Dedicating most of my Substack writing to history and culture, I thought this to be a fitting topic. In today’s chaotic world, people throughout our country—indeed, in every nation—are searching for light in the darkness, but we’re coming up short.
Well…maybe we should consult that Bible gathering dust in most of our bookshelves. It’s possible we’ve missed something. Full disclosure…after studying the Bible’s contents for more than 40 years, I’m all in.
I trust it, but many folks don’t. We live in a pluralistic society, so that’s cool.
My purpose here is not to convert anyone, but rather to prompt curiosity. The Bible contains a lot of answers to life’s most perplexing questions. Honestly, I began my investigations long ago with grave doubts, but I’d never really cracked the book to evaluate its contents for myself.
Maybe you’re like me. I needed a pressing reason. One day in my late-20s, the reason snuck up and smacked me with a two-by-four. (I happened to be building a spec house with an old friend at the time.)
At first, I found evaluating the Bible as literature was a worthy endeavor. It’s filled with all the elements of a good read—adventure, passion, poetry, struggles and triumphs, timeless mysteries, friendship, war, and so much more.
Oh, and love. So much love.
The stories and character arcs are broad and exciting, filled with adversity and overcoming, good versus evil, passion, and all manner of human foibles. All of it stokes the imagination and challenges the intellect when evaluated with an open mind. Best of all, it’s a tome that offers people hope, in the best and worst of times.
No wonder the Bible is history’s best seller (between 5-7 billion copies), and one of our oldest books. Written down over 16 centuries by at least 39 men, words inspired by God, according to the texts. Divided into the Old and New Testaments. Interwoven with an uncanny degree of accuracy and thematic consistency. Chock-full of wisdom literature.
“God’s love letter” to his creation, as it has been called. The scriptures offer a fascinating read for spiritual searchers, scholars, and the simply curious.
The impact of its contents on middle eastern and western culture is undeniable.
For example, the Bible provided our Founding Fathers with the moral and ethical principles contained in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Therein we find the ideals of individual rights, equality, and justice. Inherent in human nature and not dependent on government—a revolutionary idea at the time that came from the Bible.
The framers declared in our founding documents that we are all created equal with certain inalienable rights; that there is, indeed, a Creator; that we have a government ruled by laws, not men, and structured with a separation of powers; and that we are free to worship as we please. All reminiscent of biblical concepts.
But can we trust it? Here are some arguments in favor of the Bible’s accuracy and historicity. This list is by no means exhaustive:
Archaeological and Historical Evidence
- Mention of the “House of David,” believed to be confirmation of the existence of Israel’s King David around 1000 BC, is contained in the discovery of the Tel Dan Stele in the late 20th Century.
- Excavations in Jericho reveal a destruction layer that seems to corroborate the biblical account of that city’s conquest by the Hebrews around 1400 BC.
- Nebuchadnezzar II, the Babylonian King who destroyed Jerusalem in 526 BC and led many Hebrews into captivity, is referenced in the Bible. This account is supported by Babylonian and Assyrian inscriptions.
- The Bethesda Pool, mentioned in the New Testament (the Gospel of John) as being located near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem, was discovered during excavations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The pool is surrounded by five porticoes (covered colonnades), which is consistent with John’s description. It was believed that an angel would periodically stir the waters, and the first person who entered would be healed of some affliction. This is the site where Jesus healed a paralytic man, according to the Gospel writer. The discovery of this site supports the historical accuracy of John’s biblical description.
Pool of Bethesda
- The ruins of the Pool of Siloam, also mentioned in the Gospel of John, were discovered in the early 2000s. Located in the City of David area of Jerusalem, this was the site where Jesus reportedly healed a blind man. The remains revealed a large, stepped pool that matched the biblical description, confirming the historical accuracy of the pool’s existence and location.
- Then, there are the Dead Sea Scrolls, a set of ancient Jewish manuscripts from the Second Temple period, discovered over a 10-year period (1946-56). I’ll briefly explore the scrolls in an upcoming Substack, Is the Bible Trustworthy? — Part II.
This amazing book makes some pretty audacious claims, encouraging us to dig deep. Perhaps it’s prudent to test its veracity before we discount its contents.
There’s enough there to last a lifetime.