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Marc Roby: We are resuming our study of systematic theology today by continuing to examine the characteristics of the Word of God, which is the Bible. Dr. Spencer, last time you discussed general and special revelation and then briefly defined four characteristics of Scripture, which can be remembered by the acrostic SNAC; sufficiency, necessity, authority, and clarity.

But, before we begin today, I think it would be good to suggest some reading material for those listeners who want to follow along in our study in a little more depth.

Dr. Spencer: That would be a good idea. The first, and by far most important, book I recommend is the Bible itself. Every Christian should be reading the Word of God every day. Jesus told us in Matthew 4:4 that “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” [1] The Word of God is food for a Christian. And you should read all of it, not just your favorite Psalms and stories. I strongly recommend having a good reading list and going through the entire Bible every year. It isn’t like a novel, which you usually read only once. The Bible should be read over and over again throughout the Christian life. Just like we need to eat real, physical food regularly, so we also need a regular diet of the Word of God. The reading list we use in our church, which I think is a good one, is available online as a pdf file that you can download, the link is in the transcript of this podcast.[2] In addition, I would recommend that you use a good study Bible, like the ESV Reformation Study Bible. The notes are a big help, especially for a Christian who is not yet extremely familiar with the Bible. Just remember that the notes are not inspired.

Marc Roby: I wholeheartedly agree that daily reading of the Word of God is a necessary discipline for a Christian to be able to have what the Puritans used to call an overcoming life. In other words, a life that overcomes sin, the world and the devil. What books do you recommend in addition to the Bible?

Dr. Spencer: Let me start with theology books. If you have never read much theology before, I suggest beginning with James Boice’s book Foundations of the Christian Faith.[3] It is an excellent book, very readable, not too long, readily available and not very expensive. You will also find it valuable even if you are already familiar with theology. If you want something a bit longer and more detailed, I would suggest Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology.[4] If you want to go even further, I would suggest Charles Hodge’s Systematic Theology[5] and, of course, John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion.[6] Finally, in addition to the Bible and systematic theology, I would also suggest reading commentaries to help you with specific books of the Bible. Pastor Matthew’s commentaries, available at graceandglory.pub, are all outstanding.[7] Also, the classic Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the complete Bible is wonderful and is available both online and in book form.[8] The detailed references for all of these are in the transcript.

Marc Roby: That list should keep people busy for a while. What do you want to begin with today?

Dr. Spencer: I want to start fleshing out the characteristics we mentioned last time; sufficiency, necessity, authority and clarity.

Marc Roby: Very well. Are we going to look at them in that order?

Dr. Spencer: We are going to look at the first two in order, yes. So, let’s go ahead and begin with sufficiency.

Marc Roby: Alright. You said last time that the Bible provides sufficient information for salvation and as our guide for living. What else do you want to say about that?

Dr. Spencer: The first thing I want to do is contrast the Bible with general revelation. Remember that by general revelation we mean all of creation, including our own conscience, our sense of right and wrong, and our intuitive sense that there is more to a person than just their physical body. As we noted last time, that revelation is sufficient to leave people without excuse before God. We read in Psalm 19:1-4 that “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

Just as Paul declared in Romans 1, which we quoted last session, general revelation is sufficient for every person to realize that God exists, and it should cause us all to give thanks to him for this life and to seek to know him. But, that knowledge is not sufficient for salvation, or to tell us how to live a life pleasing to God.

Marc Roby: I’m sure that statement will bother some people, because they wonder about the fairness of someone who has never heard the gospel being sent to hell.

Dr. Spencer: I certainly understand that objection. It was one that I had before I was saved. But the answer given to us in Romans 1 is that all people have sufficient information to leave them without that excuse. They know that God exists, but they refuse to give him thanks and truly seek him. That is why they are condemned. God tells us in Deuteronomy 4:29 that if “you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.” The problem is that no one does that until and unless God himself draws us, as we are told in John 6:44.

Marc Roby: The fact that our salvation is based on a gracious work of God is emphasized in Ephesians 2:8-9, where we read that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Dr. Spencer: Exactly. And grace is God’s unmerited favor. It is not deserved. We all deserve hell. What is surprising is that God chooses to save some. And he does that through his word, the Bible.

In 2 Timothy 3:14-15 the apostle Paul instructed Timothy to “continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Also, in James 1:18, the Lord’s brother wrote that God the Father “chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” Also, the apostle Peter wrote, in 1 Peter 1:23, that we “have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” All three of these Scriptures show us that God uses his Word, the Bible, to bring us to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Marc Roby: But, as you shared from 1 Corinthians 2:14 last session, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Dr. Spencer: That’s right. When we say that the Word of God is sufficient for salvation, we mean that it reveals all of the information necessary to be saved, but we need more than just information. The devil has all of the information, and he also knows it’s all true. But intellectual assent to the truth of the Bible will not save us, which is why in James 2:19 we read, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” To be saved, we must first be born again. Without that, we will never repent and trust in Christ alone for our salvation. Remember last session I quoted from James Boice’s book, Foundations of the Christian Faith. He said that “special revelation has three stages. First, … redemption in history. … Second, … revelation in writing.” And third, “the application of these truths to the mind and heart of the individual by the Holy Spirit.” [9] That application by the Holy Spirit begins with new birth, or regeneration. Without regeneration, knowledge of the Bible simply adds to our guilt.

Marc Roby: So, when we talk about the sufficiency of the Bible, we are not saying it is sufficient for salvation all by itself.

Dr. Spencer: Right. It contains all of the information necessary, but the Holy Spirit must do a work in us to allow us to receive that information with faith.

Marc Roby: Alright, so we now know what it means to say that the Bible is sufficient for salvation, what about the fact that we also said it is sufficient to guide us in living the Christian life?

Dr. Spencer: Well, we can again contrast special and general revelation. God has given every human being a conscience. And even in people who have not been born again the conscience mediates against many of our most wicked impulses. For example, most people are not going to murder someone just because they get angry at the person. Nor are most people willing to mug someone and take his money because they want it. But, we all know that there are many exceptions to this rule. Our conscience can be a good guide, but if we repeatedly violate it the Bible tells us it can stop working properly. In 1 Timothy 4:2 Paul writes about “hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” For example, if you keep lying over and over, you reach a point where your conscience no longer objects. It has ceased to function properly.

Marc Roby:  At that point I think you’re eligible to become a politician.

Dr. Spencer:  You might be right about that. But in addition to becoming seared, our conscience can also be corrupted. People can, for example, use their reason to convince themselves that something is alright when, in fact, it is clearly not alright. A good example of this might be sex before marriage. People may argue that since God made sex it is good and natural and that waiting for marriage is just an old-fashioned idea that was part of the culture at the time of the Bible, but is not true anymore, especially since we have birth control now. But, if we examine the Bible carefully, we see that sex outside of marriage is clearly a sin and will always be sin. The point is that we need to train our conscience using the Word of God, in other words, using special revelation.

God is the one who defines what is sin and what is not sin. And God is the one who tells us what we are to do to live a life pleasing to him. The only objective place we can turn for that kind of moral guidance is the Bible. And the Bible is sufficient to tell us all that we need to know to please God. In Deuteronomy 32:47, Moses had told the people God’s commands and then said, “They are not just idle words for you—they are your life.” The Bible tells us in many places that we will be blessed if we obey the commands of God, which are given to us in the Bible. For example, in Deuteronomy 28:2 we are told that “All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God”, and this statement is then followed by a lengthy listing of the many blessings of God. The same message is in the New Testament. For example, in John 13:17, Jesus tells us, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” Therefore, we can reasonably conclude that the commands given to us in the Bible are sufficient for the purpose of living in a way that is pleasing to God.

Marc Roby: That makes me think of Psalm 1, where we read “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”

Dr. Spencer: That’s a classic passage to make this point and, of course, in that passage, when he talks about the ‘law’ of the Lord, he’s talking about the whole of the Bible. Or we can look in Matthew 7:24-25 where Jesus tells us that “everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” This parable is again telling us that if you put Jesus’ words into practice you will be blessed.

Marc Roby: I think we have established that the Bible, when heard or read by someone who has been born again, is sufficient for salvation and to direct us in how to live. Is there anything else to say about this characteristic of the Word of God?

Dr. Spencer: Yes, there is. The sufficiency of the Bible makes clear that we don’t need any new revelation from God, either for salvation or for life. This speaks powerfully against the Roman Catholic church’s view of tradition. The Roman Catholic church places the traditions of the church on an equal footing with Scripture. Which, in practice, really means that they trump scripture. But, even if they didn’t, there is a clear problem. If any of the teachings of the church were necessary for life or doctrine, what can we say about the people who lived prior to the time the church came up with that teaching? The Bible would not have been sufficient for those people.

