Internal Proofs of Bible Authenticity
There is probably no historical record more scoffed at than the Bible. However, if it weren’t considered a religious book, and had only recently been discovered by archaeologists, it would be proclaimed the most significant find in all history. Let’s consider some remarkable details about this book.
- Detailed records
- Archeological discoveries confirm Bible accounts
- The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
- The existence and reign of Joseph
- The ten plagues and the Exodus
- Who wrote Genesis?
- Did Moses write the Pentateuch?
- Why hold secular history over Biblical history?
- The changes in the languages
- Countless details in the Gospels
- The names
- What about the long lifespans?
- The ‘Scientific Adam’
- What about ‘Cave Men,’ ‘Neanderthals,’ and other ‘human ancestors?’
- What about ‘evolutionary’ changes?
- Evolving or devolving?
- Radiocarbon dating
- Luminescence dating
- Radiometric dating
- Uranium-thorium dating
- Are we ridiculing science?
- What about all the ‘experts’ on TV?
- Has the Bible changed over time?
- The DaVinci Code?
- What translating has taught us
Its highly detailed records of family lines, lands of occupation, life spans, and events should provide positive proof to even the most skeptical observers that its accounts are genuine and accurate, because no one would go into such minute detail if they were simply creating a forged document.
Sure, they could forge such a document if they wished, but that would require a high level of sophistication and some very dark motives.
For example, consider the many detailed genealogies (found at Genesis 4:17-5:31, 10:1-31, 11:10-32, 14:1-8, 21:32, 22:20-24, 25:1-4, 25:12-19, 26:34, 28:6-19, 36:1-4, 36:9-43, 38:1-5, 46:8-27, 48:7, and Numbers 1:1-42, 2:5-32, 26:12-60, 27:1), just to start with. The details in these accounts prove the Bible to be a compilation of amazingly accurate historical details.
Also, read the genealogies that start in 1 Chronicles, and you’ll find many names of ancient people that went on to found cities and countries that we’re still familiar with today. Look at the long lists of names of people, then see who their fathers were and who they descended from, the things they did, etc. – things that nobody would be interested in today – and ask why anyone would make all of this up. How could anyone fake so much detail?
Also realize that each of the names actually meant something in Hebrew, so they weren’t just a jumble of sounds.
Consider the fact that few would question the authenticity of the Tomb of King David (although the current location is questionable), since it is so well documented by known accurate historians, such as Josephus. Notice what the Gospel writer Luke wrote (in Acts 2:29):
‘It’s good to speak to you openly about the patriarch David; for he died, was buried, and his tomb is still with us to this day.’
Yet, many modern critics claim that David never existed! So why would anyone claim – without any proof at all – that David was fictional?
And look at the meticulous records of the people that served in the court of King David, as can be found from 1 Chronicles 23 to the end of that book. Who they were, where they were from, to whom they were related, and what their positions were, is all listed in great detail.
Consider the well-documented historical accounts of what happened when the king of Assyria attacked Judah during the time of King Hezekiah, then compare that to the Bible’s historical details as found in account at 2 Chronicles 32.
Here’s another example: 1 Chronicles 23 describes the time that Egyptian Pharaoh Necho II fought against both the Assyrian army and the Judean King JosiAh (and won), and you’ll realize that this is accurately-recorded history!
As for Moses and the Exodus, consider the detailed record of the travels of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land, as found at Numbers chapter 33. Here you’ll see that it describes every little town that they traveled past, the directions they went, how long they stayed in each place, and even the geography of the land.
Then look at the writings of Luke (the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts) in our translation, and click on the dozens of links that show modern documentation of the names, the cities, the titles, and even a specific home (including a picture)… such detailed and proven documentation is virtually unparalleled in any other ancient writing.
Also, there’s the records of the peoples and goods they traded at the Mediterranean port of Tyre in the Seventh Century BCE, as found in Ezekiel chapter 27. Where else could such valuable records be found?
We could list many more examples.
For a fact, the Bible is a vast, highly-detailed storehouse of the history of ancient peoples.
Archeological discoveries confirm Bible accounts
In the mid-1800s Bible critics began to claim, without evidence, that the ‘Old Testament’ was all written in the 6th century BCE, and that the ‘New Testament’ and its accounts about Jesus were written almost 300 years after he walked the earth. They claimed that many well-known Biblical figures were fictional characters, invented in later eras for various purposes. They claimed that buildings, entire cities, battles and wars, never happened.
Since then, archeologists have proven their theories to be wrong, one after the other. However, many college professors continue to teach such things in their philosophy classes, and students believe these disproven ideas because they don’t know any better.
One example is the discovery made in 1979 of the oldest Bible texts archeologists ever have discovered, sometimes called the ‘Silver Scrolls’. The text is only fragmental, but one of the scrolls is certainly part of the book of Numbers, which is in the oldest part of the Bible. The scrolls themselves date to the 7th century BCE. That’s from before the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon, and which dates to the time of the Solomon’s Temple!
Yet despite a confirmation like this, some Bible critics have taught (and some still teach) that the Bible was a later forgery, and the temple Solomon in Jerusalem, described in the Bible, did not exist!
Many have claimed that there was no King David, and that Jerusalem was just a backwater town during the time attributed to his reign. Again, recent archeological discoveries contradict this. For example, at the site of Tel Dan, excavators uncovered a stele from the 9th century BCE that mentions the family line of David. Further, they are currently excavating a major structure that they think may turn out to be David’s palace.
If this all seems crazy, then wait until you hear this: Some have even gone so far as to claim that there was no ancient nation of Israel! Yet the evidence for it is abundant. Just one example is of a granite stele (currently on display at the Cairo Museum) commemorating the victories of Pharaoh Merneptah, who is said to have reigned from 1212 to 1202 BCE. What does it say? It brags about a conquest of the nation of IsraEl (along with the nearby Philistine cities of AshKelon, Gezer, and YanoAm).
These nonsensical claims that IsraEl did not exist have been proven false time and again by modern archeology. Unfortunately, such amazing finds do not appear in modern college textbooks.
There’s also evidence for the neighbours of ancient IsraEl. We know for a fact that the Philistines (whom we read about in the Bible) really existed, because modern archeological discoveries prove it. We have found the ruins of such major cities as AshKelon. Also, the land is still called Palestine today, which is just a Greek corruption of the name Philistine.
The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah are two cities mentioned in the earliest parts of the Bible (Genesis 19) that were destroyed by God. Well, acheologists have located ruins of a city that was suddenly destroyed in the very location described in Genesis. Further, radiocarbon dating shows that it was destroyed during our dating for the lifetime of the ancient Patriarch Abraham, which was c. 2220 to 2370-BCE (see this report and for photos see this site).
The evidence for the destruction that the researchers found is very interesting. They say there is some evidence of fire, but not enough to say that the city simply burned down like many other ancient cities. No, this destruction is very, very different. There is evidence of buildings being toppled as if the ground was shaking in a massive earthquake, and then the city was buried very quickly, as if by a landslide. This sounds a lot like the destription in Genesis, which says that fire and sulphur fell out of the sky. “Sulphur” can also be translated “brimstone”, which means burning rocks. So it reminds us of the volcanic eruption and ‘pyroclastic flow’ of hot rocks that destroyed and buried the Roman city of Pompeii in Italy – except much worse!
So the Bible describes a city in a certain place, at a certain time, being destroyed by burning rocks that fell out of the sky. When we go and dig in that area, what do we find? A city that was destroyed by a sudden burial that was so powerful the ground shook. And when we use radiocarbon daing on the beams from the ruins, they date to the exact time reported for the incident in the Greek Septuagint text of the Bible. Is that not amazing?
Then to carry the proof even further, the very cave Lot and his daughters fled to after the destruction may have been located (see ‘The Cave of Lot’s Seduction’). Also Egyptian and Assyrian inscriptions have documented the nations which came though Lot’s daughters (the Moabites and the Ammonites).
If you’re unfamiliar with the story, the Bible tells us that Lot fathered sons by each of his two daughters after the destruction of Sodom and GomorRah. The son by the eldest daughter was named ‘Moab’, which means ‘Of My Father’ (see 1 Chronicles 23). The son of the younger daughter was named ‘AmMon’, meaning ‘Son off My Family’ (see Genesis 19:38). So, even the names of these nations corroborates the Bible’s report of an incestuous origin.
So the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah may actually be very well-supported archeologically, despite it being so long ago (about 500 years before Exodus)!
The existence and reign of Joseph
Was there a man named Joseph who ruled Egypt under one of its Pharaohs, as related in the Bible book of Genesis? Consider the following.
According to our chronology, Joseph died around the year 1847 BCE at 147 years old. That means he lived during the reigns of Pharaohs Amenemhat I, Senusret I, Amenemhat II, and most importantly, Senusret II.
