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Is the Bible historically accurate?


Thank you for asking your question about historical accuracy of the Bible.

As Christians we believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. That is to say that the Bible, in its original form, is without error and is accurate in all manner of issues including historical and scientific.

The Bible tells us that all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). This means that it is helpful and accurate in all areas of our life, not just spiritual matters, but also in practical ones too.

However, a sceptic to this fact will point to a couple of examples to try and undermine the Bible's authority.

A first example they will give is in relation to numbers. If, for example, a Bible verse mentions 20,000 people, this might not be an accurate number; there could be slightly more or less than this number. Surely, if as Christians we are to say that the Bible is accurate, and the actual number was 20,001 people, this shows the Bible is not factually correct?

However, this isn't what happens in real life. If someone asked for the distance between two points, and I said 8 miles, but it was actually 8.1 miles, would we say I have lied? Of course not! We understand that with measurements and numbers, there is a certain level of flexibility. As long as the numbers are within parameters of certainty, we are happy to accept that a number given is truthful.

The same is true with the Bible. Even though numbers may not be exactly as they are written, we appreciate that they are still within acceptable parameters and are therefore still trustworthy and true.

A second criticism by sceptics is in relation to places, names and events. The argument here is that there is little or no historical record, outside of the Bible, for tribes, events or dates.

However, over time the Bible has been shown to be correct through archaeological findings. Documents, tablets and other evidence has been found - and continues to be found - that is in line with what is written in the Bible.

An example of this is the Taylor Prism, telling the annals of Assyrian king Sennacherib, discovered by Colonel Taylor in Nineveh in 1830, currently on display in the British Museum. Before the discovery of this important historical artefact, there was little confirmation that the Biblical account of Hezekiah was accurate. However, the Taylor Prism, told from the perspective of Sennacherib, recounts his victories, the size of his army and the amount of tribute that Hezekiah paid to Sennacherib. All of these confirm the biblical accounts found in 2 Kings 18.

The story does differ at the end, where the Bible tells us of Sennacherib's losses and his return back to Assyria. However, considering that the Taylor Prism only contains gloating victories of Sennacherib, as was customary for kings at the time, this is not a surprise.

Through just this one example - and there are countless others - we see that the historical record agrees with the Bible.

We must also investigate and understand that the Bible can be trusted in and of itself. The manner of its creation, distribution and preservation means that what was originally written at the time was then handed to the next generation. Considering that these writings were read allowed and memorised by the people, any errors or changes would have been noticed and declared as wrong.

As this did not happen, we know that we can trust that what is in the Bible today is what was originally written thousands of years ago by inspiration and preservation by the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God.

Jesus tells us to "seek and you will find" (Luke 11:9) and "you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). I encourage you to investigate the historical evidence of the Bible; you will be amazed at what you find! Museums, even the most sceptic of Christianity, are full of historical artefacts that agree with the scriptures and I am convinced that more will be discovered as time goes on.

In summary, the Bible is the inerrant word of God and can be trusted in all matters of life, including historical information. Whereas sceptics will try to bring evidence against the Bible for why it can be trusted, the Bible withstands such scrutiny, even being shown to be accurate and reliable as a primary source of information.

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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise

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