Psalm 119:42 "I will have an answer to him who reproaches me, for I trust in Your word."
When scholars want to determine if the contents of any ancient document is trustworthy, one of the tests they apply is the External Evidence Test. It asks the question ‘Are there sources of data apart from the document under examination that confirm or deny it’s accuracy, reliability and authenticity? One of the best ways scholars can apply this External Evidence test is through the use of Archaeology.
Archaeology is the science of excavating and then analyzing the artifacts and architecture of past human cultures to learn more about them. Since the Bible is a document of the ancient history of many different civilizations, and it contains many very specific details about the culture and practices of ancient people groups, archaeology is an excellent tool to use in applying the External Evidence Test to the Bible.
Nelson Glueck, an American archaeologist who served as president of Hebrew Union College from 1947 until his death in 1971, was a pioneer in biblical archaeology and responsible for the discovery of over 1,500 ancient sites. Here’s his thoughts on the impact of archaeology on the reliability of the Bible: "No archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference. We can attest to the incredibly accurate historical memory of the Bible, and particularly so when it is fortified by archaeological fact." So what is an example of how archaeology has strengthened the reliability and trustworthiness of the Bible?
In John 19:13, it says that "When (Pontius) Pilate heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha". John 19:13 describes the Roman Prefect, Pilate, passing judgment on Jesus at a location known as the stone pavement. Higher critical scholarship used this account in John 19 to discredit the Bible because no mention of a "Pavement" had ever been found in any source but the Bible (therefore it never existed – it was added to "dress up the account.").
But this Pavement area has been discovered, and is a tourist site today. It turns out that it was buried when the city was rebuilt in the time of Hadrian and was not discovered until recently. As Professor William Albright says in ‘The Archaeology of Palestine’: "The Pavement was the court of the Tower of Antonia, the Roman military headquarters in Jerusalem. It was buried after the fall of Jerusalem, when the city was rebuilt in the time of Hadrian." Archaeology confirms the biblical record from John.
If you are looking for ways to investigate whether the Bible is a book whose contents you can trust, that can give you answers to the questions you have about life, take the words of King David in Psalm 119:42 to heart. God says you can trust His Word.
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called "Faith: Substance and Evidence." He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.