I have been a horribly negligent blogger lately in large part because summer lasts a handful of days in Minnesota, and if you are going to enjoy summer you have to head out the door every time the sun makes an appearance. The outdoors is a siren that calls me away from all screens in the summer, and I must obey her call; so the pickings are sparse around here as a result.
That being said, I keep a running list of topics I want to blog about. One subject that has appeared with increasing regularity has been evidence from archeology and linguistic studies that reinforce the historical reliability of the Bible. It has been a topic around here often enough that I decided to assign it its own category – The Reliable Bible.
To that end, a recent article on the MSNBC highlighted the work going on concerning the archeological record of the Philistines, a people group mentioned frequently in the Old Testament that were constantly at odds with the nation of Israel. Such work highlights the degree to which Biblical material was drawn from historical realities. From the article:
The hero Samson, who married a Philistine woman, skirmished with them repeatedly before being betrayed and taken, blinded and bound, to their temple at Gaza. There, the story goes, he broke free and shattered two support pillars, bringing the temple down and killing everyone inside, including himself.
One intriguing find at Gath is the remains of a large structure, possibly a temple, with two pillars.
Maeir has suggested that this might have been a known design element in Philistine temple architecture when it was written into the Samson story.
Diggers at Gath have also found shards preserving names similar to Goliath — an Indo-European name, not a Semitic one of the kind that would have been used by the local Canaanites or Israelites.
These finds show the Philistines indeed used such names and suggest that this detail, too, might be drawn from an accurate picture of their society.
The findings at the site support the idea that the Goliath story faithfully reflects something of the geopolitical reality of the period, Maeir said — the often violent interaction of the powerful Philistines of Gath with the kings of Jerusalem in the frontier zone between them.
Absent the details in Scripture, it is unlikely that archeologist would know anything about the Philistines – certainly not to the degree shown here, and they certainly wouldn’t be able to place them into a detailed historical context. In turn, the discovery of such artifacts supports the Biblical narrative. Each body of knowledge informs and expands on the other.
Many skeptics might consider the fact that Scripture accurately describes names, places, events and people groups accurately to be inconsequential or trivial – this despite the fact that one of the primary criticisms skeptics have of the Bible is that it does not accurately record history
But such details or not at all trivial – instead they portray a consistent record of accuracy and almost painful dedication to getting details right, and this indicates that the record contained in Scripture is trustworthy – a record that was created over the course of millennia, by numerous authors.
The body of proof that the Bible is an apt historical record is growing – the question is, at what point do skeptics acknowledge it?