Every so often the archeologists hit a home run. This may be one of those occasions. Imagine that they have now found what they think may be the ruins of the house Jesus grew up in in Nazareth. If that is correct then this is a spectacular find. It would then mean that we can go to the place of His birth in Bethlehem (strong evidence for this under the church of the nativity built by the mother of Constantine in the 300s, to the house where He grew up to the place of the resurrection and crucifixion. And that would be a wow

http://members.bib-arch.org/publication.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=41&Issue=2&ArticleID=7

A friend recently asked me if I get upset by proclamations issued  by secular archaeologists that challenge the claims of the Bible and my answer is always the same.

In a word No.

But why you might ask?

I remind them that archaeology is an important but an inexact science and falls into the category of detective work with a shovel and a spade.

In the virtuous pursuit of knowledge, the archaeologist assembles the fragments of the past and tries to draw some conclusions as to what they mean. His conclusions are colored by certain presuppositions and assumptions  that he brings to the table.

Also the game includes vigorous 0ne-up-manship.

Announcements  are often made breathlessly and with a eye to attracting headlines. Headlines attract attention and can result in funding for future digs by the now newly distinguished archaeologist who has successfully challenged another’s conclusions.

Bill's corrected Holy Land Pics 305

 

Such is illustrated by the discovery of the long sought tomb of King Herod the Great of Jesus’ fame.

In an earlier posting I described the announced discovery on the Herodium near Bethlehem,  of the fragmentary remains of a tomb identified by the eminent archaeologist Ehud Netzer as being that of Herod.

Now one of his students has challenged his discovery.

The interesting give and take of this so typical debate is described in the attached posting by Leen Ritmeyer based upon a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz (the land) Archaeology is an inexact science at best.

The author of this blog Dr Robert Grant (aka The Holy land Guru) has been traveling to the Holy Land for 46 years and annually schedules departures and invites pastors and others to accompany him there.

Herod’s Tomb at Herodium

Haaretz newspaper carried an article today by Nir Hasson, reporting on the seventh annual conference, “Innovations in Archaeology in Jerusalem and the Surrounding Area”. During that conference, two archaeologists, Joseph Patrich and Benny Arubas challenged Ehud Netzer’s identification of Herod’s Tomb that was found at Herodium near Bethlehem. Herod’s tomb  was discovered by Ehud Netzer in 2007, next to a large stairway that gave access to the Upper Palace.
 On the other side, the remains of a theater was found. They argued that the tomb was too small for the larger than life personality of Herod the Great and that the monument was not in keeping with the size of other Herodian constructions. They also found the sarcophagus, which was made of beautiful red limestone, to be of inferior quality for the king and had expected either a marble or golden one. They also said that the plaza near the tomb was too small to accommodate the many people that accompanied the sarcophagus of Herod the Great. Patrich emphasizes that he was a student of Ehud Netzer, but that he couldn’t agree with him on the identification of the tomb. The rebuttal delivered by Roi Porat, who succeeded Netzer as the head of the Herodium excavations, was more positive and convincing. Porat pointed out that there was a very large plaza at the foot of the artificial man-made hill that could easily accommodate the funeral procession. He also noted that the tomb stood on natural ground:

“This whole big mass has one place that was not covered in earth, and that is the site of the tomb,” Porat says. He claims that Herod conceived of the entire tel as an enormous and unique burial mound, symbolizing the idea that life at its top would go on even after the king was buried.”

Porat doesn’t rule out the possibility of finding other tombs, but this one appears from an architectural perspective more than qualify to be the tomb in which Herod the Great was buried. Porat rightly observed:

“We believe we have a decent picture of what is going on there and it is convincing. We have sufficient data. He [Patrich] deals with what is not, and we with what is”.

That would fit in with my personal experience. Patrich may be proud to have been one of Netzer’s students, but having worked with him on several projects in the past, I must say that I am not too impressed with Patrich’s knowledge of ancient architecture. Patrich may have expected Herod’s tomb to have been a much larger and more impressive monument, but this exquisitively designed tomb was built for Herod himself and a few close family members only. Patrich and Arubas must have forgotten that a very large funerary monument for Herod’s wider family had already been identified by Ehud Netzer north of Jerusalem: To the north of the Old City of Jerusalem, the remains of a circular building have been discovered and identified with the Monument of King Herod the Great, which served as his family tomb. Herod was buried in his private tomb in Herodium, both other members of his family were probably buried in this structure. This mausoleum is mentioned twice by Josephus, in War 5.108 and 5.507. Haaretz may have called the observations of Patrich and Arubas an “archaeological stunner”, but I am not convinced by them. See also Todd Bolen’s blog. HT: Joseph Lauer

 This is a special seminar originally prepared by Dr. Robert Grant aka The Holy Land Guru for use at Palm Coast Community Church Palm Coast Florida  3/24/14 version. Contact the author at 386 447 9473 or   www.holylandguru.com                                                                                                                    

 

 

The soon to be released  Hollywood movie about Noah has engendered interest and also created controversy and even ridicule. Adding to the controversy, its producer recently personally branded his  own film as the “least Biblical Biblical film ever made”.  An interesting statement.