You see, there is a famous waterway (which still exists today) called Bahr Yussef, or Canal of Joseph. The name only dates to the Islamic period, but tradition states that it was built by Joseph to provide water to Lake Qarun to increase grain production and avert famines. Well, archaeological discoveries show how that very same canal was built during the reign of Senusret II – who just happens to be the last pharaoh who reigned during Jacob’s lifetime according to our calculations.
We also find something interesting with the ancient Egyptian forts of Uronati and Buhen in the southern Nubian part of Egypt. Why? Well, they were proven to be major places for grain storage and gold trading. This may remind you of the Bible account of Joseph storing huge amounts of grain during the seven years of plenty, and then people of the surrounding nations coming to trade everything they had for food during the following seven years of famine. But were these particular grain-storage and gold-trading places built during Joseph’s lifetime?
If you follow the links, you’ll see how these forts were constructed “during the Middle Kingdom (19th century BC), primarily by the rulers Senusret I and Senusret III.” Yes, during Joseph’s lifetime as found in our Bible chronology!
Incredibly, archaeologists may have even discovered a statue of Joseph. In 1988, remnants of a monumentally-sized statue were found in an Egyptian tomb. The tomb is located in a city called Avaris, a city in Egypt which was right in the middle of Goshen, the part of Egypt in which the Israelites lived.
Usually such statues depict whomever was buried there. It depicts a man who, by his hair style, appears to be a Caananite. He also holds a throw stick, an Egyptian symbol of being a ruler. Yet this man is clearly not a Pharoah. Incredibly, the statue was originally painted as wearing a multi-coloured striped garment, one of the most famous things about Joseph’s story (Genesis 37:3)! Further, this was all excavated from a layer of earth which they roughly dated to around the 1700s BCE, not too long after our 1847 BCE date for Joseph’s death (people often buried tombs to discourage looting). Could it really be Joseph? Perhaps. (see a computer recreation here)
Interestingly, the sarcophagus in the tomb was missing. Sure, it could have been looted, but if the tomb was of Joseph, we would actually expect it to be empty. Why? The Bible reports that his body was later taken back and reburied in Palestine. So that’s yet another detail that fits. (For more information, please see this Times of Israel article.)
So yes, there may be much to verify the story of Joseph.
The ten plagues and the Exodus
Is there any archeological evidence of the ten plagues or IsraEl’s escape through a parted Red Sea? Yes, there may be quite a lot. However, it’s been mostly overlooked due to a misunderstanding in the Biblical dating, and therefore missed by Christian historians and archaeologists, and dismissed by secular authorities.
You see, western Christian religions traditionally dated the Exodus to the time of Ramses I. However, if we look at all the evidence we have for the time of Ramses I, there is not even a hint of anything like the events in Exodus. Critics then say, “there is no evidence for the events in Exodus”, and they’d be right if we finished their sentence with the words, “...during the reign of Ramses I”. That’s no wonder, though, because the Exodus probably happened about two centuries earlier (at least)!
When historians and theologians calculate the date of the Exodus, they play fast-and-loose with the Biblical text. They accept the Bible’s dates in one place, but then defer to secular dates in another place. Secondly, nearly every English Bible is based on the the Hebrew Masoretic texts, which we now know have corrupted dates for the events in Genesis (Orthodox Churches use different texts with correct dates). Putting all of this together, it means that the traditional dating for the Exodus is all wrong.
What happens if we actually go strictly by the Bible’s dates, and only use the most reliable ancient Bible manuscripts (which we used to create our translation)? Then we arrive at a much earlier date for the events of Exodus.
Yes, everyone was looking for proof of the events in Exodus in the wrong part of Egyptian history (in the 1290s BCE). This misunderstanding enabled critics to argue that there was no proof of the events in Exodus; meanwhile most (Western) Christian researchers stubbonly refused to accept that their calculations and Bible manuscripts were wrong.
So when did the Exodus really happen?
Our calculations place it somewhere between 1560s and 1480s BCE. That’s at least 190 years further back!
So if we look at the correct part of Egyptian history, we actually find plenty of evidence for the events of Exodus. For example, on the third pylon of the temple at Karnak there is a fragmented engraving; it describes a plague-like destruction coming upon Egypt that sounds remarkably like the events in Exodus (to read it yourself, please see this page).
Further, experts have dated the engraving to around the time of the death of Ahmose I, who lived right in the middle of the period we estimate for the Exodus. Indeed, several things (not just that) lead us to conclude that Ahmose I was indeed the pharaoh of the Exodus. For example, there even seems to be records of the Hebrew population living in Egypt during that very same time period. For a more in-depth discussion, please see our commentary, Who was Pharaoh during the Exodus?.
The point is this: there is no lack of evidence. The problem is that many secular and religious authorities deliberately ignore it. Why?
Secular historians ignore it because they don’t want to be seen supporting the Bible.
Atheists ignore it because they wish to discredit the Bible for their own personal reasons.
Many Christian historians either don’t want to admit that their medieval Bible manuscripts are wrong (for example, because they’re from the camp which has a superstitious attachment to the King James Version) or they’re too fearful of contradicting their secular colleagues.
Even Islamic scholars often shy away because of a prejudice against the Jews! Israeli journalist Simcha Jacobovici remarked, “The Egyptian authorities don’t like archeology that confirms the Hebrew Bible”.
Who wrote Genesis?
Hebrew historians and most religious commentators usually agree that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible (known as the Pentateuch). However, that isn’t 100% right.
Many phrases in Genesis (such as, ‘This was the scroll of’ and ‘This was the generation of’) show that almost all of the first five chapters are a compilation of previously written records and lyrics of ancient songs. These first chapters were actually complied and edited by Moses, or by scribes under Moses, rather than being “written” by him as original works.
Where did such records come from? We don’t know because the Bible doesn’t tell us. Could Moses have collected them from Egyptian libraries during his life as ‘the son of the daughter of Pharaoh’? Perhaps, because the dates indicated by Egyptian history are almost the same as our calculations of Bible history and dates.
However, some of the information in Genesis may have been passed down to Moses as songs through his Hebrew relatives. Why do we say that?
Much news and history was once transmitted via song, because at that time, it was an easy means of mass communication to illiterate people. If you closely examine the first five chapters of Genesis, you’ll notice that there is definitely a poetic cadence and symmetry. For example, look at the words starting each paragraph or verses in Genesis 1 at verses 6, 11, 14, 20, 24, and 26.
Interestingly, in Mesopotamia archaeologists actually found a song or a poem recorded on ancient clay tablets which describes events very similar to those in Genesis 6 through to Genesis 11. It’s now known as the Epic of Gilgamesh. So these same events were transmitted in song by many peoples in the Middle East.
So Genesis was never an original work. It was compiled by Moses, or scribes under him, from ancient records and songs that are mostly lost to us today.
Did Moses rip off the Epic of Gilgamesh?
Since there are similarities between both accounts, Bible critics were quick to claim that Moses merely copied the story of Noah and the flood from this legend (rather that vice-versa). Is that right?
If you examine the words that are found in that text, you’ll see that the Epic of Gilgamesh reads more like a fairy tale and is nothing like the very specific and detailed account found in Genesis (for one scholarly analysis, see this multi-page study). Further, the details in Genesis seem to be horribly distorted in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
For example, it describes the ark as a perfect cube. Anyone who knows anything about sailing would know that such a design is laughable. It would be horribly unstable in rough seas! However, research discovered something special about the very specific ship-like dimensions given in Genesis:
...the proportions of Noah’s Ark [given in Genesis] carefully balanced the conflicting demands of stability (resistance to capsizing), comfort (“seakeeping”), and strength. In fact, the Ark has the same proportions as a modern cargo ship.
Therefore, the original details of the account were lost in the retelling by the time it was recorded in the Epic of Gilgamesh. We feel that it’s quite clear which is the more accurate account.
In truth, neither Genesis nor the Epic of Gilgamesh will be the original version of the story. Genesis itself freely admits that the information comes from earlier sources. Originally both likely began as an oral traditions recalling the same event, however the Genesis version is much more detailed and specific while the Babylonian version has become wildly distorted.
Did Moses write the Pentateuch?
We say that yes, Moses is responsible for the vast majority of the first five books of the Bible, because the accounts say so (see Numbers 33:1-2), and Hebrew historians have always claimed that he did.
However, some object to this. Why? Well, in most cases where his name is mentioned, it is shown in the third person. Also, could Moses have written the words found at Numbers 12:3? It says:
‘Now, Moses was the humblest man on the earth’
If Moses had written that himself, then what he said was an oxymoron (a saying that disproves itself)!
So, we have concluded that although Moses was likely responsible for the books (including the compilation of Genesis), the things that he said and did may have initially been written by a secretary, a scribe, or scribes. Perhaps it was Moses’ close assistant Joshua. For notice what was written at Joshua 24:26:
‘Then he [Joshua] wrote those words in The Scroll of the Laws of God.’
