CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

Another day, another Biblical archaeological discovery that appears to confirm the Bible . . . .

According to an article from the Associated Press entitled Israeli Says Elusive Biblical Wall Found, a wall described in the Book of Nehemiah is believed to have been discovered through archaeological digs. As with virtually every discovery of this sort, "many scholars argued that the wall did not exist."

A biblical wall that has eluded archaeologists for years has finally been found, according to an Israeli scholar. A team of archaeologists in Jerusalem has uncovered what they believe to be part of a wall mentioned in the Bible's Book of Nehemiah.

The discovery, made in Jerusalem's ancient City of David, came as a result of a rescue attempt on a tower which was in danger of collapse, said Eilat Mazar, head of the Institute of Archaeology at the Shalem Center, a Jerusalem-based research and educational institute, and leader of the dig.

Artifacts including pottery shards and arrowheads found under the tower suggested that both the tower and the nearby wall are from the 5th century B.C., the time of Nehemiah, according to Mazar. Scholars previously thought the wall dated to the Hasmonean period (142-37 B.C.).

The findings suggest that the wall is actually part of the same city wall the Bible says Nehemiah rebuilt, Mazar said. The Book of Nehemiah (chapters 3-6) gives a detailed description of construction of the walls, destroyed earlier by the Babylonians.

"We were amazed," she said, noting that the discovery was made at a time when many scholars argued that the wall did not exist.

"This was a great surprise. It was something we didn't plan," Mazar said.

of course, a different scholar is reported as doubting that this is the same wall as described in Nehemiah, but that's why I am saying that it appears to confirm the Bible. There is always room for doubt, and I am willing to allow the experts to sort this out. But still, I expect that as time passes, it will become more and more obvious that this is another confirmation that the Bible is based on history and is accurate in its descriptions (when understanding the nature of ancient writings and the type of literature involved).

27 comments:

Wow, this is fascinating. I remember reading a while back that many scholars didn't believe that Pontius Pilate existed until they dug up something that proved he did. (I forgot what it was).

Anyway, I think I'll be looking at your guy's past posts about biblical archaeology. Do you guys have any book recommendations specifically on this topic for both the OT and the NT?

I'm not part of Cadre, but I took a class for graduate work on the NT world, and the book we used for it was "Backgrounds of Early Christianity" by Everett Ferguson. It's quite good and includes a lot of information about NT period archaeology, society, etc.

Thanks, leslie.

' I remember reading a while back that many scholars didn't believe that Pontius Pilate existed until they dug up something that proved he did. (I forgot what it was).'

That's right.

Sadly, nobody has ever been able to name these 'many' scholars.

Personally, I don't believe they ever existed.

JRP,

"...wall are from the 5th century B.C., the time of Nehemiah"
- Eilat Mazar, head of the Institute of Archaeology at the Shalem Center

"...the pottery and other remains do not indicate that the wall was built in the time of Nehemiah"
- Israel Finkelstein, professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University

CADRE comment:
"another Biblical archaeological discovery that appears to confirm the Bible"

CADRE head line:
"Archaeological Find: The Wall from Nehemiah"

How would you as a sceptic (someone who habitually doubts accepted beliefs) would have commented and addressed this issue?

This reminds me of the earlier post "Archaeological Confirmation of Acts 18:2" with 79 comments!

-Peter

Yes, I agree with what seems to be insinuated by anonymous--that a person with any kind of skepticism would not simply read a single popular news press article (not an archaeological assessment by a long shot) about one single archaeologist's proposition that a single wall out of likely a great many could possibly be from the 500s and therefore might be associated with Nehemiah's wall and then suddenly begin talking about this as if it was indeed the truth and would probably pan out this way in time. ESPECIALLY if such a person knew anything about archeology--they would at least be more cautious until more evidence had been weighed (and by evidence, I do not mean a popular news article). This post betrays not only non-skepticism and non-professionalism, but it smacks of a priori ideaological bias.

Then let's review what we do know:

1. Archaeological evidence is constantly being uncovered.

2. Except for evidence that precedes 1000 BC (the time of King David), the evidence has (without any exception of which I am aware) uncovered buildings, structures and writings that confirm that the authors of the Bible were describing real things.

3. The fact that they are accurate on things that we can confirm, lends credence to the idea that they were accurate on the things we can't confirm because they are not things that would generally be discovered through archaeology.

4. 79 comments does not make a refutation.

