Historical Accuracy of the Old Testament

Old Testament scholar Walter Kaiser has written an excellent book titled The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable & Relevant? Among many other things in this book, Kaiser documents that secular historians and archaeologists have found independent corroboration for many of the people found in the Old Testament historical books. Archaeologists have now found sources outside the Bible that describe King Belshazzar of Babylon (Daniel 5:1), Sargon King of Assyria (Isaiah 20:1), Jehoiachin King of Judah (2 Kings 25:27-30) and his sons (1 Chronicles 3:17-18), Sanballat, Governor of Samaria (Neh. 12:22) including the years he governed, Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem the Arab (Neh. 2:19), Hanani, Nehemiah’s brother (Neh. 7:2), and Johanan, the high priest (Neh. 12:22). Kaiser’s book goes on to note the independent validation of Biblical people such as Balaam, David, Ahab, Jehu, Hezekiah, and Menahem, and people groups such as the Hittites and Horites, and obscure locations mentioned in the Bible such as Ophir and Hebron.

Kaiser shows that all these historic details are supported with historic evidence from outside the Bible. But despite all of this evidence, the skeptic and critic will never be satisfied, merely taking this mountain of historic corroboration and brushing it aside with a wave of the skeptical wand, claiming that no history can be trusted to show things they do not wish to be true. Such skeptical techniques violate how history is evaluated, for if a historic account is shown to be true in all areas where we can prove it so, we have no valid reason to doubt its other accounts merely because we cannot reproduce the events today. The critic will bring up events such as George Washington and his famous cherry tree story, which most historians now hold to be false. But if we had a biographer of Mr. Washington who wrote many things which were found to have been validated with other known historical details, who then went on to say he saw his friend George chop the tree and heard him confess to the deed, we would have no valid reason to doubt the biographer. Could we prove in a labratory whether old George did it? Of course not, but neither can we prove that George Patton won battles in WWII, at least not to the level of proving something like a math formula or test tube experiment in the lab.

But what cannot be denied is that these historical facts make a shambles of the skeptics most wild claims. If we were to listen to the critics, they would dismiss Biblical history as being no more serious than Hercules or Paul Bunyan and Babe the Ox. As the mountain of historical corroboration for the Biblical accounts grows ever larger, the Bible is shown to be increasingly trustworthy and its opponents are shown to be increasingly irrational.

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About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
This entry was posted in Apologetics, Bible, Skepticism. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Historical Accuracy of the Old Testament

  1. “Such skeptical techniques violate how history is evaluated”

    Except we don’t.

    We accept that Caesar existed and did many things. We do not accept he was related to the goddess Venus.

    It is a clear and simple distinction to make. And it applies to your Bible straight on down the line.

  2. humblesmith says:

    a priori is such a wonderfully useful tool.

  3. ronal says:

    pienso que Walter tiene deficiencias en elaborar un centro teológico del AT, sin embargo prefiero el Libro de Archer.

  4. honestabe says:

    Unfortunately the discovery of these obscure sights doesn’t prove anything. The people who wrote the OT lived and knew of these sights and it was simply a matter of time before we found them. The controversy lies in truth of things such as Noahs Ark, the Exodus. Things that are scientifically and historically proven to be impossible.

    • humblesmith says:

      The blog post deals with refuting the most unreasonable claims against the Bible, and that point still stands. As for whether an ark or the exodus is scientifically impossible….well, a lot of a priori bias comes into play on all sides, as shown in your comments.

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