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Is the Bible a reliable historical record?

Published: 17 September 2016 (GMT+10)
wikipedia.org angel
Michael the Archangel by Peter Anton von Verschaffelt 1753.
Photo by Marco Verch

Florin G. from Romania writes:

Hi! Is there any historical evidence regarding 2 Kings 19:35 where one single angel put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp ?

Thanks in advance!

, CMI-US, responds:

The account in 2 Kings is a form of historical evidence. We have to ask: what evidence would we expect to have been produced, and of that, what would we expect to survive to the present day? For some thoughts related to this, see Is the Bible reliable as a historical record? and The limitations of physical evidence.

The account in 2 Kings is a form of historical evidence.

So even in the absence of corroborating evidence, it makes sense to trust the Bible as a historical witness. However, in this case, there is a corroborating account, from Sennacherib’s scribes, according to Kenneth Kitchen (see his On the Reliability of the Old Testament, p. 40ff and the related notes). Putting the two accounts together, we can get a wider context for the conflict. Of course the Assyrian account doesn’t admit a humiliating defeat, but there are details that are best explained by taking the Bible’s account at face value.

I hope this helps.

Andrew C. from the UK writes:

I read this article [not specified—Ed.] with incresing [sic] incredullity [sic].
There is ample evidence for the early composition and reliable copying of the text.

Your thinking starts from the premise that the Bible is literally true, an “eyewitness” account as you have it. Presumably as opposed to the Koran, or the other various religious texts, which I guess you dismiss as mythology because your view must be right.

So dinosaurs, along with everything else are 6000 years old.

Anything contradicting this is some kind of heresy I suppose, rather than scientific fact.

I guess the light we see from distant stars is also a maximum of 6000 yeays [sic] old! 

Lita Sanders, CMI-US, responds:

Thanks for writing in. Unfortunately, you did not let us know which article you’re commenting on, and you didn’t give me much content to answer, because your entire message was basically an expression of shock that we actually believe Scripture.

M. H. Schweitzer soft-tissue
These photos are from a 2005 paper by Mary Schweitzer which reported on the discovery of soft tissue, in addition to strengthening the red blood cell identification—see Still Soft and Stretchy 
Left: The flexible branching structures in the T. rex bone were justifiably identified as “blood vessels”. Soft tissues like blood vessels should not be there if the bones were 65 million years old.
Right: These microscopic structures were able to be squeezed out of some of the blood vessels, and can be seen to “look like cells” as the researchers said. So once again there is scope for Dr Schweitzer to ask the same question, “How could these cells last for 65 million years?”

First of all, each ancient text must be considered on its own. The issues of biblical authenticity are completely different from the Quran which was composed much differently and much later. I happen to be a specialist in the New Testament so could discuss the evidence for the composition and transmission of the text in more detail than I can go into in a short response. There is ample evidence for the early composition and reliable copying of the text. There is also good evidence for its historicity.

Second, which is more unlikely—that dinosaurs lived only thousands of years ago, or that soft tissue and DNA from dinosaurs survived for millions of years?

Third, any cosmologist will tell you that clocks in different locations run at different rates. GPS satellites have to take this into account to work properly. Creation cosmology uses that fact to explain how we can see light from stars that are billions of light-years away if the universe is only 6,000 years old. See our astronomy and astrophysics Q&A.

You mention “scientific fact”, but you didn’t present one. If you have some specific questions, as opposed to expressions of shock that people exist whose beliefs differ from yours, please feel free to write in with them.

Helpful Resources

How Did We Get Our Bible?
by Lita Cosner, Gary Bates
US $3.50
Soft Cover
Christianity for Skeptics
by Drs Steve Kumar, Jonathan D Sarfati
US $17.00
Soft Cover
The Genesis Account
by Jonathan Sarfati
US $39.00
Hard Cover