Thank you for embarking on this journey with me exploring brief thoughts on the validity of the Christian faith.
In light of science, history and culture, can we believe the events, people, and places of the Bible are true and, therefore, take the Bible as reliable in other areas as well?
Is the Bible True: Science
The question of faith and of scientific evidence seems to be the one that comes up more often than the other two when discussing faith. Because I’ve been presenting this issue throughout The Sovereign already, follow this link for a variety of posts.
Is the Bible True: History
Archaeology has repeatedly confirmed events, people, and places of the Bible. As this is not intended to be an exhaustive article, I’ll only mention two historical facts, one being the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Old Testament: The Hittites
In Genesis 23, Abraham buys property from the Hittites as a burial ground. Until the late 19th century, one supposed argument against the Bible was the lack of evidence for the Hittites. This argument is no longer valid. The Hittite cuneiform language has been translated and their capital city discovered and excavated, in addition to more evidence. For a thorough look at the Hittites, read about them in the Ancient History Encyclopedia.
A good article on archaeological evidence in general is Does Archaeology Support the Bible?
The New Testament: The Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth
The life, death and resurrection of Jesus are historical facts.
Kirk Durston, in his excellent post, What Do Scholars (Including Atheists) Believe about Jesus, explains what historians (even atheists and agnostics) agree is the historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth. He lists these in his article, crediting Michael Licona for summarizing the following historical facts:
- Jesus performed feats that both he and his followers interpreted as miracles and exorcisms. (Note that they are not saying they actually were miracles, only that the feats were interpreted as miracles.)
- Jesus viewed himself as the figure through whom the kingdom of God was coming.
- Jesus died by crucifixion
- Very shortly after Jesus’ death, his disciples had experiences that led them to believe and proclaim that Jesus had been resurrected and had appeared to them. (I.e., contrary to contemporary urban myth, this was not a belief that emerged a few hundred years later.)
- Within a few years after Jesus’ death, Paul converted after experiencing what he interpreted as a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to him.
Tim Keller also points out the historical reliability of the gospels in Deconstructing Defeater Beliefs:
- [When they were written] is far too early for them to be legends. [They] were written 30-60 years after Jesus’ death – and Paul’s letters, which support all the accounts, came just 20 years after the events.
- Their content is far too counter-productive to be legends. The accounts of Jesus crying out that God had abandoned him, or the resurrection where all the witnesses were women — did not help Christianity in the eyes of first century readers. The only historically plausible reason that these incidents are recorded is that they happened.
If you’re interested in more material on the Resurrection of Christ, download the free eBook, Exploring the Resurrection of Jesus, from BiblicalArchaeology.org.
Is the Bible True: Culture
The next post in this series will address the question of culture.
Have you considered historical evidence for the Christian faith?
- This and several upcoming posts will be part of a series inspired from reading Tim Keller’s Deconstructing Defeater Beliefs. To find all posts in this Validity of the Christian Faith series, click here.
- Disclaimer: I’m not the intellectual fount for any philosophical content in this series; it’s not my bent, however, I do have a lot of training in science and theology. Also, history is fascinating to me, but I’m not trained in it.
- The first photo in this post is a Google screen shot of an aerial view of the historical site, Hattuşa Örenyeri. I have a link to the Google map (Earth view) and a link to the Google+ page for you. If you have trouble with the links, the site is just southeast of Boğazkale, Turkey.
- When you go to the Google map and use the Earth view, you’ll notice many photos taken at the site along the bottom of your screen. I found a panorama of the site and took a screen shot. This second photo is by photographer okan zafer Batur.