 

 

 

What do the secular and the Biblical  sources say happened and can a rational person believe such a tale?

AN IMPORTANT OBSERVATION:          

The Biblical record of the Flood is premised upon the direct miraculous involvement of GOD in the affairs of man

and of His creation. Without that underlying premise it makes no sense.

With it the story rings as true. The secular mind rejects that idea.

 

 I Recommend the DVD      DISCOVERY OF NOAH’S FLOOD THE BEST EVIDENCE   estimated 55 minutes long which records the discovery an indentation in the earth shaped like a boat and near Mount Ararat that, when investigated with sonar type devices, demonstrates a structure that clearly fits the Genesis account. Quite compelling.  See source for this DVD at the end of this material

 

 

There are two competing viewpoints for understanding the geological history of the planet:

(1) The important prevailing principle that guides secular Geology is   UNIFORMITARIANISM

  • Uniformitarians argue that the way the planet operates is predictable as this is how it has always operated in the past. Gradual change rather than catastrophic change. This underlying principle instructs them how to date geological strata. Where items appear in the strata and where the strata appears in the multiple layers of strata draw them to certain conclusions.                                                                                                       BUT It is very difficult for this prevailing secular view to explain occurrences of great sudden change like the so called  Cambrian explosion that resulted in the apparently sudden deposits of huge  quantities of fully formed life forms. The laying down of huge deposits of fossils must have had an equally catastrophic cause.   It is also this uniformitarian principle that compels the secularist  to speculate as to  when such deposits were made ie 545 million year ago. Educated guesses based upon certain presuppositions.                                                                              BUT      Something enormous out of the ordinary occurred at least one time in the history of the planet it seems.
  •  Example The Siberian Mammoth Beds “The richness of the Siberian mammoth deposits in the permafrost defies description. Although uniformitarian writers consistently understate the extent and abundance of these beds, even their admissions are significant……..in Siberia alone some 50,000 mammoth tusks have been collected and sold to the ivory trade and there are rare occurrences of whole animals preserved in frozen ground……the mammoth and mastodon seem at one time to have been common over the whole surface of the globe………And the Arctic islands north of Siberia have been described as even more densely packed with the remains of elephants and other mammals as well as dense tangles of fossil trees and other plants so much that  entire islands seem to be composed of organic debris…There is most certainly no modern parallel entombment of elephants or any other kind of mammal taking place anywhere in the modern world…………..it seems fairly evident that the extermination of such immense hordes of animals and their interment in what has ever been frozen soil must be somehow explained in terms of the events accompanying just such a universal aqueous catastrophe as the Bible describes ………………the greatest riddle however is when, why and how did all of these assorted creatures and in such absolutely countless numbers get killed, mashed up and frozen into this horrible indecency”  (Genesis Flood p 289-291 )

                                                    An example of UNIFORMITARIANISM at work

“Harvard paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson in an important speech delivered  in connection with the Darwinian Centennial Convention at the University of Chicago said:

With the dawning realization that the earth is extremely old in human terms of age, came the knowledge that it has changed progressively and radically but usually and always in an orderly, a natural way. The fact of change had not earlier been denied in Western science or theology- after all the Noachian deluge was considered a radical change. But the Deluge was believed to have supernatural causes or concomitants that were not operative through earth’s history. The doctrine of geological uniformitarianism finally established in the 19th century widened the recognized reign of natural law. The earth has changed throughout its history under the action of material forces only and of the same forces as those now visible to us and still acting on it. The steps that I have so briefly traced reduced the sway of superstition in the conceptual world of human lives”  (Genesis Flood p 117)

 

 

           (2)In competition with that view  is  CATASTROPHISM  that allows for majorout of the ordinary events of great magnitude such as a one time enormous flood that altered the landscape in major ways

  • Uniformitarianism  is a conviction that geological change only occurs over a long period of time and gradually in the big picture and so it/they  rule out the possibility of a calamitous event like a world wide flood regardless of the evidence that might favor that view

 

 

 

Where is the story of the flood located in the Bible?

  • Genesis chapters 6 to 10 (p6 ff)

 

What does the Bible text say about this event?

