Aram was the ancient city now known as Damascus, and Aramaeans were its inhabitants. Aramaic was the language of Aram, which was wisely chosen by by the Persians as the common language of their new empire. Aram had already been a great military and trading power, so the language was already well known in parts of the empire. And being a Semitic language, very similar, for example, to Hebrew, it would be easy for much of the empire to adopt. First of all the fact that Jesus would have spoken Aramaic would not make him an Aramaean. After Alexander defeated the Persians, most of the Near East adopted Greek as their common language, but the Jews perversely stayed with Aramaic. So all Palestinian Jews spoke Aramaic, whether they lived in Galilee or Judea. The majority of Galilean Jews were not true ethnic Jews, in that they were not immigrants from Judea in the south. Rather, they were forcibly converted to Judaism in the second century BCE by the Maccabeans. Before this, they were pagans, much like their neighbours in the region, including the Aramaeans. If Jesus was a Galilean, it is logically possible, with fluid borders, that he was descended from Aramaeans.
Yes. They were a West Semitic people, closely related to the Canaanites, Hebrews, Aramaeans and Moabites. Researchers have learnt a lot about the Levantine peoples and their religious beliefs and say they were all polytheistic, although Judah eventually moved to monotheism around the time of the Babylonian Exile. Like all their close ethnic relatives, the coastal Phoenicians worshipped gods such as Baal and goddesses such as Astarte, although there were some differences from one group to the next.
We can not realistically talk of anti-semitism in biblical times. The various nations of the ancient Near East warred against each other from time to time, but for secular reasons such as power, prestige, greed or revenge, not because of religious bigotry. At times, Israel's neighbours invaded Israel; at other times Israel invaded its neighbours. Moreover, Israel's neighbours were themselves Semitic people - including the Canaanites, Itureans, Moabites, Edomites and Aramaeans. Anti-semitism is a meaningless term in that context.
In early biblical times, it is not really possible to talk of either Syrians or Jews, although of course modern Syrians and Jews are the direct descendants of the people of those times. The people of what is now known as Syria were the Aramaeans, a West Semitic people who gradually evolved the Aramaic language. There was no territorial state of the Aramaeans, but a network of somewhat aligned city-states, the most powerful of which was Damascus. The Israelites were also ethnically West Semitic people, not much different from the coastal Canaanites and the Aramaeans. Israel was not unique but nevertheless somewhat unusual in occupying a territorial kingdom, whose principal capital city was Samaria. And to the south was the smaller enclave of Judah, based on the city of Jerusalem. The kings of Israel and Judah enjoyed sovereignity over far larger territories than did the Aramaean kings, but this was mountainous, rural territory, not necessarily conducive to great wealth. While the Bible would have Solomon as a king who enjoyed fabulous wealth that would have been envied by the king of Damascus, arcaheologists say that the Judah of the tenth century BCE was really just a small, sparsely populated and relatively impoverished rural backwater. The kings of Damascus and Israel were sometimes allies and sometimes opponents, just as Israel and Judah were sometimes opponents, with Israel even invading Judah at certain times in history. The closeness of the relationship between the Aramaean states and Israel is demonstrated by the similarity or the Aramaic and Hebrew languages. They clearly shared a common ancestry and a shared culture and even religion. While the Bible, written in Judah centuries later, would have the Israelite kings as backsliders who were frequently being warned by prophets to worship Yahweh to the exclusion of other, foreign gods, the facts are different. The northern kingdom of Israel was always in its history polytheistic. The kings of Israel and of Damascus had much in common, and this included, to a large extent, common religious beliefs. Judah was similarly polytheistic until the religious reforms under King Josiah.
No one truly knows. They probably looked somewhat like Modern Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians, and Jordanians who share a similar ancestry. Israelites often questioned the origins of themselves and of the people surrounding them. The table of nations mentioned in Genesis of the Bible shows how the Israelites felt that Arabs, Canaanites, and Aramaeans (now Syrians) were all cousins and of the same stock. Most Anthropologists/Ethnologists can agree that the Ancient Israelites were of Semitic descent just like Arabs are and possessed Mediterranean Caucasian features- darker hair, ruddy/light brown skin, etc.
