Many people ask me why is it important to confirm the historical details of the Bible? The Bible can be broken into two separate areas, the historical, and the divine. Critics complain that if the authors of the Bible could not get the historical facts, the kings, cities, battles, and other details correct, how can they be trusted to get the divine portions correct? If you intend to witness to others about your faith, questions regarding the accuracy of the Bible are certain to come up. Having the proper, and honest answer to questions is essential. I consider this research and knowledge to be just one more element of your spiritual armor Paul speaks of in his letter to the Ephesians. The Bible commands us to "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." We are also told to "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." In order to know how to respond to critics and doubters of the Bible's accuracy, we must study and search for the answers. Only then can we fulfill our commitment to know how to answer everyone. We, of course, cannot know all the answers, but by careful study we can learn more, and continue our spiritual growth.
"If I have told you people about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about Heavenly Things?" John 3:12
"If I have told you people about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about Heavenly Things?" John 3:12
Monday, September 2, 2013
The Bible begins with the story of creation and while it provides an outline of how God created the heavens and the earth, for many there are just not enough details. For others the advances in science have raised a great many questions regarding creation, evolution, a young earth, an ancient earth, and just how God fits into each of these scenarios. In their book "Understanding Creation", authors Mark Whorton and Hill Roberts explore a number of these theories and scenarios in an effort to align new scientific evidence and discoveries with Biblical scripture. Trying to make science and scripture align is nothing new, and in most cases it is obviously a forced fit that leaves gaping holes and raises as many questions as it does answers. This book takes a slightly different approach in an effort to show science does not oppose the Biblical narrative, but rather supports and confirms the Biblical version of creation.
The authors compare each theory with the scientific data as well as scripture. While reading this book I was fascinated and intrigued by many of the points and possibilities the authors presented. I did not agree with one hundred percent of the material they presented, but that should come as no surprise given the subject matter. Throughout the book the authors continually referred back to scripture and pointed out the flaws and inconsistencies with each scientific or theological idea presented. While the evidence itself was compelling it was not forced to stand alone. The background of the authors themselves lent a great deal of credibility to the material they were presenting.
These men made it very obvious they were devout Christians and men of considerable faith. They are not however clergy, theologians, or ministers, they are scientists. Mark Whorton has a PhD in aerospace engineering and works for NASA. Hill Roberts has a masters in physics and is a chief scientist involved in aerospace research. They cover the topics in question in great detail yet they do not claim to have all the answers, either scientifically or scripturally. In one section on the flood they look at the argument of the flood being worldwide or local. They examine the various arguments for each and the geological data in support and in opposition to both theories, but they can reach no solid conclusion. In the end they make a very simple but profound conclusion. How big was the flood? As big as God wanted it to be.
The book examines the flaws in the theory of evolution, looks at the theory of a young Earth compared to the theory of an ancient Earth, and looks to the stars for answers about creation, God, the Bible and truth. They also compare the story recorded in the book of Genesis with a number of other ancient creation myths. Their findings are interesting and the evidence they present very compelling. I would give this book a solid score of 9 out of 10. While presenting scientific data the authors remained true to scripture and present the facts in a straight forward and easy to understand format. The book is educational, inspiring and entertaining. If you have questions regarding the story of creation and how it compares to modern scientific data, I would highly recommend this book. It does not have all the answers, and you will likely not agree with all of the information/theories presented, but overall I believe you will find a great deal of useful information within its pages.
Holman Quick Source Guide
Written by : Mark Whorton and Hill Roberts
Published 2008 - 371 pages - $14.99
Holman Reference, Nashville TN
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
|Chapel of the Tablet - Aksum Ethiopia|
The Bible tells us God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses as a guide for the people to live buy under their new covenant with Him. This is a crucial point in the Old Testament as the Ten Commandments outline what God considers to be moral behavior. With the importance both historically and theologically of the Ten Commandments, is it possible to prove God gave Moses the Ten Commandments? Were there literally stone tablets carved by the very hand of God? How much, if anything, can archaeological evidence prove about the existence of these stone tablets? Surprisingly, there is archaeological evidence which confirms a portion of the biblical account.
