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Category: Old Testament Proofs

Peter’s view of the Old Testament and Paul’s writings

Peter’s view of the Old Testament and Paul’s writings

Some modern Christians believe the Old Testament (OT) was simply the word of man and is fallible, and some even believe that only the words of Jesus were divinely inspired. Below, we will examine the Apostle Peter’s view of the OT and also his view on his fellow apostle Paul’s writings:

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21) read more

Jesus believed the Old Testament to be the infallible word of God

Jesus believed the Old Testament to be the infallible word of God

Some modern Christians believe the Old Testament (OT) was simply the word of man and is fallible. However, Jesus Christ Himself believed the OT to be the infallible word of God. Below, we will use scriptural quotations followed by comments to show why this is true:

“But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set.  If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” (John 5:45-47) read more

Regarding Paul’s view of the Old Testament

Regarding Paul’s view of the Old Testament

Some modern Christians believe the Old Testament (OT) was simply the word of man and is fallible. However, the Apostle Paul viewed the OT as the infallible word of God. Below, we will use scriptural quotations followed by comments to show why this is true:

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Paul affirms God’s active involvement in the writing of Scripture, an involvement so powerful and pervasive that what is written is the infallible and authoritative word of God. read more

Is Esther Religious Fiction?

Is Esther Religious Fiction?

The book of Esther is viewed today by a majority of scholars as non-historical. Yet the story itself is recounted candidly, and there is nothing within it to suggest that it is fictional. Mir­acles or other “impossible” occurrences are totally absent. Critical scholars are bothered, however, by apparent exaggerations or suspected inaccuracies:

  • The length of the 180-day feast (1:1-4) seems excessive.
  • The six months of perfuming with oil and the additional six months of beautifying with spices (2:12) seem extreme.
  • The book claims that there were 127 Persian provinces (1:1), while the historian Herodotus speaks of only 20.
  • The notion of a Persian decree being irrevocable (1:19; 8:9) is regarded as doubtful—but see Daniel 6.
  • Planning for a massacre of Jews a year in advance (Est 3:8-15) strikes scholars as unlikely.
  • It seems too coincidental that Haman would turn out to be a descendant of Agag the Amalekite, the enemy of Israel who cost Saul his crown (3:1;see1Sa15).
  • Contrary to the Biblical account, Herodotus identified Xerxes’ queen as Amestris, not Vashti.
  • Although the name Mordecai and that of Haman’s son Parshandatha (Est 9:7) are attested elsewhere during the Persian period, Xerxes is the only indisputable historical figure in the book.
  • Archaeological data from the Persian period has not specifi­cally confirmed the story’s historicity.
  • Thus, Esther is often read as a satire addressing the needs of Jews outside of the Holy Land. Yet these challenges, though not insignificant, are not in fact as overwhelming as they might first appear:
  • The apparent exaggerations may be a result of narrative tech­nique. The 180-day banquet may have been primarily a gather­ing of leaders to strategize the Greek invasion.2 Similarly, the six-month preparation periods for the women were probably also intended for training in court decorum and protocol. The author apparently wished to highlight the splendor of the Persian court, but this does not signify that the events were manufactured.
  • The discrepancy in the number of provinces in the empire is founded on the notion that the Greek satrapeia (in Herodotus) and the Hebrew medinah (in Esther) mean the same thing, but this has not been established. The higher figure in Esther may refer to smaller subdivisions.
  • The idea that a royal decree was irrevocable is not docu­mented outside the Bible, but this is probably best understood as a matter of royal etiquette and/or tradition—not as formal law.
  • Regarding the length of time needed to plan a pogrom, two facts stand out. First, such a matter would require time and plan­ning, given the size and makeup of the empire. Second, it is entirely credible that a man of the ancient world would cast lots to determine an auspicious day for following through with such apian.
  • The text does not state that Haman was descended from the Agag of 1 Samuel 15.The meaning of “Agagite” in Esther is actu­ally unknown.
  • It is possible that the queen Herodotus called Amestris was in fact Esther, since the two names appear to be linguistically related (others suggest that Amestris is to be equated with Vashti).
  • There are remarkable similarities between the book’s state­ments about fifth-century Persia and what is known about that country and society from archaeology. That the author had more than a casual knowledge of Persian life during this period is displayed in his references to Persian vocabulary and customs as well as in his awareness that the king had seven advisors (Est 1:14), that eating was undertaken while reclining on couches (7:8) and that royal horses could wear crowns (6:8).

