One of the charges made against Christians is that the Bible is a nice book, maybe even a very good book… but that it is just a book. “It is just a collections of stories, and not even historical fact. How can you believe in a bunch of works of fiction…?”
How do you respond to that? Where would you begin?
One approach is to confirm that Bible events and people are correct, using sources other than the Bible itself. This is not the complete answer, but it is a start.
I should point out, though, before we start. That other sources are not more reliable than the Bible as historical documents. All that they provide is corroboration, and we should not fall into the trap of believing that other historical artefacts from that time are more reliable than the Bible. As a collect of historical documents the Bible has proven to be the most reliable of sources.
There are many examples that corroborate biblical evidence – many more than are provided here. This list provides only the most significant discoveries (and more can be found in the reference source):
- A Common Flood Story. Not just the Hebrew account (in Genesis 6–8), but also Mesopotamians, Egyptians, and Greeks all report a flood in primordial times. A list of Sumerian kings from around 2100 BC is divided into two categories: those kings who ruled before a great flood and those who ruled after it. One of the earliest examples of Sumero-Akkadian-Babylonian literature, the Gilgamesh Epic, also describes a great flood sent as punishment by “the gods”; humanity is saved only when the pious Utnapishtim builds a ship and saves the animal world on it.
- The Code of Hammurabi. This seven-foot black diorite stele, was found at Susa and is currently located in the Louvre in France. It contains 282 engraved laws of Babylonian King Hammurabi (fl. 1750 BC). The common basis for this law code is the lex talionis (“the law of the tooth”). This shows that there was a common Semitic law of retribution in the ancient Near East, which is clearly reflected in the Pentateuch. (e.g. in Exodus 21:23–25).
- The Nuzi Tablets. The some 20,000 cuneiform clay tablets discovered at the ruins of Nuzi, east of the Tigris River and datable to c. 1500 BC, reveal institutions, practices, and customs that are in remarkable agreement to those found in Genesis. These tablets include treaties, marriage arrangements, rules regarding inheritance, adoption, and the like.
- The Existence of Hittites. Genesis 23 reports that Abraham buried Sarah in the Cave of Machpelah, which he purchased from Ephron the Hittite. 2 Samuel 11 tells of David’s adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. Just over a century ago the Hittites were unknown outside of the Old Testament – critics claimed that they were a figment of biblical imagination. In 1906, archaeologists digging east of Ankara, Turkey, discovered the ruins of Hattusas, the ancient Hittite capital at what is today called Boghazkoy. In addition, a vast collection of Hittite historical records, was discovered which showed an empire flourishing in the mid-second millennium BC. This proved this important challenge to biblical accuracy incorrect — one of many such instances regarding Biblical accuracy.
- Archaeological confirmation of Biblical cities. In addition to Jericho, the cities of Haran, Hazor, Dan, Megiddo, Shechem, Samaria, Shiloh, Gezer, Gibeah, Beth Shemesh, Beth Shean, Beersheba, Lachish, amongst other biblical cities have been excavated. These are all in addition to the more well-known larger and obvious locations as Jerusalem or Babylon. This geographical confirmation is extremely significant in demonstrating that fact, not fantasy, is intended, and reported, in the Old Testament narratives.
- The Moabite Stone. Second Kings 3 reports that Mesha, the king of Moab, rebelled against the king of Israel after the death of Ahab. A three-foot stone slab, also called the Mesha Stele, confirms the revolt by claiming triumph over Ahab’s family, c. 850 BC, and that Israel had “perished forever.”
There are many more examples that could have been provided. If you would like to learn more about these, and other, examples of archaeological evidence that supports Biblical history then please take a look at: http://www.equip.org/article/biblical-archaeology-factual-evidence-to-support-the-historicity-of-the-bible/
The Institution for Creation Research also provides information and evidence at: http://www.icr.org/bible-history