The Old Testament was written long ago.

   Does the OT we hold in our hands today report reliable history?


   Kenneth A. Kitchen says we do.


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   It is fashionable today, and often with good reason, to reject anything that smacks of the supernatural. The Bible, of course, purports that certain supernatural events occurred, and this and other reasons raises the eyebrows of many who seriously examine the whole book¹.

   Here’s a report published a “dozen” years ago (and we can’t help but notice the “12”) that we feel is worth passing on. It was written by Richard N. Ostling², a reporter we hold in high regard. We quote from it at length because it’s more than just a book report.


   Old Testament is accurate history

          history, scholar contends


   “Is the Old Testament historically reliable, or mostly fiction and legend concocted to buttress Jewish nationalism–or something in between?

   “In this long-running debate, skepticism has recently gained ground in academic circles. Now a British authority has launched a vigorous defense of the Old Testament’s historical credibility.

   “On the Reliability of the Old Testament provides the most sweeping scholarly case in a generation for the traditional beliefs held by Orthodox Jews and Christian conservatives.

   “Author K. A. Kitchen is professor emeritus of Egyptology at England’s University of Liverpool. Because his views are academically unfashionable, he feels a need to immodestly mention his expertise in a dozen ancient languages and the half-century he has spent studying the relevant texts.

   “Kitchen assails radical ‘minimalists’ who dismiss the Old Testament as mostly fictional. Much of Kitchen’s case is summarized in three words: ‘Some manuscripts, please!’ He repeatedly complains that liberal theories ignore or distort the actual evidence from ancient texts. Another Kitchen theme is that doubters rely heavily upon ‘negative evidence,’ the lack of ancient remains and nonbiblical texts that would absolutely prove biblical accounts. Kitchen says this lack ‘proves absolutely nothing’ except that artifacts from thousands of years ago often didn’t survive.

   “Archaeologists haven’t found hard evidence left behind from the 40 years of wilderness wanderings after the Exodus, for instance, but Kitchen says that doesn’t prove the Israelites weren’t there.

   “Given the many gaps in records outside of Scripture, Kitchen necessarily supports the Bible with circumstantial evidence from his knowledge of Egyptian and other ancient materials.

   “In terms of ‘general reliability,’ he concludes, the Old Testament ‘comes out remarkably well, so long as its writings and writers are treated fairly and evenhandedly, in line with independent data open to all.”


   ¹ More English words have been written about the Bible than any other written work.

   ² The article here was written in the Orlando Sentinel in Feb. 14, 2004, by Richard N. Ostling, a reporter for the Associated Press. Ostling, a former writer for Christianity Today, was the long-time religion editor for Time magazine. The book, On the Reliability of the Old Testament was published by Eerdmans in 2003.