  • After the creation man sinned and broke the relationship with God and was expelled from the Garden of Eden, got all messed up and angered God to the point that He decided to wipe them out and start over.  
  • People lived a lot longer then than they do today. (Genesis 5 p 6) ex Adam 930 years, We will see why. Climate change?
  • Things went from bad to worse . The “sons of God saw the beautiful women and took any they wanted as their wives” God got ticked off.  Who were these “sons of God” and who were these seductive “beautiful women”?      And there were giants living then, Who were they?         God concluded one thing, men were living too long  so their longevity was radically shortened to 120 years max. after the flood.
  • God was sorry He had ever made them…It broke his heart…..I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes I will destroy every living thing-all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them” (Gen 6:6)
  • But the family of Noah got His attention “Noah found favor with the Lord”. (6:8) He was “a righteous man, the only blameless person living on the earth at the time and he walked in close fellowship with God”  (6:9)
  • Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and filled with violence….everyone on earth was corrupt” Genesis 6:11  (p7)                                    
  • God decided to start over. “I have decided to destroy all living creatures for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes I will wipe them all out along with the earth”  
  • He identified one family, Noah,  that was faithful and decided to spare them and sufficient animals to repopulate the post flood earth.
  • God tasked Noah to build a huge boat in a place where there was no water or apparent need for a huge boat. No doubt subject to ridicule from the locals     Modern replicas have been created in  the Netherlands and also as part of a Christian theme park in Hong Kong.
  • The coming flood was going to destroy all not in the ark so God told Noah to be prepared to repopulate the earth after the flood is over. Noah was to bring Noah’s family and pairs of all animals by their “kind” and bring along enough food to last. Food/sacrificial animals were to be brought in in 7 pairs. The other animals were brought in in single pairs.

 

 

What did the world described by the Bible look like prior to the flood?

  • There apparently was no rain. The atmosphere was affected by a vapor canopy that blanketed the atmosphere of the planet and by an abundance of fresh water springs.
  • That climate apparently was universally quite temperate and the vapor canopy shielded the inhabitants from harmful radiation from the sun.  This probably contributed to the longevity of the pre flood population. The ideal global warming environment.

 

How long did the flood last?

  • They were on board that boat for more than a year (Genesis 7:17-8: ) about 371 days  ( The Genesis Flood hereinafter referred to as GF p3)

 

 

How does the Bible say that this enormous catastrophe occurred?

  • Note a flood that covered mountain tops would require enormous geological disruption. Perhaps tectonic shifting of the earth’s plates. Volcanic eruptions in the sea bed would leave a lot of evidence that it occurred such as massive layers of fossils later to be found in unusual places such  as would not be expected, for example like sea shells and evidence of creatures high up in mountains.   Do such exist?  well yes
  • What did the world look like to an observer prior to the flood? According to the text, quite different than it does today. The forces that caused the changes must have been enormous. Perhaps the heaving up of mountains that had not existed before? More than just a big rainstorm to account for the enormous change and the huge amount of water that would be required for this to occur.                                                                    Genesis 7:11 “All of the underground waters erupted from the earth, and the rain fell in mighty torrents for forty days and forty nights……the flood waters grew deeper covering the ground and lifting the boat high above the earth. As the waters rose higher and higher above the ground the boat floated safely on the surface. Finally the water covered even the highest mountains on the earth, rising more than twenty-two feet above the highest peaks” Then at the end    “The underground waters stopped flowing and the torrential rains from the sky were stopped”
  • Indicates enormous  geological dislocation. Heaving up of the ocean floor and heaving up of mountains? What were those forces

 

The Icelandic epic version of the flood legend called  Edda

describes the coming of the Flood this way:

  • “Mountains dash together……
  • And heaven is split in two the sun grows dead-
  • The earth sinks into the sea.
  • The bright stars vanish.
  • Fires rage and raise their flames
  • As high as heaven Flood Legends Global Clues of a Common Event by “Charles Martin( hereinafter referred to as FLGC)  p 85    NOTE        It conveys the picture of monumental devastation.

 

I know the Bible says the Flood  happened but is there any evidence

 outside of the Bible for such an event?    Well yes again!

 

Universal Flood traditions are found everywhere:

  •  “Scores and even hundreds of such traditions have been found in every part of the world in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres and common to most of them is the recollection of a great flood which once covered the earth and destroyed  all but a tiny remnant of the human race. Many of them even those which have been found among the American Indians tell of the building of a great ark which saved human and animal seed from total destruction by the flood and which finally landed on a mountain”      (GF p48)

The best example: THE GILGAMISH EPIC the most famous flood tradition outside of the Bible. From the area of Iraq and Iran. Found on clay cuneiform tablets dating before the writing of the book of Genesis

This is the same area from which Abraham  (about 2100 BC) emigrated. He was totally unique for his day and was a monotheist in the midst of polytheists.