This also speaks against the Mormon cult. I had some Mormons come to my door one day who said that Mormonism was just like the reformation. Their claim was that just as Martin Luther and the other reformers corrected the abuses that had developed over time in the Roman Catholic church, so Joseph Smith corrected abuses that had developed since the time of the reformation. But that is complete nonsense. The reformation did not introduce any new revelation from God, it went back to the Word of God itself, which had been there the whole time. The existing errors were errors in interpretation and application of the existing revelation. Whereas Joseph Smith introduced a whole new revelation, the Book of Mormon, which contradicts the Bible at many points. Knowing that Scripture is sufficient for salvation and life guards against our being deceived by any new so-called revelation.

Marc Roby: The Bible itself tells us in many places to not add to the words of God. For example, in Deuteronomy 4:2 Moses tells the people “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.”

Dr. Spencer: That is absolutely true. And similar warnings are given in Deuteronomy 12:32, Proverbs 30:6 and Revelation 22:18-19.

Marc Roby: That raises and interesting question though. How do we reconcile these statements with progressive revelation? If we consider the statement I quoted from Moses, I can imagine someone might object and say that if Moses told the people not to add to his commands, what are we to say about the rest of the Old and New Testaments, which were revealed after the time of Moses?

Dr. Spencer: Grudem talks about this in Chapter 8 of his Systematic Theology, which is on the sufficiency of the Bible. He points out that to say that man can’t add to the Scripture is not the same thing as saying that God can’t add to it. Now, of course, the Mormon’s for example, would say that God did add to it with the Book of Mormon. But, I think that view is impossible to accept for two reasons. One, the Book of Mormon contains so many counterfactual elements and, two, there is no need for further revelation. Let me quote Grudem on this second point because I think he says it very well, and his explanation tells us both why there was more revelation after the time of Moses, and why there hasn’t been more after the time of Christ. He wrote that “At each stage in redemptive history, the things that God had revealed were for his people for that time, and they were to study, believe, and obey those things. With further progress in the history of redemption, more of God’s words were added, recording and interpreting that history”[10]. “After the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, and the founding of the early church as recorded in the New Testament, and the assembling of the books of the New Testament canon, no further central redemptive acts of God in history (…) have occurred, and thus no further words of God have been given to record and interpret those acts for us.”[11]

Marc Roby: That certainly is a powerful argument that we have no need for further revelation. And I think that is a good place to stop for today. I again want to encourage our listeners to email their questions and comments to info@whatdoesthewordsay.org.

 

[1] All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® (1984 version). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™.

[2] See http://gracevalley.org/wp-content/uploads/ReadScheduleNonLpYr.pdf

[3] James Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith, Revised in One Volume, InterVarsity Press, 1986

[4] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, Zondervan, 1994

[5] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Eerdmans, 1997 (3-volume set)

[6] E.g., John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Translated by Henry Beveridge, Hendrickson, 2008

[7] https://graceandglory.pub/

[8] E.g., Matthew Henry’s Commentary, New Modern Edition in six volumes, Hendrickson, 1991 and https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/

[9] James Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith, Revised in One Volume, InterVarsity Press, 1986, pg. 37

[10] Grudem, op. cit., pg. 130

[11] Ibid

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Marc Roby: We are resuming our study of theology today by beginning a study of systematic theology. Dr. Spencer, I think it would be a good idea to define what systematic theology is.

Dr. Spencer: That would certainly be a good place to start. The word theology comes from two Greek words, theos (θεός), which means God, and logos (λόγος), which can mean word, or statement, or reasoning.[1] It is the origin of our English word logic, for example. But it is also the root of a suffix in many words, like anthropology or archaeology, where it has come to mean the study of something. So, theology is the study of God.

There are different kinds of theology and the modifiers aren’t always used in a consistent way. In our podcast introductions we have been saying that we are studying “biblical theology”, by which we mean theology according to the Bible. But, according to the 19th-century theologian Charles Hodge, biblical theology would, strictly speaking, be a compilation of the facts presented in the Bible.[2] In contrast, systematic theology looks for the relations between these facts and seeks to draw conclusions from them. He uses geology as an illustration. You can simply compile a list of facts; for example, the locations, size shape and so on of different rivers. Or you can study the causes and relations between different geological facts, which is, in general, more useful.

Overall, I like the definition given by Wayne Grudem the best. In his book Systematic Theology, he writes that “Systematic theology is any study that answers the question, ‘What does the whole Bible teach us today?’ about any given topic.”[3]

Marc Roby: Now, I have to point out that that definition originally came from John Frame.

Dr. Spencer: OK, I knew you’d been itching to get a reference in to one of your favorite theologians. And you’re right, the definition comes from Frame and Grudem does gives him credit in a footnote.

Marc Roby: Just wanted to make sure the record was straight.

Dr. Spencer: I think it’s straight. And it is a good definition. What we are interested in doing is seeing what the whole Bible teaches us, specifically about we are to believe, and how we are to live our lives.

Marc Roby: Alright, where do we want to begin?

Dr. Spencer: We want to begin, as Wayne Grudem and many others have done, with the Word of God itself.

Marc Roby: Perhaps I should remind our listeners that we have already covered this topic to some extent. In Session 4 we discussed the fact that the Bible itself claims to be the very Word of God and that it alone is the ultimate standard, or authority, for a Christian. Then, in Sessions 5 and 6, we discussed the Bible’s authority and its progressive revelation of Jesus Christ as the Savior. So, what else do want to say about the Word of God?

Dr. Spencer: I want, first, to stress the importance of the Word of God. Although it is not the only revelation we have from God, it is the only revelation we have that tells us what we must do to be saved. Theologians often speak of both general and special revelation. General revelation refers to creation itself, including man, our conscience, reasoning and entire being. While special revelation is often used to refer to the Bible, although we’ll see in a few minutes there is more to it.

General revelation is so named because it is available to everyone in general. We are told about it in Romans 1:20-21, which say that “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him”. [4] This is a very important point. General revelation is sufficient for the purpose of leaving men without excuse. We should know that there is a God, we should give him glory and thanks, and we should seek to know him and please him. But, in our natural state, we do none of those things.

Marc Roby: And, of course, because men reject God, Paul tells us in Romans 1:18-19 that “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.”

Dr. Spencer: That’s right. And that is where special revelation comes into the picture. It is called special revelation because it is not available to every single person. And it is only in special revelation that God reveals to us how we can be reconciled to him and have the sentence of his wrath removed from us.

Marc Roby: Which is, of course, by being united to Jesus Christ by faith.

Dr. Spencer: Right. That’s the core of the gospel message. In his natural state, man is a sinner who has rejected God and is under his wrath. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:1 that we were dead in our trespasses and sins. But, if we repent of our sins and place our trust in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ, we’ll be saved.

It is the unique job of God’s special revelation to give us this gospel message.

Marc Roby: But it gives us a lot more than just the bare gospel.

Dr. Spencer: It absolutely does. It gives us everything we need for life and doctrine. In other words, it tells us everything we must believe and everything we must do. Not only to be saved, but to live a life pleasing to God. And not only does it tell us these things, it is our only infallible, objective guide for salvation and the Christian life. Remember in Sessions 2 and 3 we examined the answer to Question 3 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which states that the Bible “principally teaches, what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.” That is the same as saying it teaches us doctrine and life.

Marc Roby: Now I can hear some Christians objecting at this point, because they will say that God reveals to them directly, by his Holy Spirit, what they are to do.

Dr. Spencer: I believe that God does reveal things to his people by his Holy Spirit. But, the Holy Spirit is also the author of the Bible, and God cannot lie, and he cannot change or contradict himself. So, the subjective revelation that a Christian may get from the Holy Spirit must always be subservient to the objective Word of God.

If you think the Holy Spirit has revealed something to you that contradicts the Bible, then you are wrong. And we need this kind of objective standard, because we are all prone to misunderstanding the prompting of the Holy Spirit, or to thinking the Holy Spirit is speaking when, in fact, it is either our own sinful nature welling up, or a suggestion even of the devil. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 2:11 that “we are not unaware of [Satan’s] schemes”. In the Greek, the word the NIV translates here as “schemes”, and which the ESV and other versions translate as “devices” is noama (νόημα), and the root meaning is really “thoughts”. So, the verse could perhaps be better translated as “we are not unaware of Satan’s thoughts.” In other words, Satan puts thoughts into our minds. And we need some objective standard for distinguishing between our own sinful thoughts, the thoughts of Satan, and the thoughts the Holy Spirit brings to us.