However, Joshua’s name is occasionally written in the third person in those accounts too. Although speaking of oneself in the third person isn’t unusual for Bible writers (Matthew, Mark, and John do it), their names aren’t usually mentioned in the third person, as were the names Moses and JoShua. Nor is it unusual for Bible writers to use secretaries, because Paul did that many times because of his poor vision.
So, the fact that Moses’ and Joshua’s names were used so frequently and in so many places (sometimes up to three times per sentence) indicates that someone else likely did the compiling and physical writing on scrolls. Moses and Joshua were, after all, busy national leaders. The account itself even mentions how overworked Moses was at one point! (Exodus 18:17-26) Indeed, modern national leaders often use ghost writers to compile and write their memoirs and autobiographies because they’re simply too busy to do it themselves.
The book of Deuteronomy is a good example of all this. A close examination of the texts shows that the book is actually a compilation of written speeches which were delivered on the day that the IsraElites were to enter the Promised Land (see Deuteronomy 1:1).
So, Moses likely wrote his speeches (which clarified how the Law would apply once they were in the Promised Land), but these speeches were later collected and compiled into the book of Deuteronomy, probably by someone else. After all, it describes Moses’ own death at the end!
Therefore, though Moses wrote the Laws and the speeches, and oversaw their compilation, he likely wasn’t the one that recorded the details. This national leader likely had a staff of secretaries and scribes.
You can see this quite easily, because immediately after Deuteronomy the Bible book of Joshua picks up the narrative. Then the book of Judges does the same after Joshua, then the book of Ruth does it after Judges (just read the ending of each book and the start of the next one to see this for yourself).
So, while Genesis through to Deuteronomy were compiled under Moses, we can see that the entire account of Genesis through to Ruth was eventually compiled into a single contiguous document. By whom? Well, it must have been someone who lived after the time of King David, because David is mentioned at the end of Ruth. It was likely the 5th century BCE scribe Ezra, whose own Bible book bares his name today.
Yet all the intricate details (in Leviticus and Numbers, for example), give the impression that the contents were originally complied and/or written during, or shortly after, the events described, since later peoples would simply have not known such things, nor known why they were important.
At some point before the 3rd century BCE (when the Greek Septuagint was created) the Jews had separated this single mega-document into smaller books, which were each given the names we know today.
Why hold secular history over Biblical history?
Whenever Biblical accounts clash with the opinions of secular historians, most automatically assume that the Bible must be the one in error. This even happens when multiple Biblical accounts, all written by people who claim to be direct eye-witness, all agree with each other!
For example, consider the Bible’s description of Darius, king of the Medes. The Bible clearly describes him, when he lived, and the vitally important role he played in world events. Yet the secular historians claim that he didn’t exist.
So what’s the story?
In 2 Chronicles 36:20-23 the writer, Ezra, describes how the Medes conquered Babylon. Daniel tells us that this Median conqueror was called Darius the Mede. Then Persian King Cyrus the Great released the Jews from their Babylonian captivity. Huh? Why would the King of Media conquer Babylon and then the Persian King suddenly be in charge?
Well, you see, in modern terms we might liken the Persian Empire to a federal union, where each state retained its own King. The Persian King was then head over all the others; in fact he was called the ‘King of Kings’. The Medes were one such part of the Persian Empire; according to the Bible, their King at that time was called Darius the Mede. The Medes were very prominent in this federal, multicultural Empire; indeed the Empire is sometimes called the Medo-Persian Empire.
However, secular historians say that the Bible’s account of this man is wrong. They say that oh yes, there certainly was a later King called Darius but he was a Persian King (known as Darius I), who wasn’t around until well after Cyrus the Great was dead. In other words, the Bible got its facts all wrong. Really? Can they be so certain?
1st century CE Jewish historian Josephus claims that there truly was also a King of Media called Darius who made war against Babylon alongside Persian King Cyrus:
“Against him [Babylon] did Cyrus, the King of Persia, and Darius, the King of Media, make war. ... Babylon was taken by Darius; and when he, with his kinsman Cyrus, had put an end to the dominion of the Babylonians, he was sixty two years old.”
The amount of information that Josephus writes about Darius is enormous and filled with detail, including direct quotes from the man. Clearly Josephus had access to vast historical records that have since been lost sometime in the past 2,000 years. He even says that this Darius was one of Cyrus the Great’s uncles on his mother’s side. So this King Darius of Media was actually related to the later King Darius of Persia.
In other words, two kings who lived a few years apart and were from the same family happened to have the same name. The man did exist and the Bible did not get its facts wrong.
So, we have a clear reference in Daniel to a Darius the king of Media, plus an ancient historian whose voluminous data all tell us that he existed, and they provide details about what he did and when he did it. Whom should we trust? We have:
- The Biblical record in Daniel, plus extensive historical records gathered in the Roman era by a respected historian.
- Or modern-day historians and Bible critics who were not eye-witnesses, have almost no access to the historical records that Josephus had, and are divorced from the time period by more about 2,600 years?
We have decided that the former likely knows better than the latter!
This is not to say that the views of modern historians have no value. That’s not true. The issue we raised at the start was this: why would anyone automatically assume that the Bible is wrong when it states something that modern historians haven’t (yet) discovered from another source?
The changes in the languages
Critics claim that the Old Testament is a later forgery, but the text itself reports that it was written over a period of almost 1,600 years. If the Bible’s own claim is true, then we would expect to see natural changes in its language over such a long period. Is this what we find? Yes!
The first chapters of Genesis report that they are compiled from several other sources; they probably came from Egyptian libraries and from old Hebrew oral traditions. They were probably translated by Moses or Joshua, as they now appear in the type of Hebrew spoken during Moses’ day. However, the portion about the life of Abraham is written in an earlier Hebrew dialect called Ugaritic, which was was spoken from before the Israelite’s 400-years of living in the land of Egypt.
After that, the language continues to change right up until the time of DaniEl (in the mid-500s BCE). He wrote in a language that is related to Hebrew, Aramaic. This was because of the influence of the Jew’s captivity when they lived among the Persians.
The next major Bible language change came during the time of Jesus. Although Matthew, Paul, John, Peter, James, and Jude originally spoke and likely wrote in Aramaic, Mark and Luke likely wrote in a new (for the time) international language, Koine (pronounced ko-ee-nay) Greek. Sometime after their writing (possibly as late as the 2nd Century in the case of Matthew), every book of the Christian Era had been translated into Koine Greek. Learn more about the two languages of the Christian Era.
So, as you can see, if the Bible is a later fraud, then we would have to explain how anyone could even begin to accurately fake all of these language changes. Even a single grammar mistake could give the game away, and that’s before you’ve even decided what you want to say, who you want to write about, and what events supposedly happened – never mind the words and expressions needed to say it.
The linguistic evidence alone strongly supports the Bible books’ claims of being written exactly when they say they were written.
Countless details in the Gospels
Here’s one notable stamp of authentic dating. In Matthew 16:13 it reports that Jesus was preaching in a town it calls ‘Caesarea Philippi’. Why is this important?
Well, various critics have claimed that the Bible’s Gospel accounts were written between 100 and 300 years after Jesus’ death. Yet internal proofs such as Matthew’s naming this city shows that this Gospel likely was written prior to the middle of the 1st century. Why? The name ‘Caesarea Philippi’ was only used during the brief reign of the Herods. Both before and thereafter, it was known as ‘Panas,’ after the Roman God Pan, whose idol was located there.
If the book had been written a century or more later, then small details like that would have been forgotten. Yet this, and countless others, all ring true for a book written quite close to the events.
Further, just look at Luke 3:1-2, where the author provides many details about who was reigning so readers could accurately date the events:
It was in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea and Herod was district ruler of GaliLee (but Philip his brother was district ruler of the countries of Ituraea and Trachonitis), and Lysanias was district ruler of Abilene, in the days of High Priests AnNas and CaiAphas, that God’s words came to John the son of ZechariAh [while he was] in the desert.
Fairy stories start with “Once upon a time...”, while the story of John the Baptist starts with the words above.
As is our custom in the 2001 Translation, in our bible text of these verses we’ve added links to other sources which document the other historical figures that are mentioned. All this shows that the writer knew exactly who these people were and when they ruled, as documented in history!
These are just a few examples of many. We could go on an on about the countless details in the Gospels that speak to its authenticity. Indeed, many authors have written entire books on the subject.
So, ask yourself: What is more likely, that the Gospels were written centuries later as fakes, or that they were written within a few years or decades as they claim to be (and as Christians have always believed)?
In addition, we have writings of the early 2nd century Christian Elder Papias. In these he speaks of the Gospels and the writings of Matthew, Luke, and John. So what does that say about the claims of some modern critics that these books were written much later?