 

The Gilgamish  Epic dates to about 2000-1700 BC (  G F p 30)

When these 2 PRIMARY ACCOUNTS OF THE FLOOD ARE COMPARED  they have very SIMILAR THEMES.

So it is safe to conclude that  they are somehow connected and one is probably feeding off the other as its source.

  1. 1.     Both claim the flood  to be “Divinely planned
  2. 2.     Both claim that “the  impending catastrophe was revealed to the hero of Deluge”
  3. 3.     Both “connect the Deluge with defection in the human race”
  4. 4.     Both “tell of the deliverance of the hero and his family
  5. 5.     Both tell “the hero of the Deluge was divinely instructed to build a huge boat to preserve life”
  6. 6.     Both” indicate the physical causes of the Flood “
  7. 7.     Both “specify the duration of the Flood”
  8. 8.     Both “name the landing place of the boat
  9. 9.     Both “ tell of the sending forth of birds at certain intervals to ascertain the decrease of the waters
  10. 10.   Both “describe acts of worship by the hero after his deliverance
  11. 11.   Both “allude to the bestowing of a special blessings upon the hero after the disaster”. (GF p 38)

 

 BUT THERE ARE ALSO BIG DIFFERENCES  BETWEEN THE TWO TRADITIONS

  1. 1.     THE AUTHORS OF THE FLOOD.                                                                                                                                                                                 “In Genesis it is the one and only true God who brings the Flood because of the moral depravity of mankind: in the Babylonian account the Flood is sent because of the rashness of Enlil and the opposition to the wills of other gods”
  2. 2.     THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE FLOOD                                                                                                                                                                 “In Genesis it is God Himself warns Noah to build an ark and gives mankind 120 years to repent; in the Babylonian account  the Flood is kept a secret by the gods but Utnapishtim (the Babylonian Noah is given a hint of the coming disaster by era without the knowledge of Enlil
  3. 3.     THE ARK AND ITS OCCUPANTS                                                                                                                                                                                       “In Genesis the Ark is 300 x 50 x 30 cubits with three decks and carries eight people, tow of each unclean animal and seven of thje clean and food; in the Babylonian account the Ark is 120 x 120 x 120 cubits with none decks and carries all of Utnapishtim’s  family and relations the boatman all the craftsmen(or learned men)’the seed of all living creatures’ and all hois gold and silver”
  4. 4.     THE CAUSES AND DURATION OF THE FLOOD                                                                                                                                                    “In Genesis the Flood is caused by breaking  up of he fountains of the great deep and the opening of the windows of heaven and these conditions continue for 150 days followed by an additional 221 days duri9ng which the waters abate; in the Babylonian acc9unt rain is the only cause mentioned and it ceases after only six days. After an unspecified number of days Utnapishtim and the others leave the Ark”
  5. 5.     THE BIRD SCENE                                                                                                                                                                                                            “In Genesis a raven is sent out first and then a dove three times art intervals of seven days; in eh Babylonian account a dove is sent out first then a swallow and finally a raven at unspecified intervals. The Babylonian account does not mention the olive leaf”
  6. 6.     THE SACRIFICE AND BLESSINGS                                                                                                                                                                           “In Genesis the Lord graciously receives Noah’s sacrifice, gives him and his family power to multiply and fill the earth, emphasizes the sanctity of human life and promises not to destroy the earth again by a flood. In the Babylonian account, hungry gods ‘gather like flies over the sacrificer’ because they had been deprived of sacrifices for so long. A quarrel ensues between the gods Enlil and Ea and Enlil finally blesses Utnapishtim and his wife after being rebuked by Ea for his rashness in bringing the Flood. Utnapishtim and his wife are then rewarded by being made gods and are taken to the realm of the gods” (GF p39-40)

 

THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG? WHICH CAME FIRST?

An important fact: The story of the flood is to be found worldwide in most cultures in some sort of similar version.

 The big question is WHY?

The Bible says that following the flood God scattered the survivors across the world. So it should not be surprising that they retained a memory of what was a shared event of great importance to their ancestors?.

Could it be because they all share a common ancestry in Noah and that they were preserving an oral tradition of what happened to their forefathers  many years prior?