The original Ten Commandments were destroyed by Moses when in his anger he smashed them as he came down the mountain. God then gave Moses a second set of tablets which Moses delivered to the people. The people of Israel constructed an Ark, at God's command, in which to place the tablets for safe keeping. This is the Ark which Indiana Jones and so many others were searching for and some have even claimed to have found, although none have produced any type of proof. The Ark was kept inside a large tent known as the Tent of Meeting during the time the people of Israel roamed the desert. It would eventually be placed in Solomon's temple in Jerusalem before disappearing, along with its sacred contents. What happened to the Ark and the Ten Commandments, and where they are today is a much debated subject. Before we cover that subject, let us look first at what archaeology can tell us.
Were the tablets real? Was the Ark real? Tough questions, but a recently announced archaeological discovery in 2013 may provide some insight. While the archaeologists did not discover the ark, they did discover some very unusual evidence potentially pertaining to the Ark. The archaeological team found a location where they believe the Tent of Meetings was once erected. They have located holes used for tent poles and evidence the tent was far larger and more complex than a normal dwelling. They believe the evidence points to a very limited number of possibilities, the most likely of which is the tent of meeting was once erected there. Whenever the Israelites would camp, the Tent of Meeting would be set up. At certain locations, like the one mentioned here, the people would remain for a prolonged period of time before moving on. As a result of the prolonged stay at an identifiable location, modern science can detect evidence of the camp and the type of tent used.
The location is the ancient city of Shiloh and the evidence has been dated to the time of Joshua when he lead the people of Israel into the promised land shortly after the death of Moses. If the archaeologists are correct, this new discovery proves the Tent of Meeting was in fact real and existed at the time the Bible indicates. Is it too much of a stretch to suggest that if the Tent of Meeting was in fact real, then the Ark must have also been real. After all, the only purpose for the Tent of Meeting was to house the Ark, and the only purpose of the Ark was to hold the Ten Commandments. This new evidence does not provide us with absolute proof of the Ark or the Ten Commandments, but it does provide proof of certain elements of the biblical story surrounding the Tablets. The only absolute proof would be to find the Ark and its sacred contents. With that in mind, where did the Ark and the Ten Commandments go when they vanished from the temple? Is there hope of finding the Ark? Has it already been found? Or was it in fact ever truly lost?
There are three possibilities when considering where the Ark went and where it might be today. The first is that it remains lost, hidden in some secret chamber or ancient ruins just waiting to be discovered. While there are various reports of the Ark being found, such as those made by Ron Wyatt, none have any real credibility. While this possibility of discovery works well with Hollywood, our second possibility is far less cinematic, yet far more theological.
Many scholars believe that when Solomon's temple was destroyed by invading armies they captured the Ark. We are told the riches of the temple were taken and many experts believe the Ark was also taken. It is believed the Ark was dismantled and melted down for its gold content. It can be said this was symbolic of the end of the covenant God had with the people which would not be restored until He established the new covenant centuries later through Jesus Christ. Far less romantic than the possibility the Ark could one day be found, this theory has far more support than the first. Both of these possibilities lack the physical evidence and history of our third and most intriguing possibility.
According to the Ethiopian church the Ark was never lost. In 1 Kings the Bible records the visit of the Queen of Sheba. The queen visits King Solomon to test his famed wisdom. Sheba was the southern land which included Ethiopia. While the Bible does not record it, the Ethiopian records show the queen's name was Makeda. It also tells of a love affair which developed between Makeda and Solomon which resulted in the queen giving birth to a son who was named Menelik . Menelik would become the first emperor of Ethiopia. While interesting, what does this have to do with the Ark and the Ten Commandments? Again, according to the Ethiopian church, Solomon sent the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia. Why is uncertain, but it is certainly a possibility he sent it there to protect his son, Menelik. And there the Ark remains in the Chapel of the Tablet.
The Ethiopian people were early converts to Christianity but the spread of Islam caused the country to be cut off from the western church. Because of this the church developed many of its own traditions separate from the outside world. One of these traditions is the possession of the Ark of the Covenant. According to tradition, Solomon sent the Ark to Ethiopia sometime in the tenth century B.C. and it has never left, or been lost. Even today you can find a small isolated church enclosed behind a formidable iron fence. Access to the interior of the church/chapel is strictly forbidden except to one man. This lone monk lives inside the church with a singular duty, to serve and protect the Ark. He will serve in this post until his death at which time a new monk will be appointed. Unfortunately only the monk is allowed to see the Ark, or even enter the church compound.
