No archaeological evidence of Biblical events


(Thomas) #1

According to the study of Archaeology many Biblical events apparently did not occur. The Exodus out of Egypt for example has no evidence supporting it as actually having happened. This is very troubling. Some claim that the Egyptians wiped the record from existence out of embarrassment. While possible, this is not evidence.

While some parts of the Bible have been confirmed, others have been refuted. Doesn’t this cause the entire book to crumble if one part of it can be shown to be false? I think it does. Why trust miraculous claims if the basic history cannot be trusted?

The Bible continues to fail basic testing. It continues to be something that can only be believed after much effort is taken to twist and re-interpret it over and over. Just like what Biologos does with evolution and Genesis. Will there come a time when it must simply be abandoned as myth? It is sure far easier to wave it away as such. Anything can be rationalised and defended. With the effort theologians put into making the Bible believable, they could just as easily convince the World that Vampires could exist.

Is no one else bothered by this realization?


(Mervin Bitikofer) #2

I think we can learn from recent history to take sweeping hyperbole like this with a grain of salt. It wasn’t too long ago when apparent archaeological wisdom was that kings such as David or Solomon never existed … the reason? Because there was no evidence for it. In other words, absence of evidence was taken to be evidence of absence. Then evidence turned up! (Keep in mind --there are also those who with an apparent straight face will insist that Jesus never existed either). So some of these claims rank right up there with equally radical claims the other way (such as Noah’s ark being spotted on Ararat). What could legitimately be called into contention is how to interpret the numbers given for Israelites who left Egypt and the alleged extent of the subsequent massacres in Canaan.

What is refuted (if anything indeed was actually refuted) would be the modernist insistence that the entirety of the Bible must be understood as nothing but a string of historical reporting understood uniquely through the modernist lens. And so many Christians have bought into that modern agenda – that’s what is so troubling.

Let go of that controlling new atheist agenda, and taste and see what can be learned from the narrative when we take it seriously on its own terms. Once we let go of our fantasy that the Bible is an attempt (a poor and badly misplaced one apparently!) to directly address 18th-21st century skeptical concerns, we can begin to hear the timeless truths it does have to teach us.


(Jon) #3

That isn’t true.

That’s a subjective statement. I would like to see an evidence based statement instead.

What Biologos does is to read Genesis the way it was intended to be read. The reason why this ends up being harmonious with evolution is that Genesis was never intended to address scientific concerns. So its harmonization with evolution is a spandrel of the Biologos reading, not the aim.


(Chris Falter) #4

Hi Thomas, I don’t have anything to add to the responses from Mervin and Jonathan; I just wanted to thank you for asking a good and important question.


(James McKay) #5

There’s just one thing I would add here. A lot of these claims of archaeological evidence contradicting the Bible come from the popular press, television programmes, the media and so on. These are outlets that are not known for their scholarly accuracy and will often sensationalise or exaggerate findings in order to draw in readership.

See 2 Timothy 4:3. Also this classic from PhD Comics gives an entertaining and highly informative take on the problem.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #6

Great comic! That’s going to have to end up on my wall at school. Thanks for that.


#7

Considering that the Bible is a compilation of many texts from many authors and centuries, I question the logic of some of the sweeping generalizations against it.


(Thomas) #8

Why would you hurt your credibility by sending me to a thread where you get destroyed in the argument by gbrooks9?


(Chris Falter) #9

I thought both Jonathan and George made good points, and I learned a lot from their exchange.


(Jon) #10

That’s not only false, it’s gratuitously offensive. I note that you haven’t addressed my argument (or the scholarly consensus I cited), any more than he did. George had only one argument (that the Israelites couldn’t have entered Canaan because it was controlled by Egypt). Not only did he fail to present evidence for this, he failed to address all the evidence that they did enter Canaan. He also failed to address the scholarly literature I cited. If you think you can do a better job, please go ahead.


(George Brooks) #11

@Jonathan_Burke

I’m a little surprised at your response to @Find_My_Way. How could you arrive at the conclusion that I have not established the crucial nature of 1130 BCE in Biblical chronology?

  1. On three different threads I provided links to scholarly articles discussing the establishment of the Philistine pentapolis circa 1130 BCE… and/or that Egyptian military exertions and control extended all the way past Israel prior to that time.

  2. It means Abraham’s mingling with the Philistines occurs about 800 years too early, and that the Biblical sense of Chronology is distorted for the sake of story-telling.

  3. This means that if an Exodus occurred any time between 1500 BCE and 1130 BCE, that there was no way the Hebrew would have decided to AVOID the way of the Philistines - - because there were not yet any Philistines on the Way of the Philistines.