We would dismiss the stories as purely fictional if it were not for their universality. Yes I would expect cultures to invent myth explaining the existence of other cultures around them. That is logical. What is not logical is that almost every culture in the world would invent a similar if not virtually identical myth, explaining the existence of other cultures. Because this story exists almost everywhere what seems more probable is that the event really happened.”          ( FLGC)  p32

If they all have a common source in history we would expect that they would share common characteristics. Which they do.

ALL THE QUOTES THAT  FOLLOW ARE FROM      

LEGENDS OF THE FLOOD

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.
Kyle Butt, M.A.

Note: emphasis added by me to the below pages

 

Anthropologists who study legends and folktales from different geographical locations and cultures consistently have reported one particular group of legends that is common to practically every civilization. Legends have surfaced in hundreds of cultures throughout the world that tell of a huge, catastrophic flood that destroyed most of mankind, and that was survived by only a few individuals and animals. Although most historians who have studied this matter estimate that these legends number into the 200s, according to evolutionary geologist Robert Schoch, “Noah is but one tale in a worldwide collection of at least 500 flood myths, which are the most widespread of all ancient myths and therefore can be considered among the oldest” (2003, p. 249, emp. added). Schoch went on to observe:

 

Narratives of a massive inundation are found all over the world…. Stories of a great deluge are found on every inhabited continent and among a great many different language and culture groups (pp. 103,249).

Over a century ago, the famous Canadian geologist, Sir William Dawson, wrote about how the record of the Flood is preserved in some of the oldest historical documents of several distinct races of men, and is indirectly corroborated by the whole tenor of the early history of most of the civilized races (1895, pp. 4ff.).

Legends have been reported from nations such as China, Babylon, Mexico, Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Persia, India, Norway, Wales, Ireland, Indonesia, Romania, etc.—composing a list that could go on for many pages (see Perloff, 1999, p. 167). Although the vast number of such legends is surprising, the similarity between much of their content is equally amazing. James Perloff noted:

In 95 percent of the more than two hundred flood legends, the flood was worldwide; in 88 percent, a certain family was favored; in 70 percent, survival was by means of a boat; in 67 percent, animals were also saved; in 66 percent, the flood was due to the wickedness of man; in 66 percent, the survivors had been forewarned; in 57 percent, they ended up on a mountain; in 35 percent, birds were sent out from the boat; and in 9 percent, exactly eight people were spared (p. 168).

 AMERICAN INDIAN LEGENDS

The Aztecs tell of a worldwide global flood in a story with striking parallels to the biblical deluge. “Only two people, the hero Coxcox and his wife, survived the flood by floating in a boat that came to rest on a mountain” (Schoch, p. 103). Then, soon after the flood, giants constructed a great pyramid in an endeavor to reach the clouds. Such ambition is said to have angered the gods, who scattered the giants with fire sent from the heavens (cf. Genesis 11:1-9).

In the ancient land we now refer to as Mexico, one tribe of Indians, known as the Toltecs, told of a great flood. In their legend, a deluge destroyed the “first world” 1,716 years after it was created. Only a few people escaped this worldwide flood, and did so in a “toptlipetlocali” (a word that means “closed chest”). After these few people exited the closed chest, they wandered about the Earth, and found a place where they built a “zacuali” (a high tower) in case another flood came upon the Earth. At the time of the “zacuali,” the Toltecs’ languages were confused and they separated to different parts of the Earth.

Another ancient tribe of Mexico told the story of a man named Tezpi who escaped the deluge in a boat that was filled with animals. Similar to Noah, who sent out a raven (a scavenger bird) that never returned, and a dove that came back with an olive leaf, “Tezpi released a vulture, which stayed away, gorging on cadavers. Then he let a hummingbird go, and it returned to him bearing a twig” (Schoch, p. 104).

 

ANCIENT GREEK MYTHOLOGY

 

According to the Greek legend of the deluge, humans became very wicked. Zeus, the leader of the many gods in Greek mythology, wanted to destroy humans by a flood, and then raise up another group. However, before he could do this, a man by the name of Deucalion, and his wife Pyrrha, were warned of the impending disaster. This fortunate couple was placed in a large wooden chest by one of the immortals named Prometheus. For nine days and nights, the floodwaters covered almost all of the Earth. Only a few mountain peaks remained. The wooden chest came to rest on the peak of Mount Parnassus. Later, after leaving the wooden chest, Deucalion sacrificed to Zeus.