The text of the Gospels themselves, plus the external writings, all show that they were written toward the middle and late portions of the 1st century. They read as recorded history.
Other evidence of the Bible’s remarkable authenticity as a historical record can be found in the names it uses. Many are names of peoples and places that are still the same today, and the Bible even reveals why those names were chosen. For example, Genesis 10:8-12 says:
‘Kush fathered Nimrod, who became a giant on the earth. He was a gigantic hunter before Jehovah God. That’s why people speak of Nimrod as the gigantic hunter before Jehovah. His kingdom started with Babylon, then Orech, Archad, and ChalanNe, which were all in the land of Shinar. Then outside that land, [he went to] Assyria and built Nineveh, the cities of RehobOth, Chalach, and Dase (between Nineveh and Chalach), which is the great city.’
You can see that these are names of real well-known cities, they are not mythical. They are not like the Emerald City in the land of Oz, or The Shire in Middle Earth. They are historic places with long and established histories, whose ruins have been excavated. You can even visit them today (when it’s safe to do so!).
The name of the founder of one of these cities, Nimrod, can still be found in the ancient city in Assyria that was named for him, Nimrud (a spelling variation due to language differences). Also, Nimrod’s father Kush is still recognized as the progenitor of the people of Ethiopia. His name is commonly used by archeologists and Egyptologists alike when they are speaking of the people of that land. It’s interesting how it’s primarily in places like North America and Europe (where the Bible is under attack) that anyone questions these names that have been written and accepted as history for millennia!
These are some of the more well-known examples, but the Bible is literally filled with the names of people and places that have only recently been found and documented by modern archeology.
One good example of this is the nation known as the Hittites. During almost the entire 19th century, archeologists claimed that there was no such race; yet now they and their cities have been found in abundance! They appear to be the ancestors of the modern-day Armenians, who (by the way) have always claimed a grandson of Noah as their progenitor (Togarmah). For more information about the connection of modern peoples to ancient descendants of Noah, please see the links we have in Genesis chapter 10.
There are also good examples of Bible names from the time of Jesus. For example, archaeologists found a stone commemorating Jesus’ judge, the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate. Yet again, critics had wrongly said that he never existed.
Those who hate the Bible like to claim that it is just a collection of myths and fairytales. Yet this is a bizarre claim. It names thousands of real people, places, and events for which evidence is constantly being found. You could spend a lifetime studying it all!
Even if one chose disregard the miracles (or even if someone refused to believe in God), surely the Bible would still be the most amazing and accurate historical document in existence.
What about the long lifespans?
One thing scorned by Bible critics is the long lifespans reported in Genesis for people who lived to prior to the Downpour (e.g. Adam 930 years, Methuselah 969, etc.). Could these have been actual years? Yes, we believe they could, and below we show why. As anyone that has reached the age of 70 or 80 can tell you, our lives are really too short today...
First of all, if people once lived that long, why do we live much shorter lives today? Some speculate that it’s because mankind was getting farther away from Adam’s perfection, or that it’s some result of more radiation hitting the earth after the flood. Perhaps one or both of those things are true, but the most obvious reason is that it’s due to a genetic change. After all, the Bible tells us that only eight people survived the Downpour, and apparently only three men fathered children after that, all of whom were brothers. Even in the years after this there continued to be much inbreeding.
We see this in the lines of the Hebrews, and this likely reflected what was true of other families throughout the world at the time. Abraham’s father was Terah, and his wife’s father was also Terah, yes she was his half-sister. That means their son Isaac had the same grandfather on both sides! Further, when Isaac got married, his wife’s grandfather was also Terah on at least one side.
So... Isaac’s son’s Jacob had Terah as his great-grandfather through at least three lines, and the two women he took as wives (Rachael and Leah) were also great-granddaughters of Terah through multiple lines... and after all of this, the descendants of their sons all intermarried too!
If this were normal for people at the time, is it hard to believe that our health and lifespans eventually suffered as a result?
It was only after God gave His Laws to IsraEl that sexual relations and intermarriage among close family members was forbidden. We say that a Divine power recognized the genetic damage that can result from further inbreeding. However, these laws were only given to the descendants of Israel, not to any of the other nations of the world; so, inbreeding likely continued throughout the world until the results became obvious.
The same may even apply to the short lives of many animals. The Bible account tells us that most animals (the ‘unclean’) were brought into the Ark in single pairs… so, even more genetic damage was possible for them than it was for humans. We wonder why such intelligent animals as dogs, or such large animals as horses, live a little more than twenty years while a tree lives for centuries. This doesn’t seem logical.
Notice how the Bible chronology shows that the lifespans of humans gradually shortened (which disproves the theory that ‘they counted years differently back then’):
Noah lived 950 years
His son Shem (the first progenitor of that line) lived 600 years
His son Arphaxad lived 500 years
His son Kainan lived 460 years
His son Sala lived 460 years
His son Heber lived 404 years
His son Phaleg lived 339 years
His son Ragau lived 337 years
His son Seruch lived 330 years
His son Nahor lived 304 years
So by the time of the exodus from Egypt, we find that the average lifespans for the Israelites was just 70 or 80 years… notice that the Bible tells us that only Joshua and Caleb (of all Israel’s warriors that left Egypt) lived long enough to enter the promised land.
Also notice this conversation between Pharaoh and the patriarch Jacob, as found at Genesis 47:7-9:
‘Thereafter, JoSeph brought his father Jacob in and stood him before Pharaoh, and Jacob blest Pharaoh. Then Pharaoh asked Jacob:
How old are you?
And Jacob replied to Pharaoh:
The years of my life that I’ve lived are 130. But these years have been too few and too troubled. I haven’t reached the age that my ancestors [achieved], back in the days when they lived.’
Yes, the 130-year old man Jacob verified that his ancestors lived to be much older than him.
Interestingly, these long lifespans are not only found in the Bible’s ancient records. The (secular) Egyptian history of their Pre-Dynastic kings (see the page, ‘Pharaohs Timeline’) says:
‘Up to 13 kings ruled from Hierakonpolis in Upper Egypt during this period that were known as the Horus-people or the Hawk-people.’
Then look at the period during which these supposed ‘Up to 13 kings’ ruled... 2,500 years, or about 200 years of rule for each of them. Interestingly, this corresponds quite well to the 13 progentitors of the human race (up to Adam) and the timespans reported for them in Genesis (see the section on Egypt in our page on the Greek Septuagint).
Now, what does modern medicine tell us about the likely cause of human (and possibly animal) aging? It says we get old and die because the ends of our DNA strands break off as cells divide – an apparent genetic problem, and medical scientists are trying to learn more in the hopes of extending our lives (or even curing old age).
So, the ancient accounts of long-lived humans is perhaps not as far-fetched as it may at first appear. Further, the events described may explain what happened and agree with our knowledge of genetics and inbreeding.
The ‘Scientific Adam’
In 2003, the National Geographic Society sponsored a genetic study to prove whether mankind has a single common ancestor (an ‘Adam’), or if man descended from ‘a large group of evolving primates that numbered in the thousands.’
The study surveyed people from all around the world, checking the variations in their Y (male) chromosomes, and the results proved beyond a doubt what Bible believers knew all along... that we all did descend from a single man, whom they dubbed, ‘The Scientific Adam.’ This is in addition to other genetic research which famously concluded that we all descended from a single woman, whom the media called “The real Eve”.
While this astounding finding should have vindicated the Bible, there was a depressingly familiar reaction. Immediately after proving that the Bible was right once again, the folks at the National Geographic Society concluded that the Bible has all the details wrong. For, rather than man originating from the Middle East about 7,500 years ago (according to the Greek Septuagint chronology), they say he actually originated in Africa some 59,000 years ago.
To reach their findings, the geneticists looked at the variations in the Y-chromosomes of modern people, and then searched for common variations that would link them all to a single person. When they looked for a race of people whose Y-chromosomes are the closest to the original (that is, having the fewest variations), they found them in Northeast Africa near Ethiopia. Therefore, they concluded that their ‘Scientific Adam’ was a dark-skinned man from Northern Africa. It may seem like their finding contradicts the Bible account, but actually, it confirms it! How so?
Well, due to their skepticism, they neglected the fact that we all have much closer common relatives than Adam and Eve: Noah and his wife. The man they found was him, not Adam, or perhaps who they actually located was Noah’s grandson Cush (or Kush), whose descendants in Ethiopia still call themselves ‘Kushites.’
The Bible reports that the original Kushites (black people) settled in MesoPotamia (Nimrod was a Kushite), and then later, part of that family line lived in the area of Iran southwest of Mount Ararat. So how did they end up in Northeast Africa? They were probably displaced by the Assyrian Empire and forcibly moved to Northeast Africa. You see, that’s what both the Babylonian and the Assyrian Empires famously did to conquered peoples; even the 10-tribe Kingdom of Israel suffered this fate and were moved to what is now Kurdistan (these are the so-called “lost ten tribes of Israel”), and the 2-tribe Kingdom of Judah was famously deported to Babylon (in modern-day Iraq).
