The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible


The Historical Reliability of Genesis and Exodus: Summary of Major Points



The biblical text refers to Adam and Eve as real historical persons, who gave birth to real children (Genesis 4:1,25; 5:lff.)

The Genesis text refers to its events as historical, using the Hebrew word toledoth, which is variously translated "history," "generations," "account," and "records" (Genesis 6:9; 9:12; 10;1; 11:10; 17:7,9); these events include creation (2:4) and lineage of Adam and Eve (Genesis 5:iff) 


Adam is listed at beginning of the ancestry of Jesus (whose existence has been securely established) (Luke 3:38).


Unless there was a literal first man and woman, the human face of today could not exist.



An early date [for Adam and Eve] is built on questionable assumptions that there are missing genealogical records (see Genesis 5; U; 1 Chronicles 1:1-24); and that the creation "days" in Genesis 1 are not 24-hour periods. 


The early date is built on the assumption that early fossil dating is accurate, and that these early fossils were human. These "human" fossils have been based on scant remains that have proven to be unreliable and speculative.


Genesis l is not written in Hebrew poetical form (couplets and parallelism; for example, see Psalms or Proverbs) despite the presence of what some believe to be parallel ideas in the days of creation (Genesis l).


According to Dr Walter Kaiser, the events of Genesis 1—11 are written in regular prose form (not poetic parallelism). Normal "use of the waw consecutive with the verb to describe sequential acts, the frequent use of the direct object sign and the so-called relative pronoun, the stress on definitions, and the spreading out of these events in a sequential order indicates that we are in prose and not in poetry"16


Genesis 2—9 is written in plain historical narrative (like other historical narratives found in the Old Testament) without the presence of typical Hebrew poetical form.


The New Testament (Jesus, Matthew, Paul) considered the creation, and Flood literal historical events (Matthew 19:4; Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians15:45; l Timothy2:13-15),

Near-Eastern scholars such as K. A. Kitchen and others have confirmed that the earlier Mesopotamian myth accounts (of creation and the Flood) should not be viewed as source material for the early chapters of Genesis, which were written later. Kitchen affirms that early legend or myth does not become more historical or simplified overtime.17


The creation account describee in Genesis 1 stands in contradiction to macro-evolutionary theory. However, it is important to note that the Bible (domain of Christian theology) and nature (domain of scientific inquiry) do not stand in contradiction to each other, since both domains have the same author—God. The interpretations of nature by fallible scientists and the interpretations of the Bible by fallible theologians are what stand in real conflict.


Macro-evolutionary theory cannot adequately account for basic philosophical questions such as 1) How can something come from nothing? 2) How do information systems (for example, DNA) come from non-intelligent causes? 3) How does life emerge from nonliving causes? These questions are answered in Genesis.


Information systems such as DNA, the apparent fine-tuning of the universe and the galactic and solar habitable zones, and complex life require an intelligent cause for their existence. Natural, nonintelligent causes cannot explain the origin and sustaining of these conditions.


Biochemist Dr. Michael Behe has demonstrated through the concept of "irreducible complexity" (sec Darwin's Black Box) that simple cells and simple life forms could not have developed in a slow, incremental Darwinian fashion over long periods of time. Rather, they must have developed fully formed with all biological systems present all at once. In other words, these forms are irreducibly complex. These scientific observations are confirmed by Dr. William Dembski (see The Design of Life) and Dr. Stephen Meyer (see Signature in the Cell).


Considering Noah and the Flood to be myth comes from an over-emphasis on surface similarities between mythical and biblical accounts and the neglect of identifying the significant differences. These similarities do not demonstrate dependency but rather indicate both accounts share a common historical event. The earlier accounts are written in a highly mythical manner, whereas the later Genesis account is written in a historical, non-mythical style that indicates the later Genesis account is not dependent upon earlier Mesopotamian accounts. Near-Eastern experts have shown that myth never becomes more historical and simpler over time. 


The Old Testament considers Noah and the Flood historical, indicated by the use of biblical words such as Noahs "history" "generation," and "genealogy," and even "nations" that came from him (Genesis 6:9; 10:141; 1 Chronicles 1:3-4; Isaiah54:9; Ezekiel 14:14,20).