 

CHINESE AND ASIAN LEGENDS

In the land of China, there are many legends about a great flood. One of those comes from a group of people known as the Nosu. According to their legend, God sent a personal messenger to Earth to warn three sons that a flood was coming. Only the youngest son, Dum, heeded the messenger. He constructed a wooden boat to prepare for the coming flood. When the waters arrived, Dum entered his boat, and was saved. After the waters began to recede, the boat landed on the mountains of Tibet, where Dum had three sons who repopulated the Earth. Interestingly, even the Chinese character for “boat” possibly reveals the story of Noah and the other seven people on the ark. The three elements used to symbolize a boat are:

 

The Iban people of Sarawak tell of a hero named Trow, who floated around in an ark with his wife and numerous domestic animals (Schoch, p. 252). Natives from India tell a story about a man named Manu who built an ark after being warned of a flood. Later, the waters receded, and he landed on a mountain (Schoch, p. 250).

 

 

ANCIENT BABYLONIAN MYTHOLOGY

Possibly the most famous flood account (aside from the biblical record of Noah and the Flood) comes from the ancient Babylonian empire. The Gilgamesh Epic, written on twelve clay tablets that date back to the seventh century B.C., tells of a hero named Gilgamesh. In his search for eternal life, Gilgamesh sought out Utnapishtim, a person who was granted eternal life because he saved a boatload of animals and humans during a great flood. On the eleventh tablet of this epic, a flood account is recorded that parallels the Genesis account in many areas. According to the story, the gods instructed Utnapishtim to build a boat because a terrible flood was coming. Utnapishtim built the boat, covered it with pitch, and put animals of all kinds on it, as well as certain provisions. After Utnapishtim entered the boat with his family, it rained for six days and nights. When the flood ended, the boat rested on Mount Niser. After seven days, Utnapishtim sent out a dove to see if the waters had receded. The dove came back, so he sent a swallow, which also returned. Finally, he sent out a raven—which never returned. Utnapishtim and his family finally exited the boat and sacrificed to their gods (see Roth, 1988, pp. 303-304).

 

 WHAT ARE WE TO MAKE OF ALL OF THESE SIMILAR ACCOUNTS?

What is the significance of the various flood legends?     The answer seems obvious: (a) we have well over 200 flood legends that tell of a great flood (and possibly more than 500—Schoch, p. 249); (b) many of the legends come from different ages and civilizations that could not possibly have copied any of the similar legends; (c) the legends were recorded long before any missionaries arrived to relate to them the Genesis account of Noah; and (d) almost all civilizations have some sort of flood legend.

The conclusion to be drawn from such facts is that in the distant past, there was a colossal flood that forever affected the history of all civilizations.

Those living soon after the Flood did not have the book of Genesis to read to their descendants. (Genesis was not written until several hundred years after the Flood.) The account of the Flood was passed from one generation to the next. Many parents and grandparents told their children and grandchildren about the huge ark, the wonderful animals, and the devastating Flood, long before the Genesis record ever existed. Over the years, the details of the story were altered, but many of the actual details remained the same. Alfred Rehwinkel wrote:

Traditions similar to this record are found among nearly all the nations and tribes of the human race. And this is as one would expect it to be. If that awful world catastrophe, as described in the Bible, actually happened, the existence of the Flood traditions among the widely separated and primitive people is just what is to be expected. It is only natural that the memory of such an event was rehearsed in the ears of the children of the survivors again and again, and possibly made the basis of some religious observances (1951, pp. 127-128).

Harold W. Clark, in his volume, Fossils, Flood and Fire, commented:

Preserved in the myths and legends of almost every people on the face of the globe is the memory of the great catastrophe. While myths may not have any scientific value, yet they are significant in indicating the fact that an impression was left in the minds of the races of mankind that could not be erased (1968, p. 45).

After the “trappings” are stripped away from the kernel of truth in the various stories,     

 

There is almost complete agreement among practically all flood accounts in the following areas:

(a) a universal destruction by water of the human race and all other living things occurred;

(b) an ark, or boat, was provided as the means of escape for some; and

(c) a seed of mankind was provided to perpetuate humanity. As Furman Kearley once observed: “These traditions agree in too many vital points not to have originated from the same factual event” (1979, p. 11). In volume three of his multi-volume set, The Native Races of the Pacific Slope—Mythology,H.H. Bancroft wrote: “There never was a myth without a meaning; …there is not one of these stories, no matter how silly or absurd, which was not founded on fact” (1883).

Among the noted scholars of days gone by who have studied these matters in detail are such men as James G. Frazer (Folklore in the Old Testament) and William Wundt (Elements of Folk Psychology). Wundt, who did his utmost to find some kind of reasonable case for independent origins of the various flood sagas (and who had no great love for the biblical evidence), was forced to admit:

Of the combination of all these elements into a whole (the destruction of the earth by water, the rescue of a single man and seed of animals by means of a boat, etc.), however, we may say without hesitation, it could not have arisen twice independently (1916, p. 392, parenthetical comment in orig.).