So this Scientific Adam probably didn’t really live in Northeastern Africa, it’s just that many of his descendants live there today. They either fled there voluntarily or were forcibly moved. For more information on this, see our translator note on Edem.
Alright, but what about the 59,000 year date given for this ‘Scientific Adam’? The Bible says that mankind has only been around for 7,500 years. Well, their dating is an estimate based on the number of genetic mutations. In other words, they simply assume that there were very-long periods between mutations based upon how frequently they occur today. But as we pointed out above, the shortening of life spans between the time of Noah and Moses seems to indicate a period of very rapid genetic mutation, possibly due to prolonged inbreeding (can you see how this all fits together?).
As proof of this, consider what the same geneticists say about the Prototypical Eve:
‘Early estimates published during the 1990s [for how long ago the Prototypical Adam lived] ranged between roughly 200 and 300 kya (Thousand Years Ago). Such estimates were later substantially corrected downward – which proposed an age of about 59,000. This date suggested that the Y-MRCA (the Prototypical Adam) lived about 84,000 years after his female counterpart mt-MRCA (the Prototypical Eve), who lived 150,000 years ago.’
So, how is it possible for the first female common ancestor to have lived some 150,000 years before the first male common ancestor? Well, as the Bible tells us: the first man was Noah, so the first source of Mitochondrial DNA (passed down by females) came through, not him, but the wives of his sons, whose DNA truly traces back to the first woman (‘Eve’).
There continues to be some very interesting debate over these extended dates, with evidence showing that they are likely wrong. And what is one probably cause of these miscalculations? A disaster that resulted in a sudden massive decline in human population, called a “population bottleneck”! Could that perhaps be a global flood? (See the Wikipedia article ‘Population Bottleneck’ for more information.)
So as science continues to make advances, we are sure that they will continue to uncover more and more details corroborating the Genesis account (whether they choose to accept it or not).
What about ‘Cave Men,’ ‘Neanderthals,’ and other ‘human ancestors?’
As we’ve already discussed, DNA evidence proves that we all descended from one man (Noah) and one woman (Eve). But evolutionists say there was another race of humans that we now call ‘Neanderthals’. What about them?
Yes, these people existed. We have their bones, their tools, and other artifacts left behind by them. But they’re not another species. Thanks to DNA evidence, we know that they were descended from the same ‘Scientific Adam’ and ‘Scientific Eve’ as we are! Indeed, many of us apparently still carry their DNA.
After all, as anyone with a knowledge of genetics knows, if we had different origins and if the DNA variations were too great between us and the ‘Neanderthals,’ interbreeding would have been impossible. Therefore it is not surprising when research shows that Neanderthals were just like us (for example, this BBC article reports on research showing that Neanderthals could speak like us).
Notice that the National Geographic article, Ancient DNA reveals new twists in Neanderthal migration says (in the third paragraph):
‘The predecessors of the Neanderthals likely split from the ancestors of modern humans at least 500,000 years ago and spread out across Europe and into southwest and central Asia. The new study, published today in Science Advances, suggests that two of these ancient hominins, which lived 120,000 years ago, had surprisingly similar genetics to much later Neanderthals.’
Although the times and dates are clearly wrong, scientists now realize that Neanderthals are not a separate branch of humanity. Rather, as we stated earlier, they are just another branch of our family that descended from the first human pair.
However, have there been several different human ‘species’ through the ages that came from a different source? While this was once widely believed, anthropologists now agree that this is probably not the case (see the December 2013 BBC article, ‘Blow to Multiple Human Species Idea’).
At this point, we could go off into long explanations of why each of the speculative ‘scientific’ theories on the origins of man are poorly substantiated. However, these can be found on other websites, and we’ve already shown that our DNA tells the same story as the Bible. The Bible says that we all descended from one man and his sons (Noah), and also from one woman who lived earlier than him (Eve). That’s what our DNA says (a ‘Scientific Adam’ and an earlier ‘Real Eve’). The Bible says our ancestors suffered a terrible reduction in population (the Deluge), and that’s also seen in our DNA (the ‘Population Bottleneck’).
Even if one does not accept the Bible as inspired by a supernatural creator, one would have to admit these are all remarkable coincidences! Could skeptical ones not, perhaps, open their minds to the possibility that the Bible at least contains some remarkable truths passed down over the millenia?
As for the dating of all this, we’ll talk about that next.
What about ‘evolutionary’ changes?
We do find one of the latest scientific theories to be interesting, in line with the Bible, and sensible to boot. It’s the teaching that retroviruses (which pick up and share DNA with their hosts) cause variations within species.
Perhaps God created viruses to help all creatures to change and better adapt to their environments. If so, it would explain the quick predominance of marsupials in Australia, the prehensile tails of the monkeys in the Americas, and the reasons why different species within the same family types (such as parrots, horses, etc.) can’t crossbreed. Millions of years were not necessary, retorviruses transferred the necessary DNA as required.
Obviously, this is just another theory. However, the Ark of Noah could only have held a limited number of animal types (which Genesis calls “kinds”); so, there are surely more animal types today than there were then. For example, while there are many different breeds of dog today, they all descended from a single pair.
What about the argument that DNA similarities prove that mankind wasn’t created by God as the Bible says? For example, humans can be proven to be less than 1% away genetically from chimpanzees. We also share 50% of our DNA with bananas. In other words, we all belong to the same ecosystem. Is this proof that it all developed together via gradual evolutionary changes?
Well, firstly, if there were a long series of gradual changes of millions of years, then the fossil record will show that. Does it? No. We have many billions of fossils, but they show no gradual change from one form of animal to another. Sure, we find some extinct varieties of animals that exist today, but no transition from one kind to another. The number of alleged links that have been found amount to a handful, when there should be billions, and even the small number we do have are highly contested. Many are dismissed as evidence, even by evolutionists.
The above words are not fringe science. They are mainstream. Consider the following quotes (emphasis in the quotes is added).
Evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould famously commented:
‘The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data [i.e., fossil evidence] only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils.’ –Natural History Vol. 5, May 1977
‘I regard the failure to find a clear vector of progress in life’s history as the most puzzling fact of the fossil record.’ –Natural History Vol. 93:23, February 1984
Evolutionist Steven Stanley in his book Macroevolution: Pattern and Process wrote:
‘The known fossil record fails to document a single example of phyletic evolution accomplishing a major morphologic transition [i.e. one animal kind to another]’.
Dr Tom Kemp, the curator of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History said:
‘As is now well known, most fossil species appear instantaneously in the fossil record, persist for some millions of years virtually unchanged, only to disappear abruptly.’ –A Fresh Look at the Fossil Record, New Scientist Vol. 108, 1985.
The evolutionist quoted above, Stephen Jay Gould, along with fellow scientist Niles Eldredge, famously proposed a well-respected theory to explain this “puzzling fact”. They called it Punctuated equilibria (usually known today as ‘Punctuated equilibrium’). It proposed that the jump from one animal kind to another was actually sudden and very quick. The Wikipedia article says this:
‘Eldredge and Gould proposed that the degree of gradualism commonly attributed to Charles Darwin is virtually nonexistent in the fossil record, and that stasis dominates the history of most fossil species’.
This theory, however, also has its problems. As we learn more about the complexity of life, it seems ever more puzzling how animals could suddenly change very quickly and gain new genetic complexity so suddenly. So while the ‘graduated’ evolution has a mysterious lack of fossils, this ‘punctuated’ evolution also suffers from its own mysteries.
Darwin famously developed his theory of gradual evolutionary change after visiting the Galapagos Islands. He noticed that the same animals (such as birds, tortoises, and lizards) had different physical characteristics and habits on each of the different islands. So he assumed these differences indicated that they were ‘evolving,’ and would, with enough time, eventually turn into a different kind of animal if it benefitted their survival.
However, there is no indication that one species was changing into another (as in a lizard changing into a tortoise), and today we know that if that’s what happened, then there would be billions of intermediary fossils left behind from such a gradual process. Yet they do not exist. All Darwin saw was species adapting to their environment through inbreeding using genetic information that was already present.
However, we shouldn’t be inflexible when guessing how God did things, because only He knows how He actually did it. There is only one place where the Bible shows His process of creating a creature, it was the creation of Eve. How interesting that God creates her, not from scratch, but by taking existing DNA from Adam’s rib, building upon it, and modifying it as he went.
So, could God have created all forms of life that way? That is, by taking an existing animal and modifying its DNA to add an extra layer of complexity? First He creates something like bacteria, containing all the basic building blocks of life. Then he acts as the divine hand behind ‘punctuated equilibrium’, taking His first design and using it as a basis to create a more complex second form of life, just like how he created Eve. This would explain why all animals share basic designs of cells, hearts, lungs, eyes, blood, and so on, yet are so different from one another (with no evolutionary interlinking forms).
