Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The Bible - Good Book or God's Book? Part Two

In the first post on this subject we saw that to any fair minded person there can be no dispute that we do have what was originally written.  It is one thing knowing that we have what was originally written, but a further question is whether what was originally written is actually true. The answer to this question is most definitely yes. While the Bible is not a scientific text book, it does not in any way contradict scientific facts, and furthermore, when it speaks on scientific matters it is always correct (often far ahead of its time!) While people throughout the ages were concocting theories about the world and the universe, the Bible stated (long before science confirmed it) that the universe had a beginning (Genesis 1 v 1; 1Peter 1 v 20), that the earth is round (Isaiah 40 v 22 – the Hebrew word translated “circle” indicates something spherical) and hangs on nothing (Job 26 v 7), that at one moment it is daytime in one place and night time in another place (Luke 17 v 34-36), that there is a water cycle (Ecclesiastes 1 v 7) and that “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17 v 11). These are just a few of the many remarkable indications of the accuracy of Scripture on subjects that science has only relatively recently come to investigate.

On matters of archaeology the Bible is again 100% accurate. Nothing has been found to contradict Biblical history, and multitudes of discoveries have been made to confirm it. Archaeological confirmation of the existence of Old Testament places and people that had been written off as legendary, such as Sodom and Gomorrah, Jericho, certain of the kings of Israel, the Hittites, and King Belshazzar, has led to archaeologists acknowledging the accuracy of the Biblical records. The five books of the New Testament that deal with history (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts) are also unscathed by the archaeologists’ trowels and have been repeatedly and remarkably confirmed. W.F. Albright wrote “Archaeological discoveries of the past generation in Egypt, Syria, and Palestine have gone far to establish the uniqueness of early Christianity as an historical phenomenon” (The Archaeology of Palestine). Sir Walter Ramsay (regarded as one of the greatest archaeologists to have ever lived) had preconceptions that resulted in him having a firm conviction about the unreliability of the book of Acts in terms of its geographical data. However, when he came to do a topographical study of Asia Minor he had to make a complete U-turn! He concluded after 30 years of study that “Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy...this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians...Luke’s history is unsurpassed in respect of its trustworthiness” (The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament).

Our brief trips to the lab with the scientists and to Bible lands with the archaeologists should let us see that it is only those who have not done their homework that dismiss the Bible as unreliable. However, the Bible does not just make claims about the universe, history and geography – it claims to be the very revelation of God to mankind – the Word of God.  More about that in part three!