The New Testament considers both Noah and the Flood historical (Matthew 24:37-38; Hebrews 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5;  3:5-15).


Scientific evidence gained from aquatic and nonpolar life, as well as geological evidence, demonstrates the earth was previously covered with water.I8


The presence of over two dozen literary works (for example, the Gilgamesh Epic, the Atrahasis Epic, and so on) and archaeological finds (for example, the Sumerian Kings List) mentioning the great Flood, from various people-groups (Chinese, Hindus, Indians, Mexicans, Hebrews, Greeks, Hawaiians, Mesopotamians, and so on) attests to the historicity of the Flood account in Genesis. 19


(YES  OF  COURSE  AS  PEOPLE  SPREAD  AROUND THE  WORLD  THEY  WOULD  REMEMBER  OR  HAVE  BEEN  TOLD  ABOUT  A  "GRET  FLOOD" -  WHICH  DOES  NOT  MEAN  IT  WAS  WORLDWIDE.  NOAH'S  FLOOD  WAS  REGIONAL,  AS  PROVED  BY  STUDIES  ON THIS  WEBSITE.  THE  WORLDWIDE  FLOOD  IN  GEN. 1:1-2;  AFTER  THE  DINOSAUR  AGE;  WHICH  FOR  BOTH  EVENTS  WE  ARE  NOT  TOLD  HOW  LONG  THEY  WERE;  THE  DINOSAUR  AGE  COULD  HAVE  BEEN  MILLIONS  OR  BILLIONS  OF  YEAR  -  Keith Hunt)


According to one naval architect, the design (long and rectangular) of the Ark was one best-suited for stability and durability.20


The gopher wood materials used to build the Ark have been recognized for their strength and flexibility under pressure. Some have considered the Ark to be more stable than our modern shipping vessels and modem ocean liners.21 Unlike modern cruise ships, Noah's Ark was built for stability, not for speed (which reduces stability).


Instead of the extreme cargo weight (animals, feed, supplies, and so on) being a liability for the Ark, the weight provided the boat with stability in turbulent waters.


Ancient and medieval writers such as Josephus,22 Theophilus of Antioch(AD 115-185), Epiphanius of Salamis(AD 315-403),24 Chiysostom (AD 345-407),25 Isidore of Seville (AD 560-636),26 Jehan Haithon (13th century),27 Sir John Mandeville (d. 1372),28; andAdam Olearius (AD 1603—1671),29 acknowledge the existence of Noahs Ark.  

Recent archaeological excavation in Mesopotamia has unearthed remains of at least 30 enormous stair-stepped pyramid-shaped towers, known today as ziggurats. The most ancient of these is located at Eridu and dates from the late fifth to early fourth millennium BC, lending historical credibility to the Genesis account. Among its many functions was to provide a place for a temple, which was located on top and dedicated to a god or gods.


The building materials described in Genesis 11:3 (thoroughly burnt "bricks" and "bitumen for mortar"-—ESV) have been confirmed to have been in use in Mesopotamia (at Samarra) by the sixth, millennium BC. For example, the Ziggurat of Ur-Nammu at Ur is made from these materials.


Mesopotamian literature reflects the Genesis account of the confusion of languages. For example, the fourth-millennium BC Sumerian legend, known as "Ennmerkar and the Lord of Aratta" contains allusions to a unified language and a subsequent diversifying of language by the gods (see "The Spell of Nudimmud").


The word Babel, the term used in association with this event by God (11:9), is still used today to refer to unintelligible speech. Furthermore, the Mesopotamian area of "Babylon" adopted this name from early times, and it is located in the general vicinity of the Land of Shinar, where the events took place.


Of the two major theories of the origin and development of language (monogenesis and candelabra theories), neither can explain the linguistic phenomena of unity and diversity of current language. However, the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel adequately explains why diverse languages have similar words and speech, without the need for development over long time periods.


Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of written languages (pictographs) on clay tablets dating to the mid-fourth millennium BC. This is nearly 2,000 years prior to the events of Genesis being written down.


