God and history?

Discussion about scientific issues as they relate to God and Christianity including archaeology, origins of life, the universe, intelligent design, evolution, etc.
Post Reply
Mr. Hyde
Acquainted Member
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Oct 09, 2006 9:28 am
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

God and history?

#1

Post by Mr. Hyde » Wed Sep 26, 2007 6:14 pm

So basically...I'm here looking for some people who can prepare me for what is to come in my Western Civ class.
It sounds like the professor is going to be ripping the historical accuracy of the Bible to shreds over the next few months. Anyone here who can help me out?
I apologize that I don't have questions about specific events yet...but like I said...I'm more looking to be prepared rather than find an objection and then try to refute it.

User avatar
zoegirl
Old School
Posts: 3927
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:59 pm
Christian: Yes
Sex: Female
Creation Position: Day-Age
Location: east coast
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

Re: God and history?

#2

Post by zoegirl » Wed Sep 26, 2007 6:32 pm

LOts of great info at the main site...www.godandscience.org

Rich has done a great job researching this and compiling information.

Mr. Hyde
Acquainted Member
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Oct 09, 2006 9:28 am
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

Re: God and history?

#3

Post by Mr. Hyde » Wed Sep 26, 2007 6:46 pm

I agree.
It is one of my favorite sites.

User avatar
godslanguage
Senior Member
Posts: 558
Joined: Thu May 18, 2006 4:16 pm
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

Re: God and history?

#4

Post by godslanguage » Wed Sep 26, 2007 7:04 pm

Just one suggestion. Make sure whatever you don't say or do, be sure that you won't regret NOT saying it at a later date. Make sure that if a question comes up on the test or exam, make sure you add just that tiny bit that says otherwise, even if it means going beyond the number lines your given to write the answer. Speak out and ask questions of whether it is based on a matter of opinion or fact. Lots of professors like to squabble about with they're opinions and students end up digesting all this as fact, so even if those students get brainwashed, atleast it will have minimal or zero effect on you.
"Is it possible that God is not just an Engineer, but also a divine Artist who creates at times solely for His enjoyment? Maybe the Creator really does like beetles." RTB

Fortigurn
Esteemed Senior Member
Posts: 1071
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2005 4:29 pm
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

Re: God and history?

#5

Post by Fortigurn » Thu Sep 27, 2007 10:33 pm

Mr. Hyde wrote:So basically...I'm here looking for some people who can prepare me for what is to come in my Western Civ class.
It sounds like the professor is going to be ripping the historical accuracy of the Bible to shreds over the next few months. Anyone here who can help me out?
I apologize that I don't have questions about specific events yet...but like I said...I'm more looking to be prepared rather than find an objection and then try to refute it.
I would seriously recommend purchasing some of the professional literature on the subject. I would recommend the following academic works:

* Kenneth Kitchen: 'On the Reliability of the Old Testament', 2006

* William Dever: 'What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?: What Archaeology Can Tell Us About the Reality of Ancient Israel', 2002

* James K Hoffmeier: 'Israel in Egypt: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Exodus Tradition', 1997

* James K Hoffmeier: ' Ancient Israel in Sinai: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Wilderness Tradition', 2005

I have placed them in order of preference. Now I'll provide some details about them.

Kitchen is a well recognized authority on Egyptology and an evangelical Christian. However, he is not a 'very conservative evangelical Christian'. He makes no attempt to 'prove' the miraculous in the Biblical history, he provides excellent critiques of the real 'very conservative evangelical Christians' who attempt to 'prove' the historicity of the Bible using invalid methods (and abuse of archaeological findings), he is perfectly willing to draw the line between what can be 'proved' and what can't, he very fairly presents alternative explanations and claims in opposition to his own, and although he rejects the Docuementary Hypothesis he is completely comfortable with the fact of the Biblical texts receiving forms of editorial redaction over time.

Not only that, but Kitchen's work is all peer-reviewed, and he's operating in one of the most critically examined fields of scholarship. He is not a hack writer, nor is he a Christian apologist.

Kitchen also quotes extensively from a range of recognized literature in the field, including those who oppose him on one issue or another, and who are not in the least Christian. Indeed, when I see him support his case by quoting from Finkelstein and Silberman, or by citing Dever or Coogan, I find his case all the more convincing.

