Sunday, January 27, 2013

John Elder on Archaeology and the Bible

“It is not too much to say that it was the rise of the science of archeology that broke the deadlock between historians and the orthodox Christian. Little by little, one city after another, one civilization after another, one culture after another, whose memories were enshrined only in the Bible, were restored to their proper places in ancient history by the studies of archeologists…. Contemporary records of biblical events have been unearthed and the uniqueness of biblical revelation has been emphasized by contrast and comparison to newly discovered religions of ancient peoples. Nowhere has archeological discovery refuted the Bible as history.”

—Archaeologist John Elder
Prophets, Idols and Diggers: Scientific Proof of Bible History, p. 16.


tenkaren said...

What about The exodus? Some claim that there is no evidence that there was a exodus. And some say that David was only King over a smal village.

Chad said...

Hello tenkaren,

You may want to check out Stephen Meyer's treatment of the Exodus and King David in the DVD series, "Is the Bible Reliable?" You can check it out here.


tnmusicman said...

I hear from atheists all the time that the Christian God can be disproven but I've yet to hear how. I just saw a YouTube video this morning where the claim was made AGAIN and I ask, where is this proof that disproves the Christian God. You can't use the "not enough evidence" excuse as that disproves nothing. It's,at best, a reason to withhold your decision but it does not disprove God.

Justin said...

Generally speaking, the majority of archeologists reject both the exodus as it is recorded in the biblical text and the apparent origin of the Israelites as it records. And no, that's not just the minimalists. The notion that archeology supports the exodus as it is recorded in the bible is terribly uninformed.

Anonymous said...


The claim is that no archaeological discovery has refuted the Bible as history, not that all Biblical history has been verified by archaeology.

God Bless You

MaryLou said...

RE: the exodus

To say that it couldn't have happened because we have no evidence for it represents an argument from silence. As it has been said, absence of evidence doesn't constitute evidence of absence. Many critics of the Bible have dismissed God's Word as untrue based on lack of evidence for other people, places and events and, in time, evidence of them has been found.

Some people argue that, because there is no record of it from the Egyptians, the exodus must not have happened. But a study of ancient records makes one thing clear -- people recounted their victories and the glories of their reigns. They did NOT record defeats and embarrassments -- and could there be a bigger embarrassment for Egypt than the mass exodus of the Israelites?

That is truly one of the things that sets apart the Bible from records of other ancient peoples and civilizations. It records the bad and the ugly as well as the good. It was important to the Israelites to put down a true historical record of God's interaction with them and of his interventions in the world as they knew it.

Thanks for the link to Meyer's information, Chad. I look forward to investigating it.

Tearfang said...

"absence of evidence doesn't constitute evidence of absence." I believe this is a misrepresentation of the argument. I actually don't know much about the archaeological evidence one way or the other, so I'm not saying the exodus never happened. And the biblical historical record of the events certainly counts as evidence for the events to have happened. As I understand it though the argument against it happening is Egyptian recorded histories covering that time that omit the event, and various digs in the area that have found exclusively Egyptian artifacts. This seems to me in no way conclusive but it is evidence. A true argument from silence would require that no records to have been found and no digs to have been done. How much weight I should give the digs lack of Hebrew artifacts depends on how much looking has been done.

mzandt said...

Cold-case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace is a good book to read about evidence

MaryLou said...

Hi, Tearfang! I appreciate your input.

One thing struck me re: finding Hebrew artifacts. They lived a nomadic life in tents. Therefore, we would find no buildings, no roads, no tunnels, no waterways, no sign of industry or agriculture, etc. I'm not sure what people expect to find for evidence of their time in the wilderness. Cooking utensils perhaps? They would have been brought from Egypt.

As you say, we have the Biblical account. I trust the Bible's record of history.

Anonymous said...

I would recommend that people who are interested in the evidence for the history of the Exodus read my former professor, Dr. James Hoffmeier's works Israel in Egypt and Israel in Sinai. They are both published by Oxford University Press.

One of the questions that must be asked is what we mean by evidence. There is plenty of evidence that Asiatics [of which the Hebrews were a part] were slaves in Egypt, for example. There is also plenty of cultural evidence from the Bible, such as the discovery of the city of Pi-Ramesses, which verify certain elements of the story. There are the strong Egyptian elements in the narrative itself, for example, the very name of Moses appears to be derived from Egyptian, as do many of the words from the story of his hiding from Pharaoh when he was a baby.

Hence, it all depends upon what someone is willing to take as evidence which says more about their philosophy than archaeology. If you demand that we have actual artifacts that are clearly from one particular tribe of Asiatics, then, obviously, there is no evidence. However, if we don't restrict ourselves to that, there is plenty of evidence for the Exodus, so much so that I had a professor who was able to write two books about the topic!

Ed Dingess said...

To say that there is no evidence for the exodus is literally saying, other than the evidence we have, there is no evidence for the exodus. To through out the ancient Hebrew Writings and then claim that there is no evidence is utterly absurd and incredibly biased. The ANE records, where they can be compared with the Biblical record are very closely matched. In fact, the integrity of the Bible record is so well preserved by external evidence that where such evidence is unavailable, it seems irrational to reject the evidence given in the Biblical record for those events.

This of course ignores the Christian belief that, to start with, our view of the nature of Scripture is that it is God's word and therefore is fully trustworthy, without error, in all it claims. It really does not require external corroboration to be believed. At least, if one is a Christian, they had better not make such demands.

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