It would be somewhat like the way men invented things like airplanes. One design was used, intelligently, to develop the next more advanced design. If this happened, we would indeed find what we see in the fossil record today – the sudden appearance of more complex forms of life, with nothing in between, but with the simplest at the bottom, and the most complex (mankind) at the top.
Of course, we really don’t know how it happened, because He didn’t tell us. However, the point is that the Bible account and the fossil record can be harmonized.
Evolving or devolving?
In 2020, a University Biology lecturer along with a PhD candidate in Evolution published an article titled, What You Think You Know About Human Evolution Is Wrong. It said the following:
‘In a recent study published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, we compared the complete genomes of over 100 organisms (mostly animals), to study how the animal kingdom has evolved at the genetic level. Our results show that the origins of major groups of animals, such as the one comprising humans, are linked not to the addition of new genes but to massive gene losses.
They continue, from their evolutionary perspective:
‘Evolution explains how all living beings, including us, came to be. It would be easy to assume evolution works by continuously adding features to organisms, constantly increasing their complexity. Some fish evolved legs and walked onto the land. Some dinosaurs evolved wings and began to fly. Others evolved wombs and began to give birth to live young. Yet this is one of the most predominant and frustrating misconceptions about evolution.’
So humans are not really aren’t ‘evolving’ genetically today; we are, one could say, ‘devolving’. We either have fewer genes than in the past, or the expression of those genes has decreased and features are switched off.
Again, this would agree with our understanding of the Bible account, that God created life with perfection and complexity, but then life lost its perfection and gradually lost its complexity too.
The most accepted argument against the Bible’s chronology (in which the first man was created around 7,500 years ago by our calculations) is radiocarbon dating. This method is said to prove that the first human lived at least 59,000 years ago. How does the radiocarbon ‘clock’ work?
Radiocarbons are formed when cosmic radiation bombards nitrogen molecules, and turns them into carbon 14 (14C). These are deposited on the ground, absorbed by plants, and finally by animals. When these living things die, they stop taking it in. Now, because we know the rate of radioactive decay of 14C, all we must do is measure the amount 14C remaining in a dead plant or animals to tell how long ago they lived. The accuracy is usually plus or minus 40-100 years.
So, yes, it’s a pretty accurate way of determine the age of something made from materials that were once alive, be it an animal bone, a piece of rope, the wooden beam of a house, or the leather from a pair of boots.
However, do you notice the flaw? The dating is only accurate if we assume that the cosmic radiation that bombards the earth today (which creates 14C) has always done so at the same rate. Yet, according to scientists, we now know that it varies over time. The Wikipedia article, ‘Radiocarbon dating’ explains it this way:
‘A raw BP [before present] date cannot be used directly as a calendar date, because the level of atmospheric 14C has not been strictly constant during the span of time that can be radiocarbon dated. The level is affected by variations in the cosmic ray intensity, which is in turn affected by variations in the Earth’s magnetosphere. In addition, there are substantial reservoirs of carbon in organic matter, the ocean, ocean sediments (see methane hydrate), and sedimentary rocks. Changes in the Earth’s climate can affect the carbon flows between these reservoirs and the atmosphere, leading to changes in the atmosphere’s 14C fraction.’
Interestingly, the vast majority of 14C dating carries us back to about 5,000 years, and then suddenly shows huge jumps (to 60,000 years or more). That is precisely the time that the Bible describes an enormous upheaval to the Earth’s climate, the Great Downpour (or flood) spoken of in Genesis chapter 6.
If Earth really did once suffer such a global catastrophy, the atmospheric changes, changes to the ocean sediments, and fluctuations of the magnetic field would have been enormous. So Bible-believers could reasonably expect the radiocarbon dating clocks to become unreliable around that time. Further, if these changes meant that less cosmic radiation reached the Earth’s surface before the flood, then Radiocarbon dating would produce much, much older dates than would actually be true.
So rather than radiocarbon dating being the best argument against the Bible timeline, it may actually fit very well. Therefore, whenever a human fossil or a human-made object is radiocarbon dated to 5,000 years or less, we believe it. If it’s dated to anything earlier, we assume it’s from the centuries immediately after the flood due to changes in the atmosphere.
Another tool to determine the ages of ancient artifacts is luminescence dating. It calculates ages of objects by measuring the radiation that has accumulated in the minerals around an object, such as sand.
But, how do they determine the accuracy of this ‘clock?’ By comparing its findings against “known dates as determined by radiocarbon testing.” In other words, it cannot be more reliable than the radiocarbon dating which (as we have already shown above) becomes wildly innacurate beyond 5,000 years.
Interestingly, the developers of this dating method say that it often shows up more recent dates for the ages of artifacts. Not wanting to rock the boat, when this happens they just assume that the earlier dates are correct.
What about dating non-living things like rocks (impossible to date with radiocarbon dating since they were never alive), or items in caves that were never exposed to sunlight (impossible to date with luminescence dating)? Scientists have developed another method that depends on the decay of uranium. This is radiometric dating.
While its description sounds very scientific and accurate, it has a big problem: there is no base data available to prove the accuracy of the tests. Further, the results can be easily skewed by contamination.
For example, researchers used the method to date a ring of stalactites found lying in a circle in a cave in France. The results indicated that the stalactites were broken off and moved some 176,000 years ago, by ‘Neanderthals’. Yet, can you see the flaw?
Stalactites form gradually from minerals being depositied by dripping water. Nobody knows how much the uranium content of the water or the minerals varied over time while the stalactites were forming. If less radiation was present in that water source in the past, the statactites would appear older. Likewise, if there was more in the past, they would appear more recent.
For a description of all the flaws in this dating method, see the external article, Radiometric Dating: Problems with the Assumptions.
The point is this: the very ancient dates purported for some artifacts are not as certain as many people are led to believe.
Another way to date things is Uranium-thorium dating. The BBC article Neanderthals were capable of making art reports:
‘The researchers used a technique called uranium-thorium dating to obtain accurate ages [of cave paintings in Spain]. It relies on measuring the radioactive decay of uranium that gets incorporated into mineral crusts forming over the paintings. The results gave a minimum age of 65,000 years ago for the cave art – this means that the Palaeolithic artwork must have been made by Neanderthals, a sister species to Homo sapiens, and Europe’s sole human inhabitants at the time. The findings are supported by dating of sea shells that were perforated to be used on necklaces and are stained with pigments. Two of the four samples dated to about 115,000 years ago – again, much further back in time than the known presence of modern humans in the region.’
Now, could these finds have been contaminated? Well, when similar tests were run on both bones and teeth enamel (a much more water-resistant material) found in France, that same uranium dating method described by the BBC as “accucrate” were proven less reliable. An article reports:
‘A series of well preserved mammal bones and horse teeth was analyzed from archaeological levels of Tournal Cave (Magdalenian, Aurignacian, and Mousterain) to test the hypothesis that well-crystallized enamel behaves more as a closed system [restistant to contamination] than does whole bone. The isotopic composition of bones and tooth enamels from this deposit meet criteria for confidence, and gave no reasons to suspect contamination’.
In other words, they found some teeth and bones with no sign of contamination. So they would date the items using various different dating methods to see how well they agreed with each other. From this they would learn whether unexpected contamination actually does occur, even to super-hard tooth enamel. If so, then it would put all uranium dating into serious doubt.
‘Two samples for which 231Pa [the mineral protactinium] could be analyzed showed internal concordance [agreement] with the respective 230Th [thorium] ages... however, comparison of the U-series [uranium] ages of the bones and the tooth enamel with stratigraphic position and 14C [radiocarbon dating] control indicated the [uranium] dates were not meaningful. In general, both bones and tooth enamels gave ages too young, although some were clearly too old. Neither group showed any systematic increase of age with stratigraphic depth.
‘Tooth enamel, therefore, shows no advantage over bone for U-series [uranium] dating for this site. In Tournal cave, both bones and enamel are apparently open to [Uranium], which is probably cycling [entering and leaving] as a consequences of post-depositional groundwater movement.’
So rather than uranium decay being a reliable way of dating, this study found that it was being carried in and carried out by water, making the results meaningless, and this is even the case in tooth enamel, the hardest bone and the most resistant to contamination. So why did the BBC speak of ‘accurate ages’? Isn't it a rule of science that any theory must be repeatably proven true before proclaimed a law?
The fact is that the uranium-based ‘65,000’ years date for the cave paintings, and the ‘115,000’ years date for the seashells, could be “meaningless” just like the uranium dating of the teeth and bones in France, probably caused by water contamination.
