Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why Trust The Bible? Archeological Evidence

God has left his finger print throughout the centuries of the Earth's history, which is continually uncovered by archeology. Mathew 7:8 says, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." God desires for you to find out the truth he has not keep himself a secret. The reality is we could not know God except he revealed himself to us. Here is some more evidence clarifing the Holy Bible.

Cave 4 at Qumran and One of the Dead Sea Scroll Jars on Display at the Amman Archaeological Museum in Jordan. The initial discovery was by chance in 1947, and not by archaeologists! Bedouin shepherds found seven scrolls or parts of scrolls and fragments, along with store jars and broken pottery jars in a cave overlookingthe northwest end of the Dead Sea. When a dealer acting on behalf of the shepherds sold the scrolls, they came to the attention of scholars in Jerusalem and then the scholarly world.
Subsequent investigations in the area of the cave of discovery ultimately led to the recovery of documents in a total of eleven caves and the excavation of a modest ruin nearby known as Khirbet (the ruin of) Qumran. All of this was occurring as the modern State of Israel was coming into existence, with all the political upheaval involved in that development. [2] As this century ends and a new one begins, efforts for a peaceful political settlement in the region continue and give signs of reaching fruition. In the meantime, scholars continue to study the multitude of fragments recovered and to attempt to assess their significance.
Among the more than eight hundred documents represented by whole scrolls, incomplete scrolls, and a myriad of fragments which have been recovered are complete copies or portions of all the books in the Hebrew Bible (our OT), except for the Book of Esther. These texts are older by at least a thousand years than any previous biblical texts written in Hebrew that we had prior to the discovery. They provide a window into the textual history of the OT prior to the closure of the canon. [3]
Besides copies of scriptural texts, from the caves in the Qumran area came sectarian documents that open a panorama on the obscure Jewish group apparently related to the production and deposition of the manuscripts. [4] This group was likely the Essenes, previously known from references to them in the writings of Flavius Josephus, Philo Judaeus, and Pliny the Elder. All the texts discovered, taken together, open a critical window into events in Palestine in the decades prior to and following the birth of Christ (although no NT texts were found among the scrolls) up to the time of the First Jewish Revolt against the Romans. The historical period of the Dead Sea Scrolls illuminates the environment in which Christianity developed in Palestine, the transformation of Judaism into Rabbinic Judaism in the aftermath of the First Revolt of the Jews against the Romans with the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, and the context in which the canonization of Holy Scripture was progressing.
The Dead Sea Scrolls now reside mainly in the Shrine of the Book, a part of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem where they are on display. The Copper Scroll can be seen in the Archaeological Museum in Amman, Jordan. Many of the small fragments are housed in the Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem. Scholars work almost exclusively with photographs and microfilm of the fragments, however, and these are available to scholars at many of the major universities around the world. It is likely that researchers will still be at work on the scrolls fifty years hence.

