|By: ATRI Staff; ©2006|
|Critics have a problem: any time archaeology does not directly confirm something the Bible teaches, the tendency is to allege an error in the text. On the other hand, liberal critics frequently tend to avoid the use of archaeology where it confirms the Bible! This type of bias, the authors say, seems evident to everyone—except those doing it.|
The noted classical scholar Professor E. N. Blaiklock once wrote, quite correctly, “Recent archaeology has destroyed much nonsense and will destroy more. And I use the word nonsense deliberately, for theories and speculations find currency in biblical scholarship that would not be tolerated for a moment in any other branch of literary or historical criticism.” Geisler and Brooks remark, “As for the critical theories which were spawned in the early 1800’s but still persist today, they are left without substantiation. The great archaeologist William F. Albright says, ‘All radical schools in New Testament criticism which have existed in the past or which exist today are pre-archaeological, and are therefore, since they were built in Der Luft [in the air], quite antiquated today.’”
Indeed, the biases of modern critical biblical scholarship seems evident to everyone except those doing it. And those with biases to uphold usually don’t want to be bothered with troubling little facts. As Kitchen points out:
Thus, “Biblical studies have long been hindered by the persistence of long-outdated philosophical and literary theories (especially of nineteenth-century stamp), and by wholly inadequate use of first-hand sources in appreciating the earlier periods of the Old Testament story in particular.” One predominant example is the documentary hypothesis or the “JEDP” theory of the first five books of the Bible, which we will discuss in a moment.
The irony, or perhaps hypocrisy, of liberal critical scholarship at this point is illustrated in its two-minded approach to biblical archaeology. On the one hand, any time archaeology does not directly confirm something the Bible teaches, the tendency is to allege an error in the text. Thus, “any element in the [biblical] traditions which was not corroborated by archaeological evidence has been considered suspect or anachronistic.” On the other hand, liberal critics frequently tend to avoid the use of archaeology where it confirms the Bible:
To cite another example, archaeology has discredited the theories of form criticism, which holds that the content of the gospels was largely invented and only written down 100-150 years after the apostles lived, in the second century A.D. It may surprise no one that form critics have ignored archaeology when it discredits personal theories that they have held to for emotional as well as academic reasons. But how scholarly are they being? Scholars, presumably, are interested in the truth and will allow the evidence to take them where it will. Yet when it comes to the Bible, it seems there aren’t very many real scholars in modern academia.
An illustration involves the documentary hypothesis. This theory rejects Mosaic authorship in the fifteenth century B.C., and supposes a much later compilation by a variety of authors who wrote documents termed “J,” “E,” “D,” and “P.” This material was later shuffled and reassembled by editors to form the Pentateuch and, allegedly, later writings of the Old Testament also. Yet “even the most ardent advocate of the documentary theory must admit that we have as yet no single scrap of external, objective material (i.e., tangible) evidence for either the existence or the history of ‘J,’ ‘E,’ or any other alleged source-document.”
For more than 100 years the Graf-Wellhausen or “documentary” theory has been taught in most seminaries and universities as the “absolute truth” concerning the literary evolution and development of the Old Testament—and yet not a shred of evidence exists to support it! Instead, this theory has been thoroughly disproven for decades, even by non-evangelical scholarship, yet it continues to be taught as truth. How’s that for illustrating the objectivity of those in the scholarly community supporting this theory? Essentially, liberal biblical scholars are promoting elaborately devised myths in order to reject Mosaic authorship and the divine inspiration of the Old Testament so that they can “uphold” their own personal views of the Bible as a humanly devised document. What could be fairer?
As Dr. Kitchen infers, the documentary hypothesis, since it is disproved, should be abandoned, but perhaps one should not hold one’s breath. Anyone who reads even a relatively brief survey of the evidence against the documentary hypothesis, as that given by the noted biblical and linguistic scholar, Gleason L. Archer in his A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, will realize how thoroughly liberal Old Testament scholarship has been based in fantasy. For example:
Incidentally, Archer’s text, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction has many examples of archaeological confirmation of Old Testament books; and yet he also points out that an attitude of skeptical prejudice toward the Bible “has persisted, without any logical justification.” That the majority of liberal Old Testament scholars allow their personal biases to dictate their research methods and conclusions—merely to support personal views—is no small indictment given the fact that such theories have been discredited for decades.
What one finds through archaeological research is that alleged biblical errors have later been shown to be factual truths. What else, then, can one conclude about higher critical scholarship—other than the fact that it is the problem, not the Bible? “In the light of past discoveries one may expect that future archaeological finds will continue to support the biblical traditions against radical reconstructions.”
As we have noted, biblical critics have pointed to all kinds of people, places, and things in the Bible that no archaeological evidence could confirm. Skeptics rashly heralded such lack of confirmation as proof of “biblical errors.” Consider one more example:
In fact, until scholars can manage to keep their biases against the biblical text in check and treat it as they do other ancient documents, probably no amount of extrabiblical supporting evidence will convince them otherwise. And until this occurs, conservatives will be correct in referencing such work more as propaganda than good scholarship. Further, archaeologists sometimes admit that their chronology has been wrong and that this is why there has been a lack of supporting evidence for the Scriptures. As noted scholar Dr. John Warwick Montgomery points out,
There is ongoing debate among scholars as to dates, and even as to the nature of such buildings as the stables or store houses dated now to Ahab’s time instead of to Solomon’s.
Most conservative scholars, however, have always placed Abraham close to the third millennium B.C., about 1900 B.C.
Nevertheless, as archaeological excavations continued in Israel, time and again what was once an “error” was subsequently confirmed as fact. Whether it was the fact of a branch of the Hittites mentioned some 50 times in the Bible (as early as Genesis 10:15), King Sargon (Isaiah 20:1), Darius the Mede (Daniel 6:1), or many others, biblical history was repeatedly upheld:
Archaeological research has established the identity of literally hundreds of places—in Mesopotamia, Persia, ancient Canaan, and Egypt—that are mentioned in the Bible. Furthermore, the discovery of thousands of historical texts in Egypt and Mesopotamia has enabled scholars to work out the historical chronology of the ancient world in considerable detail. Historical synchronisms have been established for dating the accession of Solomon (ca. 961 B.C.), the accession of Jehu, the Israelite king (842/1 B.C.), the fall of Samaria (722/1 B.C.), and the first capture of Jerusalem (March 15/16, 579 B.C.).
(to be continued)