The TV program Adam Ruins Everything discussed the problem of testing scientific results. It stated, “Almost 80% of all published scientific claims cannot be duplicated in subsequent tests,” and “few subsequent tests are actually performed to check the accuracy of published results,” because there is “less interest” in checking the accuracy of someone else’s findings.
This is a statement that we challenge anyone to prove wrong!
One BBC article graphically illustrates that very misleading information is often foisted upon a naive public via unrepeatable ‘scientific’ tests. To quote:
The “reproducibility crisis” in science refers to the alarming number of research results that are not repeated when another group of scientists tries the same experiment. It can mean that the initial results were wrong. One analysis suggested that up to 85% of all biomedical research carried out in the world is wasted effort.
Also note the excellent July/August 2016 Discover Magazine article titled, Everything Worth Knowing About ... Scientific Dating Methods, which shows the actual limits of scientific dating methods and the questionable published results.
Are we ridiculing science?
Some say that scientists can’t trusted because they’re ‘anti-Bible’. We disagree, and feel that such a position is a slippery slope.
Consider the foolishness of the Catholic Church’s anti-science stance in their inquisition of Galileo. The Church made an assumption (with no Bible support) that the Sun revolves around the Earth. They were proven wrong, and Galileo’s findings were vindicated. Therefore, we don’t want to be numbered among such science-deniers.
What we have discovered, through our extensive research, is that mankind’s line of descent from Adam is verified by multiple historical sources. Further, these findings are easily shown to be consistent with radiocarbon dating. We also see that the fossil record shows the sudden appearance of every kind of life, with no gradual development in between.
As for everything else, such as the age of the earth, the exact way in which life was created, etc, what can we say? The Bible gives far fewer details.
Many religious conclusions that contradict scientific findings are based on wild assumptions about the meanings of a few words, all contained in just 31 poetic Bible verses. Genesis chapter 1 is basically a ‘500-word essay’ written in poetry to explain to people with no telescopes, satellites, or knowledge of advanced algebra how everything in the universe came into existence. Yet, remarkably, it achieves that very concisely and in the right order. This was the conclusion of such noted men of science as Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.
Some people assume that when God (who lives outside of our universe and in a place where time is irrelevant) spoke of His ‘days’ of creation, He was talking about the 24-hour periods as seen from the earth. Yet the word for ‘day’ can just refer to a measured time period. We even use it that way in English, like when we say “back in my day”.
So if the ‘days’ in Genesis are just a poetic way of talking about time periods, then the Bible does not tell us the exact age of the Earth, our solar system, or the stars. Then, how old is our universe? We would have to work that out ourselves. It seems that it may be billions of years old, since our telescopes have captured light from distant galaxies billions of light-years away, and as far as we know, the speed of light has not changed (although some scientists speculate that it could).
Of course, God could have made everything in six 24-hour days if he had wished. Yet one has to keep in mind that such an interpretation would be based upon just one possible definition of a word that was used in a poem, and the Bible gives no further information. Yet the Bible gives extremely detailed records for the timing of the flood and the chronology of Adam and his descentants.
On the other hand, some denominations try to look more educated and scientific and openly declare that Genesis is completely untrue. This makes no sense. You see, on the one hand, they believe in Jesus and ‘the New Testament,’ but Jesus and his Apostles spoke of a first man named Adam (Romans 5:14-16) and of a man named Noah (Matthew 24:37-38).
So they are saying that we should believe in Jesus, even though he didn’t know what he was talking about.
What about all the ‘experts’ on TV?
It’s shocking how most people now get (what they believe to be reliable) information about the Bible, its history, and its authenticity from TV programs. These present certain ‘experts’ presenting supposed ‘facts.’ Yet a lot of what they say is easily shown to be rubbish.
For example, in one TV documentary, an ‘expert’ stood in what was supposed to be Jesus’ tomb. Observing how large and deeply cut the tomb is into the rock, he argued that it couldn’t be Jesus’ tomb, because a simple carpenter could never afford such an elaborate burial place!
Surely even a child could identify the stupidity of that statement. Everyone knows that Jesus’ tomb was – famously – donated by a “a rich man” who was a disciple (Matthew 27:57). It’s also quite foolish to assume that we know the location of the tomb. As of 2021, there are three sites in Israel claiming to be it.
Yet nobody seems to ask why such incompetent people are considered as authorities, or why they were hired by the show’s producers.
What makes someone a ‘Bible expert’ anyway? Is it because they’ve done decades of unbiased Bible research? Or is it not because they’ve passed religious courses taught by skeptics and atheists? This is an area where ‘the foxes have been put in charge of the hen house.’ Yet people tend to believe what they see on TV as fact because ‘experts’ said so, and don’t realize how much rubbish they’re being fed.
Our years of experience translating and researching the Bible (and watching such programs) shows us that very few ‘experts’ have done much Bible reading. They also seem to miss major details, and most choose to deny or overlook archaeological evidence which supports Biblical accounts. So the public is fed on a diet of ignorance, skepticism, and the viewpoints of atheists or agnostics.
One good example is the documentaries that talk about the coming of the ‘Antichrist.’ Do you know what the Bible actually says about this, and who it is identified as being? Most people do not, because most people just believe what they’ve seen on television, or heard from some non-Bible-reading preacher. Go to 1 John 2:22, and you’ll be surprised to see what it says there. It’s like nothing you’ve been told by the ‘experts!’
Has the Bible changed over time?
Many sincere people ask, ‘How do we know that what’s written in there is really what it said originally?’
The Bible has been copied and translated hundreds if not thousands of times down to our day, and it’s true that errors have obviously crept in (and we can prove they have). Also, some people have maliciously changed certain texts (which we’ve fixed).
However, these changes are probably less than 1% of the Bible text. Also, we have literally thousands of manuscripts to compare. They equip us to correct mistakes and deliberate changes.
Let’s use an example. Let’s say we have four manuscripts for an ancient cookie recipe, but all four have errors:
- Manuscript #1: You need flo##, cocoa powder, and sugar.
- Manuscript #2: You need flour, cocoa power, and ####.
- Manuscript #3: You need flour, cocoa #####, and sugar.
- Manuscript #4: We need flour, and cocoa powder, sugar.
Can you reconstruct the original text? Of course you can! Now imagine that instead of four copies, you have dozens, from numerous geographical locations, and in multiple languages. In addition, you have other texts that quote the recipe, and yet other texts that discuss what the cookies taste like. That makes it even easier to reconstruct the text!
Now imagine that there’s a 5th manuscript, but historians tell you that it was copied by a group of health fanatics. It reads:
- Manuscript #5: You need flour, cocoa powder, and nothing else because sugar is unhealthy.
This is an example of a deliberate change, not a mistake. You can tell because of the weird way it reads (why would you list something that you don’t need in a recipe?), the testimony of the other manuscripts, and the known historical context. Together, it all proves that those final words are spurious.
Most changes to the Bible are much simpler to fix than even this example. A small number still have some uncertainty, and in our translation we provide translator notes to explan the problems. The problem verses, on the whole, are a very small part of the Bible text.
The first five books of the Bible (known as the Pentateuch) seem to have seen the least changes; probably because they included the law codes, and so were copied innumerable times and spread throughout Israel. Even the tiniest error would have been quickly pointed out by the zealous (or the litigious!).
However, the words of the Prophets did not fare as well, because their words often condemned Israel for their sins, so they weren’t read or copied as much. These require more research to restore, and the older the writing, the more likely it is that something has been lost. Yet there is so much redundancy between the writings of the Prophets that major errors stand out, and Jesus and the Apostles quoted them extensively too.
Also logic alone is sometimes enough to sniff out an error which requires researching and fixing. We believe that the Bible was written logically and coherently, so where we find a text that doesn’t make any sense, we assume there’s a either copying error, a translation error, or a deliberate change somewhere. We are then prompted to do more research by cross-checking with other manuscripts, similar passages, historical data, ancient quotes, and so on, to discover the original reading.
Even if a text cannot be 100% restored, we at least know where there are problems. For example, there’s a strong indication that the Gospel of Matthew is been badly corrupted in many places. This doesn’t matter enormously because we also have the Gospel of Mark, which (according to ancient writers) used Matthew as a source text. Also there is the Gospel of Luke, which shows very little corruption indeed. The Gospel of John supplements them all with extra context. It is interesting, then, that most denominations prefer to quote Matthew, and to build their doctrines upon that book, while ignoring the more accurate accounts of Mark and Luke. Indeed, some denominations have formulated entire doctrines on words that only appear in Matthew, but are nowhere to be found in the parallel accounts in the other Gospels.
The Bible has a lot of redundancy, and perhaps this is why there are four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, because God knew that corruption would occur, and that centuries would pass before scholars had the freedom and ability to restore them.
Indeed, there are too many instances of proven textual corruptions in Matthew to even list here. Suffice it to say that they start with Matthew 1:18 and run through to Matthew 28:19 (that’s the last chapter!). Why is this so? Well, early Christian writers tell us that Matthew was originally written in Aramaic and later translated into Greek. However, all copies of this Greek translation were either lost or destroyed, so it had to be translated again sometime in the early 2nd century.