Once a year the ark is carefully covered and carried in a procession through the streets in a great celebration. Many believe this is a false Ark used just for this occasion and the true Ark, if it is really there, remains safely in the church. Not surprising, the outline of the covered Ark does match the Biblical description of the Ark but little else can be determined by the brief exposure to the outside world. While the outside world remains skeptical, the Ethiopian church and the Ethiopian people are certain the Ark they posses is the one true Ark which contains the Ten Commandments.
What conclusions can be drawn from the evidence and claims discussed here? Archaeologist believe they have discovered proof the Tent of Meeting was real and was erected for a time in Shiloh, just as the Bible tells us. This is far from proof the Ten Commandments were real, but it does provide circumstantial evidence which collaborates the biblical text. At the same time the Orthodox Christian Church in Ethiopia insists they have been in possession of the Ark, and the Ten Commandments, for centuries. Is this the one true Ark? Does it contain the Tablets which were carved by the hand of God? Unfortunately those are questions which cannot be answered at this time. The Ark is considered a sacred object and the Bible tells of its great power and even dangerous nature. Because of this it is highly unlikely the Ethiopian church will ever allow the Ark to be examined or tested. It should be noted that while there is circumstantial evidence which supports the Bible, there is no evidence available to dispute the story of the Ten Commandments. Given the history of the Ark and its contents, perhaps it is best if they remain concealed, wherever they may be.
Sunday, August 4, 2013
This must be listed as a shameless self promotion, but if you enjoy the postings on this site I think you might enjoy reading my book. - - - In 2011 I published "The Bible As History". It was my first venture into the world of eBook publishing and to say I was a greenhorn would be an understatement. I believe the book turned out moderately well and has sold well in several countries. Due to my inexperience, I kept to the very basics. I included no photos, no references, and kept the manuscript to a very manageable, if not limited, word count. Because of this I have never felt the book was everything it could have been. This new edition covers far more material and in greater depth than its predecessor.
Even given the short span of time since the first edition was published, there have been numerous additional discoveries in the field of Bible archaeology. I have attempted to cover as many of these as possible as well as new developments and insights on discoveries covered in the first edition. Items such as the James Ossuary, The Jehoash Inscription and the Stone Lamp all found new life in publication as 'The forgery trial of the century' concluded. These artifacts, which the Israel Antiquity Authority (IAA), claimed as forgeries are now beginning to be accepted as authentic archaeological artifacts. Other discoveries including new evidence concerning Samson, Bethlehem and a seaport used in Israel in the first century BC have shed new light on Biblical times and the people who inhabited that period. It is a very exciting time to be involved in this area of research and exploration and I am excited to share my writings with you.
In the first edition I also somewhat shied away from some of the more controversial items/artifacts. These included the Jesus Family Tomb and the recently announced Jesus' Wife Papyrus. These are included in this edition as well as new scientific findings regarding the Shroud of Turin, which while certainly not proving the artifact authentic, does seem to offer evidence it could not have been forged during the middle ages as has always been the position of its critics.
In this edition you will also find revised versions of two novellas which take a closer look at specific passages from scripture. These included the battle between David and Goliath as well as the Story of Noah's Ark. Just how tall was Goliath, would David have been able to kill him with a sling, and where did this ancient battle take place? In the chapter for Noah's Ark we will answer questions concerning the seaworthiness of the Ark, how much material would it have taken to build the ark, could all the animals have fit, and just where did all the water come from? Are recent claims of finding Noah's Ark authentic, or bold frauds? And is anyone continuing to look for the Ark, where, how and why?
It has been a pleasure researching and writing this second edition and I hope you will consider purchasing a copy today. The Bible As History - 2nd Edition is available in both eBook and Print formats from Amazon.com and for the Nook at Barnes and Noble. It will soon be available as an Audio Book as well. Thank you for your time and for visiting this site, you are greatly appreciated and valued.
Saturday, August 3, 2013
The cross of Jesus is a modern day symbol of Christianity. If the original cross upon which Jesus died could be discovered it would certainly be one of the most amazing and important archaeological artifacts ever recovered. Archaeologist in Turkey claim they have found the cross of Jesus', or at least a piece of it. The excavations at the church in Sinop Turkey have been ongoing since 2009. There have been several interesting discoveries at the site, but this is by far the most important.