Marc Roby: And the Bible is that objective standard.

Dr. Spencer: Yes it is, which is why we have said a number of times in these podcasts that the Bible must be the ultimate standard of truth for a Christian. We can’t let our subjective experiences be the ultimate rule because they can simply be wrong. And there is no way for anyone else to help me if my subjective understanding is the ultimate standard. Suppose, for example, I tell you that God has spoken to me and told me that I should do something, if my subjective experience is the ultimate standard, then you can’t say much at that point. Who are you to contradict God? So, if you think I’m wrong, your only options would be to leave it alone or call me a liar. But, if I tell you that I think God spoke and told me to do something, you can speak to me if what I think God wants me to do is unbiblical. You can, and should, say to me, “Richard, I don’t think that is the Holy Spirit speaking. Let’s look at what the Holy Spirit said in the Scripture.”

Marc Roby: And I think we all need that kind of correction from time to time.

Dr. Spencer: We absolutely do. Which is why being a member of good church and having good Christian fellowship is so important.

Marc Roby: It reminds me of the apostle Paul rebuking and correcting Peter in Galatians 2:11.

Dr. Spencer: That is a great example. We aren’t told the entire conversation, but I’m confident that if Peter didn’t immediately recognize he was wrong and repent, Paul would have argued from the Scriptures to show him that he was wrong.

Marc Roby: Of course, the apostles had the advantage of having heard Jesus himself speak.

Dr. Spencer: That certainly was a great privilege. But, I think that in many ways we are far more privileged today.

Marc Roby: How so?

Dr. Spencer: Because God has provided us with a written record of all the words and deeds of Jesus that it is important for us to know about. We don’t have to rely on our memories.

Marc Roby: That is certainly a good thing, especially as we get older!

Dr. Spencer: I agree. My memory is sometimes pretty bad. But, we have an even greater advantage because not only do we have the written record, we have nearly 2,000 years of scholarship and exhortations from godly men and women to help us understand and apply the Word of God, and to encourage us to hold firmly to the faith.

Marc Roby: That is a tremendous benefit indeed. And it is sometimes astounding, as well as humbling and edifying, to read the insights of some of the great saints of the past.

Dr. Spencer: Absolutely true. But, I also want to point out that the Bible is not going to be properly understood by anyone unless and until that person is born again. What I mean by “properly understood” here is that the message is received and responded to with saving faith. We read in 1 Corinthians 2:14 that “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Marc Roby: That is so true.

Dr. Spencer: The fact that the Bible cannot be properly understood without the Holy Spirit working in us is why I said there was more to special revelation than just the Bible itself. Since the whole point of the term “special revelation” is to talk about what is needed for salvation and living the Christian life, we need to keep in mind this necessary work of the Holy Spirit even if we say that special revelation is the Bible, as is frequently done.

I think James Boice makes a good point in his wonderful book called Foundations of the Christian Faith. He writes that “special revelation has three stages. First, there is redemption in history. This centers in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. He died in the place of sinners and rose as proof of their divine justification. Second, there is a revelation in writing. This is the Bible. God has provided interpretive records of what he has done for our redemption. Finally, there is the application of these truths to the mind and heart of the individual by the Holy Spirit. As a result the individual is born again, receives the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior, and is enabled to follow him faithfully until life’s end.”[5]

Marc Roby: It is clear from my own experience that we need the Holy Spirit to apply the truths of the Bible to our own lives.

Dr. Spencer: My experience is the same. Not only must we be born again, we must also be walking in humble obedience and be filled with the Spirit or our reading of the Bible will not be as useful as it could be. God refuses to speak to someone who is sinning and refusing to repent. But, when we are right with God, his Holy Spirit causes the Bible to come alive. When we read it we see ourselves, and it brings us to repentance, greater faith, a deeper understanding of God, and a clearer understanding of what he wants us to do.

Marc Roby: I find it amazing how you can read a passage you’ve read many times before and yet, because of your different situation, God shows you something completely new and different in the passage.

Dr. Spencer: I’ve had the exact same experience. But, as I’ve been saying, this standard is an objective standard. And one of the things that means is that I’m not free to run off and go crazy with my subjective interpretations of what the Word of God says. That is part of the reason it is so important that this revelation be in written form. If I have misinterpreted it, I need to be able to sit down with someone and have him show me where I went wrong.

Marc Roby: That, of course, requires that we agree on how to read the Word of God.

Dr. Spencer: Yes, we must agree on how to properly read and understand the Word. The science of properly interpreting the Word of God is called Hermeneutics, and we will get into that in a later session. For now, I want to move on to mention four key characteristics of special revelation.

Marc Roby: What are those?

Dr. Spencer: They are sufficiency, necessity, authority and perspicuity.

Marc Roby: I’m sure at least some of our listeners are not familiar with the word perspicuity.

Dr. Spencer: I’m sure you’re right. Perspicuity means clarity. So, perhaps, we could say that the word perspicuity is not particularly perspicuous.

Marc Roby: Maybe it would be better not to have said that.

Dr. Spencer: Yeah, perhaps you’re right. In any event, I thought it was important to at least introduce the term since it is used in theology and since the acronym you will sometimes hear for these four characteristics is SNAP, which stands for sufficiency, necessity, authority and perspicuity. But, if you like, we can change the acronym to SNAC, standing for sufficiency, necessity, authority and clarity.

Marc Roby: Why are these terms so important?

Dr. Spencer: They are important because they tell us some very important things about the Word of God given to us in the Bible. First, it is sufficient, which of course begs the question, “Sufficient for what?” And the short answer is, that it provides sufficient information for salvation and as our guide for living. The Bible is also necessary, which again begs the same question, “Necessary for what?” And the short answer is also the same, it is necessary for salvation and a proper Christian life. There is only one way to be saved, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ. But, the only place we learn who Christ is, what he did, and how we can be saved is the Bible. So, either a person has to read it for himself, or he has to be told what it says by someone sent to preach the gospel to him. Thirdly, the Bible is authoritative, which again begs the question, “Authoritative for what?” This time the answer is more comprehensive. The Bible is authoritative for everything it speaks about. As we have pointed out several times, it is a Christian’s ultimate authority. And, finally, we come to clarity, or using the old term, perspicuity. What this means is that the Bible is clear about those things for which it is necessary and sufficient. In other words, the basic message of salvation and how to live a life pleasing to God is clear. You don’t need a degree in theology, nor do you need to be exceptionally bright in order to understand the basic message of the Bible. A child is able to understand it sufficiently to be saved.

Marc Roby: But, of course, there is so much more there as well. Even a very intelligent and learned person can spend a lifetime studying the Word of God and never fully plumb the depths.

Dr. Spencer: That is certainly true. There is always more that we can learn about from the Word of God.

Marc Roby: I look forward to exploring the Word of God further, but we are out of time for today. I want to close by reminding and encouraging our listeners to send their questions and comments to info@whatdoesthewordsay.org.

 

[1] E.g., see A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Walter Bauer, 2nd Ed., Revised and augmented by F.W. Gingrich and F. Danker, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1979, pp. 477-478

[2] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Eerdmans, 1997, Vol. I, pp. 1-2

[3] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, Zondervan, 1994, pg. 21

[4] All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® (1984 version). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™.

[5] James Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith, Revised in One Volume, InterVarsity Press, 1986, pg. 37

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Marc Roby: We are resuming our study of biblical theology today by finishing our examination of extra-biblical evidence that corroborates the Bible. We ended last time by looking at few Old Testament prophecies about Jesus Christ. Dr. Spencer, where do you want to begin today?

Dr. Spencer: I want to first refer to the discussion we had back in Session 7, where I pointed out that the New Testament is the best attested book from antiquity by a huge margin. We have extremely good manuscripts for every part and that, combined with the science of textual criticism, which I also discussed in that session, allows us to have great confidence that we know what the original manuscripts said. Also, I want to lay to rest a notion that is, unfortunately, not uncommon today.

Marc Roby: What’s that?

Dr. Spencer: It is the nonsensical view of some professing Christians that the New Testament does not have to be historically factual for the Christian faith to be meaningful. Some will say that it doesn’t even matter if Jesus actually lived or not, all that matters is the good moral teaching that is credited to him. If you put that teaching into practice, then you are a Christian. But, to claim that the good moral teachings of Jesus, or of some mythical figure called Jesus, are all that matter is to completely eviscerate the gospel message.

