JSB – Week 3 reading

You weren’t kidding when you mentioned that some of the reading may challenge us. The first few pages of the reading for this week has really struck me. The author of the essay says that the Exodus account in the Bible “…must have involved fewer people than the exaggerated biblical numbers… Given the lack of historical data, it is impossible to say more,” (JSB p. 2050). He mentions that fact that their is little extra-biblical information on some of the events/names/places that are mentioned in the Bible. He is well-researched and knowledgable I’m sure by I am curious if he is venturing too far from the basis of our relationship with God… faith. It seems to me like he is very quick to discredit some of the scriptures for their lack of support in secular sources. I am anxious to read the rest of the assigned reading and see what else strikes a nerve.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. He is presenting his case and I just want to hear what some of you other folks are thinking.


4 Responses

  1. There are always those who will not rely on scripture as a viable source of history. Rather than use the Bible as a final reference, it seems that many want to use it as a starting point and then guage its validity based on external sources. Our perspective is one of faith, as you mentioned, but that is not the case for many others. The Bible is viewed simply as a collection of random writings that need to be either varified or vilafied. While I believe the Bible can stand on its own under scrutiny, because of my faith, others do not share that faith foundation, so the Bible becomes something less than what we believe it to be. I find the fact that the Bible is scrutinized more than any other writing in history to be a badge of honor for both the Bible and my faith, for the Bible is the greatest book on earth with the greatest message. Naturally its going to come under attack and analysis by its detractors. But it’s like what Peter Enns said in his book: “But when God speaks, He speaks in ways we would understand. With this in mind, we can now look at some of the evidence that has been a part of the scholarly conversation for several generations, not to determine whether the Bible is God’s word, but to see more clearly how it is God’s word.” (p. 21) Happy reading!

  2. I plan to talk more about these kind of problems in class. For now, I will say, historical scepticism is greatly exagerated. It is a fad that has come and gone, and is now in vogue again to dismiss the Bible as a source for history.

    Anyone interested could look up the Merneptah Stele as a starting point.

  3. I have heard this before about the number of people involved in the exodus and also read that in the JSB. It seems like the Bible is discounted as a document in history because on the surface it seems that it can contradict itself. I have that question thrown at me all the time by our students. I think having the background info that is not always present in the reading of scripture is very important. I think that many times we sea contradictions because we don’t understand the things that are going on in the culture, with the writer or circumstances in which they are writing. Enns says “That the Bible, at every tun, shows how “connected” it is to its own world is a necessary consequence of God incarnating himself” (20) So to see the entire picture we must look deeper than the surface and challenge others not to just take the words for face value because the expressions and phrases used then do not necessarily have the same impact or context in which we perceive things through our present world view. I

  4. I don’t know that the author is trying to discredit the Bible any more than he is trying to bring to light other historical information that is sometimes overlooked, especially by those of us who believe the Bible to be a viable historical document. I had previously heard some of the information found in this section, and discovered that it did nothing to weaken my faith. Rather, looking into what the secular world views as historically accurate sometimes strengthens my faith, and I think it is important for Christians to familiarize themselves with the secular in order to help others understand the sacred. As pointed out in Enns’ book, the Word is both divine and human. That is, it was written by authors influenced by the world around them, as were the authors of these other documents. Naturally, there will be differences, but I personally find my faith is strengthened when I believe the Bible despite the differences.

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