A small portion is, yes.The whole Bible is written in three languages.Aramaic, spoken by the Aramaeans, is an ancient Semitic language with close ties to Hebrew (though the language itself is different, it uses the same letters in its alphabet and is also written from right to left)Formerly called Chaldee, it is found in Ezra 4:8 - 6:18and 7:12-26; Jeremiah 10:11; and parts of Daniel 2:4 - 7:28.The rest of the OT is written in Hebrew.The NT is written primarily in Greek (it is believed that Matthew was written in Hebrew)
A:Aramaic was originally the language of Aram, modern Damascus. Because the Aramaeans were great traders, the language became widespread as a second language throughout the ancient Near East, including Babylon. After the Persians conquered Babylon, they adopted Aramaic and made it the official language of the Persian Empire, stretching from Egypt to central Asia. The conquests of Alexandria brought Greek to the Near East, largely supplanting Aramaic. Even Damascus adopted Greek as its lingua franca. Soon, only the Jews and some areas of Syria continued to use Aramaic. This was the situation at the time of Jesus.Aramaic, as spoken in these areas of Syria, evolved and in later centuries became known as Syriac.
The near-consensus of scholars is that there never was an Exodus from Egypt as described in the Bible, in which case there never really was a great Israelite leader called Moses. Thus, Moses had no direct impact on history, but the legendary story of Moses certainly did. Because the story of Moses is central to the Old Testament, it is central to the subsequent development of Judaism. And without a strong belief in a glorious past and their divine right to the land of the Canaanites, the Jews might not have survived the Babylonian Exile as a coherent group determined to restore what they saw as their birthright. The second-century-BCE Maccabean conquests of Idumea and Galilee resulted in the forcible conversion to Judaism of the local populations, arguably to restore the 'Promised Land' to Jewish ownership even if those Jews were descendants of Edomites and Aramaeans.
A:Baal was one of the most important West Semitic gods, worshipped as the High god among Phoenicians, but also important in Judah, Israel, Aram and elsewhere. In early times, he was a storm god, but during the eighth century BCE took on characteristics of a solar deity. Keel and Uehlinger (Gods, Goddesses and Images of God in Ancient Israel) say that Yahweh (YHWH) and Baal were almost synonymous in Israel during Iron Age IIB, the period from approximately 925 to 722 BCE and the end of the Israelite kingdom.AnswerBa'al ("Lord") was a West Semitic storm god during early biblical times. He was worshipped by the Canaanites, Aramaeans and other west Semitic people, including the early Hebrews. Ba'al was worshipped in various forms, one of which, Ba'al Hammond, became the chief god of Carthage in north Africa.
They were distant relatives. Both were in the line of Abraham, so would have been distantly related to each other.Elihu was the son of Bar′a·chel the Buz′ite, a descendant of Abraham's nephew, Buz (Job 32:2, 6; Genesis 22:20, 21).Job was a relative of Abraham, both being descendants of Shem, who was the 'father' of the Semitic peoples: the Elamites, the Assyrians, the early Chaldeans, the Hebrews, the Aramaeans (or Syrians), various Arabian tribes, that lived principally in the southwestern corner of the Asiatic continent, throughout most of the Fertile Crescent and the Arabian Peninsula.(Genesis 10:21, 22, 30)Looking at it scripturally, of course, every human on earth is 'related'. We all come from one source, Adam and Eve. After the flood, the human family descended through Noah's sons Shem, Ham and Japheth.So, yes, Job and Elihu were distantly related.
Answer 1:The word "church" does not exist in Aramaic. However, the word used by Aramaeans, and in the Aramaic Gospels is Eidutha. This word is taken from the root word "Witness". Thus, Church in Aramaic is essentially, witness.Answer 2:The word "church" does not exist in Aramaic as such insofar as the Aramaic speaking Christians do not speak English. But the word for the Church DOES exist. The hebrew name could be Qahal (gathering - called in), or better, and in fact used : Knesiyah(cf. Knesseth - the word for Israeli council). The same in Arabic: Käneesah (council).The aramaic speaking Christians (in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon) may use the arabic word Käneesah (since Arabic is today the official language of those lands - it means the christian community as well as their sacred buildings), but, really, the Aramaic word for the Church (as community, assembly, gathering of believers - called in together by God) does exist: it is Edutha (or Eidutha)- The root "´- d - t " means in fact "counsel", and reflects also a gathering (as in English: counsel and council - from the same latine root). So the word witness is from the same semitic root, and plays a role in the Church, but the technical term "Edutha" reflects the meaning of council, assembly, dynamic community. This word is used both in the syriac (late aramaic language) translation of the NT as well as in the colloquial use among the Syrian and Iraqi Christians.