Or, as Dawson concluded more than a century ago:

{We} know now that the Deluge of Noah is not mere myth or fancy of primitive man or solely a doctrine of the Hebrew Scriptures. …[N]o historical event, ancient or modern, can be more firmly established as matter of fact than this (1895, pp. 4ff.).

 

Note Emphasis added by me.

 

 

REFERENCES

Bancroft, H.H. (1883), Works: The Native Races of the Pacific Slope—Mythology (San Francisco, CA: A.L. Bancroft).

Clark, Harold W. (1968), Fossils, Flood and Fire (Escondido, CA: Outdoor Pictures).

Dawson, John William (1895), The Historical Deluge in Relation to Scientific Discovery (Chicago, IL: Revell).

Kearley, F. Furman (1979), “The Significance of the Genesis Flood,” Sound Doctrine, March/April.

Perloff, James (1999), Tornado in a Junkyard: The Relentless Myth of Darwinism (Arlington, MA: Refuge Books).

Rehwinkel, Alfred M. (1951), The Flood (St. Louis, MO: Concordia).

Roth, Ariel (1988), Origins: Linking Science and Scripture (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing).

Schoch, Robert M. (2003), Voyages of the Pyramid Builders (New York: Jeremy P. Parcher/Putnam).

Wundt, William (1916), Elements of Folk Psychology, trans. Edward L. Schaub (New York: Macmillan).

 

 

 

Are the Characters mentioned in the Bible  Rooted in History?  The continuing conflict

Since the dawn of the modern discipline of archaeology, its practitioners have been divided as to the usefulness of the Bible as a source book when searching for ancient locations and validating historic events.

This skepticism mystifies Christian laymen many of whom approach the Bible with an explicit acceptance of the accuracy of the Biblical text and acceptance of its supernatural origin. They are surprised when I advise them that, because a scholar is engaged in Biblical studies, this does not mean that they have any personal religious faith at all. In fact some mainline theological seminaries are populated by teachers some of who have little or no deep faith in God or the Bible. Some even seem to view their goal in life to strip away the faith of their young soon-to-be-pastors theology students which they may view as simplistic and based upon myth. Some become evangelists for unbelief

The Argument From Silence:

Skeptics have attacked the Biblical record using the argument from silence. The fact that for many Biblical characters, there is no mention of them outside of the Biblical record in the findings of archaeology or ancient inscriptions or manuscripts, calls their historicity into question…silence. This fact lends credence to the argument that many of these prominent-in-Scripture people, may not have ever existed

The argument goes that if such people really lived, one would expect to find some trace of them outside of sacred writ……..not silence

But: That argument has been found wanting on numerous occasions as further excavations and discoveries have been made over time, and challenged names eventually documented. As the digging continues we may expect even  more to be affirmed.

It occurs to me that one of the most vivid examples of this, is the New Testament case of Pontius Pilate.

Surely, it was argued, a person who was of such importance and prominence would leave some trace somewhere. An inscription? A mention in a document? A carving on a wall or monument?

Silence reigned for hundreds of years. No extra Biblical mention of this prominent Roman official. Curious!

And then recently  while excavations were underway in Caesarea Maritima, the ancient seaport built  around the time of the birth of Jesus by Herod the Great, a stone was uncovered that bore the name of Pilate. If you were to travel with me to the Holy Land in January 2015 I would take you to see the exact replica of that stone on display in the ruins in  Caesarea today.

The current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review sheds light on this argument from silence.   An  excellent article found there by Lawrence Mykytiuk, begins with

“How many people in the Hebrew Bible have been confirmed archaeologically?

The startling answer is at least 50!”.

In this article he confirms 50 important Biblical names that have been documented in the non Biblical record in some way. Many of the names of Hebrew Kings from both of the sub nations of Judah and Israel post civil war are to be found on his list.

One big one was the question about the historical existence of King David.

Surely Israel’s greatest king would be found mentioned somewhere outside of the Bible?  for almost 3000 years silence reigned. Is it possible that David was a myth created out of whole cloth as many skeptics surmised? Prominent scholars actually labored to make that case.

But then, in 1993,  David’s  name was found in the excavations of Tel Dan, written in Aramaic, found on a stela dating back to the mid ninth century, about 100 years after his Biblically recorded reign over Israel.

In summary, Mykytuik documents the following groups of Old Testament Biblical names as also being found in extra Biblical locations:

  • Five Egyptian pharaohs
  • One King of Moab
  • Nine Kings of the Northern Kingdom  of Israel
  • Fourteen Kings of the Southern Kingdom of Judah
  • Seven Kings of Assyria
  • Five Kings of Babylonia
  • Five Kings of Persia
  • All mentioned in the Biblical record              and elsewhere.

