Convince Me There’s A God – Archaeology 21

“Now it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem and encamped against it; and they built a siege wall against it all around. So the city was besieged until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.” 2 Kings 25:1-2

According to the Bible’s description and timeline, the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah were conquered by foreign armies in the late 8th century BC (Israel) and early 6th century BC (Judah).

Really? Prove it!

That was my attitude as an atheist. Make all the claims you want, Bible believer, the burden is on you to prove it. As it turned out during my investigation into the ‘truth claims’ in the Bible, Christian apologists were able to show me evidence that pointed toward the existence of God.

I had found enough archaeological and historical evidence to warrant the continuation of my investigation into the Bible’s claims about Israel leaving Egypt and settling into Canaan. I also found extra-biblical evidence for Israel and Judah as kingdoms during the Iron Age (Iron II), but would I find any evidence for foreign invasion, exile and return?

Credit: Daily Mail

Credit: Daily Mail

I read an interesting article recently about a new exhibition of ancient clay tablets. The tablets were discovered in Iraq and archaeologists with expertise in ancient Babylonia and Assyria said they shed light on the time Jews spent in Babylonia more than 2500 years ago.

More than a hundred cuneiform tablets were on exhibition that included details about the lives of Jewish families that had moved from Judea to Babylon during the early part of the 6th century BC.

As interesting as that is to me now, those tablets were not available to me 44 years ago when I was investigating whether the Bible contained credible historical information. I was an atheist and thought the Bible was filled with myth and legend and lacked any evidence that would support the existence of the ‘God’ of the Bible.

So, what did I find during my search in 1971 and was it enough to keep me searching for evidence?

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The Mysterious Magi of Matthew 2, Part Two.

The Holy Men by Liz Lemon Swindle

In part one of this series, I briefly described the origins of Zoroastrianism, the religion held by the magi mentioned in Matthew 2, who left their homeland and traveled to Israel to worship Jesus. We noted the passages mentioned in the Old Testament where these monotheistic adherents of Zoroastrianism equated their deity with the God of the Jews.

In contrast to the polytheistic paganism of other cultures, Judaism and Zoroastrianism held several core beliefs in common. An overview of Zoroastrian doctrines are 1) good will eventually prevail over evil (Rev. 20, 21); 2) creation was initially perfectly good, but was subsequently corrupted by evil (Gen 1:31, Rom. 5:12, 8:20-22); 3) the world will ultimately be restored to the perfection it had at the time of creation (Rev. 21:1, 4); and 4) the “salvation for the individual depended on the sum of [that person’s] thoughts, words and deeds, and there could be no intervention, whether compassionate or capricious, by any divine being to alter this.” Thus, each human bears the responsibility for the fate of his own soul (Ezekiel 18).1 [Read more…]

Can We Trust the New Testament?

Can the New Testament documents be trusted? Do the Gospels accurately report what Jesus said and did? In this presentation, I investigate the historical data bearing on the dating of the New Testament documents, and ask whether there is good reason to think the four canonical gospels are written by the individuals with whom they are traditionally associated, and whether they are based on the testimony of credible eyewitnesses. This talk was originally presented at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) in September of 2014.

Is the Message of the New Testament Lost?

Lost the Plot?

Slide1Have we somehow lost the message of the New Testament? That’s what some people wonder when the conversation turns to the issue of textual variants—differences in the biblical manuscripts we’ve discovered over the years.

Maybe you’ve got a friend or a co-worker who tends to be pretty skeptical of the Bible right from the get-go. For many like them, the issues surrounding the Bible can make it tough to read it for themselves and give it a fair hearing. For example, people who saw Bart Ehrman on the Cobert Report or read his books might come away doubting that the text of the New Testament is still intact after all these years.

Today, I still hear well-meaning believers say we’ve just got to “give people the Bible.” But more and more, I see the need to engage the tough questions about why we should take the Bible seriously. So I wanted to share this video with you. It’s Darrell Bock, Ben Witherington, and Dan Wallace talking about textual variants in the New Testament. [Read more…]

Is the Weight of Scholarship on Bart Ehrman’s Side? (Tolle Lege)

TruthInCultureDoubt_cover.indd

Critics of the Bible will often claim that the majority of biblical scholars are on their side when it comes to doubting Christian beliefs about Scripture.  I recently heard atheist activist John Loftus claim, in a debate with apologist David Marshall, that most biblical scholars don’t believe any prophecies in the Old Testament refer to Jesus.  New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman often claims the backing of the majority of scholars as well, but such claims overlook or diminish the large number of evangelical thinkers who argue for different conclusions.  In their recent book Truth in a Culture of Doubt: Engaging Skeptical Challenges to the Bible, authors Andreas Köstenberger, Darrell Bock, and Josh Chatraw illuminate the problems with this assertion.

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