Aramaic and Hebrew are quite close, but they do have many small differences. A major difference is the way in which they use the word "the." In Hebrew, "the" is a prefix ה (ha-) and in Aramaic "the" is a suffix א (-a).There are numerous vowel differences as well, especially in the conjugation of verbs.Certain patterns of letter substitution also appear. For example, Hebrew words that contain a ש (sh) are sometimes spelled with a ת (t) in Aramaic. Words that contain a ז (z) in Hebrew are sometimes spelled with a ד (d) in Aramaic.
The earliest Hebrews were Abraham's uncles and cousins for several generations back. They were among the Western Semites and lived in northern Mesopotamia, near the confluence of the Balikh and the Euphrates. Ancient towns were named after the ancestors (Genesis ch.11) of Abraham:The "city of Nahor" was found near the city of Haran which still exists to this day. Equally clear signs of Hebrew residence appear in the names of other towns nearby: Serug (Assyrian SARUGI), Terah (TIL TURAKHI, "Mound of Terah"), and Peleg (PALIGA, on the Euphrates near the mouth of the Habur).Biblical tradition says that the Hebrew patriarch came from Ur of the Chaldees, in southern Mesopotamia. Centuries later, they conquered the cities of Canaan, to become the dominant ethic group in the southern Levant.However, the strong consensus of scholars is that the Hebrew people were themselves rural Canaanites who migrated away from the rich Canaanite cities on the Mediterranean coast, into the hitherto sparsely populated hinterland, only later developing legends of a mass Exodus from Egypt and conquest of the Canaanite cities. On this basis, the Israelites were West Semitic people like the Aramaeans to the north. At this stage, we do not know where the West Semitic people came from, but of course they were closely related to other semitic groups in Mesopotamia and Arabia. One hypothesis is that the Semites migrated from the region of the Black Sea around 8000 BCE, at the end of the Little Ice Age.
Tiglath-Pileser I was a king of Assyria during the Middle Assyrian Period (1114 -- 1076 BC). According to Georges Roux, who is a French artist and book illustrator, Tiglath-Pileser was, "one of the two or three great Assyrian monarchs since the days of Shamshi-Adad I".Tiglath-Pileser I was the son of Ashur-resh-ishi I (reigned from 1133 to 1115 BC). Tiglath-Pileser had succeeded his father in 1115 BC, and became the greatest Assyrian Emperor.His first campaign was against the Mushki who had occupied certain Assyrian districts in the Upper Euphrates; then he overran the Kingdom of Commagene and eastern Cappadocia, and drove the Hittites from the Assyrian province of Subarti, northeast of Malatya.In a subsequent campaign, the Assyrian forces penetrated into the mountains south of Lake Van and then turned westward to receive the submission of Malatya. In his fifth year, Tiglath-Pileser attacked Comana in Cappadocia, and placed a record of his victories engraved on copper plates in a fortress he built to secure his Cilician conquests.The Aramaeans of northern Syria were the next targets of the Assyrian king, who made his way as far as the sources of the Tigris. The control of the high road to the Mediterranean was secured by the possession of the Hittite town of Pethor at the junction between the Euphrates and Sajur; thence he proceeded to Gubal (Byblos), Sidon, and finally to Arvad where he embarked onto a ship to sail the Mediterranean, on which he killed a nahiru or "seahorse" (which A. Leo Oppenheim, one of the most distinguished Assyriologists, translates as a narwhal) in the sea. He was passionately fond of the chase and was also a great builder. The general view is that the restoration of the temple of the gods Ashur and Hadad at Assyrian capital of Assur was one of his initiatives.The latter part of his reign seems to have been a period of retrenchment, as Aramaean tribesmen put pressure on his realm. He died in 1076 BC and was succeeded by his son Asharid-apal-Ekur. The later kings Ashur-bel-kala and Shamshi-Adad IV were also his sons.
