Sunday, March 16, 2008

How did the discovery of the lost Hittite civilization provide evidence in support of the biblical record?

"The Old Testament mentions the ancient Hittite civilization more than 50 times, either by their Hebrew name "Chitti" or by their designation as the sons and daughters Heth. However, prior to their rediscovery in the 19th century, there appeared to be no evidence for their existence outside of the Bible. Skeptics cited the missing evidence as evidence that the Bible actually fabricated their existence. This called the reliability of the biblical account into question. Basically the skeptics said, "We can't find any evidence for the Hittite civilization outside of the Bible. This demonstrates that the Bible cannot be trusted as an historical source."

Then, in the 19th and 20th centuries archaeologists hit the jackpot, not only identifying extrabiblical references to the Hittite civilization, but by actually finding and excavating the ancient Hittite capital city of Hattusa (modern day Boðazköy in northern Turkey). The rediscovery of this ancient civilization vindicated the Biblical record.

Evidence for the Hittites was bolstered in Egypt with the discovery of a treaty between Pharaoh Ramses II and the Hittite Empire. Originally written on silver tablets in Heliopolis and Hattusus, a huge copy was found on a wall of the great Karnak Temple. After years of fighting between the Hittites and the Egyptians, Ramses II and the Hittite king settled on a treaty whereby the territory of Syria and Canaan would be divided between them."


satire and theology said...

Basically the skeptics said, "We can't find any evidence for the Hittite civilization outside of the Bible. This demonstrates that the Bible cannot be trusted as an historical source."

I suppose in this age, there will always be something that cannot be found, but several things have been found. Pailin at Manchester tried negative reasoning concerning the Bible and archaeology with me, but the Bible stands up, and I suppose that is why Biblical archaeology keeps going.

I suppose it is sunny in your parts.:)

Jeff said...


Yeah, yesterday it was 73 degrees F in the morning, and 82 degrees F later; sunny, with a nice, cool breeze. Today its a little cooler: 55 degrees F (= 13 degrees C)

The Bible is the most published/most widely circulated book in human history. Its documents have been more critically examined and investigated than any others. Though the Bible has been attacked, criticized and scrutinized more than any other book (though it's actually a collection of 66 books), and though numerous attempts have been made to wipe it out of existence (by burning, etc.), and though it has been made illegal time and time again, it remains as the true Word of God, and human lives continue to be changed by it, and people continue to be saved for eternity through it. As you know, the Bible covers about 1500 years; was written in 3 different languages: Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic; by 40 different authors on 3 different continents; authors from different backgrounds: shepherds, fishermen, doctors, kings, prophets, etc., most of whom never knew one another personally; those 66 books have a unity which binds them together: a common storyline, a common theme, and a common message (a common storyline- the creation, fall, and redemption of God’s people; a common theme- God’s universal love for all of humanity; and a common message- salvation is available to all who repent of their sins and commit to following God with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength).

In regard to any textual variations between copies of the New Testament documents, Josh McDowell quotes Benjamin B. Warfield and Richard Bentley with this evaluation: “the facts show that the great majority of the New Testament ‘has been transmitted to us with no, or next to no, variation; and even in the most corrupt form in which it has ever appeared, to use the oft-quoted words of Richard Bentley, “the real text of the sacred writers is competently exact;...nor is one article of faith or moral precept either perverted or lost...choose as awkwardly as you will, choose the worst by design, out of the whole lump of readings.”

In regard to the reliability of the Old Testament, Josh McDowell quotes Robert Dick Wilson from his book, "A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament." In it he says: “In 144 cases of transliteration from Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Moabite into Hebrew and in 40 cases of the opposite, or 184 in all, the evidence shows that for 2300 to 3900 years the text of the proper names in the Hebrew Bible has been transmitted with the most minute accuracy.... There are about forty of these kings living from 2000 B.C. to 400 B.C. Each appears in chronological order...with reference to the kings of the same country and with respect to the kings of other stronger evidence for the substantial accuracy of the Old Testament records could possibly be imagined that this collection of kings. Mathematically, it is one chance in 750,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 that this accuracy is mere circumstance.... The proof that the copies of the original documents have been handed down with substantial correctness for more than 2,000 years cannot be denied.”

In regard to the internal test for the reliability of the Scriptures, Josh McDowell refers to the testimony of the New Testament writers themselves, that they “wrote as eyewitnesses or from first-hand information”. But he also strengthens his point with this quote from F.F. Bruce that adds the fact that these documents were also subject to the critical review and evaluation of their accuracy by non-believers: “And it was not only friendly eyewitnesses that the early preachers had to reckon with; there were others less well disposed who were also conversant with the main facts of the ministry and death of Jesus. The disciples could not afford to risk inaccuracies (not to speak of willful manipulation of the facts), which would at once be exposed by those who would be only too glad to do so. On the contrary, one of the strong points in the original apostolic preaching is the confident appeal to the knowledge of the hearers; they not only said, “We are witnesses of these things,” but also, “As you yourselves also know” (Acts 2:22).”

In regard to the external evidence test for the reliability of Scripture, Josh McDowell cites this quotation from Nelson Glueck, the renowned Jewish archaeologist, “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference.” In regard to the historic accuracy of Luke’s writings in the New Testament, Josh McDowell cites this quotation from Sir William Ramsay, who is regarded as one of the greatest archaeologists ever to have lived: “Luke’s history is unsurpassed in respect of its trustworthiness.”

Another test for the reliability of Scripture is to seen in the accuracy of various predictive (prophetic) statements that have been made by some of its specific authors. Dr. Hugh Ross says this regarding the fulfillment of biblical prophecies: “Approximately 2500 prophecies appear in the pages of the Bible, about 2000 of which already have been fulfilled to the letter - no errors. (The remaining 500 or so reach into the future and may be seen unfolding as days go by.) Since the probability for any one of these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance averages less than one in ten (figured very conservatively) and since the prophecies are for the most part independent of one another, the odds for all these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance without error is less than one in 10 to the 2000th power (that is 1 with 2000 zeros written after it)!”

There are 24,633 copies of the New Testament manuscripts in existence, while the next most numerous collection of copies for any ancient documents is Homer’s 'Iliad,' of which there are 643 copies in existence. The Iliad was written in 900 B.C., and its earliest copy is dated 500 years later, at 400 B.C.; while the documents of the New Testament were written from 40-100 A.D., with the earliest copy of some of its manuscripts being dated at 125 A.D, which is only a span of 25 years.

In light of this evidence, Sir Frederic G. Kenyon says, “The interval then between the dates of the original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that that Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established.”