ContentBlocks 8 1 Ads Shiloh Standard copy

Research Topics

Those of us who work in the arena of apologetics and polemics are often bemused by the question, “How is it, in the face of such clear archaeological and literary corroborative evidence of the historicity of the Old Testament as now exists from the ancient Near Eastern world, that sceptics can continue to embrace the post-Enlightenment mindset that biblical accounts of events, precisely because they come from a ‘religious’ or theological book, must be disqualified as reliable witnesses to the past?” Herodotus, Thucydides, Berossus, Xenophon, Manetho, and Sallust do, indeed, suffer to some extent at the hands of the critics, but nowhere near to the extent that the composers of the Old Testament do.

The principal objections to Old Testament historical credibility are (1) the narration of miracles, (2) the Old Testaments theocentricity, (3) its unscientific assertions, and (4) its tendentious or biased point of view. The purpose of this article is to respond to each of these.

Simple definitions of miracle are an extraordinary event manifesting a supernatural work of God and an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment (Websters Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, based on Websters Third New International Dictionary [Springfield, MA: G. & C. Merriam Company, 1963], 540). Key terms are supernatural and outstanding. The first connotes by super- that the event is above the natural, and the second, with out, suggests that the event is outside the realm of that which stands—that is, that with which one is familiar. It is, of course, true that miracle calls to mind thens and theres, not heres and nows. The assumption is that since I (we, the world) have never seen a miracle, such things could not and cannot occur. That is, my experience and my observation are the givens against which all reality—past and present—must be assessed. This simple declaration lies at the root of the most profound postmodern scientific and philosophical thinking as to what is possible or impossible. Once this principle is endorsed, the miracle stories of the Bible are ipso facto disqualified as scientific historiography. Concomitantly, all that exists must have purely naturalistic and self-generating explanations. But what is supernatural to the natural man is natural to the omnipotent God Who called it into existence (Rom 8:1–2, 8:6–8; 1 Cor 2:10–16). To believe in miracles requires one to have experienced the miracle of new life in Christ.

Theocentricity means simply that God is the principal actor in the biblical drama, the One about Whom and around Whom the whole narration finds meaning. To modern literary criticism, any composition displaying such features is by definition mythological. Hermann Gunkel defined myths a century ago as narratives about gods, in contrast to legends whose agents are humans (Hermann Gunkel, Genesis, trans. Mark E. Biddle [Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1997], xii). Gunkels preference for legend over myth for the whole composition does little, however, to shore up a view even close to history writing. The result is that even in this terminology the Bible does not really tell us what God said and did, but only what the ancient traditions (the Legende) attributed to him. The real issue is, how can we know how accurately the so-called legends correspond to reality?

As for the scientific blunders and inaccuracies of the Old Testament, only two rejoinders can be offered here. First, those who propose that the ancients, including those of biblical times, held such fallacious views as a flat earth, a geocentric universe, a rising and setting sun, and a self-generating light of the moon overlook the pedagogical principle that learning by observation precedes learning by essential actuality. That is, the scientific data accumulated over the millennia would have contradicted the observational interpretations of the ancients to the point of being insensible and even misleading to them. One does not start the mathematical education of the first grader with differential equations or calculus, but with the simplicity of 2 + 2 = 4. Second, what modern critics seem unable to understand is what God understood from the beginning: learning at its basic level is observational. The sun appears to rise and set, and therefore it is not incorrect to say at a certain level of scientific achievement that it does indeed do these things. The Bible was not written exclusively for the 21st-century scientific enterprise, but for people of all ages and all places. Thus, the language of appearance in no way negates or endorses a certain way of doing science.

Is the Bible tendentious? Of course it is, because its fundamental purpose is to glorify the Creator by putting forth, in intentionally understandable and invitational terms, the message of redemptive grace, the reception of which leads to forgiveness and everlasting life. It is not primarily a work of history, biography, geology, anthropology, biology, astronomy, meteorology, or any other -ology except theology. It is, at base, the account of God and His word, and on those grounds it is not guilty should it not satisfy the agenda of the modern sceptic who is not looking for the Author of the book.


What then is the role of consecrated, God-honoring archaeological research by ministries such as ABR? If the sceptic cannot be won over, is there apologetic value at all? Let me suggest briefly the following considerations:

• The search for confirmation and clarification of the biblical witness is a noble end in and of itself.
• The exegetical and expositional process can be and has been aided by archaeological research, especially with the recovery of inscriptional material.
• Those weak in the faith or wavering in terms of a sure confidence in the Word of God can be benefited by discoveries which, when properly interpreted, will, without fail, bolster their confidence in Gods whole revelation.

Research Categories


ABR fulfills its mission through memberships and generous donations from supporters.

Join us in our mission! No matter what your level of interest, from keeping abreast of the fascinating research that comes out of the field work, to actively participating in an archaeological dig, you can become an integral part of our ministry.

Please click here for our support page.


Phone: 717-859-3443

Toll Free:  800-430-0008

email: [email protected]

PO Box 144, Akron, PA 17501

Click here for our Privacy Policy


 f logo RGB Blue 114  spotify icon
 yt icon rgb  assets.amazonmusic
 Instagram Glyph Gradient  apple podcast bug

Site Maintained By: Louise Street Marketing Inc.

abrwebtemplate36 1/1/2021