AnswerBy definition, Canaan was the land occupied by the Canaanites themselves, although there was no Canaanite nation and it is difficult even to define what peoples were Canaanite. Palestine - the southern Levant - was divided among three main ethnic groups. The Egyptians and Hittites, who had controlled the Levant between them for several centuries, were no longer a force.The Philistines were an alliance of powerful city-states occupying the coastal plains and foothills between Egypt and approximately where Tel Aviv is now. They were powerful if they remained united, but a single city-state would be vulnerable. As an alliance, they were probably the strongest force in Palestine around 1000 bc.The Canaanites were independent city-states occupying the northern coastal areas, not only of Palestine but what are now Lebanon and coastal Syria. By the ninth century, the fragmented nature of the alliance resulted in the conquest of the southern Canaanites by neighbouring Israel. The Aramaeans, a related West Semitic group who could be considered Canaanites, were about to become the dominant ethnic group in what is now Syria.Israel was probably a united state based on the city of Samaria, and occupying much of the mountainous hinterland and the rich Jezreel Valley. Many scholars say that Israel was not yet powerful enough to trouble its neighbours, as it began to do more than a century later.Judah was probably a united tribal state based around present-day Jerusalem, which may have been a minor administrative centre. Many scholars say that Judah was much smaller, weaker and more backward than Israel, with a total population of around 40,000 people. It did not yet have walled cities.According to the Bible, Israel was a rich and powerful state with its capital in the well-defended, walled city of Jerusalem, thus incorporating Judah in a United Monarchy. No doubt it was the most powerful state in Palestine, and King David and his son, Solomon, expanded the borders of Israel into much of what are now Syria and Jordan. This is a view held by many students of the Bible, today.
Biblical tradition says that the Hebrew people were descended from the semitic people of Mesopotamia, through the patriarch Abraham. This would suggest that they were of north-eastern semitic stock, although biblical reference to "Ur of the Chaldees" even suggests southern semitic stock, since the Chaldeans were an Arabic tribe that migrated into what is now Iraq, around the eighth century BCE.Scholars working with archaeologists have drawn the strong consensus that the Hebrews were actually rural Canaanites who migrated away from the rich Canaanite cities on the Mediterranean coast, into the hitherto sparsely populated hinterland, only later developing legends of a mass Exodus from Egypt and conquest of the Canaanite cities. On this basis, the Israelites were West Semitic people like the Canaanites and Aramaeans.
This is a list of the oldest, still surviving, towns and cities in the world. There are some points of contention here and care should be taken when using the list below. The cities have been listed because either the archaeological record has shown, or documents have supported the claim, that the settlement was in existence at the time given. However, presence here should in no way indicate that there is total consensus over the date the city was founded - differences in opinion can result from different definitions of "city" (usually relating to the population size) as well as "continuously inhabited" (relating to changing population size; changes in location and changes in name). Additionally, where an approximate date has been given, the date was treated as the lower end of the estimate for the purposes of the table. The definition of "continuously inhabited city" for the purposes of this list was that there must be evidence to show that the city had been constantly settled by a population of more than 250 for the entire time since the date shown. This is different from there simply being 'evidence of human occupation in the area' and that it may well be different from the numerous other definitions of the term 'city' that are in use. In spite of all this, several cities listed here (Varanasi, Aleppo, Arbil, Byblos and Hebron) each claim to be 'the oldest city in the world'. An attempt has been made to discuss the validity of each of their claims alongside their stated position in the table. 