In the first century the cross was a means of cruel torture and execution. Most experts agree that being crucified was one of the most cruel and painful methods of execution ever devised by man. It is somewhat strange this instrument of pain and death has now become a symbol of peace, love, kindness and forgiveness. Of course it is not so much the cross which is important but the suffering of the Man nailed to it. While theologically, the pain and death of Jesus is the key, archaeologically speaking ,the cross is the brass rings, so to speak.
There are a number of churches around the world which claim to posses a piece of the original cross. The authenticity of these relics is doubted by most and totally dismissed by others. This new discovery appears to be somewhat different. The piece of wood archaeologist claim is a section of a crucifixion cross was found in the ruins of a seventh century church. The Balatlar church, built in 660 A.D., has several frescoes depicting the Apostles, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus, decorating its walls.
The lead archaeologist explained the piece of cross had been found inside a small stone chest recovered from the ruins of the church. A cross had been carved on the top of the stone chest which has been sent to a laboratory for additional testing and evaluation. The city of Sinop overlooks the Black Sea in southern Turkey. More than 1,000 human skeletons have been found at the site.
The archaeologist insist they have discovered a holy relic they believe is a piece of cross upon which Jesus was crucified. While the initial evidence seems to support these claims and there is no apparent evidence to contradict this theory, the artifact is far from being confirmed as authentic. Additional tests on both the stone chest and the section of wood will be required before any final determination can be made. It will be very interesting to see how this develops.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
The Shroud of Turin is one of the most famous Biblical artifacts in the world. It is also one of the most controversial. The Shroud is a large piece of linen which some believe was the burial cloth used to wrap the body of Jesus after His crucifixion. The faint image of a man, his arms crossed across his chest, can be seen on the cloth. It also seems evident from the image the man had been crucified. Critics claim the cloth was produced sometime in the middle-ages and is nothing more than a clever hoax. The Catholic Church, which owns the Shroud, makes no claims as to its authenticity, nor do they acknowledge it as a fake. Given this is a piece of cloth which we have in our possession science should be able to tell us when it was produced and how, or so you would think.
Tests were run on the linen and it was carbon dated to approximately the 14th century. This meant the cloth was not produced until at least 1,300 years after Jesus was placed in the tomb. There was an immediate and heated debate over the test results almost from the moment they were released. Some claim carbon dating is unreliable on linens which caused false results while others pointed to a fire in the chapel where the Shroud was housed. It is theorized the intense heat and smoke from this fire could have left residue in/on the linen which affected the results of the carbon dating. Caron dating linen is problematic and the theory of the fire affecting the results is reasonably sound.
To complicate things further a group of Italian scientist insist the image on the Shroud could not have been faked in the middle ages and in fact cannot be duplicated in a modern laboratory. They insist the only way the image could have been made on the fabric was with a short burst of VUV directional radiation. Not surprisingly, this technology was not present in the middle-ages, so just how was the image put on the linen? Some insist it was a miracle, others insist we are simply overlooking something and the image was put on the linen in the middle-ages since that is when the carbon dating tells us the fabric was made.
As if there were not already enough controversy surrounding the Shroud of Turin, a new study was released in 2013 which has muddied the waters even further. These new tests once gain attempted to establish the age of the linen material. After all, if the linen is only 600 to 700 years old, it could not have been used to wrap the body of Jesus. If the age can be established, the question of authenticity becomes much clearer. The new test results were far different than the first tests. They did not differ by a few years, not even a few hundred years, but by more than a thousand years. This second testing dated the linen material to sometime during the first century. This would closely match the story of the Bible and support the claims of those who believe the Shroud of Turin is in fact the burial cloth of Jesus. It should go without saying these new tests results are far from universally accepted.
