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The Bible as History

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The Bible as History

The question of whether the Holy Bible is an actual historical account of what

happened since the beginning of humanity, or merely stories that man has come up with

over time has long been considered. Many choose to believe the Bible literally and take

everything word for word. Others believe the stories in the Bible are a way of showing

God's love for us, but think of them as stories and lessons on how to follow the "way of

God." Others think the stories in the Bible are false, and have no basis in truth at all.

Some people want to have a clear picture of what early Palestine was like without ever

having reference to the Bible, and "this may be an equally one-sided approach as using the

Bible [as] complete factual history" (Porter 16). More and more archaeological digs are

uncovering tangible evidence that some of the stories in the Bible actually do have a

factual basis. Most people are still undecided, as there hasn't been much evidence found

supporting that either side of the argument has a strong lead over the other. "Previous

generations of scholars often linked archaeology very directly with the Bible: they spoke

of 'Biblical Archaeology' and saw it as a means of establishing the credibility of the

Scripture" (Porter 16). The Bible is a historical account, in some areas, because there is

proof. In other aspects, however, the Bible may turn out to be just stories.

Archaeologists undergo many excavations in the Palestinian area, because this is

where most of the stories in the Bible took place. Many books and inscriptions have been

uncovered providing information on events and people both Israelite and Non-Israelite

alike (Porter 16). Several buildings, pottery, tools, and weapons have revealed what the

daily life of the Palestinians may have been like. Archaeology has also confirmed many of

the sites referred to in the Bible (Porter 17). Even though there have been various

excavations of possessions of the Israelites, most of these are not from the setting of early

Israel. Most civilizations have records of how they developed, and in this case, the

Hebrew Bible is the only account of the Israelite civilization (Porter 17).

In addition to the remains of ancient civilizations, the digs have earthed agricultural

information and the layout of towns (Porter 17). "Sometimes findings will directly

illuminate the Biblical text" (Porter 18). One example of a "historical correlation with the

Bible," was the discovery of a weight labeled "pim" which has helped scholars

understand 1 Samuel 13:21 which is the only verse in the Bible containing the term. They

concluded that "pim" was a size of weight probably used as a method of payment.

Another artifact from this region are carved ivories dating back to 800 B.C. found

at the royal palace of Sumaria, the capital of the north king of Israel. In a passage from 1

Kings 22:39 there is a reference to the "ivory house" of King Ahab (Porter 18).

Discoveries have also been made at a "popular site of Israeli religion" and there have been

excavations of the only known temple and "cult objects" from the era of David and

Solomon (Porter 19).

Another find by archaeologists is a painting of a half nude female figure with the

inscription "Yahweh or Samaria and his Asherah." This was excavated from the eighth

century site of Kuntillet Arjud. The significance of the painting is still undecided. It may

reflect the continuing worship in Israel of Asherah, the great Canaanite mother goddess.

This would have been in spite of the official state religion which recognized Yahweh as the

one and only God (Porter 20).

Through all of these uncovered artifacts from the Israelite nation, many of the

names, places, and events that are named in the Bible are proved. The Bible may not just

be a person's stories, but an actual historical account of the history of the world. There

are many huge gaps in the stories that still have nothing backing them up, but, there is

plenty more searching that still can be done.

Another way of approaching the Bible as history is concerned less with the specific

stories, and more with the material as a whole (Porter 20). Many scholars consider the

Hebrew Bible's interpretation of Israel's history a "reflection of a concern to understand

the nation's destiny, and to preserve Israel's unity and identity in light of the crisis brought

about by the exile" (Porter 20). Other scholars believe that it is impossible to know

exactly what happened through the course of Israel's history, and believe that the Bible

has just as many inaccuracies as other ancient writings. Determining which parts of the

Bible may be factual and separating

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