1 Jericho 9,000 B.C.West Bank, Palestinian Territories Evidence indicates that the city was abandoned several times,and later expanded and rebuilt several times. 2 Byblos 5,000 BCLebanon Carbon-dating tests have set the age of earliest settlement around 7000±80 3 Damascus 4,300 BCSyria Excavations at Tell Ramad on the outskirts of the city have demonstrated thatDamascus was inhabited as early as 8000 to 10,000 BC. However, Damascus isnot documented as an important city until the coming of the Aramaeans which isthe date used in this table. See reference for presence of urban life amongcattle herders at this date - also due to land fertility and constant water source. 4 Aleppo 4,300 BCSyria Originating in the early second millennium BC, Syria's second-largest city,Aleppo, vies with Damascus for the title of the world's oldest continuously inhabitedcity. Both can demonstrate occupation for more than 8,000 years 5 Susa 4,000 BCIran (Persia) As a city, up to 7500 years of inhabitation 6Sidon 4,000 BCLebanon There is evidence that Sidon was inhabited as long ago as 4000 B.C., and perhaps,as early as Neolithic times (6000 - 4000 B.C.) 7 Medinat Al-Fayoum (as Crocodilopolis or Arsinoe) 4,000 BCEgypt 8 Gaziantep 3,650 BCTurkey This is disputed, although most modern scholars place the Classical Antiochia andTaurum at Gaziantep, some maintain that it was in fact located at Aleppo. Furthermore,that the two cities occupy the same site is far from established fact (see Gaziantep).Assuming this to be the case, the date of founding the present site would be in theregion of 1,000 BC. (see Gaziantep) 9 Hebron 3,500 BCWest Bank, Palestinian Territories Hebron is one of the most ancient cities in the Middle East, and one of the oldestcontinuously inhabited cities in the world. It was an ancient Canaanite royal city,which according to archaeological findings was probably founded in the 35th century BCE;It is mentioned in the Bible as being the site of Abraham's purchase of the Cave of thePatriarchs from the Hittites, in a narrative that some recent historians regard asconstituting a late 'pious prehistory' of Israel's settlement.. The Abrahamictraditions associated with Hebron are nomadic, and may reflect a Kenite element sincethe the nomadic Kenites are said to have long occupied the city, and Heber is the namefor a Kenite clan Hebron is also mentioned there as being formerly called Kirjath-arba,or "city of four", possibly referring to a federation of four townlets, or four hills,before being conquered by Caleb and the Israelites (Joshua 14:15). Hebron became one ofthe principal centers of the Tribe of Judah, and the Judahite King David reigned in thecity until the capture of Jerusalem, when the capital of the Kingdom of Israel was movedto that city. In 1998, during archeological excavations conducted at Tel Rumeida,jar handle stamps bearing Hebrew letters dating from 700 BCE, the oldest knowninscription naming the city, were found in Hebron. 10 Istanbul 3,500 BCTurkey Artifacts dating back to 3500-5000 BC in Fikirtepe (see History of Istanbul)
Archaeologists have traditionally looked for the relative absence of pig bones at a settlement site, to determine whether the inhabitants were Hebrew or otherwise. However, some scholars have recently pointed out that this is not a reliable guide, since pigs are difficult to manage for traditionally nomadic people; therefore the absence of pig bones could simply mean that the site had been settled by nomadic pastoralists.There are some clues in potsherds that were discarded by the inhabitants, but even this is controversial. It is generally accepted that because there was a sudden increase in the population of the Palestinian highlands just prior to 1200 BCE, this is evidence of the arrival in Canaan of the Hebrews. However, some scholars have noticed that the style of pottery usually associated with the Israelites did not begin until around 1000 BCE, suggesting the possibility that the Hebrews did not arrive in the territory until just before 1000 BCE.Answer:There are no clear monumental differences between the earliy Hebrews and their neighbours. Like their near neighbours, the Hebrews were a Semitic people. They spoke a West Semitic language. Hebrews are different mainly becausethey perform circumcisionat the time, they were the only monotheists around.