God could have revealed these events to the author of Genesis at a later time. To reject this possibility would require the rejection of miracles. However, a dismissal of miracles would first require evidence that God does not exist. For if God exists, then miracles (which are acts of God) are possible.


The repeated phrase "this is the account of.,." (Genesis 2:4; 5:1) implies that Moses had earlier records from which to compile Genesis. Other extra-biblical works are mentioned throughout the Old Testament as sources for biblical authors, such as the Book of Jasher (Joshua 10:13) and The Books of the Wars of the Lord (Numbers 21:14); "The Chronicles of Samuel.. .Nathan the prophet.. .and... Gad the seer" may also fit in this category (1 Chronicles 29:29 ESV). 


Due to the presence of the repeated phrase "This is the generation of...," Near-Eastern scholar E.J. Wiseman posits that the history of Genesis was originally written on clay tablets that would be continually passed on to succeeding generations.30 This is consistent with Moses collecting these sources and editing them into their final version, especially since Genesis could not have been written any later than Moses' time period (that is, mid-second millennium BC).


Jesus and the New Testament writers believed the early chapters of Genesis were historical. 


Examples include:


Creation of the universe (Genesis 1)—Mark 13:19; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; 2; 


Creation of Adam and Eve (Genesis 1—2)—Mark 10:6; 1 Timothy 2:13; 1 Corinthians 11:8-9; 15:45; 


God resting on the seventh day (Genesis 1)—Hebrews 4:3-4;


The marriage of Adam and Eve (Genesis 2)—Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:7-8; Ehesians 5:31; 1 Corinthians 6:16;


The temptation of Eve (Genesis 3)—1 Timothy 2:14; 2 Corinthians 11:3;       


The disobedience of Adam (Genesis 3)—Romans 5:12,14-19; 


The sacrifices of Abel and Cain (Genesis 4)—Hebrews 11:4;


The murder of Abel by Cain (Genesis 4)---Matthew 23:35; l John3:12; Jude 11;


The birth of Seth (Genesis 4)—Luke 3:38;    

 

The translation of Enoch to heaven (Genesis 5)-—Hebrews 11:5;


Marriage before the Food (Genesis 6)—Luke 17:27;

The Flood and the destruction of mankind (Genesis 7)— Matthew 24:38-39.     



After W.F. Albright conducted an exploration of the southeastern Dead Sea area in the early twentieth century, Sodom was no longer relegated to the pages of myth. He posited that the location of the city should be at the southeastern shores of the Dead Sea, the area known today as Bab edh-Dhra Though chronological (too early dates) and geographical challenges still exist for identifying this location as Sodom, Albright forcefully shifted the Sodom story from "myth" to plausibility.


Recent geographical research and archaeological excavation by Dr. Steven Collins at Tall ei-Hammam, which, is located northeast of theDeadSea, appear to answer the geographical and chronblogical challenges still hampering the southern location. After eight seasons of excavation, Collins has unearthed impressive archaeological evidence (to be published soon) to support his identification of Tal el-Hammam as Sodom., Evidences include a massive destruction layer, catastrophic high-heat indicators, 40 geographical markers supporting biblical descriptions, strata supporting the chronological context of Sodom, absence of Late Bronze Age pottery, and a hiatus in population (even though this was a prime location) of  nearly 700 years after its fiery destruction (see full article on Sodom in this book). 

Near-Eastern scholars such as William F. Albright, Edwin Yamauchi, E. J. Wiseman, K. A. Kitchen, and others are convinced by the archaeological evidence of the historicity of the Genesis patriarchs. The detailed descriptions of geography, customs, cultural characteristics, religion, linguistics, and law codes within the Bible have established the historical nature of the patriarchal narratives when;   compared to actual geography and archaeological finds.31  Archaeological discoveries throughout the Near East have clarified and added to the argument for historicity. For example, the Ama-ma Tablets, Nuzi Tablets, Mari Letters, and Ras Shamra Tablets, have contributed to our understanding of the similar cultural, legal, and religious expressions during the patriarchs' time period and among their contemporaries.


