6 thoughts on “What Really Happened?”

  1. I wonder why the writer thinks that evidence for the historical existence of Kings Solomon and David would upset un-believers. I don’t think any thoughtful atheists assert that every word in the Bible is fiction. It’s a collection of myth, history (sometimes distorted) and poetry. Parts will be fairly accurate, others will just be fables.

    I can see the literalists being upset, but they’re always upset, so nothing new there.

  2. Where history and the bible conflict, overwhelmingly archeology has turned up evidence that supports the bible and history has had to be rewritten.

    So overwhelming, that if critics didn’t have another reason for being so, they would start with the bible and be more critical of history itself.

    You’ve heard that history is written by the winners? After a successful battle, the winners would go so far as to deface monuments that proved them liars in their own accounts.

    The bible is different and somewhat unique in that it contains reference to it’s own writers and it’s own people that shows their faults in ways typical histories almost never do. This adds a great deal to it’s credibility.

    If it weren’t for this god thing, the bible would be considered THE history book for the times and places it covers.

    I intend to write more about this in reference to the link Rand provided at my blog sometime today.

    Atheists respect the historical record in the bible as something more than a collection of Aesop’s fables.

    Fools laugh in their hearts that the bible is just for idiots. It’s amazing how they can look at points that are controversial and ignore all the rest.

  3. Jason:
    The crux of the debate has nothing whatsoever to do with believers (in the religious sense) vs. atheists, rather it is a debate between two groups of secular historians. One group believes that the Bible describes some historically verifiable events and personages in the history of the ancient Near East who may be verified in the records of the Israelites neighbors, or in archaeological digs within Israelite territory itself. The latter group denies that the bible can be used for this purpose. Scholar within this latter group specifically made several falsifiable claims.

    1) King David never existed
    2) There was no United Monarchy in the 10th century, and the monumental architecture ascribed to this period actually should be properly dated 75 years later during the period when the separate kingdom of the southern territory of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel had already emerged. The monumental architecture (according to this view) attests to this later period and so cannot be used as evidence for centralization and strong political authority during the slightly earlier period of the United Monarchy.
    3) The Israelites in the 10th century had no scribal tradition whatsoever, and writing only begins in the 9th century or later.

    The discovery of the Tel Dan inscription in Israel in 1993 (1); the recent discovery of monumental architecture (attesting to centralized political authority) securely dated by carbon dating to the tenth century (2); the concomitant discovery of a written inscription (obviously attesting to writing) from the same site securely carbon-dated to the 10th century; and finally the discovery by Ron Tappy of the Tel Zayit abecedary (listing of the letters for practice in order A,B,C,D, etc.) from this same period all attest to writing and a concomitant scribal tradition during the 10th century (3). People in general don’t like to be proven wrong so this explains why Professor Dever calls these new findings

  4. I happened to stumble across this show last night, although I only saw this post today. I have to say, they did an excellent job of presenting new evidence on both sides. However, just because both sides are upset doesn’t mean it’s “balanced.”

    The main bias was in the presentation of ‘rebuttal’ evidence — i.e. sometimes evidence rebutting the historicity argument would be presented immediately following a piece supporting the bible’s historicity, while new contradictory evidence or theory they presented would go entirely without rebuttal, sometimes even when the rebuttal is obvious.

    For example, one contra-historicity claim is that the Isrealites did not come en masse from egypt between 1260-1230 BC, and then conquer a strong Canaanite pagan society, but that they actually consisted of existing lower class Canaanites who revolted against the depredations of a ruling elite, and then self-created an Exodus myth formed around a single Arabian minor God named “Yahoo” (“YWH”) to separate themselves form their previous low caste existence.

    The only proof they mentioned supporting this theory was the lack of direct evidence for external conquest at the time of the Canaanite societal collapse. (i.e., burned fortifications, broken weapons found in the ruins, etc), and the direct continuance of Canaanite pottery styles in the period immediately following the collapse of Canaanite society, in more egalitarian-style houses called “Isrealite” houses that were not in evidence prior to the collapse of Canaanite society.

    This theory went essentially unrebutted despite the dubiousness of its claims, for instance:
    1. Requires a belief that the members of a semite culture would abandon their own lineage to “absorb” into twelve arbitrary tribes of different sizes. Pretty big suspension of disbelief required for this for anyone familiar with semite/middle eastern /primitive cultures in general. People don’t voluntarily change their lineage, especially in that area of the world.

    2. Exodus states that the Israelites took huge numbers of slaves upon entering and conquering Canaan, killing males of age but keeping most children and women Canaanites as slaves. What if the people doing pottery in the new “Isrealite” houses were not the victorious conquerers but newly captured slaves. The point is that the pottery evidence in no way disproves the Exodus argument.

    Anyway, these were the main two unrebutted points that stuck out to me just watching it. I thought they did a good job of fairly presenting contrary evidence on the historicity side.

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