Replica of Pilate Inscription on Display at Caesarea.
Pontius Pilate was the fifth governor of Roman Judea, under whose governance Jesus of Nazareth was crucified (Matt 27:2, plus 60 additional occurrences in the gospels, Acts, and 1 Timothy). He was appointed by the emperor Tiberius in AD 26 and suspended by L. Vitellius, Roman governor of Syria, in AD 37, after slaughtering a number of Samaritans at Mt. Gerizim.
Although Pilate is also mentioned in Josephus, Philo and Tacitus and coins issued during his governance exist, inscriptional evidence for Pilate was discovered in Italian excavations at Caesarea Maritima in 1961. Antonio Frova, director of the excavations, found a dedicatory stone that bore a three-line inscription: Tiberieum/[Pon]tius Pilatus/[Praef]ectus Iuda[eae], "Tiberius [the Roman emperor of the period]/Pontius Pilate/Prefect of Judea." The stone, in secondary use in the theatre at Caesarea, had been shaped to fit its new use and in the process some of the inscription had been mutilated, although it was easily reconstructed. The inscription not only confirms the historicity of Pilate, it clarifies the title that he bore as governor. It is now on display in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Literally hundreds of Hebrew seals and seal impressions have been discovered in the last century and a half either in authorized archaeological excavations or by clandestine diggers; the results of the latter ending up in the hands of antiquities dealers, subsequently to come into the hands of collectors or of scholars. Hardened clay seal impressions are called "bullae" (sg., bulla). Bullae have survived in damp earth in a remarkable way.
In biblical Israel, papyrus was the primary form of writing material. Once an official document was written, it would be rolled up, one end folded in one-third of the breadth and the opposite end similarly folded in. The document, now shortened by folding, was tied with a string and a lump of clay was impressed on the knotted string. Then the upper surface of the clay lump was impressed with the signet ring of the owner of the document or its writer. Such documents were stored in temple or palace archives, with the unbroken seal guaranteeing the validity of the document's contents.
The reason the clay bullae survived is that a conflagration that destroyed the building and the papyrus archive fired the clay sealings, making them practically indestructible. The evidence of the knotted cord to which the clay had been attached remains on the underside of the bullae.
Sometime during the 1970's, a bulla containing the stamp and name of the scribe of Jeremiah appeared on the antiquities market and was acquired by a collector, Dr. R. Hecht. He permitted Israeli archaeologist Nahman Avigad to publish the bulla, which came from an unidentified place, now thought to be the "burnt house" excavated by Yigal Shiloh. The bulla is now in the Israel Museum. It measures 17 by 16 mm, and is stamped with an oval seal, 13 by 11 mm. A single line borders the impression, and it is divided by double horizontal lines into three registers bearing the following inscription:
lbrkyhw Belonging to Berechiahbn nryhw son of Neriahhspr the scribe.
The script used is the pre-exilic ancient Hebrew linear script, rather than the post-exilic script adopted by Jews from the contemporary Aramaic script. Reading the Hebrew from right to left, the first letter, Heb (l), is the preposition "to, belonging to," and the last three letters, heb. (yhw)is a shortened form of the name of God, Heb. (yhwh), the shortened form was likely pronounced "yahu." Baruch's name means "Blessed of the Lord (Yahweh)."
This bulla was without doubt from the impression of Baruch ben Neriah , the scribe who wrote to the dictation of the prophet Jeremiah (Jer 36:4). Dr. Avigad expressed his personal feelings as he worked with the Baruch Bulla as having the feeling "of personal contact with persons who figure prominently in the dramatic events in which the giant figure of Jeremiah and his faithful follower Baruch were involved at a most critical time preceding the downfall of Judah." [11]
Avigad also published a seal bearing the inscription "Belonging to Seraiah (ben) Neriah." Seriah was the "chief chamberlain" in the court of King Zedekiah (Jer 51:59). [12] He accompanied the king to Babylon, and he carried a written oracle from the prophet Jeremiah looking for the ultimate destruction of Babylon, which he was to read aloud on his arrival in the city, then to throw the document into the Euphrates (Jer 59:64). Seriah ben Neriah was the brother of Baruch ben Neriah, and both were close friends of the prophet Jeremiah.

In 1979 Israeli archaeologist Gabriel Barkay, working with a group of students from the Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College), excavated several tombs in Jerusalem on the "Shoulder of Hinnom," on the southwestern slope of the Hinnom Valley adjacent to the Scottish Presbyterian Church of St. Andrew. In one burial cave a repository for grave goods was found, containing approximately 700 items, including burial gifts of pottery vessels, over 100 pieces of silver jewelry, arrowheads, bone and ivory artifacts, alabaster vessels, 150 beads and a rare, early coin. Among the silver items was a rolled-up amulet bearing the tetragrammaton, the name of God (the consonantal letters yod, he, waw, he), YHWH.
The tomb dates to the end of the Davidic dynasty, approximately the seventh century BC. The silver amulet thus dates to the end of the seventh or early sixth century. The prayer-like inscription containing the divine name provides the oldest extra-biblical evidence for the name of God thus far archaeologically recovered in Jerusalem. The scripture passage on the amulet is from the Aaronic or priestly blessing found in Num 6:24-25. The owner apparently wore the inscribed, rolled-up silver amulet during his/her lifetime, and people felt it appropriate that such objects should accompany the owner in death as in life.
Of secondary interest is the fact that the evidence from the Shoulder of Hinnom tombs indicates a population in the Jerusalem area in the aftermath of the Babylonian destruction of the city. The evidence also indicates a certain level of wealth on the part of those buried in the tombs.
I hope this evidence opens your heart to the truth that God is real and very active in his creation. My next article will talk about some of the scientific evidence that reveal the reality of a powerful God.

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