Kitchen is never in the position of being on the fringe (as Finkelstein and Silberman are on a number of issues), or holding uniquely personal interpretations which are unsupported by any other recognized peer-reviewed sources (as some non-Christian scholars are). He can always point to widespread inter-disciplinary support for his views, which is very telling. When he goes out on a limb and speculates, he does so - and tells you that's exactly what he is doing. He doesn't represent this as dogma or fact. He's very honest.

Provan, Long, and Longman are not specialist archaeologists themselves, but Biblical scholars who assess and evaluate the evidence and arguments presented by those who are specialist archaeologists. Their book provides an excellent overview and analysis of the key issues and evidence, and is a cautious and well presented case (review here.

Dever is a secular humanist, which means that any time he agrees with Kitchen or Provan/Long/Longman it's a good thing, since he cannot possibly be accused of having a pro-Bible bias. He does believe in the Documentary Hypothesis, and he believes the Israelites were basically indigenous to Canaan rather than being an ethnic group which entered Canaan from Egypt (though he does acknowledge a 'tradition' of a family of 'Joseph' which may have historically come from Egypt), but otherwise he is very balanced.

Dever, despite his secular humanism, is very much against the 'Minimalist' school of interpretation, and presents some powerful arguments against the Minimalist case. His scholarship is well recognized, and he is also very easy to read.

Hoffmeier is an evangelical Christian who is a lot more Old Skool than Kitchen, and whose views are more conservative as a result. He is not a specialist as far as I know, but he presents a very well articulated grasp of the available evidence and interpretations from relevant specialists in the field. His book on the Sinai and Wilderness traditions comes well recommended by Kitchen, who wrote the foreward.

Then there's Alan Montgomery, whom I mention because of his own interesting view (which shares some points of contact with Bimson). He is not a specialist, and as a Bachelor of Science (Hons), isn't even a trained Biblical scholar. But he does demonstrate an excellent grasp of the different views of the Exodus in his article here, and quotes and cites relevant authorities and specialists. His article is definitely worth a read.

Taking the Exodus as a case in point (one of the most contested historical accounts in the Bible), here are the different perspectives on the Exodus among the works I've listed:

* Dever: As mentioned above, Dever believes that the Exodus is largely non-historical, though containing a kernel of truth.

* Kitchen: Kitchen makes a very detailed and well supported case for the late date (see the well referenced Wiki article on Kitchen here).

* Hoffmeier: Hoffmeier presents the case for the early and late dates, and prefers the early date (a good review of his work is here).

* Provan/Long/Longman: Provan, Long and Longman present the evidence for both an early and late exodus, but do not appear to make a solid decision either way.

* Montgomery: Montgomery makes a case for an early Exodus, based on a modified version of the 'new' or 'revised' chronology. His article is innovative, and makes good use of primary and secondary sources, as well as relevant authorities.

See also this page on the main G&S site.

Fortigurn
Esteemed Senior Member
Posts: 1071
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2005 4:29 pm
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

Re: God and history?

#6

Post by Fortigurn » Mon Oct 01, 2007 7:02 am

an ape wrote:Excellent post and references, Forty -
Thanks.
I have read Finkelman and Silverstein and have heard Dever speak (Biblical Archaeology Review Convention). Your other sources also look great; I read your excerpts and website sources for them all.
I'm a big fan of Dever, even though I don't accept his views on early Israel and the Documentary Hypothesis. He is a very balanced writer. At least he doesn't go around making sweeping authoritative statements concerning field in which he isn't trained.
I would suggest that he start with something about the Documentary Hypothesis, maybe "Who Wrote the Bible" by Friedman. Also, a comment: On the believer continuum from close to agnostic to Biblical literalist, there are an infinite number of available slots for any conscientious believer. This course might be a good time for Mr. Hyde to try out different positions on the continuum, however temporarily, without feeling obligated to rush in to defend a preconceived bias.
It's difficult to know what to suggest in terms of the Documentary Hypothesis these days, since the entire field is such a mess. There's hardly a coherent model left now. Can you give me some details on Friedman's work? And what would you consider to be an appropriate counter-balance, for the same of reading around the topic?

Fortigurn
Esteemed Senior Member
Posts: 1071
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2005 4:29 pm
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

Re: God and history?

#7

Post by Fortigurn » Tue Oct 02, 2007 5:45 pm

an ape wrote:Here's the short version: "J" wrote a the story representative of South Judean interests. "E" wrote the same story reflecting Northern Israel's interests. When the North and South united, the Priests in charge could not get rid of either well known document, so he (they) wrote "P", making the story more to his (their) liking. King Josiah "took charge" at age 8. Because of his age, he was heavily influenced by the priests. After he attained adulthood, the main priest conveniently found "D" (mainly a set of laws) which so impressed the young king that he had the whole tome read aloud to the masses.

