Two or Three (.net)

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. - Jesus


Indiana Jones and the Bible

by Aaron Earls [+/-] show/hide

Sorry to fool you, this really doesn't have much to do with Indiana Jones and the relationship between that character and the Bible. It is more about the relationship between the Bible and the job of Indiana Jones - archaeology.

First we must establish that archaeology is basically a one sided sword when it comes to the Bible and Christianity. It can not prove the spiritual truths in the Bible. Archaeological finds can not prove that Jesus was the Son of God, but they can give evidence that He did in fact live. Archaeology can only support, not prove, the Bible on the positive side, but on the negative side it can destroy all legitimacy of the Bible if the two do not agree.

An analogy is that of Heinrich Schliemann, who searched for Troy in order to prove the historical accuracy of Homer's Iliad. He found Troy, but that merely proved that the Iliad was accurate in a geographical reference, not that the entire document was true. With that established, for good or bad, let us move to the evidence.

For years people claimed that Luke was wrong in Luke 3:1 when he refers to Lysanias as being the tetrarch of Abilene in about A.D. 27. The sceptics said that Lysanias was not a tetrarch but rather the ruler of Chalcis half a century earlier. That seemingly proved Luke to have gotten this point wrong, which shed doubt onto his entire book.

Later, archaeologist found an inscription from the time of Tiberius, from A.D. 14 to 37, which names Lysanias as tetrarch in Abila near Demascus, just as Luke had written. They found out that there had been two government officials named Lysanias.

Luke also referenced politarchs in the city of Thessalonica in Acts 17:6, again critics said that no one used that term during the supposed time period. Again more archaeological findings support Luke's word usage. Today over 35 inscriptions have been found mentioning politarchs, several in Thessalonica from the same period to which Luke was referring.

Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe report in their book When Critics Ask of one prominent archaeologist carefully examining Luke's references to 32 countries, 54 cities, and nine islands, and not finding a single mistake.

John Ankerberg and John Weldon's book Ready with an Answer sums up the argument: "If Luke was so painstakingly accurate in his historical reporting on what logical basis may we assume he was credulous or inaccurate in his reporting of matters that were far more important, not only to him but to others as well?"

As far as the book of John goes, the following have been found to support his writing: five porticoes at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-15), the Pool of Siloam (John 9:7) and Jacob's Well (John 4:12).

Archaeology also supports the dating of the authorship of John. Since copies a copy of John was dated to around A.D. 125 and other copies existed this early and as far away as Egypt, dismantling the speculation that John was written later (in the second century), too far after Jesus' life to be reliable.

Many point to the census, that caused Jesus to be born at Bethlehem as being improbable, but again evidence has been found of censuses during the same time period.

Skeptics have questioned Luke's reference to the time of Jesus' birth as when Quirinius as governing Syria and the reign of Herod the Great, since Herod died in 4 B.C. and Quirinius didn't begin ruling Syria until A.D. 6. Archaeologist Jerry Vardaman has found a coin with the name of Quirinius on it in very small writing. The coin places him as proconsul of Syria and Cilicia from 11 B.C. until after Herod's death. This points to the explanation that there were either two Quiriniuses or the same Quirinius ruled on two seperate occasions, both are logical in terms of our knowledge of the historical era.

The Book of Mormon has been essentially razed to the ground by archaeology. Nothing has been found which indicates that Book of Mormon is true in anyway. The archaeology basically says the book's stories are myths. This is not true with the New Testament (or the Bible as a whole). In his book, Rocks, Relics and Biblical Reliability, Australian archaeologist Clifford Wilson wrote, "Those who know the facts now recognize that the New Testament must be accepted as a remarkably accurate source book."

Dr. John McCray, who has been used as an archaeology source by A&E for Mysteries of the Bible and also by Natural Geographic, sums up the argument: "Archaeology has not produced anything that is unequivocally a contridiction to the Bible. On the contrary...there have been many opinions of skeptical scholars that have codified into 'fact' over the years but that archaeology has shown to be wrong."

Information provided by The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel


  • So, maybe I'm missing the point of this post, but I always took the bible (and the texts from which it was derived) as an historical text. I've always taken Homer's works to be historical texts. Per the writing style of the eras in which all of these works were created, there is a liberal amount of fantastic mythology woven into the history, but it does not deter from the historical value of the texts. I guess I'm just not understanding the profundity of the post.

    By Blogger psykotedy, at 3/03/2005 3:58 PM  

  • It's more of a foundational piece. As I said, archaeology can not prove the spiritual matters, but it can cast doubt on them. This was merely a continuation of my posts on the reliability of the New Testament Gospels.

    You can read the earlier post "No history is good history" where I talk about the theory that the New Testament is full of legend because it was written too late after Jesus' life to be accurate.

    If the Gospels, like the Book of Mormon, had no archaeological support then it could be discounted by any clear thinking adult, but because of the support it should force people to take a closer look at the claims of the Gospels, since they were accurate in the things that we can test today.

    By Blogger Aaron, at 3/04/2005 5:47 AM  

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