The way in which the bible is proven truthful is many. Pointing to just one discovery is hard since there are many evidences.DiggingUp the EvidenceThe discovery of ancient artifacts buried in Bible lands has supported the historical and geographic accuracy of the Bible. Consider just some of the evidence that archaeologists have dug up.David, the courageous young shepherd who became king of Israel, is well-known to readers of the Bible. His name appears 1,138 times in the Bible, and the expression "House of David"-often referring to his dynasty-occurs 25 times. (1 Samuel 16:13; 20:16) Until recently, though, there was no clear evidence outside the Bible that David existed. Was David merely a fictitious character?In 1993 a team of archaeologists, led by Professor Avraham Biran, made an astounding discovery, which was reported in Israel Exploration Journal. At the site of an ancient mound called Tel Dan, in the northern part of Israel, they uncovered a basalt stone. Carved into the stone are the words "House of David" and "King of Israel."2 The inscription, dated to the ninth century B.C.E., is said to be part of a victory monument erected by Aramaeans-enemies of Israel who lived to the east. Why is this ancient inscription so significant?Based on a report by Professor Biran and his colleague, Professor Joseph Naveh, an article in BiblicalArchaeology Review stated: "This is the first time that the name David has been found in any ancient inscription outside the Bible."3 Something else is noteworthy about the inscription. The expression "House of David" is written as one word. Language expert Professor Anson Rainey explains: "A word divider . . . is often omitted, especially if the combination is a well-established proper name. 'The House of David' was certainly such a proper political and geographic name in the mid-ninth century B.C.E."5 So King David and his dynasty evidently were well-known in the ancient world.Did Nineveh-the great city of Assyria mentioned in the Bible-really exist? As recently as the early 19th century, some Bible critics refused to believe so. But in 1849, Sir Austen Henry Layard unearthed ruins of King Sennacherib's palace at Kuyunjik, a site that proved to be part of ancient Nineveh. The critics were thus silenced on that score. But these ruins had more to tell. On the walls of one well-preserved chamber was a display showing the capture of a well-fortified city, with captives being marched before the invading king. Above the king is this inscription: "Sennacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria, sat upon a nîmedu -throne and passed in review the booty (taken) from Lachish (La-ki-su)."6This display and inscription, which can be viewed in the British Museum, agree with the Bible's account of the capture of the Judean city of Lachish by Sennacherib, recorded at 2 Kings 18:13, 14. Commenting on the significance of the find, Layard wrote: "Who would have believed it probable or possible, before these discoveries were made, that beneath the heap of earth and rubbish which marked the site of Nineveh, there would be found the history of the wars between Hezekiah [king of Judah] and Sennacherib, written at the very time when they took place by Sennacherib himself, and confirming even in minute details the Biblical record?"7Archaeologists have dug up many other artifacts-pottery, ruins of buildings, clay tablets, coins, documents, monuments, and inscriptions-that confirm the accuracy of the Bible. Excavators have uncovered the Chaldean city of Ur, the commercial and religious center where Abraham lived.8 (Genesis 11:27-31) The Nabonidus Chronicle, unearthed in the 19th century, describes Babylon's fall to Cyrus the Great in 539 B.C.E., an event narrated in Daniel chapter 5.9 An inscription (fragments of which are preserved in the British Museum) found on an archway in ancient Thessalonica contains the names of city rulers described as "politarchs," a word unknown in classical Greek literature but used by the Bible writer Luke.10 (Acts 17:6, footnote) Luke's accuracy was thus vindicated in this-as it had already been in other details.-Compare Luke 1:3.Archaeologists, however, do not always agree with one another, let alone with the Bible. Even so, the Bible contains within itself strong evidence that it is a book that can be trusted.PresentedWith CandorHonest historians would record not just victories (like the inscription regarding Sennacherib's capture of Lachish) but also defeats, not just successes but also failures, not just strengths but also weaknesses. Few secular histories reflect such honesty.Regarding Assyrian historians, Daniel D. Luckenbill explains: "Often it is clear that royal vanity demanded playing fast and loose with historical accuracy."11 Illustrating such "royal vanity," the annals of Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal boast: "I am regal, I am lordly, I am exalted, I am mighty, I am honored, I am glorified, I am pre-eminent, I am powerful, I am valiant, I am lion-brave, and I am heroic!"12 Would you accept everything you read in such annals as accurate history?In contrast, the Bible writers displayed refreshing candor. Moses, Israel's leader, frankly reported the shortcomings of his brother, Aaron, of his sister Miriam, of his nephews Nadab and Abihu, and of his people, as well as his own mistakes. (Exodus 14:11, 12; 32:1-6; Leviticus 10:1, 2; Numbers 12:1-3; 20:9-12; 27:12-14) The serious mistakes of King David were not covered over but were committed to writing-and that whileDavid was still ruling asking. (2 Samuel, chapters 11 and 24) Matthew, writer of the book bearing his name, tells how the apostles (of which he was one) disputed over their personal importance and how they abandoned Jesus on the night of his arrest. (Matthew 20:20-24; 26:56) The writers of the letters of the Christian Greek Scriptures freely acknowledged the problems, including sexual immorality and dissensions, in some of the early Christian congregations. And they did not mince words in addressing those problems.