The Christian faith is founded on historical fact. Let me quote the apostle Paul. In 1 Corinthians 15:14 he wrote that “if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” [1] In other words, if the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not a real historical event, the Christian faith is useless. And you can extend this argument very easily. If the New Testament is not true in every detail, then our faith has no solid objective foundation. We are left with pure subjectivism.

Marc Roby: I couldn’t agree with you more.

Dr. Spencer: But, praise God, the reality is that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity. He came to earth in the man Jesus of Nazareth, born of a virgin. He lived a perfect life of obedience and willingly gave himself as a sacrifice of atonement on the cross to pay for the sins of his people, and he was raised from the dead on the third day as foretold in the Bible. He then appeared to many people. And after he ascended into heaven he sent his Holy Spirit down on the apostles and they preached the good news of the forgiveness of sins in his name, which is called the gospel. Through that preaching, the Christian church was started and grew rapidly.

And what was true then is still true today; unless and until we come to know the real, historical Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we are dead in our trespasses and sins and bound for eternal hell. But, if we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, we are saved and bound for heaven. Although, as we discussed in Sessions 12 through 16, that simple statement of faith is loaded with meaning and we must guard against a false, easy type of faith.

So, what I want to do today is to provide a sampling of the extra-biblical evidence we have that corroborates the New Testament.

Marc Roby: OK. What would you like to examine first?

Dr. Spencer: I first want to note that Dr. Stephen Meyer, in his video series “Is the Bible Reliable?[2] does a good job of presented a significant amount of detailed evidence showing that the New Testament is historically accurate. For example, it gets the names of places and people just right. We have noted before that getting details right is a significant sign of historical accuracy and is not as easy as one might suppose. Let me give just one example.

Marc Roby: Please do.

Dr. Spencer: In Romans 16:23, which the apostle Paul wrote from Corinth, he sent greetings from a man named Erastus, whom Paul said was the “city’s director of public works”. Now, this is not some major figure in history, so it is quite surprising that an inscription was found on an old Roman road in Corinth that names him.[3] F.F. Bruce, in his excellent, but somewhat old, book “The New Testament Documents, Are they Reliable?”, mentions this same inscription.[4]

Marc Roby: That is pretty incredible to find such a minor figure from so long ago.

Dr. Spencer: It is incredible, and getting such a minor detail right is strong evidence of historical reliability. There are two others items that Meyer brings up in his video that I think it is worthwhile to mention, even though they are both disputed. They are both ossuaries, which are boxes the Jews used to re-bury bones after the body had decayed.

Marc Roby: That sounds a bit macabre.

Dr. Spencer: You’re right, it does. In any event, this process of digging up a grave and re-burying the bones was only practiced for about a hundred years, from roughly 20 BC to 70 AD. One of the ossuaries was found in an official archaeological dig in 1990, so there is no question about its being authentic, the question is about whether or not the person named is the person from the Bible. The ossuary is very ornate and the inscription, when translated, reads “Joseph, son of Caiaphas”, which many think is the High Priest Caiaphas mentioned, for example, in Matthew 26 in connection with Jesus’ trial.[5]

Marc Roby: That would be pretty incredible if true, and given the time period, the location and the fact that it was such an ornate ossuary, it certainly seems probable.

Dr. Spencer: I agree. But the other ossuary is potentially even more incredible. It is a very simple one that came to light from the antiquities market, so no one knows for sure when or where it was found or by whom. No one doubts that it is a first-century piece, the question is whether or not the entire inscription is first century, or whether some of it is a modern forgery. The inscription reads, when translated, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” and so this is called the James ossuary. If the entire inscription is legitimate, this would almost certainly be the ossuary for James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ, because all three names are correct, the period is correct, and you wouldn’t name a brother unless he was extremely prominent.

The evidence for this inscription being entirely legitimate has gone back and forth over the years as different types of testing have been done. The most recent testing was in 2008 and seems to confirm that it is genuine.[6] One thing is certain, if the inscription has been added to by a modern forger, the person who did it was extremely good and very, very knowledgeable. So, over all, I’d have to say I think it is most likely genuine.

Marc Roby: That would be amazing. But, even if it turns out to be a forgery, we don’t need to worry too much, because we have a lot of other extra-biblical evidence to corroborate the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was a real person who was crucified by the Romans and whose followers started the Christian church.

Dr. Spencer: We certainly do. In fact, I would say that there is no serious basis for anyone to doubt the existence of Jesus Christ, or the fact that he was crucified, or the fact that his disciples said he was raised from the dead. For example, the Jewish-Roman historian, Flavius Josephus, whom we’ve talked about before, mentions Jesus twice in his Antiquities in Books 18 and 20, and he also mentions John the Baptist in Book 18.[7] The Antiquities was written near the end of the first century AD, which is only about 60 years or so after the death of Christ. The account about Jesus in Book 20 also mentions his brother James, it says that the high priest Ananus “assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James”[8]. Now listening to that quote without being able to see the commas might be a bit confusing. James is called the brother of Jesus, and it is Jesus, we are told, who was called Christ.

Marc Roby: What about the other reference to Jesus?

Dr. Spencer: That one is a bit more problematic. We have several copies of it and the most famous one has pretty clearly, and regrettably, been modified by Christians, it has Josephus, who was certainly not a believer, calling Jesus the Christ, which is not believable. However, in 1971 a 10th-century Arabic version came to light, which still has the same basic material, but with a few key word changes. For example, instead of saying Jesus “was the Christ”, it says Jesus “was believed to be the Christ”. Since this version was in Arabic hands, there is no reason to suspect that it was modified to be better evidence for Christianity, so most scholars think it is genuine, and it still provides clear evidence for Jesus.

Marc Roby: Do we have other extra-biblical sources mentioning Jesus Christ?

Dr. Spencer: Absolutely. The Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus wrote a history of the reign of Emperor Nero in about 112 AD, and in that history he notes that it was rumored that Nero himself started the great fire in Rome in 64 AD and then he writes that, in order to stop the rumor, Nero “substituted as culprits, and punished with the utmost refinements of cruelty, a class of men, loathed for their vices, whom the crowd styled Christians. Christus, from whom they got their name, had been executed by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate when Tiberius was emperor; and the pernicious superstition was checked for a short time, only to break out afresh, not only in Judea, the home of the plague, but in Rome itself”.[9]

Marc Roby: Wow. Tacitus was clearly not a friend of Christians! He said that they were “loathed for their vices” and called Christianity a “pernicious superstition” and a “plague”.

Dr. Spencer: It is pretty clear alright that he didn’t think much of Christianity. But that makes this quote all the more valuable. I’m confident that he would not have wanted to provide evidence that would support Christianity! But, I suppose that since he knew what had happened, he probably didn’t think there would come a time when people would try to deny the basic facts.

Marc Roby: Well, if you’re right about that, he could not have been more wrong. But, I guess he can be forgiven for not foreseeing the deep animosity of modern anti-Christian, so-called scholars.

Dr. Spencer: He certainly can be forgiven. The great fire of Rome and Nero’s resulting persecution of Christians is also mentioned by Suetonius.[10] And all of this is written within less than 100 years of the crucifixion of Christ, so we are not talking about oral traditions being blown up into a legend.

Marc Roby: Alright. What else do you have?

Dr. Spencer: F.F. Bruce, in the book I mentioned before, quotes from a letter written by a man named Mara Bar-Serapion to his son, also named Serapion.[11] The letter was written sometime after 73 AD, and, although we don’t know the exact date, most scholars think it was fairly soon thereafter.[12] In any event, this man was in prison and wrote to his son to encourage him to pursue wisdom. In doing so he mentions three wise men who were put to death; Socrates, Pythagoras, and – although he doesn’t name him – Jesus. He wrote, “What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King? It was just after that that their kingdom was abolished. … Nor did the wise King die for good; He lived on in the teaching which He had given.” It seems clear that since this letter was written not long after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD it is referring to Christ. Meyer also mentions this letter in his video.[13]

Marc Roby: It sounds like this man was very modern – he viewed Jesus solely as a great philosopher!

Dr. Spencer: That’s true. But, as with Tacitus, the fact that he carried no brief for Christianity makes his comments more valuable. They show us that the basic facts about the life, death, resurrection and following of Christ were widely known.

Marc Roby: That is an important point. What do you want to present next?