If you wish to pursue this study further you can go to the website  www.biblicalarchaeology.org/50 

This is the plaza at the base of the Western Wall in Jewrusalem

This is the plaza at the base of the Western Wall in Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our next journey to the Holy Land will depart New York for 10 marvelous days on January 12, 2015 and you can come with us. Pastors and teachers can travel with us with little or no out of pocket cost by inviting as few as 5 people to accompany them on this reasonably priced journey under my personal oversight as the Holy Land Guru. Call me at 386 447 9473

Be sure to download my new book free here     A HOLY LAND ROMANCE      YOURS FREE

Mount of Olives

Mount of Olives

Click here  http://holylandguru.com/ebook-for-you/

MASSIVE PRAYER MEETING AT THE WAILING WALL

Last evening thousands of Jews gathered in the Old City of Jerusalem at the historic Western Wall (aka “The Wailing Wall”)  to pray that God would preserve Israel now seen by many there as threatened by American middle eastern policy. They view current US policy with alarm and as counter to the interests of the State of Israel.

The echoing sounds of  trumpets rang out across the crowded square as bearded rabbis prayed fervently to “Adonai” and “Elohim”, Biblical names for G-d (Jews so respect the name of God that they will not fully spell it out).

They prayed that “G-d would cancel the decrees” of John Kerry, that Israel would “stand firm against the difficult pressures coming from the other side of the ocean” and that their leaders would resist American pressure and that G-d would give them “fear and great awe of You that they will fear greatly to harm our holy land”.

 

The Obama Administration, in ways both subtle and open, has made it quite evident that they have chosen sides in the ongoing competing interests of the Arabs and the Jews. This tilting of American foreign policy away from US long standing support of the State of Israel to a not always veiled belligerence towards the Jewish State, has marked the Obama Administration since day one.

In spite of that fact American Jews have remarkably  remained firm supporters of this president.

Secretary of State John Kerry has been quietly pressuring the European powers to tighten the pressure on Israel in regards to the Jewish settlements on the West Bank and in favor of the goal of declaring Jerusalem the capital of a future Palestinian State.

Orthodox Jews gather at the waiing wall for prayers on a regular basis

Orthodox Jews gather at the waiing wall for prayers on a regular basis

The plaza where this mass prayer meeting took place is quite significant and historic. The huge stones at the base of the wall were placed there at the time of Jesus by King Herod the Great and are all that remains of the Temple structure from that time. This is the western wall of the huge plateau on top of which then stood the 2nd Temple of Israel and where now stands two important Muslim buildings, the El Aksa Mosque and the gold covered Dome of the Rock built over what many believe to be the place of Old Testament sacrifice going all the way back to Abraham 2100 years before Jesus. The Muslims believe that it was from this spot Mohammed ascended into heaven on the back of a white stallion. These competing traditions about this site come laden with deep emotion and remain a tinder box that could easily ignite a new war.

In 1967 when, during the 6 day war, Israel took Jerusalem, this made it possible for Jews to again visit this wall, their most treasured site. They had been forbidden to go there when it was in Jordan. Its capture was greeted by great joy and celebration

I have stood there many times on our many Holy Land tours, first in 1967 just 6 weeks before the 6 day war and as recently as last February. We will go there again next December and January.

When I first went to the Holy Land  in 1967  the location of this huge prayer meeting appeared quite differently than it does today. There was no wide open plaza then that we now see. Then the area was a mass of slummy homes that crowded up against the base of the wall. It was not until, after weaving about through these dwellings  you suddenly rounded a corner and you could actually see where you were. And your eyes involuntarily turned up

One of the first things Israel did in 1967 was to clear away these modest Arab  dwellings, open the area up as we see it today and pave the filled in Tyropaean Valley from the time of Jesus (aka valley of the Cheesemakers) to accommodate the thousands that appeared there last evening.

There is great apprehension in Israel over the stance of the present US Administration and with good cause due to President Obama’s positive predisposition towards Islam due to fond memories of his childhood in Muslim countries.

One of the great values of travel to that part of the world is the  gaining of an understanding of the real politic issues that abound there and also a deepened understanding of the Biblical background and significance of the site

Dr. Robert Grant has been traveling to the Middle East for 46 years going there about 125 times and so has a unique understanding of the places important to Bible students and also what is reported on the evening news. Each year he takes Christian pastors and their church members on journeys there. His new book can be downloaded FREE at

http://www.holylandguru.com/ebook-for-you/