Is The Bible accurate in what it says from a historical viewpoint?
Historical and Archaeological Reliability Many critics have challenged the historical accuracy of the Bible and have been proven wrong. Here’s one example. Historians questioned the accuracy of the accounts surrounding Pontius Pilate’s crucifixion of Jesus. Pilate found nothing wrong with him and was reluctant to crucify an innocent man. The Jews put pressure on Pilate saying if you refuse this “you’re no friend of Caesar” (John 19:12). At which point Pilate gave in to the Jews. This did not fit historical records we had of Pilate who was a cruel and dominating man, not likely to give in to a group of Jews whom he hated. Many believed that this account was historically inaccurate because of the way in which it portrayed Pilate.
Recording the historical events of history
Later it was discovered that Pilate had been appointed by a man named Sejanus who was plotting to overthrow Caesar. Sejanus was executed with many of his appointees (Delashmutt, Sejanus, p. 55, 56). This demonstrated that Pilate was in no position to get in trouble with Rome. The Jews had him in a corner. If word returned to Rome that Jerusalem was in rebellion, Pilate would be the first to go. The gospel account was confirmed as accurate.
Many parts of the Bible have been challenged with the same result. Later archeology confirms the reliability of the biblical records down to the smallest detail. A respected Jewish archaeologist has claimed that,
“It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference.” (Shelly, p. 103). This is a strong statement for any archaeologist because if it were not true, he would quickly be condemned in his own field.
The conclusion that one draws from this material is that the Bible is a reliable historical document. Its accuracy has been proven numerous times. Its historical inaccuracy has never been demonstrated. So that when we approach the Bible, we do so with confidence that it records what actually happened. In which case we need to come to terms with the Bible’s claims. We can’t dismiss it out of hand because we were not there.
How do we know anything historically?
There is no “scientific” proof that Lincoln was the president. We cannot recreate him, bring him back to life or reproduce the experiment. We cannot calculate an equation that tells us that he was. But we can assert with a high degree of probability that Lincoln was indeed president and was assassinated in 1865. We do this by appealing to historical evidence. Many people saw Lincoln. We have some of his writings and even his picture, not to mention his face on our pennies. But none of this “proves”, scientifically that Lincoln ever lived or was the president.
The kind of evidence used in historical research is the same used in a court of law. In a courtroom case certain kinds of evidences are appealed to in order to determine what exactly happened, eyewitnesses are questioned, motives are examined, and physical evidence is scrutinized such as fingerprints or journal writings.
The evidence we have for Christ’s life, death, and resurrection is not as great as that for Lincoln, nor as recent But it is better than we have that Plato ever lived, or Homer, or many historical figures that we take for granted.
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