  4. This also means that if the Hebrew spent any length of time at Kadesh Barnea, they would have been well within Egyptian reach of the armies traveling between Egypt and northern Syria … and even up to the highlands of Jerusalem. And yet we find NO BIBLICAL references to Egyptian traversing through this proximity of the Hebrew almost every generation!!! Please find a 50 year period any time between 1550 BCE and 1130 BCE when this wasn’t so:

1500 BCE - ?
1450 BCE - ?
1400 BCE - ?
1350 BCE - ?
1300 BCE - ?
1250 BCE - ?
1200 BCE - ?
1150 BCE - ?

  1. This also means that if the Hebrew spent any length of time in the Promised Land of Palestine prior to 1130 BCE (from the time of Joshua all the way to the time of Solomon) … there would be innumerable historical events where the Egyptians were coursing in and out of Canaan … imposing their will and policies on towns and temple-run plantations… and yet we find no such references in the Bible - - until Solomon’s Egyptian wife receives the town of Gezer as a wedding gift (1 King 9:16).

  2. This reference to Gezer is particularly important because even in the strange times of the Amarna period, you have the kings of Gezer swearing their loyalty to the Pharaoh. But who did Egypt defeat in Gezer?

The last time we read of Gezer prior to 1Kings 9 is in Joshuah 21:21 “For they gave them Shechem with her suburbs in mount Ephraim, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Gezer with her suburbs,”

So did Pharaoh capture Gezer from the Hebrew … in order to give it BACK to the Hebrew? The whole chronology is cock-eyed.

Now, Jonathan, if you want to DISPROVE the relevance of the Philistine arrival in 1130 BCE, you can do one of the following:

  1. Show that the Philistines were ESTABLISHED as a military force much earlier than 1130 BCE,

and/or

  1. Show that there was a multi-generational period when the Egyptians were NOT traveling through the Levant on the way to their northern imperial border … affecting the Canaanites and everyone else that lived in that region.

(George Brooks) #12

Here is an article that might interest those interested in Egypt’s presence in Canaan:

EXCERPT:
“When considering the remainders of two Egyptian-era pillars from Beit Shean, where the Egyptian government had one of its centers — in addition to Gaza and Jaffa — Arie flipped open one history book and stumbled upon a photo of the pillars in their original, unusual forms, which looks like mushroom caps set on an unusually long stem. Once understood, the pair of pillars, now partially restored, were set in the middle of one gallery, mimicking their ancient location in the home of the Egyptian governor.”

[Image showing relative distances between cities… note Bethshean (or Scythopolis) …
an Egyptian center well NORTH of Jerusalem… ]

According to the historians … the back of the Philistines, in particular Ekron, is not broken for some 500 years - - and it was broken by the Babylonians!

"The entire Iron II city was destroyed in a violent conflagration during the 604 BCE campaign of the Neo-Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II, after which the site was only partially and briefly resettled in the first quarter of the 6th century. A well-preserved Assyrian courtyard-type building was the only remaining architectural evidence for Stratum IA. Thereafter, Ekron was abandoned until the Roman period, "

The Bible does tell us that King Uzziah takes Ashdod in the early 800’s BCE (2 Chronicles 26:6). But just a century later the Assyrians seem to devastate the whole region … laying the ground for the latter Babylonian incursion!

“Assyrian king Sargon II’s commander-in-chief (turtanu), whom the King James Bible calls simply “Tartan”,Isaiah 20:1 regained control of Ashdod in 712/711 BCE and forced the usurper Yamani to flee. Sargon’s general destroyed the city and exiled its residents,”


(Henry Stoddard) #13

@Find_My_Way
No, because you are wrong, Thomas. Quit misstating facts.


(Jon) #15

For the reasons I gave in the other thread.

But you ignored all the contrary evidence, and you didn’t present a complete synthesis of the evidence.

No it doesn’t mean that, because the Egyptians weren’t coursing in and out of Canaan during this time. The Armana correspondence makes that very clear, as does the archaeological record.

I don’t need to do that to establish my argument for the Hebrew entry into Canaan.

Sure. I’ll describe briefly the evidence you’re failing to tell people about.

  1. The Merneptah Stele records Pharaoh Merneptah’s campaign against Canaan. He refers specifically to having fought Israel. This places Israel in Canaan at least as early as 1210 BCE. You may not believe Israel was there, but Merneptah certainly did; he knew they were there because he fought them. He also claims to have destroyed them, when we know this is not true. So Israel survived the campaign of Merneptah.

  2. Merneptah’s campaign is the first and only Bronze Age campaign recorded by Egypt in which Israel is mentioned. So we know that from the time of Merneptah’s campaign to at least 1000 BCE there was an intergenerational period during which Egypt made no attempt to remove Israel from Canaan, despite being fully aware that the Hebrews were there.

There are two facts which you have failed to address. One is Egypt’s rapidly declining influence in Canaan during the Late Bronze Age.

