Category: Bible

Did Luke use Josephus when writing Acts?

The Claim It has been claimed that Luke used the writings of Josephus (specifically ‘Antiquities of the Jews’).1 2 Since Josephus wrote in 93 CE, this would date Acts no earlier than this time.3 The following passages are claimed as examples of Luke’s dependence on Josephus. * Luke 3:1: Josephus and Luke record the census of Quirinius, but Luke’s differs […] 

Were camels domesticated in the time of Abraham?

The Challenge WF Albright, one of the most famous 20th century archaeologists, argued that the camel was not domesticated until around the 1st millennium, well after the time of Abraham.1 This was considered persuasive by many Biblical scholars, who were convinced that references in Genesis to camels in Egypt during the time of Abraham2 are anachronistic. 3 4 5 The […] 

What is archaeological ‘minimalism’?

Definition The ‘minimalist’ view is that archaeology provides little or no support for the Biblical history.1 2 The best known adherents are Philip Davies,3 Lester Grabbe,4 Niels Lemche,5 Thomas Thompson,6 and Keith Whitelam.7 However, Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman are the only two prominent archaeologists associated with minimalist views. Kenneth Kitchen Kitchen8 has raised numerous objections to minimalist claims, rejecting […] 

Is the ‘Secret Gospel of Mark’ genuine?

The Text The text (supposedly discovered in 1958), appears to be a letter from early Christian writer Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-c.215), quoting a ‘secret gospel’ by Mark.1 2 Analysis Smith himself noted features of the text which could indicate it was an imitation of Mark’s style by another writer.3 4 5 6 Physical analysis has been impossible since the […] 

Is Solomon’s wealth a literary fiction?

The Challenge The Biblical account of Solomon’s wealth has been described as unrealistic, in standard critical commentaries.1 Many scholars are sceptical, 2 3 4 though some express their doubts cautiously.5 6 Ancient Uses of Gold Ancient uses of gold for construction which are analogous to Solomon’s include the tomb of Tutankhamen,7 extensive use of gold plating on buildings in the […] 

Who was Hypatia?

The Myths Hypatia has been depicted as a revolutionary woman scientist,1 the last of the ancient pagan scientists,2 a representative of feminist values,3 and the designer of the astrolabe and hydrometer.4 5 Her death has been considered exemplary of the intolerance of religion,6 and the death of Greek science.7 8 The Facts Hypatia was a neo-Platonist lecturer and scholar in […] 

Was Christianity responsible for the death of Greek science?

The Claim Early Muslims repeatedly claimed for polemical purposes that Christianity brought Greek science to an end.1 2 3 This view has become commonly accepted,4 though the reality is different. 5 Dating the Decline Although estimates vary, historians of science typically agree that the decline of Greek science started before the Christian era.6 7 Farrington dates the decline from the […] 

Was the Genesis flood narrative copied from Mesopotamian myths?

The Challenge By the end of the 19th century archaeology had discovered many Mesopotamian texts containing creation and flood narratives remarkably similar to those in the Bible. Critical scholars came to believe that the Biblical narratives had simply been copied from earlier Mesopotamian myths.12The Biblical flood narrative in particular is still considered by some scholars to have been borrowed from […] 

What benefits are there to being religious?

The Challenge Atheist authors Christopher Hitchens1 and Richard Dawkins2 have condemned religious belief as harmful and useless. Both authors have been criticized for failing to note specific benefits of strong religious belief.34567 The Facts Strong religious belief provides a range of physical, emotional, social, financial, psychological, and health benefits;89 reducing health risks, increasing the likelihood of longevity10 and mental health,11 […] 

Is the Bible’s chronology of the kings of Israel accurate?

The Challenge In the late 19th century, critical scholar Julius Wellhausen claimed the Biblical chronology of the kings of Israel was a literary invention for religious purposes, which had been edited and revised several times from a variety of different sources, rather than a genuine historical record.1 For the next 70 years, critical scholars continued to treat the chronology as […]