Is there any evidence to back the bible?

Dear Cecil:

Is there hard proof or strong evidence supporting the whimsical stories written in the bible? Is there any (loose) evidence backing the ideology of the book, or even “God” him/her/itself? How did, whatever it was that brought on the Big Bang, come to be in the first place? Don’t worry, I’m not looking for detailed answers, I just want whatever is most convenient for you to look into. If you just give me a few examples that’s fine.

Whoa! That’s a big question for a first post.

The best answer I can come up with is that the Gospels are eyewitness accounts, so if you lend your belief to the authors, you could consider that part of the Bible, at least, to be supported by corroborated testimony.

Not that I know a thing about the subject, just had to get in my 2 cents.

Yes, the bible is one of the most rigourously and fully-supported documents known to man, and no, there’s no evidence for that.

did I mention that it’s reliable and to be taken literally?

better to take it illiteratly, and with a pinch of salt.

Occasionally Biblical events are recorded elsewhere. The king Jehu has his portrait carved on a Babylonian stele (he’s bowing to the Babylonian king).

In the book “Who Wrote the Bible” there’s a photo of a seal bearing the name of a Biblical character (don’t recall who).

Aside from that, I’m not sure of specific OT events with corroboration. Who the heck knows who the Pharaoh of the Oppression was, or Ahasuerus? (Yeah, I know he’s supposed to be Xerxes. Prove it.) The “Habiru” = “Hebrews” are mentioned, and a lot of place names, but those aren’t events.

I find it strange how many people insist on strong undeniable evidence for the truth of the Bible. I myself am atheist, but I do not doubt the things mentioned in the Bible have historical background, yet they are of course not “literally” true regarding the miracles.
The big census related to the Nativity story during Augustus’ rule, for example, is a historical fact, and so is the name of Pilate, who is also mentioned as governor of Palestine in non-Christian records.
King Herod’s kill-all-the-infants order, on the other hand, is fiction; no other document apart from the gospels mentions it, and the Romans would certainly not have tolerated such an act of barbary.

Other stories have historical background without being true in the literal sense; the David-against-Goliath fight most likely mirrors actual fighting between the Israelites and non-Israelite peoples that could have been seen as physically superior by the Jews, without that single fight ever having taken place. The story of the heavenly food (mana?) that was sent by God to save the starving Israelites could probably express the unexpected discovery of food-supplying plants in the desert.
About the historical background of the flood, there have been piles of articles written about that in the past few years, which connect it to a potential flooding on the Black Sea coasts during the Stone Ages. Similarly, other stories should not be taken for granted, yet they all have a grain of truth in them.

This is one case which is constantly cited by the biblical literalists, but serves as an important lesson about keeping an open mind;

from http://www.grmi.org/renewal/Richard_Riss/evidences/4archaeology.html

Although I think in fairness, it was simply the lack of solid physical evidence that caused archaeologists to doubt the existence of the hittites, rather than any furtive atheist agenda, which is so often hinted at.

If you mean, has someone found footprints on top of the water in the Sea of Galilee, or Egyptian recording of the death of all firstborn, the answer is no. But the Bible covers a pretty massive range. Accepting Biblical chronology, you’ve got almost 4,000 years from (say) Noah to Paul. There is reasonable independent evidence of the existence of many Biblical characters, especially from the later period (say 800 BC on.)

Assuming that outside evidence (not eyewitness testimony of biased writers) is what you’re looking for, there is some. While there is no outside evidence of the existence of Jesus (like tax lists, lists of executed criminals, letter from governor to emperor about pesky rabble-rouser, drivers license, etc), some events do jive with events of Roman history.

Several of the kings of Judah are mentioned in carvings in Babylonia, Egypt, Persia, etc. The later the events, the more likely there is a matching up with Roman, or Greek, or Persian documentation. This may partly be because we have so much Roman, Greek, and Persian documentation, and so little (comparatively) Philistine or Edomite, so don’t leap to any conclusions from the lack of evidence.

There is a carving that mentions the “House of David” which is commonly presumed to imply the existence of that Biblical hero.

We have several battles in the Bible that are well documented on the other side. The most well documented are from the reign of King Sennacherib of Assyria. The two accounts are very similar. Broadly, the Assyrians laid seige to Jerusalem in 701 BC, sent a delegation demanding surrender, were paid a tribute, and then left, and the city was spared. The Bible says the Assyrian army was decimated overnight by divine hand (perhaps implying a plague), while the Assyrian account says they left victoriously on account of the high tribute. Both versions could indeed be true;
the Assyrian documentation, after all, is a record of the greatness of the King, and certainly would not record massive deaths of soldiers. All writers of history perceive from a biased vantage point, and far more so the ancient writers. I mean, you’re carving a great stele in honor of the king, how long would you have a career if you carved anything that anyone could interpret as critical of that king?

There is sometimes difficulty or dispute about which king is meant by which Hebrew name – translation from languages with different alphabets is always tricky. Heck, think of our own day and Khaddafi or Qadafi, for instance, spelled so many different ways. How would an historian of the future know they all meant the same person?