Unfortunately, by this time the foretold false teachers had begun to arise from within Christianity, introducing teachings not taught by Jesus or his Apostles. These ones soon created sects. For example, in Revelation 2:15 Jesus says:
‘You also have those that are following the teachings of the Nicolaitans’
It seems that as part of this tendency, certain ones decided to annotate the text of Matthew with notes giving their own ideas and interpretations. Some people also tried to be helpful and inserted extra information, such as unverified ‘facts’ and ‘details’ about Jesus’ life (even a few passages of text). These were soon moved (or ‘transposed’) into the main body of text upon copying.
We know that there have been changes, because the oldest manuscripts of Matthew read very differently from each other. Also, Mark and Luke were certainly quoting from the original book of Matthew (ancient sources say Matthew was written first) or from the same sources used to write Matthew. When we compare the texts, you will see that there are important differences between what we see in Matthew, and what Mark and Luke recorded.
Most Bible translators would not tell you all this. They are not being honest. As of 2021, we simply do not have the required early manuscripts to fully restore Matthew. Nobody does, and anyone who claims that they do is either not being truthful with you, or not being truthful with themselves! However, archaeological discoveries are made all the time. Soon we may discover the evidence we need, and then we can update our translation. In the meantime, we have added translator notes to let the reader know about any uncertainties. Matthew is still a priceless Gospel; just be aware of the problems, and double-check whatever you learn from it with the rest of the Bible (something one should do anyway!).
So yes, the Bible text has undergone accidental and malicious changes over the years, but we’ve been able to indentify and fix the majority of these issues. If you randomly open the Bible now (especially our translation) you will likely be reading words very close to, or exactly the same as, what was intended by the original author. If there is any doubt about a verse, you’ll see a translator note.
Thanks to archaeology and the sharing of information, as time passes our Bible translation will get nearer to the original wording each year, not further away.
The DaVinci Code?
The book and movie The DaVinci Code was a worldwide craze for a short time in the early 21st century. What was it?
It was a thriller all based around a conspiracy theory that the real story of Jesus was covered up by the Church in order to maintain its power. What followed was a mish-mash of secret societies, rituals, the “Holy Grail”, murders, and so on. Many people (usually those with little knowledge of history) were especially fascinated by it because the author claimed it was based on fact and even said it was “accurate”! After the movie came out, however, and people saw it on the screen, it just looked so plainly ridiculous that the craze quickly died down and has never returned.
Yet it’s a great example of the sort of pseudoarchaeology and pseudohistory that is frequently shared around the world. It also teaches us what sort of critical thinking should be applied to any claims about the Bible, or indeed, anything at all. Let’s take a brief look at some claims, and what sort of critical thinking and questions should have been asked by DaVinci Code fans.
It all starts out with the premise that Leonardo DaVinci’s painting, The Last Supper, shows Mary Magdalene sitting next to Jesus instead of the Apostle John, as traditionally believed. This is supposed to be a ‘clue’ left behind by Leonardo to alert others to the ‘conspiracy’. The writer claims that it’s actually Jesus’ ‘secret wife’!
Yes, the person sitting on Jesus’ right in DaVinci’s painting could look like a woman to some, since he doesn’t have the traditional Jewish beard. However, critical thinking would be asking questions like, is there anything special about John that would cause him to be painted differently? And the answer is yes, he was the youngest apostle, and medieval painters had a habit of showing that a man is young by painting them clean-shaven. Consider, for example, Michelangelo’s David. Also, the ‘woman’ doesn’t look too different from the clean-shaven portrait of John the Baptist, also done by DaVinci. He is clean-shaven, has a round, feminine face, and has long hair. He is even painted with a similar style to the Mona Lisa.
But let’s ask: What did Leonardo DaVinci really know about Jesus anyhow, since he lived 14 centuries after Jesus died? And even if there was in fact a ‘DaVinci Code,’ from whom did the painter receive it? And why should we trust these words more than what is written in the Bible?
Also, was DaVinci’s knowledge of Jesus and the Bible accurate? Look at his painting; remember that early Jews didn’t sit around a table on chairs. It is repeatedly mentioned that they reclined (lying down, just like the Romans), and the table was low to the floor. There is no record of anyone sitting at a table in the New Testament. Therefore, how much of this painting should we trust as an accurate account of history?
Yet The DaVinci Code convinced many people who are easily swayed and who lack basic knowledge of history into believing that the Bible is some sort of secret codebook. They came to believe that Jesus got his teachings while traveling in India!
It also claims there were other ‘Gospel’ accounts that were hidden and suppressed because they tell a different story of Jesus’ life. But it fails to mention that no historian or scholar believes in these ‘Gospels,’ since they’re obviously terrible fakes (if you don’t believe me, just try reading them). They are all dated to at least a hundred years after Jesus’ death.
One of the more recent claims is that the story of Jesus originated in the written myths of the pagan Roman religion. Why? Several important events in Jesus’ life were also said to have occured in the lives of pagan Roman Gods. Yet, historians date those particular Roman epics to about 200 years after Jesus’ death. So who copied from whom?
What translating has taught us
We’re often asked ‘Have you learned anything new while producing the 2001 Translation?’
The answer is yes!
We have found five main things.
1. Bible history is surprisingly accurate
We were surprised to see how truly accurate and provable the Bible accounts are, despite all the unresearched and poorly-thought-out negative things that people have written and said. Archaeology, science, and internal textual evidence supports the Bible more than it detracts from it.
But was that not the conclusion we’d expected to reach before starting this massive project? No, not necessarily. Those who began the project didn’t do so with pre-formed conclusions; they seemed to genuinely want to find out for themselves what was true and what wasn’t. If they had found the Bible to be inaccurate and filled with myths and fables (as many claim), they say that they would have accepted that and gone no farther.
The people who started the project never started out with the idea of translating the whole Bible. At first it was just ‘the Matthew Project,’ an attempt to compare the interlinear translations to Matthew in modern Bibles. What was meant to be a small month-long editing job soon became a life-long all-consuming occupation.
It began because someone showed the project’s first contributors that many important words had been translated inaccurately in most Bibles. As writers and editors in the magazine-publishing industry, they also wondered whether they could make the Gospel of Matthew easier to read in modern English, while translating the questionable words properly.
The whole point was to find out whether translating the words as they really meant, and not as religious tradition would dictate, would still make sense. Well, they found that it did; so after finishing Matthew, they moved on to Mark, then to Luke, then to John, etc., and over time others joined in the effort.
2. No Christian denomination has it right
We were shocked to discover that all modern ‘Christian’ religions have wildly deviated from the teachings of the Bible, and that most ‘Christians’ have deviated far from the ways of the Patriarchs and the thinking of Jesus and his Apostles. Therefore, we have no particular denomination to recommend since no one Church has the truth.
3. Nearly all Bible translations are deliberately misleading and innaccurate
We have found that almost all Bibles have been translated to support existing religious traditions, and never (yes, never) for the purpose of helping some religion to better understand what the Bible really says.
We have yet to find any other Bible translation that isn’t filled with misleading and inaccurate translations. They all contain mistranslated words to reflect Church dogma. Most of this dogma began when Christians started to accept pagan teachings and practices following the deaths of Jesus’ Apostles. Other dogma may be more recent.
4. The answers are not clear
To our surprise, we found that the answers aren’t always clear, so we’ve concluded that Christians should be far more open minded and tolerant of each other’s beliefs! We’ve found that even such basic teachings as the hope of the righteous to be a bit unclear and ambiguous once all the scriptures have been examined.
Further, several New Testament texts (especially Matthew) have been corrupted, and we don’t (yet) have old enough manuscripts to restore it. Further, there are some definite contradictions between some verses. They may be fixed in time, of course, with further study and new archaeological discoveries, but they may never be.
Is that a bad thing? We don’t think so. How we react to others who have reached different conclusions reveals who we really are on the inside, whether we truly are Jesus’ disciples by the love that we have among ourselves, even when we disagree with each other. Looking at the hotbed of spiteful “Bible discussions” on the Internet, usually filled to the brim with personal attacks and insults, exposes many thousands of people as the very false disciples that Jesus warned about.
5. We do not (yet) have a perfect Bible text
We’ve found that the Bible text hasn’t remained pristine; it has in fact been corrupted by copyists, translators, and religious figures who tried to make it read in a way that would support their existing beliefs.
These corruptions quickly become apparent to translators, since there is enough redundancy in the Bible to show what has been changed. Since we now have enough access to ancient manuscripts, we can often see what was and wasn’t originally there. We believe the Bible to be inspired by God, but we only have 99.9% of it. Whether God grants us access to that last 0.1% is up to Him.