All these sources and editions were put together by an editor, called the "Redactor" into the final 5-book work. He was either Ezekiel's or Jeremiah's scribe, according to Friedman, if I'm remembering correctly.
Ok, so Friedman's is just another slightly different spin on the usual 100 year old Wellhausen model. Nothing really to write home about.
Evidence for this elaborate theory consists of differences in linguistics, terminology, content, narrative flow, connections with other parts of the Bible, relationships among the sources to each other and to history, and convergence (several different lines of evidence converge). This data is fascinating, well-presented and quite convincing. When each source is read individually, the continuity improves in a striking fashion. Where would you find a Bible coded in this way? Easy! Buy the Bible translated and color coded by sources by Friedman in "The Bible With Sources Revealed."
In other words, it's yet another case of literary students examining a text out of its historico-cultural context and all coming up with their own completely unsubstantiated ideas about the history. The absolute mess which the Documentary Hypothesis has fallen into is precisely the reason why I prefer to stay with the archaeologists - they deal with facts, not theories.
The E,J,P, & D theories were conceived in the late 1800's, developed and added upon by numerous scholars, and finally compiled by Wellhausen. Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918) stands out as a powerful figure in the investigation into the authorship of the Bible and in the history of biblical scholarship in general. His model of the combination of the source documents came to be known as the Documentary Hypothesis. It has dominated the field ever since."
Yep, I'm familiar with the history of the theory. Of course Wellhausen was operating in a cultural vacuum, and had almost no accurate knowledge of the Biblical text in its historico-cultural context, so the fact that he made blunder after blunder is to be expected. But 21st century scholars shouldn't be repeating his mistakes, given the wealth of information we now have available through archaeology.
The Documentary Hypothesis is taught in Christian seminaries and Jewish Rabbinical schools throughout the world. I personally called one prominent conservative seminary to check this out. "Who Wrote The Bible?" and its companion "Bible With Sources Revealed" are both powerful presentations by Friedman - the first written like a mystery and the second a condensed version of the explanation, then the Torah color-coded.
Yes, it's certainly popular. And I certainly believe that some form of multi-source model is appropriate for the Pentateuch. But the wild theories of those who follow Wellhausen are not for me. They're just not grounded in reality.
I have read about the Documentary Hypothesis in Wikipedia and got the same general information. I have run into authors that don't buy into this interpretation, but haven't read their detail about why.
I suggest you do. I would recommend Umberto Cassuto, Dever, and Kitchen (maybe also Wenham, Van Seters and Whybray).
How is the situation concerning DH a "mess?"
Because in over 100 years the theory has fallen to pieces under its own weight ('The collapse of the consensus began in the late 1960s', says the Wiki article you cited), for the following reasons:

* Scholars have no definitive means of identifying different sources: Thus a text attributed to J by one theorist will be attributed to E by another theorist, D by another, P by another, and R by yet another (sometimes a single verse has been divided up into four different sources); in later years sources were even combined (JE, DP, ED, JP, etc), as theorists realised that the text was more unified than had previously been understood

* Scholars have no textual evidence to support their theories: If the development of the text was indeed so late, then it would have left a paper trail, but none exists

* Scholars have no definitive means of dating their different sources: Thus J might be dated to the 10th century by one theorist, but to the 6th century by another theorist (the late dating of P is essential to Wellhausen's entire theory, but Friedman dates it 200 years earlier); dating methods are largely arbitrary, and take little or no notice of archaeological evidence (for example, the late dating of 'D' is made on the assumption that this text was a pious fraud alleged to be 'found' in the reign of Josiah, though there is no evidence for this whatever)

* Scholastic theories frequently contradict available archaeological evidence: Pet theories are regularly toppled by archaeological evidence contradicting them (such as the discovery that writing predated the 3rd millennium BC, and the discovery of evidence for key figures and events in the Biblical record which were previously considered historical fictions or 'pious frauds' by the authors)

As the Wiki article says:
But while the terminology and insights of the documentary hypothesis continue to inform scholarly debate about the origins of the Pentateuch, it no longer dominates that debate as it did for the first two thirds of the 20th century.
Emphasis mine. Oh yes, and you might find the story of the Amber Witch instructive.

Fortigurn
Esteemed Senior Member
Posts: 1071
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2005 4:29 pm
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

Re: God and history?