Dr. Spencer: The next thing I want to mention is very important. Around 156 AD a man named Justin Martyr wrote a defense of Christianity to the Roman Emperor Pius.[14] F.F. Bruce notes a very important detail in this defense. Martyr wrote that “the words, ‘They pierced my hands and my feet,’” are “a description of the nails that were fixed in His hands and His feet on the cross; and after He was crucified, those who crucified Him cast lots for His garments, and divided them among themselves; and that these things were so, you may learn from the ‘Acts’ which were recorded under Pontius Pilate.” Notice that last statement! Martyr knew that there had been a record of these events made, which he calls the “Acts” and that this record was available to the emperor! This is again clear evidence that what happened to Jesus was well known. And it is not credible to claim it was a legend that grew because this letter was written less than 130 years after Jesus’ crucifixion and it bears witness to the fact that there were written descriptions of what had happened that were available from the original timeframe.

Marc Roby: Very interesting. What else do you have for us?

Dr. Spencer: I’d like to present just one more quote that makes it clear that even secular scholars who do not believe at all in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, if they are being honest, find the New Testament to be a reliable presentation of history. In a book called Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament, published in 1963, the British academic Mr. Sherwin-White, who very obviously does not believe in Christ, wrote the following about the book of Acts in the New Testament; “For Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. … any attempt to reject its basic historicity even in matters of detail must now appear absurd.”[15]

Marc Roby: That is a rather strong statement. Are you done with the evidence you want to present?

Dr. Spencer: Yes I am. We could go on for a very long time talking about the evidence we have and the fact that we have so many things written so close to the time of the events they describe. We can clearly put to rest the different wrong ideas people have about Jesus of Nazareth. The idea, for example, that there is only a tiny core of truth in the New Testament and the rest is legend that developed over time is simply preposterous and unbelievable. Sherwin-White points out in the book I just mentioned that legends take time to develop and there simply was nowhere near enough time between the events and the written descriptions we have of them for a legend to develop.

There is just so much more that could be said, and I again encourage those who are interested to look into some of the resources I’ve mentioned. But, the bottom line is that there really is no evidence, none, that clearly demonstrates any part of the Bible to be in error. Which should strike any reasonable person as a complete miracle given that the Bible is over 2,000 years old and has had many serious enemies for that entire time! It simply could not be true unless the Bible is exactly what it claims to be, the word of the sovereign Lord of the universe. The main reason people have for rejecting the Bible is very simple; they don’t want to accept the fact that there is a Creator who is going to hold them accountable for how they have lived their lives.

Marc Roby: I completely agree with that assessment. So, what do you have planned for our next session?

Dr. Spencer: I want to start going over systematic theology; which is an examination of what the entire Bible teaches us about different topics.

Marc Roby: I look forward to starting on that. I also want to remind our listeners that they can send a question to us by sending an email to info@whatdoesthewordsay.org.

 

[1] All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® (1984 version). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™.

[2] Is the Bible Reliable?, Dr. Stephen Meyer, The Truth Project, Focus on the Family

[3] Ibid

[4] F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents, Are they Reliable?, Eerdmans, 6th Ed., 1981, pg. 96

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caiaphas_ossuary

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Ossuary

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus

[8] Antiquities of the Jews, 20.9.1, from The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus, Translated by William Whiston, 1737, see also Bruce, op. cit., pg. 109

[9] Bruce, op. cit., pp 120-121, see also Meyer, op. cit., and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ

[10] Bruce, op. cit., op. cit., pp 121-122

[11] Ibid., pg. 117

[12] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mara_bar_Serapion_on_Jesus

[13] Meyer, op. cit.

[14] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Apology_of_Justin_Martyr

[15] A.N. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament, Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1963, pg. 189

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Marc Roby: We are resuming our study of biblical theology today by continuing to examine extra-biblical evidence that corroborates the Bible. We left off last time during the period of the divided kingdom in the early first millennium BC. What do you have for us today Dr. Spencer?

Dr. Spencer: Well, we ended last time talking about the Moabite stone, which clearly mentions “Omri king of Israel”, so let’s start with a second reference to this king of the northern kingdom of Israel. In 1846 a 6½-foot-tall black stone monument, called the Black Obelisk, was found in what is now northern Iraq. It dates from about 825 BC and commemorates the military campaigns of the Assyrian King Shalmaneser III. It contains a carved picture of a king bowing and paying tribute to Shalmaneser and the inscription says that the king is Jehu, son of Omri.[1] It is in the British museum and I strongly recommend going to see it if you have a chance, it is amazing thing to see.

Marc Roby: I’ve seen that stone too and it is amazing to see something from that long ago and to see it clearly corroborate the Bible. What else do you want to mention?

Dr. Spencer: We noted last time that Samaria, the capital city of the norther kingdom, fell to the Assyrians in 722 BC, but that wasn’t the end of the Assyrian’s aggression against the Jews. They came again against the southern kingdom in 701 BC and captured all of the fortified cities except for Jerusalem. The Assyrians were known for their brutality and we are told in 2 Chronicles 32:9 that the Assyrian king Sennacherib laid siege to the Jewish town of Lachish during this campaign. There is a famous 90-foot long carved mural that depicts this siege in gruesome detail. It was found in Sennacherib’s palace in Nineveh, which was then the capital city of the Assyrian empire. Nineveh was on the eastern bank of the Tigris River and is now part the city of Mosul, in northern Iraq. This mural is also in the British museum and I again recommend going to see it if you get a chance.

Marc Roby: I concur that it is well worth going to see. And, of course, the Bible tells us that Sennacherib’s troops came to Jerusalem to lay siege to it after finishing with Lachish.

Dr. Spencer: Yes. And that is the next, and in many ways most amazing, evidence I want to cite. There is a lengthy description of the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem in 2 Kings 18 & 19, 2 Chronicles 32 and also Isaiah 36 & 37. And we also, amazingly, have multiple copies of the Annals of Sennacherib, which describe the same events. One of these, the Taylor prism, is a 15-inch tall hexagonal clay piece with Akkadian cuneiform writing on all six sides. It was found in 1830 in Nineveh by a British Colonel named Robert Taylor and is again in the British Museum.[2]

Marc Roby: And do Sennacherib’s Annals agree with the biblical account?

Dr. Spencer: The Assyrian account agrees in many details with the biblical account and there is one particularly interesting and important correspondence. The biblical account tells us that Hezekiah, the king of Judah, prayed for deliverance and we read in 2 Kings 19:33-36 that God told him through the prophet Isaiah, “‘By the way that he came he will return; he will not enter this city, declares the LORD. I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.’ That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. … So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.” [3]

Now, we would not expect Sennacherib’s account to mention this miracle, but it is interesting that his account is clear that he did not enter Jerusalem, but instead he returned to Nineveh, so it’s obvious that something prevented him from destroying the city.[4] After boasting about capturing 46 fortified cities, all he says about Hezekiah is, “I shut him up like a caged bird in his royal city of Jerusalem”[5]. There is no reasonable natural way to explain why the most powerful empire of the time was unable to capture Jerusalem after already capturing so many other fortified cities in Judah. The Bible’s explanation, while obviously supernatural and therefore offensive to unbelievers, makes good sense and is consistent with all that we know about the events.

Marc Roby: Sennacherib’s silence does speak volumes in this case. What other evidence would you like to present?

Dr. Spencer: The Bible also tells us that after Sennacherib returned to Nineveh, he was assassinated by one of his sons, and this fact is corroborated by extra-biblical sources.[6] In addition, several bullae, which are clay seals used to seal documents, have been found with King Hezekiah’s seal, the most recent was found just a couple of years ago in Jerusalem.[7] There is more that we could say, for example about Hezekiah’s tunnel and his wall, but as I’ve noted, the historical accuracy of the biblical account for this period is not controversial, so I’ll let people who are interested in more detail watch Dr. Meyer’s video[8] or read other sources.[9] The detailed references are in the transcript online as always.

Marc Roby: Alright. If we move on about a hundred years in biblical history, we come to the next major event, the fall of Jerusalem. Is that what we want to look at next?

Dr. Spencer: Yes. The Babylonian chronicles[10] provide extra-biblical evidence of that important event. In fact, they agree with many details of the biblical narrative. Going back a few years before the fall of Jerusalem, Jehoiakim became king of Judah in 609 BC right after his godly father, King Josiah, was killed in battle against Pharaoh Neco. The Bible tells us about this in 2 Kings 23. Josiah was, at that time, allied with Babylon and he was trying to stop Neco from getting up to Carchemish to help the Assyrians fight against Babylon. After Josiah was killed, his son Jehoahaz was named king. But after only three months, Neco took Jehoahaz captive to Egypt, and placed his brother, Eliakim on the throne in his place, renaming him Jehoiakim and making him pay tribute to the Egyptians.

