Bible Supported By Archaeology: Bethlehem

Today’s AP news wire has a report that archaeologists in Israel have discovered an ancient seal with the name of Bethlehem on it. This is significant because it is the first item found outside of the Bible that contains the name of Bethlehem. So this artifact corroborates one addition detail of the Bible: that Bethlehem existed. You can read the article here.

The existence of Bethlehem now joins a long list of Bible facts that were once criticized as unsupported by secular history, but now are known true. The Bible manuscripts were criticized as full of copy errors until the Dead Sea Scrolls proved the accuracy of ancient copyists; Pontius Pilate was said to not exist, until they ucovered a pillar with his name chiseled in it; King David was doubted till they discovered his name on an ancient artifact.

If we were to approach those skeptics who have thrown up the criticism that there was no supporting evidence for an ancient Bethlehem and ask them about this find, I would suspect that it would do no good. For when items such as this arise that show that the Bible accounts are supported by extra-biblical history, the hardened skeptic never seems to turn around and admit the truth of the scriptures. I cannot ever recall hearing a skeptic say ‘sorry about that, I guess I was wrong. I’ll be dropping my criticism of the Bible now.’ Instead, they always seem to forget about this pet issue, then move on to another criticism that helps them deny God.

In the long run, if they would merely read the Bible for what it is, which is an inspired eyewitness account of what happened, they would be better off in the end.


About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
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9 Responses to Bible Supported By Archaeology: Bethlehem

  1. rosross says:

    A few bits of history in the Bible does not make the book itself factual. More to the point, with ‘finds’ such as this one must be cautious because the agenda is to prove Judaism as a part of Palestine/Canaan and given the backers is hardly reliable, and as the article itself states:

    It is being underwritten by an extreme-right wing Jewish organization that seeks to populate the crowded Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan with Jewish settlers, arguing that they have ancient links to the area. The dig is being undertaken in a national park in the area of Silwan, known to Jews as “the City of David.”

  2. Adam Benton says:

    The typical criticism levelled against Bethlehem isn’t so much that it did not exist but rather, it did not exist when Jesus was meant to have lived there. Material dating to between 1,200-500 BC have been recovered from the town and a bunch of material from ~200-600 AD onwards (and we know there are people living there today) but none from the year 0. Indeed, the town isn’t mentioned on any documents from the period when Jesus was born.

    Since this find dates to ~700 BC it fits in with the existing knowledge of the area and so doesn’t reveal anything new. Including whether the town existed when Jesus was born. So, whilst it is an interesting find it is not quite sufficient to put skepticism to bed.

    • humblesmith says:

      This find corroborates the existence of Bethlehem 2,700 years ago, which is well within the period covered by the Old Testament, where Bethlehem is mentioned many times. It adds credibility to the Bible, which, as I’m sure you are aware, is criticized from all sides.

      Although the Bible is increasingly corroborated in many, many points of fact, it is not so in every single item. But then again, nothing in history works any differently; we cannot corroborate every fact of what happened for any historical event. Dismissing evidence like this, and dismissing the biblical history, then denying the existence of Bethlehem in the first century, leaves one with an argument from silence.

      It does not seem reasonable to me that someone would gamble their eternal destiny on the possibility of taking a Bible that is so correct in so many points, and hoping it is wrong in others. Such a claim is not even an argument from silence, since we have an increasingly corroborated Bible that has proven itself true.

  3. Vigilant One says:

    “In the long run, if they would merely read the Bible for what it is, which is an inspired eyewitness account of what happened, they would be better off in the end.”

    Well, I’m not sure if the Bible was inspired at all. Here’s an article which disproves this claim:

    • humblesmith says:

      The post you mention is rather lengthy, and I will not attempt a point-by-point refutation here. But its claims can be dealt with rather straightforwardly……they are not complex or difficult for an apologist. The nicest thing I can say is that he has begun with some false assumptions, mixed in a healthy dose of rhetoric, and drawn some unsupported conclusions. This should give me some fodder for a few blog posts which I will attempt in the coming days.

  4. Though I am a Bible-believing Christian, I am unfamiliar with claims that Bethlehem’s existence was “once criticized as unsupported by secular history” or that Bethlehem “did not exist when Jesus was meant to have lived there.” Can anyone cite a prominent source of either criticism?
    Any examples from Dawkins, Hitchens, or Harris?

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