After multiple testing, there seems to be no definitive answer coming from science as to the authenticity of the Shroud. Not only are the test results inconsistent and widely vary by more than 1,000 years, another group of scientist insist the Shroud could not have been produced with the technology available during the middle-ages. Who are we to believe when the experts and scientist cannot agree among themselves? Each group makes valid points and has test results to back up their claims, but obviously they both cannot be accurate or correct. Regardless of when or how the image on the Shroud was produced, it is a fascinating artifact which continues to stir the interest of millions worldwide. Is it the burial cloth of Jesus? The Catholic Church is not certain, and it seems science is divided on the subject as well. The mystery continues.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Archaeologists are claiming a major discovery which they believe to be the palace of the Biblical King David. For the past seven years archaeological excavations have been underway at a site located some 18 miles southwest of Jerusalem. The site, known as Khirbet Qeiyafa, is believed to be the Biblical city of Shaarayim. The walled city overlooked the valley where the battle between David and Goliath took place and according to the archaeologists working the site, the city was later home to one of King David’s Palaces. Furthermore, the city was also home to a large storeroom believed to have been used to collect and hold taxes in the form of grains, olives and other commodities. The palace and storeroom are the two largest structures ever to be found from the era of King David.
Many scholars, although the number is diminishing somewhat, claim King David was little more than a chieftain in a small undeveloped country. Some went so far as to say if he was a ruler at all he was ruler over nothing more than a dusty crossroads. In fact for decades many experts claimed David and his son Solomon were nothing more than fictional characters created by Biblical writers. The discovery of this palace and storeroom are further evidence of the size and complexity of the government and country David established and ruled.
The palace was centrally located within the city and would have controlled all of the surrounding houses. From the palace it would have been possible to see all the way to the Mediterranean Sea to the west and Jerusalem in the north. Experts point out the site would have been of great strategic importance to the Kingdom of Judah and would have been perfectly situated to allow fire/smoke signals between important points throughout the region.
Some, while acknowledging the find is important, believe it is premature and presumptuous to claim the palace belonged to David. The evidence however seems to support the theory the palace did indeed belong to the second king of Israel. An earlier discovery at the same site is believed to be the oldest example of Hebrew text ever discovered. Also, excavations at the site have failed to discovery any pig bones. These two elements provide a strong argument the city was a Hebrew settlement and not a Canaanite city. Another important factor is the discovery of the storeroom. While a palace discovered in Jerusalem is thought by some to belong to King David, the dating for the structure is in dispute. This is not the case with the site at Khirbet Qeiyafa.
The storeroom discovered was used to hold taxes collected from the surrounding areas. These included a variety of grains, dates, and olives, among other items. This is a critical element in dating the site because these are organic materials which can be carbon dated. The dates from the testing of these organic materials place the storeroom in use in exactly the right time period for the rule of David.
The storeroom and palace, which covered some 1,000 square meters, were also found to have contained evidence of a metal industry and items which were imported from Egypt. This would seem to indicate an organized and well developed city which traded with foreign powers. Far more, it seems, than a small underdeveloped country. When combined, the evidence points toward a strong and well organized central government. A government capable of constructing large fortified cities, collecting taxes, trading with foreign countries, developing a metal industry, as well as building large complex palaces in strategic locations. At this point the evidence seems to strongly indicate the country was indeed ruled by a strong central government at the time of David. For those who claim it was not King David, the evidence would indicate they are simply arguing over the exact name of the king rather than what he was ruling over, which has now been unequivocally proven to be far more than a dusty crossroads. Fortunately, the Bible provides us with the name of the King during the time period in question.
One observer claims the building is an important find and obviously a public building, but disputes it was King David’s palace. He insists that if David did indeed have a palace it would have been in Jerusalem, not in an outlying area. Given the strategic importance of the location it seems entirely possible David may have felt the need for another residence in this region. History also shows rulers of the area, such as Herod, had multiple palace residences located around the kingdom, both for their comfort and protection.
In conclusion we can safely say Khirbet Qeiyafa was a Hebrew city which seems to have been a part of a larger central government. It was strategically located and was in use during the time the Bible tells us King David was ruler of Judah and eventually a united Israel. It was home to a large storeroom as well as a large public building which experts tell us resembles a palace or royal residence. While the excavations have not uncovered a sign which reads ‘King David Slept Here’, the conclusions reached by the archaeologists overseeing the excavation that this was David’s palace seem very logical and well founded given the current facts available. Interestingly, this site has already provided several major and very interesting finds, yet to date only 20 percent of the site has been excavated. One must expect more discoveries are yet to come from Khirbet Qeiyafa.