Archaeological discoveries in the twentieth century answered
this hypothesis. For example, in 1929, archaeologists (Claude F, A. Schaeffer and George Chenet in northern Syria, working in ancient Ugarit, today known as Minetel-Beida) unearthed a royal palace, scribal school, and a library adjoining a temple that contained a cache of archive documents dating to the late fifteenth century BC. The tablets were written in a variety of languages; however, the most often used was a Canaanite language that is very similar to Hebrew. The tablets were understood to be describing a sophisticated law code very similar in style to the Law of Moses. These texts also describe the dark religious practices of the Canaanite peoples in the land prior to Joshua's conquest. These wicked practices offer confirmation of the Canaanite deities, practices, and religious customs described in the Old Testament, including 1) the suffocation of children, who were buried alive, evidenced by the discovery of thousands clay jars containing the remains of children who were sacrificed; 2) absence of morality among the gods; 3) orgiastic worship of nature; 4) male and female religious prostitution; 5) malice and jealousy among the gods; 6) other types of child sacrifice; 7) pornographic nudity with serpent symbols; 8) high religious mythology; and 9) sensual idol worship. These finds give new meaning and significance to the divine command given to Joshua and the Israelites to amputate the moral gangrene of the Canaanites and their religion.


The Ras Shamra texts use a number of terms similar to those associated with religious offerings described by Levitical terminology. These include "whole" (ishsheh), "burnt" (kale), "peace" (shelamin), and "guilt" (asham) offerings. Because of the presence of sophisticated law codes contemporary to Moses' time as evidenced in the Ras Shamra Tablets, it can no longer be asserted that Moses could not have penned the Mosaic law as early as the fifteenth century BC. Moreover, the texts have contributed much to our understand of the development of the Hebrew script, as well as our understanding of the Old Testament, from about 1500 BC to the modern day. Furthermore, this discovery has dealt a mortal blow to negative higher critics who had asserted that Aramaic words contained in the Old Testament did not develop until after the exile to Babylon (sixth century BC). Several Aramaisms were found in the Ugaritic and Ras Shamra texts contemporary with Moses, which refutes this notion. (See our section on the Exodus in the archaeological portion of this book).


The biblical text indicates that the Exodus occurred in the late sixteenth to mid fifteenth century BC, and the text says Israel entered Canaan forty years later (Exodus 12:40; 1 Kings 6:1; Judges 11:26;   Acts 13:19-20).


The Merneptah Stele (an official Egyptian government inscription) confirms that Israel was already in Canaan by the late thirteenth century BC, which eliminates any possibility of arguing for a late thirteenth-century date for the Exodus.


Other plausible solutions have been proposed that make it no longer necessary to accept a late date for the Exodus. First, Donovan Courville has argued that there are about 600 extra years in the Egyptian chronology due to the listing of sub-rulers living simultaneously with Egyptian pharaohs. Previously, these rulers were, thought to be successor kings, but now it is possible that they were contemporaneous with other rulers, which would shorten the Egyptian chronology considerably. When these chronological adjustments are made, it appears that Israelite history and the chronology of the Egyptian kings harmonize——including the early Exodus date of the mid-fifteenth century BC. Second, some have suggested (based on recent archaeological excavation) lowering the date of the Middle Bronze Age (MBA) to about 1400 BC (instead of about 1550 BC), which would bring harmony between the fall of the cities of Canaan and Joshua's account of the conquest. Further, the late date for the Exodus could be based on the mistaken notion that the city of "Raamses" (Exodus 1:11) was named after Ramses the Great, and that there was an absence of building projects in the Nile Delta before 1300; both of which would make the biblical account of the condition described in Exodus implausible prior to 1300.32 These ideas can be answered by recognizing that 1) the name "Ramses" may be referring to an earlier individual; after all, Ramses the Great is Ramses II (there must have been an earlier individual by this name—that is, Ramses I); 2) Genesis 47:11 describes the Nile Delta region as "Raamses" (the same place Jacob and family settled).33


The date adjustments considered above would also fit nicely with certain Egyptian literary finds. For example, there are parallel accounts of the plagues that occurred at the time of the Exodus. The Ipuwer Papyrus (a 13th-century BC manuscript copy, meaning that the original was written earlier) was discovered in Egypt in 1828; it was translated in 1909 by Alan H. Gardner and found to have a direct parallel to the plagues brought on Egypt by God through Moses in Exodus (see chapter 17, "Exodus and Conquest," for more detailed discussion).