The identification of Ahasuerus and his palace in Shushan is fairly clear with Xerxes I and his winter palace in Susa (which has been excavated.) Some of the events described coincide with recorded Persian history and some do not – in the third year of his reign, Xerxes gave a great feast according to the Book of Esther, and invited many generals and governors to Susa to discuss invading Greece, according to Persian history. Those two events could well be the same.

So, the question is still a hot topic for archaeological investigations.

The book What If? edited by Robert Cowley and Stephen Ambrose mentions this as their first topic - what if the Assyrians had conquered and wiped out the nascent Jewish religion? Rather impossible to answer, but an interesting question nonetheless.

Though some of your questions may have factual answers, I think Great Debates is more appropriate for this thread as a whole, so I’ll move it.

bibliophage
moderator

The earliest Gospel was written about 30 years after the death of Jesus. The latest was about a further 70 years later.
They are therefore highly unlikely to be eyewitness accounts.
In any case they are the ‘testimony’ - where’s the ‘corroboration’?

Yes. Certainly as far as the New Testament is concerned.

There is corroborative evidence from both Roman and Jewish historians; physical corroboration from archeological findings; and substantial evidence from the many hundreds of manuscripts.

These manuscripts demonstrate high degrees of consistency of fact and yet are from a variety of authors (and include the four Gospels, in papyrus books, written before AD200 i.e. within 100/150 years of the originals).

‘There are very few ancient events on which we have such strong, early and united testimony.’ Michael Green

Not according to Dr. William F. Albright, who was recognized as one of the world’s foremost archaeologists. In 1955, he wrote, “We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after circa A.D. 80.”

Redating the New Testament by Robinson argues thoroughly for placing the first draft of Matthew at circa A.D. 40. In addition, Luke’s Book of Acts was written at about 62 A.D., and the Gospel of Luke was probably written before that – probably around 50 A.D. Besides which, it’s hardly unreasonable for an account written in circa 50 or 60 A.D. to be an eyewitness testimony. As Albright said, “Only modern scholars who lack both historical method and perspective can spin such a web of speculation as that with which critics have surrounded the Gospel tradition.”

The OP asked about evidence, not corroboration. Besides which, the testimonies corroborate each other, and they are (for the most part) corroborated by external historical records. Not every single difficulty has been resolved, but a large number of them have been.

troll

[ul]-The Roman historian Tacitus (AD54-119) gives a secular account of the execution of Christ, and there is support for the belief that he had access to official records including reports in the hand of Pilate.

-Pliny the Younger does not provide a first hand account, but does mention Christ and his followers in a letter to emperor Trajan (AD61-115).

-Jewish historian Josephus (AD37-94) details the execution of a man named Christ who had many followers of Jewish and Greek origins.[/ul]Many Christian scholars read too much into the above accounts; despite wishful thinking, none of these men or their contemporaries write of a ‘miracle worker’ or ‘son of god’. They do, however, document the existence of a historical figured named Christ.

I think the plight(I hope that is the right word I was looking for) of the Jews is sustantial evidence to back the Bible. I mean they are the most persecuted people I have ever seen. Yet they thrive and they whoop butt on so many hostile neigbors. Sure they now have the US protecting them(but not always) but that is pretty remarkable in itself. Because the Bible says what ever nation helps the Jews will be blessed. I would say the US is pretty blessed for being such a young nation. Plus look how smart Jews are as a people the talent they have. And why is such a small country always such a focal point of the world?

Why do so many coutries hate them so much if they didn’t truly represent the real God of the world? I mean if you Satan and were kicked out of Heaven wouldn’t you try to reak(sp) as much havov on God’s people as you could? But he(the devil) hasn’t suceeded why because God is stronger than him and won’t let him do it.

Josephus writes in Antiquities 18, 3.3:

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, (9) those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; (10) as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

okeedoke, Bill.

Apart from the Roma, perhaps. Or American Indians. Or the Armenians. Or the Kurds.

Israel thrives, and “whoops butt” because it is a wealthy, widely-supported nation with a strong sense of national pride and mandatory government service. Remember, though that “Jewish” does NOT equal “Israeli.”

Well, the US has always supported Israel. Not protecting. And remember, that’s the US supporting Israel. NOT the US supporting Jews.

Are you seriously arguing that the reason the US is a superpower is because it’s blessed by God for its support of Israel?

I think you have no support for that argument at all.

Such as?

Because it’s a young nation. Because it’s militarily and economically dominant in the region. Because it’s a non-Muslim nation surrounded by Muslim nations. Because it’s supported by the West. Because it’s wealthy. Because it’s the site of terrorist attacks, abrupt military maneuvers, and hijackings.

And there arose about this time (he means Pilate’s time, AD26-36) Jesus, a wise man, if it is right to call him a man, for he was a doer of marvellous deeds, a teacher of men who received the truth with pleasure. He won over many Jews and also Greeks. He was the Christ. And when Pilate condemned him to the cross at the instigation of our leaders, those who had loved him from the first did not forsake him. For he appeared to them alive again on the third day, as the holy prophets had foretold, and said many other wonderful things about him. And the race of Christians, so named from him, has not died out at this day.

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 18:3:3, AD 93