Neco then went on up to Carchemish to join his Assyrian allies. The Babylonians defeated the Assyrians and Egyptians at the battle of Carchemish in 605 BC[11] and Judah then became a vassal to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, as we are told in 2 Kings 24:1. The Babylonians did not invade Egypt though, because Neco was able to successfully defend his country in 601 BC.[12] Nevertheless, perhaps because he was emboldened by Egypt’s victory at home, we are told in 2 Kings 24:1 that Jehoiakim rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, who then came against Jerusalem. Jehoiakim died during the siege and his son Jehoiachin became king, but only for three months before surrendering to the Babylonians in 597 BC. He was then taken captive to Babylon, along with about 10,000 other people. His uncle, Mattaniah, was then installed as king by Nebuchadnezzar, who also changed his name to Zedekiah. We are told about all of this in 2 Kings 24 and with other details in Jeremiah, who was the main prophet in Jerusalem at the time. And the Babylonian records agree with many of the details.

Marc Roby: And, of course, Zedekiah didn’t remain king for all that long either. He again rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, leading to the final destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC.

Dr. Spencer: That’s right. And many of the details provided in the Bible about the power struggles between Assyria, Egypt and Babylon in the late 7th and early 6th century BC are in agreement with the extra-biblical accounts, while none of the Bible’s details are contradicted.

Marc Roby: All of this goes a long way in confirming what you said before; the Bible is our greatest archaeological treasure.

Dr. Spencer: It most definitely is. I want to give just one more amazing example of the evidence we have. Remember we talked earlier about clay seals called bullae? Well, they have found bullae of two of Jeremiah’s opponents, mentioned together in Jeremiah 38:1, Shephatiah son of Mattan and Gedaliah son of Pashhur. We don’t know anything more about these men, but the bullae were found in 2005 and 2008 only a few yards apart in excavations in the old City of David in modern Jerusalem.[13] Even though these are relatively common names from the time, the fact that they are mentioned together in that verse as having heard Jeremiah’s prophecy, which led to some unspecified officials telling the king that Jeremiah was worthy of death, would seem to imply that they were either officials themselves, or were at least called as official witnesses. When you combine this with the fact that both names also having the correct names for their fathers and the bullae being found in the same place, it all seems to add up to these being the very men mentioned by Jeremiah.

Marc Roby: That is truly incredible.

Dr. Spencer: Yes. But as I said earlier, even secular archaeologists do not seriously challenge the accuracy of the Bible’s narrative for this part of history, so I don’t want to spend much more time on it. What I want to do instead, is to finish looking at the Old Testament history and to simultaneously begin examining some of the prophecies made in the Old Testament.

Marc Roby: Alright. How do you plan to do those two things together?

Dr. Spencer: I want to briefly examine Isaiah’s prophecy about Cyrus. This prophecy deals with the last historical period of the Old Testament, the return of the exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem in 537 BC.

Marc Roby: And this Cyrus is, of course, Cyrus the 2nd, king of Persia, who conquered Babylon in 539 BC.

Dr. Spencer: Right. He is also known as Cyrus the Great and he is an important figure in biblical history. In fact, one interesting little fact about him is that he is the only non-Jew ever said to be called “Yahweh’s anointed” in the Bible.[14] Remember that people could be anointed for various tasks, like being a king or a priest, but in this case a foreigner is given this honor. He was, we are told in Isaiah 45:1, anointed “to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor”. And in Isaiah 44:28, God says of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, ‘Let it be rebuilt,’ and of the temple, ‘Let its foundations be laid.’” And this is true prophecy because Isaiah wrote this no later than the early 7th century BC, roughly 150 years before Cyrus fulfilled the prophecy by allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem.

We know a great deal about Cyrus from extra-biblical historical references, like the Histories by Herodotus[15] – also known as the Persian Wars, the Nabonidus Chronicle[16] and the Cyrus Cylinder[17]. And these extra-biblical references corroborate the biblical narrative of the fall of Babylon and Cyrus’ decree to allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. In fact, there is a very interesting story told by the 1st-century Jewish-Roman historian Flavius Josephus. He said that Cyrus’ decree to release the Jews was prompted by his being shown Isaiah’s prophecy. It is entirely possible that the biblical Daniel, who was a high official in Babylon when Cyrus conquered it, showed Isaiah’s prophecy to him, so the story may very well be true.

Marc Roby: That is amazing. But I know that modern scholars typically divide the book of Isaiah up into different pieces and claim that the prophecy about Cyrus was written after the events it describes. How would you respond to that?

Dr. Spencer: I would first note that Bible believing scholars defend the unity of the book, and the main reason these unbelieving scholars have for dividing the book is precisely their presupposition that true predictive prophecy is impossible. But, secondly, I would say that such a view strikes me as incredibly hard to swallow. The oldest extant copy of the book of Isaiah, which is substantially the same as our current copies, was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and dates from no later than the 2nd century before Christ. It is impossible to believe that it was the only copy of Isaiah around at the time. In fact, given the importance of the book and the geographical dispersion of the Israelites, I would say there must have been a number of copies available in antiquity in a number of different places. So, to believe that someone modified or added to the book in order to make it look like prophecy, and to believe that we have absolutely no indication that anyone pointed this out until the last 200 years is ridiculous.

In addition, the purpose of this prophecy, and the one by Jeremiah that the captivity of the Israelites would last for 70 years[18], was to encourage the Israelites in this desperate time that their God was fully in control of history. If this had not really been prophecy, people would have known that and there would be some indication in our written histories that this was severely contested. Randall Price does a good job of discussing this in his book The Stones Cry Out.[19]

Marc Roby: You make a good case. I think it is very hard to believe that such wholesale changes could be made and we would have no historical record mentioning that. But, it is easy to see how those who think prophecy is simply impossible would arrive at such a conclusion.

Dr. Spencer: You’re right, it’s very easy to see how they arrive at such a conclusion. But, simply assuming that prophecy is impossible does not in any way make you right. And there are other prophecies in Isaiah that it is much harder to dismiss since we have a copy from over 100 years before Christ, and some of Isaiah’s prophecies were fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Christ.

Marc Roby: Well, it sounds like we are ready to move on the next phase of biblical history. So, which of these prophecies would you like to highlight?

Dr. Spencer: With the time we have left today I’d like to stick with ones that are in Isaiah, or some other passage that is attested in the Dead Sea Scrolls, so there can be no question at all that they were written prior to the time of Christ, and also to stick with prophecies that were recognized as having to do with the Messiah by Jewish scholars at the time of Christ so that we can’t be accused of searching the Old Testament and looking for things that could possibly be taken as prophecies about Christ.

Marc Roby: That sounds like a reasonable approach. I assume that means that we want to look at Chapter 53 of Isaiah?

Dr. Spencer: That is certainly one of the passages, yes. There are also two other verses we will get to in a moment, but, let’s begin with Isaiah 53. It was recognized by the Jews at the time as being Messianic, simply meaning, as I said, that it was speaking about the promised Messiah. In Verses 3 through 5 it says, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Marc Roby: That passage is always amazing to read, it so clearly fits Jesus Christ and his redeeming work on the cross.

Dr. Spencer: Yes, and it so clearly speaks of God’s amazing love for sinners too. We are not able to save ourselves, but “he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows” and “he was pierced for our transgressions”. It always reminds me of 2 Corinthians 5:21 where we are told that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” It is also clear that this coming Messiah was not going to be an earthly king since it says “He was despised and rejected by men” and “we esteemed him not”. We are also told in Verse 9 that he was assigned a grave with the rich, and we know from Matthew 27:57-60 that Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man. Then, in Verse 10 Isaiah tells us that “the LORD makes his life a guilt offering”, which agrees perfectly with what we are told in Ephesians 5:1-2, where we read “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” There is much more that could be said, but I think that is enough for now.

Marc Roby: That is a lot. But you mentioned two other verses you wanted to mention?