-1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 5:1-13.Such frank, open reporting indicates a sincere concern for truth. Since the Bible writers were willing to report unfavorable information about their loved ones, their people, and even themselves, is there not good reason to trust their writings?Accuratein DetailsIn court trials the credibility of a witness' testimony can often be determined on the basis of minor facts. Agreement on minor details may stamp the testimony as accurate and honest, whereas serious discrepancies can expose it as a fabrication. On the other hand, an overly tidy account-one in which every last detail is neatly arranged-may also betray a false testimony.How does the "testimony" of the Bible writers measure up in this regard? The Bible penmen displayed remarkable consistency. There is close agreement about even minute details. However, the harmony is not carefully arranged, arousing suspicions of collusion. There is an obvious lack of design in the coincidences, the writers often agreeing unintentionally. Consider some examples.The Bible writer Matthew wrote: "And Jesus, on coming into Peter's house, saw his mother-in-law lying down and sick with fever." (Matthew 8:14) Matthew here provided an interesting but nonessential detail: Peter was married. This minor fact is supported by Paul, who wrote: "Have I no right to take a Christian wife about with me, like the rest of the apostles and . . . Cephas?" (1 Corinthians 9:5, The New EnglishBible) The context indicates that Paul was defending himself against unwarranted criticism. (1 Corinthians 9:1-4) Plainly, this small fact-Peter's being married-is not introduced by Paul to support the accuracy of Matthew's account but is conveyed incidentally.All four of the Gospel writers-Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John-record that on the night of Jesus' arrest, one of his disciples drew a sword and struck a slave of the high priest, taking off the man's ear. Only the Gospel of John reports a seemingly unnecessary detail: "The name of the slave was Malchus." (John 18:10, 26) Why does John alone give the man's name? A few verses later the account provides a minor fact not stated anywhere else: John "was known to the high priest." He was also known to the high priest's household; the servants were acquainted with him, and he with them. (John 18:15, 16) It was only natural, then, that John mention the injured man's name, whereas the other Gospel writers, to whom the man was a stranger, do not.At times, detailed explanations are omitted from one account but are provided elsewhere by statements made in passing. For instance, Matthew's account of the trial of Jesus before the Jewish Sanhedrin says that some people present "slapped him in the face, saying: 'Prophesy to us, you Christ. Who is it that struck you?'" (Matthew 26:67, 68) Why would they ask Jesus to "prophesy" who had struck him, when the striker was standing there in front of him? Matthew does not explain. But two of the other Gospel writers supply the missing detail: Jesus' persecutors coveredhis face before he was slapped. (Mark 14:65; Luke 22:64) Matthew presents his material without concern as to whether every last detail was supplied.The Gospel of John tells of an occasion when a large crowd gathered to hear Jesus teach. According to the record, when Jesus observed the crowd, "he said to Philip: 'Where shall we buy loaves for these to eat?'" (John 6:5) Of all the disciples present, why did Jesus ask Philip where they could buy some bread? The writer does not say. In the parallel account, though, Luke reports that the incident took place near Bethsaida, a city on the north shores of the Sea of Galilee, and earlier in John's Gospel it says that "Philip was from Bethsaida." (John 1:44; Luke 9:10) So Jesus logically asked a person whose hometown was nearby. The agreement between the details is remarkable, yet clearly unwitting.In some cases the omission of certain details only adds to the credibility of the Bible writer. For example, the writer of 1 Kings tells of a severe drought in Israel. It was so severe that the king could not find enough water and grass to keep his horses and mules alive. (1 Kings 17:7; 18:5) Yet, the same account reports that the prophet Elijah ordered enough water to be brought to him on Mount Carmel (for use in connection with a sacrifice) to fill a trench circumscribing an area of perhaps 10,000 square feet [1,000sq m]. (1 Kings 18:33-35) In the midst of the drought, where did all the water come from? The writer of 1 Kings did not trouble himself to explain. However, anyone living in Israel knew that Carmel was on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, as an incidental remark later in the narrative indicates. (1 Kings 18:43) Thus, seawater would have been readily available. If this otherwise detailed book were merely fiction masquerading as fact, why would its writer, who in that case would be a clever forger, have left such an apparent difficulty in the text?So can the Bible be trusted? Archaeologists have dug up enough artifacts to confirm that the Bible refers to real people, real places, and real events. Even more compelling, however, is the evidence found within the Bible itself. Candid writers spared no one-not even themselves-in recording the hard facts. The internal consistency of the writings, including the coincidences without design, gives the "testimony" the clear ring of truth. With such "sure marks of authenticity," the Bible is, indeed, a book you can trust.
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