Meredith Kline has argued convincingly that the critics' seventhcentury BC date for Deuteronomy should be rejected.34 Rather, Kline argues that the form of Deuteronomy reflects the Hittite suzerainty treaty common in the second millennium BC, the same time period during which Moses is traditionally considered to have authored Deuteronomy.


Chart by Joseph M. Holden, 2013

………………..


One  final  word  on  the  Pentateuch


While  literally  thousands  of  finds  have  validated  the  persons  and  events  presented  in  the  Old  Testament,  not  a  single  archeological  find  has  refuted  anything  in  the  Pentateuch.  Noted  biblical  scholar  Donald. J. Wiseman  affirms  theta  "The  geography  of  Bible  lands  and  visible  remain  of  antiquity  were  gradually  recorded  until  today  more  than  25,ooo  sites  within  the  region  and  dating  of  Old  Testament  times,  in  their  broadest  sense,  have  been  located." 35

……….


SURELY  WHAT  HAS  BEEN  FOUND  SO  FAR  SHOULD  PROVE,  GOD  EXISTS,  AND  HE  IS  MORE  THAN  POWERFUL  ENOUGH  TO  RECORD  THE  TRUTH  IN  HIS  WORD.  IT  IS  WRITTEN  JESUS  SAID,  "THY [THE  FATHER'S]  WORD  IS  TRUTH [ JOHN  17:17].  AND  SO  IT  IS.


THE  ETERNAL  IN  HEAVEN  IS  MIGHTY  ENOUGH  TO  HAVE  HIS  WORD  RECORDED  AND  PRESERVED,  ACCURATELY,  EVEN  INSPIRED,  OR  THE  APOSTLE  PAUL  PUT  IT,  "GOD  BREATHED."


JESUS  IS  THE  ONLY  NAME  GIVEN  WHEREBY  ANYONE  CAN  BE  SAVED [ACTS  4:12] …. DENY  THE  BIBLE,  YOU  DENY  JESUS  CHRIST  AS  SAVIOR.  YOU  DENY  GOD  THE  FATHER  AS  THE  CREATOR  OF  THIS  UNIVERSE,  AND  THE  GIVER  OF  MERCY  AND  GRACE  AND  SALVATION.


THOSE  WHO  WILL  DENY  HIM,  WHO  WILL  NOT  REPENT,  OF  THEIR  FOOLISH  MIND-SET,  WILL  ONE  DAY  HAVE  TO  STAND  BEFORE  THAT  GOD,  AND  BE  REWARDED  WITH  ETERNAL  DEATH  IN  THE  LAKE  OF  FIRE.  AS  THEY  ENTER  THEY  WILL  SURELY  KNOW  GOD  IS  NOT  DEAD,  GOD  IT  ALIVE,  HE  EXISTS;  THEY  WILL  SURELY  KNOW  THEN  WHAT  THEY  ARE  GOING  TO  MISS  OUT  ON….. ETERNAL  LIFE  IN  HIS  KINGDOM  FAMILY.  AS  JESUS  SAID,  THERE  SHALL  BE  WAILING  AND  GNASHING  OF  TEETH.


BUT  THAT  NOT  NEED  BE  YOU!  ACCEPTING  JESUS  AS  YOUR  PERSONAL  SAVIOR,  BEING  WILLING  AS  JESUS  SAID,  TO  LIVE  BY  EVERY  WORD  OF  GOD;  TO  LET  THIS  MIND  BE  IN  YOU  THAT  WAS  IN  CHRIST  JESUS;  YOU  CAN  LIVE  FOREVER  IN  THE  GLORIOUS  FAMILY  OF  GOD.


Keith Hunt