#8

Post by Fortigurn » Tue Oct 02, 2007 6:55 pm

an ape wrote:Another good post, Forty. You know more about this than I do.
You're welcome. I haven't read as much on the subject as I would like, but I'm trying.
So the DH doesn't dominate any more..."Nevertheless, no new paradigm has replaced it, and scholars continue to draw on its terminology and insights even as they explore alternative models" - next sentence in Wiki
Very true. But the fact that people are using something which hasn't worked in 100 years scarcely gives either it or them credibility.
Sounds like a good place for Mr. Hyde to get his feet wet.
I'll give you a banana in the form of an agreement with this statement. I do believe it's necessary to get a grasp of the Documentary Hypothesis, especially since I think it's clear that some form of multiple source model is necessary to account for the Pentateuch. I personally hold to a 'two sources, three voices' model myself.

User avatar
KrisW
Recognized Member
Posts: 62
Joined: Mon Dec 24, 2007 10:24 pm
Christian: Yes
Sex: Male
Creation Position: Day-Age
Location: Greensburg, PA, USA
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

Re: God and history?

#9

Post by KrisW » Tue Dec 25, 2007 3:51 pm

"Evidence that Demands a Verdict" by Josh McDowell has several, very well footnpted chapters that outline why the Bible is historically accurate.
When fascism come to America it will be wearing black robes and carrying the scales of Justice("but don't touch the oil or the wine")

drddunks
Newbie Member
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2007 4:46 pm
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

Re: God and history?

#10

Post by drddunks » Tue Dec 25, 2007 5:16 pm

So basically...I'm here looking for some people who can prepare me for what is to come in my Western Civ class.
It sounds like the professor is going to be ripping the historical accuracy of the Bible to shreds over the next few months. Anyone here who can help me out?
I apologize that I don't have questions about specific events yet...but like I said...I'm more looking to be prepared rather than find an objection and then try to refute it.
So basically...I'm here looking for some people who can prepare me for what is to come in my Western Civ class.
It sounds like the professor is going to be ripping the historical accuracy of the Bible to shreds over the next few months. Anyone here who can help me out?
I apologize that I don't have questions about specific events yet...but like I said...I'm more looking to be prepared rather than find an objection and then try to refute it.
#1. Get him on a level playing field. If he dismisses your credible sources then you know he is biased and will most likely not listen. Look to God to lead you.

#2. Use credible sources and books to back up what you say

#3. Every one thinks it is the Bible at fault and disobeys its own teachings when that is not so. If you look at the evidence you will find more on the side of the Bible thanany other ancient work. We have over 25, 000 pieces of evidence & over 5,000 mss. and fragments for the the Bible (far more than any other work)

#4. Pick up a copy of The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. In it he asks questions of well qualified experts, look at his questions and read their answers. Be careful with the one with Dr. John McCray as his example has been discredited legitimately and is of no value

#.5 Research his points and find where the conflict with the Bible and History. Though some people have pointed you to Rich Deem's work, forget it. He is not qualified for such a discussion and would easily be refuted. He is a scientist not a historian and you need credible Christian Historians on your side. The book named above will give you a good starting list of people to use.

#6. Don't use Dever as in a recent article with BAR he discussed his loss of faith and his thoeries tend to ignore and dismiss the Biblical record. As an example: he holds to the thought that the Israelites went from polytheism to monotheism totaly ignoring what the bible has said on the subject. We know that they were monotheists when they entered the Promised land and strayed to Canaanite religions when they didn't fully remove the occupants of the land during their conquest period.

#7. Another problem you are going to face will be the Traditional Egyptian Chronology. I would refer you to John Ashton's & David Down's book, Unwrapping the Pharaohs' which discusses this and promotes a revised version which makes more sense and puts the evidence in its proper place within the Biblical timeline. There is much debate on this topic and you should be wary.

#8.Forget the Documentery Hypothesis (J,E,P,D) it has never existed, it is a myth and a result of a fertile imagination which doesn't comprehend the variety of styles one peron can use to write a narrative, story or book.

#9.Forget Finkelstein and Silberman as the have publically stated that they have an agenda to re-write Israeli history, i would get you the link but it is not on this computer, their work is biased and trying to prove pre-conceived ideas.They have no foundation for their hypothesis except for down dating all the evidence and that is just pure fraud.

#10. Remember the majority of sources your history professor will rely on are written by NON-believers and who work with the concept that the Bible is not true. Their unbelief gets in the way of their understanding of the facts.

Post Reply