Can the Bible Be Trusted? (Pt. 2)
For years, skeptics have attacked the Bible’s validity and have cast it off as “just another book.” Many unbelievers have made it their life’s work to denounce God’s word and have unfortunately caused the faith of many to be shipwrecked. These unbelievers are in our school systems, they are on street corners, they appear in the TV shows we watch, and are prominent in many other places. It’s imperative that true Bible believers always be ready to give a defense for the hope that lies within us whenever our faith is challenged by the faithless (1 Pet. 3:15).
In part one of this study, we examined why the Bible can be trusted based on the textual evidence. In this article, I would like for us to consider some reasons why the Bible can be trusted based on the archeological evidence. Keep in mind, these examples only scratch the surface of the available evidence known to man.
Luke’s Accuracy in the Book of Acts
Sir William Ramsey was a professor of classical archeology at Oxford University. He was a skeptic who became well known as a New Testament scholar. He set out on a mission to debunk the book of Acts, which was penned by Luke. In the book, Luke mentions 32 countries, 9 Mediterranean islands and 54 cities (Harrub, p. 122). Ramsey spent his life’s work trying to find any geographical inaccuracies from Luke’s account in Acts. What he found was that Luke had actually described the geographical details beautifully after traveling to such places like Greece and modern-day Turkey. In fact, Luke was so accurate that Ramsey actually turned into a believer of God’s word! In his book, The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament, the professor wrote,
Acts may be quoted as a trustworthy historical authority…. Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy; he is possessed of the true historic sense; he fixes his mind on the idea and plan that rules in the evolution of history; and proportions the scale of his treatment to the importance of each incident…. In short, this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians (p. 222).
Ramsey’s revelation is noteworthy and admirable. After coming to the conclusion that the book of Acts—as well as all of the New Testament—is factual, he spent more time claiming to others that God’s word is real instead of attacking its validity, thanks to the archeological evidence.
The Cyrus Cylinder
In the book of Isaiah, we are introduced to a certain king of the future Medo-Persian Empire who would eventually free the children of Israel from 70 years of Babylonian captivity. The text reads thus: “Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, And he shall perform all my pleasure, Saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” And to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid”’ (Isa. 44:28). The prophet then records for us in chapter 45 that Cyrus “will let God’s exiles go free, not for price, nor reward” (vs. 13, emp. added ). This prophecy was made 150 years before Cyrus was even born, and yet, God’s word concerning him was confirmed in 2 Chronicles 36:22-24 and Ezra 1:1-4. God used Cyrus to defeat the Babylonians in 539 B.C., which opened the door to His people eventually returning to Jerusalem. This historic feat by the Medo-Persian king was recorded on a baked clay cylinder that was discovered by Hormuzd Rassam in 1979. The cylinder, which is more famously known as “Cyrus the Great Cylinder,” describes the king’s defeat of Babylon in 539 B.C. and the permission he granted to the Jewish exiles to return back to their homeland. The cylinder records, “I [Cyrus] gathered all their [former] inhabitants and returned [to them] their habitations” (Harrub, Pg. 129). This great discovery stands as further proof that Biblical truth aligns with secular history!
The Pilate Inscription
If you have spent any amount of time reading the New Testament, then you have more than likely come across the name “Pontius Pilate” (see Matt. 27:1ff; Luke 3:1; John 18:38; 19:4,6; Mark 15; Acts 4:27). He governed the Roman province of Judaea from AD 26-36 and oversaw the unfair trial of Jesus. This is the same man who acquitted Jesus on three different occasions but ultimately gave into the constant pleas by the Jews to crucify the Son of God. For years, skeptics doubted that Pilate even existed—he was just a man who was part of ancient literature. That all changed in 1961 when a group of Italian-sponsored archaeologists found a two-foot by three-foot slab of rock that had been used in the construction of a Roman theater (Butt, Archaeology and the New Testament). Deemed “The Pilate Stone,” the inscription on it reads, “The prefect of Judaea, Pontius Pilate, erected the Tiberium (temple in honor of Tiberius Caesar) to the August Gods” (Harrub, Pg. 130). This single excavation cast off any doubt that Pilate was a real person and confirms that he existed during the time of Jesus Christ.
As mentioned earlier, these ancient discoveries don’t even touch the surface of the large swath of Biblical archaeological evidence. Time would be well spent if we covered the Moabite Stone, Sennacherib’s Prism, the Ebla Tablets, the Pool of Siloam, and a host of other elements that are linked to the Biblical record. I hope this study has “wet your whistle” and will lead you to look into more details concerning the archaeological finds centered around the Bible. Then I pray that you will come to the conclusion that the Bible can be trusted!
The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament, by William Mitchell Ramsay, Hodder and Stoughton, 1915, pp. 222.
Harrub, Brad. Convicted: a Scientist Examines the Evidence for Christianity. Focus Press, 2009.
Butt, Kyle. “Archaeology and the New Testament.” ApologeticsPress.org, apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=1420.