a list of archaeologists and academics mentioned by name which could be useful for further research. To mention just three characters that would be worth investigating, William Albright is considered the father of biblical archaeology. Rabbi Nelson Glueck famously remarked, “It can be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference.” Sir William Ramsay was a former sceptic and upon investigation concerning the book of Luke and Acts in Asia Minor came to faith and recognised the Bible as reliable and Luke as a historian of the first rank.

Are you are sceptical of the Bible as a reliable historical document? If so, why not read the Bible carefully and visit either the British Museum in London, the Louvre in Paris or the Bible Lands Museum and the Israel Museum directly opposite the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem. Having done that another significant question is whether there are any other religious texts that can be demonstrated to be reliable historical documents, or why the absence of archaeological journals for other religions?

If it is established that the Bible is reliable the next question is, is the narrative true, or relevant? If the Bible is true then it speaks of the Creator of the heavens and the earth who has made humankind in His image who knows us more fully that we know ourselves. The creation was perfect but our world has been broken since the fall. We have all broken the law of Moses and offended a holy and righteous God. The Messiah has paid the price of sin through His sacrifice to reconcile us to God. By turning and trusting in Jesus the Messiah one can have their sins forgiven, escape the judgement and enjoy an eternity with the Lord.