The Veracity of the Old Testament: A Scientific Validation
|Author: Scott Jones
Subject: Old Testament
Copyright © Scott Jones 1997
All Rights Reserved
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The following information is compiled from “A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament,” by R. D. Wilson (there are two editions, and I’m privileged to have a reprint of his first edition), “Is Higher Criticism Scholarly,” also by Wilson, and “Which Bible,” by David Otis Fuller.(Fuller studied under Dr. Wilson at Princeton Theological Seminary).
For foundation, it should be noted that Dick Wilson was fluent in 45 ancient languages and dialects. This includes all the Biblical and cognate languages, i.e., Hebrew, Aramaic, the Sumerian/Babylonian dialects, Phoenician, Assyrian, Ethiopic, the various Egyptian and Persian dialects, and so on — 45 languages/dialects in all. Also, it is recorded that Wilson had memorized the entire Old Testament in Hebrew and could recite it without missing so much as a syllable. With regard to evidence, Wilson himself made the following comment:
“Before a man has the right to speak about the history, the language, and the paleography of the Old Testament, the Christian church has the right to demand that such a man should establish his ability to do so.”
“For forty-five years continuously, since I left college, I have devoted myself to the one great study of the Old Testament, in all its languages, in all its archaeology, in all its translations, and as far as possible in everything bearing upon its text and history.”
At the time of the writing of his first edition of “A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament,” (circa 1919 — originally appearing in journals and papers before being assembled into book form), Wilson confined his analysis for the following portion of this exposition to 29 kings because that is all that could be corroborated by archaeological finds then extant. Due to more recent archaeological finds, however, I am told that this number has now been upgraded to more than 40 in Wilson’s posthumous second edition, though I can’t confirm this because I have thus far been unable to acquire a copy. As a result, the following does not take into account any discoveries made after about 1925.
In any event, we have 29 kings from ten nations (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, etc.) whose names are mentioned not only in the Hebrew Masoretic text (the Old Testament), but are also found on monuments of their own time. Thus, we have something with which to reference the Bible. We also have a basis for comparing the Bible to other literature. Here’s what we find…
Wilson discovered that of the 29 kings having an archaeological corroboration, every single name is transliterated in the Hebrew Masoretic text exactly as it appears on the archaeological artifact– syllable for syllable, consonant for consonant, 29 kings, every single name. Additionally, we find that the chronological order of these kings is precise. In other words, every name in the Hebrew Masoretic text, some of which go back to the book of Genesis and before the time of Hammurabi, appears in its correct order, with the correct spelling, in the correct time, as attested by the archaeological artifacts and period literature.
We’ll begin with the librarian of Alexandria, considered by most to be the greatest scholar of his era, which is circa 200 BC. His list contains the names of 38 Egyptian kings. Of the entire number, only three or four of them are recognizable. In other words, when compared to their respective archaeological artifacts, only three or four names are even close to the inscription on the artifact. None are exact. This same scholar also made a list of the kings of Assyria. In only one case does the name clearly resemble the name on the artifact, and that name is not spelled correctly. The only way most of the names can be ascertained and then matched up with an artifact is by intrinsic evidence and cross-referencing with other regional literature.
Now let’s take a look at Ptolemy, who drew up a register of 18kings. Not one is spelled correctly. Furthermore, most of them are spelled so badly that we could not make them out at all without intrinsic evidence and cross-referencing.
In short, we find this same pattern in every other piece of literature extant. The scribe of Assurbanipal misspelled his names. The Pseudo-Callisthenes, in their list of the companions of Alexander, have every name written so as to be unrecognizable. Abulfeda, the author of the Arab ante-Islamic history, misspells his names. The same is true of the lists of Manetho, Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, Africanus, Castor, et. al.
In fact, the only historical literature of antiquity that has demonstrated unerring accuracy with regard to archaeological verification is the Hebrew Masoretic text and the Majority Greek text of the New Testament. Or as Nelson Glueck — a preeminent archaeologist in that region — remarked: “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference.” [Rivers in the Desert; History of Neteg] Philadelphia: Jewish Publications Society of America, 1969. Secondary source:[Evidence that Demands a Verdict] Josh McDowell, Campus Crusade for Christ, 1972, pg. 68.
Wilson summed it up this way:
“This almost universal inaccuracy and unreliability of the Greek and Arab historians with reference to the kings of Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon is in glaring contrast with the exactness and trustworthiness of the Hebrew Bible… Having given such care to the names of heathen kings, it is to be presumed that they [Hebrew scribes] would give no less attention to what these kings said and did; and so we have, in this incontestable evidence from the order, times, and spelling of the names of the kings, an indestructible basis upon which to rest our faith in the reliability of the history recorded in the books of the Old Testament Scriptures.”
And since I can’t match him, I’ll close with a final quote from Dr. Wilson:
“That the Hebrew writers should have transliterated these names with such accuracy and conformity to philological principles is a wonderful proof of their thorough care and scholarship and of their access to the original sources. That the names should have been transmitted to us through so many copyings and so many centuries in so complete a state of preservation is a phenomenon unequaled in the history of literature.”