Dr. Spencer: Yes I did. And both of these verses were also recognized as Messianic by the Jews at the time of Christ[20], and both of them are attested to in the Dead Sea Scrolls[21], so there can be no doubt about them pre-dating Christ. One is Psalm 22 Verse 16, which says “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.” This verse is clearly speaking about the crucifixion of Christ. And this is an interesting verse because it has long been a subject of dispute between Jews and Christians. The Jews claim that it should read something like “For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me, like a lion, my hands and feet.”[22] It turns out that the difference between the two translations depends on just one letter in the Hebrew. But, there are two major problems with this alternate view. First, the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew text, finished long before the time of Christ, agrees with our version about Christ’s hands and feet being pierced, so the Jews have to claim that Christians changed the Septuagint – an unlikely proposal to say the least in my mind. Secondly, since the verse has now been found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, they have to claim that the letter is being misread and or the word mistranslated. I think that given the preponderance of evidence, including the next verse I want to mention, our translations stand.

The other verse is Zechariah 12 Verse 10, which says in part, “They will look on me, the one they have pierced”. This again is in a passage known at the time of Christ to be Messianic, and it has also been found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Marc Roby: That is absolutely amazing. In fact, it appears to be clear evidence that God has deliberately given us more revelation to bolster our faith. But, we are out of time for today.

 

[1] Randall Price, The Stones Cry Out, Harvest House Pub., 1997, pg. 77, see also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Obelisk_of_Shalmaneser_III

[2] Price, op. cit., pg. 272, also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sennacherib%27s_Annals

[3] All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® (1984 version). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™.

[4] Price, op. cit., pp 272-274

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sennacherib%27s_Annals

[6] Kenneth A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003, pg. 42 and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sennacherib#Death

[7] https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/jerusalem/king-hezekiah-in-the-bible-royal-seal-of-hezekiah-comes-to-light/

[8] Is the Bible Reliable? Building the historical case, Dr. Stephen Meyer, The Truth Project, Focus on the Family

[9] E.g., Kitchen op. cit., Price op. cit.

[10] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylonian_Chronicles

[11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Carchemish

[12] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necho_II

[13] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gedaliah_son_of_Pashhur

[14] Lisbeth S. Fried, Cyrus the Messiah, Bible Review 19:5, October 2003

[15] Price, op. cit., pg. 248, also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histories_(Herodotus)

[16] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nabonidus_Chronicle

[17] Price, pp. 251-252

[18] See Jer 25:11-12, 29:10 and Dan 9:2

[19] Price, op. cit., pp 246-252

[20] Robert C. Newman, The Evidence of Prophecy, Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute, 1988, pg. 104

[21] For Psalm 22:16 see, for example, Shon Hopkin, The Psalm 22:16 Controversy: New Evidence from

the Dead Sea Scrolls, BYU Studies Quarterly, Vol. 44, Issue 3, available at http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3716&context=byusq
For Zech 12:10 see, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zechariah_12 or http://dssenglishbible.com/zechariah%2012.htm

[22] https://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/64954/location-of-dead-sea-scroll-with-psalm-22-verse-17-they-pierced-my-hands-and-m/64962

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Marc Roby: We are resuming our study of biblical theology today by continuing to examine evidence that corroborates the Bible. Last time we discussed evidence for the Israelite conquest of Canaan. Dr. Spencer, what would you like to cover today?

Dr. Spencer: The next phase of biblical history is the period covered by the book of Judges along with the first seven chapters of 1 Samuel. This period begins with the death of Joshua and extends up to the beginning of the monarchy under Saul. We are told in Joshua 24:29 that he died at the age of 110. And we also know that he was Moses’ aid when the Israelites first came out of Egypt, so assuming he was a young man of, let’s say, 18 or 20 at that time, he must have died a few years before 1350 BC. We also know that Saul started to rule around 1050 BC, so the period of the judges extends for about 300 years, from around 1350 to 1050 BC.

Marc Roby: And what extra-biblical evidence do we have for that period?

Dr. Spencer: Let me first say a little about the dates, and in doing so also provide a bit more evidence for the conquest, before I get into any of the evidence for the time of the Judges, because this is a period, just like the Exodus, about which there is a great deal of controversy. There are those, like Kenneth Kitchen, who hold to a late date for the Exodus, around 1250 BC,[1] which I think is very difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile with the biblical accounts, and they point to the fact that much of the evidence for destruction and resettlement of towns in Canaan comes from the 13th and 12th centuries BC, rather than the 14th century. But, as Kitchen himself points out in his book On the Reliability of the Old Testament, which we’ve used quite a bit, the biblical account of the conquest does not say that the Israelites came in, totally destroyed and then immediately occupied most or even many of the towns in Canaan.[2]

In fact, we are told in Joshua 13:1 that “When Joshua was old and well advanced in years, the LORD said to him, ‘You are very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over.’” [3] So, we know that around the middle of the 14th century the Israelites had not yet occupied much of the land of Canaan. We are only told that the Israelites totally destroyed and burned three cities: Jericho, Ai, and Hazor. We discussed Jericho at some length last time, and the exact location of Ai is still in doubt, but we have not yet said anything about Hazor, which is north of the Sea of Galilee.

Marc Roby: Is there evidence for the conquest of Hazor?

Dr. Spencer: We have a tremendous amount of evidence that Hazor was a very large Canaanite settlement, including extra-biblical references to it, for example in the Amarna letters we discussed in Session 18, all of which is consistent with it being described in Joshua 11:10 as “the head of all” the Canaanite kingdoms in the north. In fact, the excavations at Hazor are still going on now and this most recent round of excavations was begun almost 30 years ago, in 1990.

Marc Roby: That’s a long time to be digging in one place.

Dr. Spencer: Yes it is, and yet they have still only excavated a small percentage of the site. And it has been under the direction of the same person for the entire time, Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In any event, these are some of the most extensive excavations in the region and they have yielded a lot of evidence as I said. There is also clear evidence of a massive destruction of the site by fire, which Prof. Ben-Tor dates to the time of Joshua, although – as you might guess – the date is controversial.

In any event, the main point I want to make is that independent of the exact date of the destruction by fire seen in the excavation at Hazor, there is a tremendous amount of evidence that corroborates the biblical narrative of both the conquest and the period of the Judges. In addition, as has been pointed out by many, the entire period of the Judges, which we are going to briefly examine now, is a time of many conflicts and changes in this region. So, the evidence of destruction and resettlement in this period of time is consistent with the biblical narrative and is not evidence that uniquely points to a late date for the Exodus.

Let me quote Randall Price from his book called The Stones Cry Out, which is another very useful book. He writes, “the signs of widespread destruction at certain sites should not be considered as archaeological evidence against the biblical chronology and for a late date for the Conquest. These destructions better fit the period of the Judges, during which ongoing warfare was commonplace.”[4]

Marc Roby: I think we are clear on the fact that archaeologists disagree about some of the dates. But what evidence do we have for the period of the Judges?

Dr. Spencer: We have a good deal of evidence, with much of it again being circumstantial. For example, we read in Judges 18 the sad story of the tribe of Dan, who, having not been successful in occupying the territory God assigned to them, sent out spies to look for somewhere else to go. And we are told in Judges 18:7 that the spies “came to Laish, where they saw that the people were living in safety, like the Sidonians, unsuspecting and secure. And since their land lacked nothing, they were prosperous. Also, they lived a long way from the Sidonians and had no relationship with anyone else.” The spies then returned to the rest of the tribe and said, “let’s attack them!” And they did so, taking the city and renaming it Dan.

As Kitchens details, we have significant archaeological evidence for Laish having a large Canaanite settlement, which was then destroyed around 1200 BC and resettled by Israelites.[5]

Marc Roby: That’s impressive evidence. What else do we have?

Dr. Spencer: One of the more interesting bits of indirect evidence is provided by the Midianites, whom the Bible describes as one of the enemies of the Jewish people during this time. As it turns out, the Midianites where a people with a very short history. They seem to have existed for only 200 years or so, starting from about 1300 BC.[6] So, the Bible mentioning them at this point is a very specific bit of evidence for the historicity of the account, and is again something it would have been virtually impossible for someone to get right if this account were written hundreds of years later as the minimalists would have us believe. A similar situation is true of another enemy of the Jewish people in this period, called the Amalekites.

There are a number of other specifics I could cite, but you get into arguments about dates and so forth for much of them, so I’ll just finish by reminding our listeners that the Amarna letters we’ve discussed before illustrate the kind of constant conflict that was going on during this period. In addition, since there was no large or powerful Jewish state during the time of the judges, one would not expect to find a great deal of evidence. The Amarna letters and the Merneptah Stele, both of which were discussed last time, along with the evidence from Laish and the general archaeological evidence of a volatile time of destruction and re-settlement, is probably more than we should reasonably have expected to find.

Marc Roby: Very well. So what do we look at next?