It is rare for archaeology to provide direct evidence for a his­torical event. More often, reconstructing ancient history is a mat­ter of combining the stories found in texts with the artifacts discovered in archaeology, though such work always requires a measure of confidence in the reliability of the texts. If every nar­rative from the ancient world had to be specifically confirmed by archaeology, we would have no ancient history at all. read more

The Origin, Transmission, and Canonization of the Old Testament Books

The Origin, Transmission, and Canonization of the Old Testament Books

Escribano

The term canon is used to describe the list of books approved for inclusion in the Bible. It stems from a Greek word meaning “rod,” as in a straight stick that serves as a standard for measuring. Hence, to speak of the biblical canon is to speak of authoritative books, given by God, the teachings of which define correct belief and practice. Obviously, only books inspired by God should be received as canonical. The Bible before you includes 39 books in the Old Testament (OT). Are these the right books? Who wrote them? What were their sources of information? These questions are asked by friends and foes of biblical faith. The present essay will touch on such issues with an aim to bolster Christian confidence in the OT. read more

The 70 Years of Captivity

The 70 Years of Captivity

The prophetic expression describing the time of Judah’s captivity as “seventy years” (Jer 25:11,12; 29:10) has prompted speculation throughout the history of interpretation.

  • The numeric systems of the ancient Near East were predom­inantly hexagesimal (based upon ascending groups of six), and the maximum number that could be easily calculated was 60,The number 70 may have been used to symbolically represent a numeric value of staggering proportions or perhaps the number of years representing a generation (Ps 90:10; Isa 23:15). The number 70 may have been used in the same way in Jeremiah 25, as in Isaiah’s announcement that Tyre would be desolate for 70 years (Isa 23:15,17), and a similar usage may be reflected in the Black Stone of Esarhaddon, in which Marduk decreed displeasure against Babylon for 70 years.
  • The original context of the prophetic word was the fourth year of Jehoiakim of Judah and the first of Nebuchadnezzar (605 B.C.). “Until this very day” (Jer 25:3) Jeremiah anticipated a period of dev­astation and judgment during which Judah would serve Babylon. Upon the completion of this interval, the prophet expected that divine judgment would be visited upon Babylon (vv. 12-13) and Judah and that Jerusalem would be restored (29:10-14).

King Jehoiakim began to serve the Babylonians by politi­cally consigning Judah as a vassal state in 604 B.C. (2Ki 24:1). Almost 70 years later Babylon was captured by the Persians, bringing about the end of Babylonian sovereignty over Judah and initiating the process of exilic return under Cyrus the Great (539/538 B.C.). read more

Darius I

Darius I

The Jews who had returned from the Babylonian captivity began rebuild­ing the temple in 536 B.C. Construction was halted, however, because of opposition from local adversaries of Judah. Sixteen years later, on September 21, 520 B.C., work re­sumed with the encouragement of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah (Ezr 4:24; 5:1-2; Hag 1:4-15). The Jews were again challenged, this time by Tattenai, governor of the Persian province of Trans-Euphrates (Ezr 5:3-5). He is described as a local governor under the satrap of Babylon and Trans-Euphrates. Tattenai expressed concern about the rebuilding to the Persian king Darius I. However, after locating a copy of a decree made by Cyrus, Darius ordered Tattenai to fully support the reconstruction and even to provide government funding (6:1—12). The temple was completed on March 12, 515 B.C. read more

When Was Daniel Written?

When Was Daniel Written?

The dating of Daniel is controversial (see also the book introduction). Traditional scholarship holds that the book was composed in the sixth century B.C., concurrent with the his­torical information it provides. But common arguments for dat­ing Daniel in the second century B.C. are as follows:

  • Jesus ben Sirach (Sir 44-50), writing in approximately 180 B.C, cited numerous Old Testament heroes—but not Daniel.
  • Belshazzar is called “king” of Babylon in Daniel 5; the actual king was Nabonidus.
  • Darius the Mede (ch. 6) is otherwise unknown.
  • The stories of Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity and of the fiery fur­nace read like pious legends—far-fetched miracle stories com­mon in intertestamental Jewish texts.
  • Half of Daniel was written in Aramaic, a language Jews spoke during the intertestamental period. Daniel 3 also in­cludes three Greek words—suggesting that the book was writ­ten after Greek culture had invaded the Near East.
  • But this evidence is not as strong as it appears:
  • Ben Sirach also omits mention of other famous Israelites, in­cluding Ezra. Also, Sirach may himself have been influenced by Daniel. In Sirach 36:10 he prayed, “Hasten the day, and remem­ber the appointed time”—verbiage resembling Daniel 11:27, 35. It may be that ben Sirach offhandedly cited Daniel, which of course implies that the book already existed in his lifetime.

The book demonstrates familiarity with the history and culture of the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. Daniel rightly portrays the position of Belshazzar, coregent with Nabonidus. He could have appropriately been called “king” (5:1), but in 5:16 Belshazzar offered to make the one who could interpret the writing on the wall “the third highest ruler in the kingdom.” As Belshazzarwas himself the second ruler, this was the highest honor he could confer. read more

The Documentary Hypothesis

The Documentary Hypothesis

Until fairly recently a majority of scholars es­poused the Documentary Hypothesis to explain the composition of the Pentateuch, the first five Old Testament books. This the­ory asserts that these writings were actually based on four books, none still extant, referred to (for ease of identification) as J (Yahwist or Jahwist), E (Elohist), D (Deuteronomist) and P (Priestly Code). The main arguments for this theory are the existence of repetition and apparent contradiction within these five books, as well as the use of different names for God. According to this hypothesis: read more

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