  • “From at least as early as the second millennium, Egypt regarded Palestine as part of its own sphere of influence, an influence that is most clearly documented for us in the Amarna letters, as a weak Pharaoh was losing control over his nominal vassals in the cities of the region.”, Philip Davies, Rethinking Biblical Scholarship: Changing Perspectives 4 (2014), 113.

  • The Amarna Letters, a corpus of diplomatic exchanges from the reigns of Amenhotep III and IV (ca. 1403–1347 B.C.E.; the latter is better known as Akh-en-Aton), demonstrate that Egypt was losing control of this region and also that intercity warfare was on the increase, augmented by the presence of groups, called “Habiru,” who were alienated from the established political structure.”, M. Jack Suggs, ‎Katharine Doob Sakenfeld, ‎James R. Mueller, The Oxford Study Bible: Revised English Bible with Apocrypha (1992), 35

  • “There are at least four possible explanations why there are no documents in ancient Near Eastern sources about the Iron I hill country (Schafer-Lichtenberger 1996:79). The first explanation, that there was “no one up there,” has been disproved by the foregoing archaeological analysis. The second explanation is that the only hegemonic power capable of extending its claim to power into that region, Egypt, was in fact incapable. Egyptian control in the highlands collapsed even before the end of the reign of Rameses III, and surely had by the end of Rameses IV (1134 B.C.: Singer 1985:117; Kuhrt 1995:209). Only a few items from times later than Rameses IV have surfaced in Palestine, all of them north of the study area (Weinstein 1992:146). “As is the case with empires forced to retreat from their colonies, Egypt did not document its withdrawal from Canaan” (Singer 1994:283).”, Robert D. Miller, Chieftains of the Highland Clans: A History of Israel in the Twelfth And Eleventh Centuries B.C. (2005), 91.

The other is the fact that Israel had settled in the highlands, where the Egyptian presence was non-existent, and which the Egyptians typically avoided.

  • “Redford (1992, 269) observes, “The sparsely populated hill country of central Palestine, already partly stripped of its inhabitants under the eighteenth Dynasty, held little attraction for the Egyptians who felt basically disinclined to police it.””, Daniel Fleming, *The Legacy of Israel in Judah’s Bible History, Politics, and the Reinscribing of Tradition" (2012), 259.

  • "“David Hopkins, in a thorough study of the agricultural possibilities of the highlands, emphasizes the poor agricultural potential of those territories. It would therefore have been less worthwhile for the Canaanite kings to try to control them as they did so the better agricultural lands of the valleys. Also, the ruggedness of the highlands would have made it difficult for the chariot armies of the cities and the Egyptians to control the highlands.”, John J. McDermott, What are They Saying about the Formation of Israel? (1998), 48.

  • The Egyptians created a kind of power vacuum, so to speak, in the highlands by not getting themselves involved in any serious way.”, Niels Peter Lemche, The Israelites in History and Tradition (1998), 70


(Thomas) #16

You consistently stalk my threads so you can state that I am wrong, that I am a troll, a sower of doubt, a test of your faith or that I have some kind of spiritual sickness… Yet you never offer counter arguments to my points. You seem to be burying your head in the sand and ignoring anything that frightens you.

You rely on others to post arguments and then latch onto them for protection.

This is why I am no longer going to take you seriously or answer your posts.


(Thomas) #17

So gbrooks9, are you stating that the Exodus did not happen? Do you believe it did? I want to. I mean, how can the rest of the Bible be taken seriously if such a pivotal part never actually happened?


(George Brooks) #18

@Find_My_Way

Let me reverse the question… how can you take Biblical stories of the earliest events in world history when Abraham is placed in the midst of the Philistines (with no Egyptians in the vicinity) 800 years before the Philistines were actually known to be on the coast of Canaan?

How do you take these histories seriously when the Hebrew, on their alleged Exodus, REFUSE to go the Way of the Philistines … before the Philistines are even present in force?

It is my operating scenario that the story that became Exodus was based on events in Egypt up to the Persian conquest of Egypt. Then and There… the Jeremiad community organized a return to the Promised Land… and in much more reasonable numbers. This was made possible because the Persians basically ELIMINATED the international border between Egypt and Canaan.

How much of the story is REAL history? Probably not much. For those who love the history of the Roman Republic, must they reject all Roman history because there was NOT Roman twins called Romulus and Remus. No.

And for movie, fans (like myself) …
it is easy to remember that when the Texas Chainsaw Massacre was promoted as “based on a true story” … that the TRUE history wasn’t in Texas, wasn’t a Massacre and didn’t involve Chainsaws… … but WHAT A MOVIE !


(Jon) #19

gbrooks9, telling it like it is!


(George Brooks) #20

@Jonathan_Burke

Jon, you are starting to confuse me…

Was there something in my response to Find My Way that you agree with? That would help me focus my comments (which I still owe you) to your earlier posting…


(Jon) #21

No, I was just amused by your dogmatism.