Dr. Spencer: The next period in biblical history is the united monarchy. This started, as I noted a while ago, about 1050 BC when the Jewish people asked for a king and God complied.

Marc Roby: I think it would be a good idea to pause and point out the theological importance of this episode in Jewish history at this point.

Dr. Spencer: I agree. The book of Judges has a clear theme. Over and over again we see the people being punished for their disobedience to God’s commands, followed by their crying out in repentance for relief and God, in his great mercy, providing deliverance. Overall then, it is a book about the unfaithful apostasy and idolatry of God’s people and his faithful mercy and long-suffering. There is a phrase repeated four times in the book, “In those days Israel had no king”, which is a terrible thing to have said about them since they did, in fact, have a king. And not just any king, they had the King of kings! And twice in the book, that phrase is combined with another sad statement that further explains it; in both Judges 17:6 and 21:25 we read, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.”

Marc Roby: That sounds a lot like our time.

Dr. Spencer: Yes it does. But, returning to the united kingdom, we have no good direct evidence for Saul, but we do have for his successor David, who is, of course, the most famous of all the Jewish kings.

Marc Roby: It’s particularly interesting that we have solid direct evidence for him since for many years the skeptics have been saying that King David was a figment of the Jewish imagination; a purely mythical ideal king.

Dr. Spencer: Yes, it is interesting. I think that God has a great sense of humor and sometimes delights in giving people just enough rope to hang themselves. It is also a clear demonstration of how inconsistent and downright silly some of the critics of the Bile can be. If the Jewish people were going to construct a mythical perfect king, I don’t find it credible to believe that they would come up with David, who while certainly a great king, was also severely flawed. I mean, who would create a mythical supposedly ideal king who is also guilty of adultery and murder?

Marc Roby: That’s a good point. But what is the extra-biblical evidence for David, and just how recent is it?

Dr. Spencer: The best evidence comes from a 1993 find in our old friend, the city of Dan. Called the Tell Dan Stele, it was a black basalt monument erected in the late 9th century BC, about 150 years after David died. It is a victory stele put up by the Arameans to commemorate a victory over their enemies, the Israelites. One line of the stele says, with some reconstruction, “I killed Jehoram son of Ahab king of Israel and I killed Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of the House of David.”[7]

The reconstruction of a couple of names is all but certain, but more importantly there is no reconstruction necessary for the part that says, “the house of David”. So, first of all, we have absolutely irrefutable extra-biblical evidence for the existence of David. Secondly, the silly proposals that the real David was a petty tribal king and that the mythical David simply borrowed his name are put to rest because kings in the ancient world were no different than people today. They didn’t make a big deal out of commemorating a victory over a nobody. And, in addition, if David was such a minor figure, Jehoram would not have been called “king of the House of David” nearly 150 years after David lived.

Marc Roby: That does seem unlikely. You said this is the “best evidence”, so I assume there is more?

Dr. Spencer: Yes. Another piece of direct evidence, which, although less certain than the Tell Dan Stele, is also solid – no pun intended – is the Mesha Stele, which is also called the Moabite stone. Mesha was the king of Moab and this stele, which was also erected in the 9th century BC, links the house of David with an occupation in part of southern Moab.[8] But our evidence doesn’t stop there. There is a third, less certain but nonetheless probable reference to David in a list of place names conquered by Shoshenq I of Egypt. This list was engraved around 925 BC at the Great Temple of Karnak in Egypt and includes a place called “the heights of David.”[9]

Marc Roby: That is truly amazing that after so many years we have solid evidence for this most famous of all Israelite kings. Do you want to say any more about the united monarchy?

Dr. Spencer: There is a lot more indirect evidence that I’ll let people look at on their own if they are interested, but I do want to mention that Kitchen does a good job of listing evidence from other ancient rulers that completely puts the lie to the idea that Solomon’s riches and fame are somehow not believable.[10] Solomon, as many of our listeners know, was David’s son and was named by David as his successor. And many people have claimed that Solomon’s riches, like his throne and vast amounts of gold and silver, are not believable. But, it turns out that there is a tremendous amount of evidence for other rulers of the same time frame having similar thrones, similarly huge amounts of gold and silver and so on. In addition, Solomon’s relations with other kingdoms at the time, like the famous visit by the Queen of Sheba, all make historical sense. But, I’d like to move on now to the period of the divided kingdom.

Marc Roby: Alright. And for those listeners who don’t know the history, after Solomon’s son Rehoboam took over the kingdom was split in two. The southern kingdom, usually called Judah, was first ruled by Rehoboam and included the holy city of Jerusalem, while the northern kingdom, usually called Israel, was ruled at first by Jeroboam.

Dr. Spencer: That’s right. And this period of history, starting roughly in 930 BC, is one of great turmoil, as anyone who has read the biblical account in 1st & 2nd Kings and 2nd Chronicles knows. The Bible tells us that all of the kings of the northern kingdom were wicked and, as a result, that kingdom was totally destroyed and the Israelites carried off into captivity by the Assyrians. The capital city of Samaria fell in 722 BC.

Marc Roby: And the southern kingdom didn’t fare much better.

Dr. Spencer: That’s true. It did have some kings who were good, even very good, but because they also failed to remain faithful to God in spite of repeated warnings from the prophets and the example of the northern kingdom, they too were defeated, this time by the Babylonian empire, with most of the leading citizens of Jerusalem being carried into captivity in Babylon and the city itself being destroyed in 586 BC.

Marc Roby: And do we have evidence to corroborate the Bible’s narrative of this period of history?

Dr. Spencer: Absolutely. In fact, we have an embarrassment of riches and it is safe to say that it would be completely futile to challenge the veracity of the biblical accounts in this period. I won’t spend much time on it because it is really not controversial except for some minor details. The bottom line is that we have a lot of extra-biblical evidence that shows the biblical narrative to be factual. Let me give a couple of quick examples.

Marc Roby: Please do.

Dr. Spencer: Let’s look at some evidence for the very beginning of the divided kingdom. In 1 Kings 14:25-26 and 2 Chronicles 12:2-9 we are told of Pharaoh Shishak’s military campaign against Rehoboam. Shishak is also known as Shoshenq I.[11] No mention is made in the Bible of his also going into the northern kingdom of Israel, but Shoshenq I did leave a list of cities conquered in the Great Temple of Karnak[12] as I mentioned a couple of minutes ago, and that list allows people to trace the route of his military campaign into Canaan, which definitely included a foray into the north.[13] Kitchen speculates, I think reasonably, that since Jeroboam had fled to Egypt before taking power in the north, he was a vassal of the pharaoh and had, perhaps, stopped making payments, which would certainly have brought the pharaoh up north to collect.[14] In any event, we know from the city list that the pharaoh went there, and a portion of a victory stele was found in Megiddo, which clearly identifies Pharaoh Shoshenq I.[15]

Marc Roby: That’s pretty solid evidence indeed. What else do you have to share?

Dr. Spencer: Well, moving along a bit in the list of kings, one of the most prominent kings of the northern kingdom of Israel was Omri. There was yet another stele found in 1868, which is called either the Mesha stele, or the Moabite stone. It was erected by Mesha, king of Moab, around 840 BC and it describes him gaining a victory over a son of “Omri king of Israel”.[16] Not only does it specifically name Omri king of Israel, it also gives a description of the battle which is consistent with the account given in 2 Kings Chapter 3. Anyone who is interested can read the inscription for himself on Wikipedia.

Marc Roby: I continue to be astounded by all of the extra-biblical evidence and how it continually proves the Bible to be an accurate source. But we are out of time for today and will have to continue this next time.

Dr. Spencer: That’s fine, but I do want to remind our listeners to email their questions on this session, or any previous sessions, to info@whatdoesthewordsay.org.

[1] Kenneth A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003, pg. 359

[2] Ibid, pp. 161-163

[3] All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® (1984 version). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™.

[4] Randall Price, The Stones Cry Out, Harvest House Publishers, 1997, pg. 147

[5] Kitchen, op. cit., pg. 211

[6] Ibid, pp. 213-214

[7] Price, op. cit., pg. 170

[8] Kitchen, op. cit., pp 92-93

[9] Ibid, pg. 93, see also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoshenq_I

[10] Ibid, pp 107-137

[11] Ibid, pg. 33

[12] Ibid, pg 33

[13] E.g., see The Harper Concise Atlas of the Bible, Harper Collins Publ., 1991, pg. 63

[14] Kitchen, op. cit., pg. 34

[15] Ibid, pg. 33, also Price, pg. 227

[16] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesha_Stele#Parallel_to_2_Kings_3

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