Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Has the Old Testament Been Corrupted

It is easier to establish the preservation and historical reliability of the New Testament then the Old. That is because the Old  is set in an earlier period of history. But we do need to evaluate the evidence. Now there is good evidence of preservation from before the time of Christ. There are the Dead Sea Scrolls. Also the Hebrew Old Testament was preserved by the Jews, while the Christians preserved the Greek translation. It is difficult to see how they would have agreed together to alter it. There are also numerous quotes in early Jewish and Christian sources. Now there is the question of the Apocrypha. But the idea that the later Christian church could add to the original Jewish Bible does not accord with Scripture or reason (Romans 3:2). 

If we go back before that, there is more room for doubt, and many have come up with fanciful theories of how the books were composed. (My basic answer to this is, people do not write books that way. It would be one thing if they could produce physical evidence, but there is none. The argument is  based on the plausibility of the theories and they are implausible.) But we are faced with a large amount of archeological evidence confirming the history behind the Old Testament. Now there have been archeologists in recent times who have tried to cast doubt on this, but this has not been based on any new discovery, but is an attempt get around the evidence that is there. There is a considerable amount of evidence for the times of the kings of Israel and Judah. There has been a tendency to minimize or deny the kingdoms of David and Solomon, but there is new evidence to support them as well. Now we do still lack clear-cut evidence for the earliest Old Testament events, the Exodus and the patriarchs; and there is argument on both sides as to whether various pieces of evidence support one view or the other. (This is not surprising, considering the earliness of the events, nor would we expect any Egyptian chronicler writing in the manner of the time to record an event like the Exodus.) But it is amazing how accurate the later parts are if they were written long after the facts. In comparison, while Mycenae and Troy have been shown be real places, there is no record of the details and individuals involved in early Greek history. The early history of Rome is generally considered legendary and lacks detailed proof. The Greek records of Egypt and Mesopotamia are extremely garbled. But the kings of Israel and Judah, along with the other rulers they dealt with, appear repeatedly in inscriptions and records of the period. It is difficult to see how legends created long after the time could have this accuracy. Now this does not prove that the message of the Old Testament is true. But it does mean it needs to be dealt with based on the evidence.      

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