What is the Historicity of the Bible?

opened bible with cross bookmark

Last June I wrote a post titled, Was Jesus Real? I have my own beliefs about the answer. Still, I remain fascinated with the bible, how it is perceived in the world, and its influence on Christians and non-Christians alike.

I have a few books on the subject but I wanted to see what Wikipedia had to say about the bible and from where it came. I typed into the search box, “history of the bible.” Sure enough, Wikipedia popped up high on the first page of links but, instead of History of the Bible, the linked page was titled, Historicity of the Bible.

Even better!

According to Wikipedia, the historicity of the bible is “the question of its ‘acceptability as a history,'” quoting Thomas L Thompson, an Old Testament scholar.

Wikipedia includes the follow fields of study which compare the bible with history:

  • archeology
  • astrononmy
  • linguistics
  • comparative literature

As far as evidence of the authenticity of the stories within the Testaments – Old and New, it’s a mixed bag. Some of the stories of the Old Testament have been supported by archeological discoveries of the past two centuries and some have been refuted by them.This is also the case with every volume of historical fiction. Some of the characters, stories, and places are real but many are not.

I suppose the same could be said for New Testament narratives. Sometimes, if not most of the time, the only evidence of events described in the bible are the written accounts included in the bible, a collection of books that has been translated from translations and interpreted from interpretations.

a crucifix reliquary
This relic, for sale on ebay, contains earth from the Tomb of the Martyrs, so they say.

How accurate can these translations be? Remember the game Telephone?

As they say, don’t believe everything you read.

Some of us are more skeptical than others. Some of us used to believe everything the nuns and priests told us but have since become a tad wiser.

Take Frank Mathie. He is a reporter with ABC7 in Chicago and did a piece recently on an open house the head of Holy Family church, one of the oldest if not the oldest Catholic church in Chicago, was promoting.

According to the pastor, ‘Father’ Michael Gabriel, one reliquary pulled out for public view contains a tiny sliver of the cradle of Jesus, a thread from Mary’s veil, and chunk of Joseph’s cloak.

“It’s not easy being the devil’s advocate when you’re standing in a church,” Mathie reported. “But Frank Mathie is a journalist. So he had to ask, how does the Vatican know these relics are authentic?”

Pastor Gabriel answered:

We know they were brought to Rome in the 5th Century so right then and there they were authenticated as being the precious items.

“And before that?” Mathie pressed.

That’s where faith comes in.

Ah, faith! “Faith” seems to play a HUGE role in the realness of the events in the bible. When asked for evidence, just play the Faith card. And anyone who dares question an unsupported claim are referred to as “devil’s advocates” or friends of the devil.

Back to Wikipedia and its Historicity of the Bible page. It mentions the ending of Mark 16. So, I looked it up. It is headlined The Ascension of Jesus.

So then the Lord, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the preaching by the signs that followed. Amen.

Somehow, according to Mark 16:19, the body of a man(?) named Jesus ascended from earth to the heavens, wherever they may be. At least that’s what the Church of Rome teaches.

Is there any physical evidence of that happening? No, there is not.

That’s why so many employees of the Church of Rome keep telling people not to lose their faith. Their ‘faith’ is the only thing supporting these fantastic stories that defy common sense – and the men and women making money on the mere suggestion that they are true.

 

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