The first installment of The Bible Series aired on Sunday evening. Each week, after the episode, I (Charles Kiefer) will be posting some interesting facts, from history and archaelogy, that I hope can enlarge your understanding, and give you some interesting conversations starters as you watch and talk with people.
Randall Price, an archeologist trained at Dallas Theological Seminary and the University of Austin, Texas, has commented that “two hundred years ago, the Bible stood as the only surviving testimony to itself.”
It was long believed that the eroding remains of ancient civilizations offered us little knowledge of the past, and little hope to discover the truth and accuracy of the ancient stories contained in the Bible. Skeptical scholars routinely dismissed the existence of even the most essential Bible characters, such as king David, or even Jesus himself.
The late twentieth century, however, offered the modern world an explosion of knowledge, unearthed largely because of the accuracy of the Bible.
For example, the remains of four ancient cities on the south east side of the Dead Sea were uncovered because of the descriptions of the locations of Sodom and Gomorrah in the book of Genesis.
These cities were found covered with a type of spongy ash, evidently completely charred by some catastrophic event long ago. Burial sites were found containing the remains of more than 500,000 people, evidence that these were thriving city centers at one point. Archeologists noted that the way these cities were burned appears to have been from above, due to the type of damage they found. Sound familiar?
Click here for a full write up on the Sodom and Gomorrah remains.
Other interesting finds include ancient non-Jewish tablets that speak of David, the king of Israel, verifying his literal existence.
Ancient Egyptian discoveries also shed light onto their beliefs about the after life. Apparently, Egyptians knew individuals would be judged, and believed a list of sins would be read to them at the place of judgment.
Each individual had to either admit to the sin, or deny it. If he was lying, his heart would testify against him, and speak out on the scales of justice, condemning him to hell.
To bypass this “betrayal of the heart”, men would carve heart-shaped scarab beetles out of hard stone, and write magic incantations on them such as, “do not betray me.” This “hard heart” would replace their own heart in death and burial, so that through a hardened heart, unable to speak, they would be saved.
This is a fascinating insight. In the story of the Exodus, God “hardens” Pharaoh’s heart so that he cannot respond to God. The result, however is not Pharaoh’s salvation, but his destruction.
This archeological find gives us further understanding of the Exodus story. At every point, the true God of heaven was undermining that in which the Egyptians trusted, to show that they should trust in God.
If we continue to find clues that support the accuracy of the ancient stories in Bible, even as far back as the early chapters of Genesis, why would we doubt any part of the Bible?
If stories from the time of Abraham (circa 2,000 BC) are being held up through modern findings, why would we doubt the earlier flood story, the creation account, or most importantly, the story of Jesus Christ?