5. I admit to a priori bias, but it is based on the fact that these discoveries have consistently shown that the Bible is accurate on these things (again, speaking of discoveries after 1000 BC -- I am well aware of the archaeological skepticism of the Biblical accounts prior to the reign of King Saul). That was (and is) my point.

6. At the same time, I look at things cautiously. Just because I don't say in the title "Some archaeologists claim to have found the wall of Nehemiah even though at least one scholar has doubts that it's the same wall" does not mean that I haven't put the information into the account. I do make the point (as I have throughout this comment) that I do expect that the claims that this is the Wall of Nehemiah to prove out. Could I be wrong? Of course, but I have allowed for that.

Steven,

Fascinating question. I have to admit that I have personally never seen the list of names of scholars who doubted Pilate's existence prior to finding his name on the Pilate Inscription. But then, I always wondered how any serious scholar could ignore the other evidences for his existence. I mean, that's just about as stupid as believing that Jesus never existed.

You can beg and beg Christians for the name of even one scholar in the 20th century who said that Pilate never existed.


But you won't ever be given any names.

It is strange how certain sme Christians can be that some people existed, who turn out to be the product of Christian myths and legends.

Thanks g.m. grena for the link. Props to Wikipedia!

"I admit to a priori bias, but it is based on the fact that these discoveries have consistently shown that the Bible is accurate on these things (again, speaking of discoveries after 1000 BC -- I am well aware of the archaeological skepticism of the Biblical accounts prior to the reign of King Saul). That was (and is) my point."

My issue isn’t that you might have a reason to believe that what the biblical texts report about some things based on other things might be correct – my issue is that even if there is good reason to believe that Nehemiah’s wall existed, you have no adequate reason in this case to say this specific archaeological discovery might be THAT wall. There is a big difference between the two.

Perhaps you just aren’t aware of the thousands of times other people before you have jumped to conclusions about what an archaeological discovery might mean because of their confidence in a biblical text INSTEAD OF knowledge of the actual evidence involved in the archaeological find and their conclusions were ultimately proved false. One example being, for instance, the claim that there was ever a cuneiform tablet on which was written the names of the cities on the plain (and even in the same biblical order). It was reported in a popular news article and because people believed that the biblical text had good reason to be true based on other names of cities in the biblical text which we do have on record, they erroneously thought this cuneiform tablet DID report on those cities. Eventually, when the tablet was examined, not only where the cities of the plain not on the tablet in the biblical order—they weren’t on the tablet period. Now, that says nothing about whether the cities of the plain did or didn’t exist, but it does say something about those people who believed the tablet said what it didn’t say based on a reliable text instead of on a reliable archaeological investigation.

my issue is that even if there is good reason to believe that Nehemiah’s wall existed, you have no adequate reason in this case to say this specific archaeological discovery might be THAT wall.

The article says:

"Artifacts including pottery shards and arrowheads found under the tower suggested that both the tower and the nearby wall are from the 5th century B.C., the time of Nehemiah, according to Mazar. Scholars previously thought the wall dated to the Hasmonean period (142-37 B.C.).

"The findings suggest that the wall is actually part of the same city wall the Bible says Nehemiah rebuilt, Mazar said."

That seems to me to be a good reason to believe it is THAT wall.

Perhaps you just aren’t aware of the thousands of times other people before you have jumped to conclusions about what an archaeological discovery might mean because of their confidence in a biblical text INSTEAD OF knowledge of the actual evidence involved in the archaeological find and their conclusions were ultimately proved false.

Fair enough, but I would suggest that the fact that there are names associated with this discovery and that the find is being subjected to further investigation strongly suggests that this is more like the finding of King David's palace than the cuneiform tablet you mention.

We will see. As I said, I personally expect that this will pan out, but I respect both your caution and your desire to wait for further information.

Yup, I'm absolutely convinced that the archaeological evidence proves without any shadow of a doubt that some of the biblical books were written by real authors in the real world b.c.e. and some by real authors in the real world soon after the turn of c.e. And I am further convinced, again by the irrefutable evidence, that those worlds in which the real authors lived and where they set their writings were based around the Middle East and Mediterranean.

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I am deleting the last few comments because they will lead to a long discussion about the credibility or non-credibility of Hector Avalos which is not the point of this post. They include links to articles off site which will take too long to respond to.

Perhaps you would also like to explain why you deleted a post that contained a link to a very recent discussion with an archaeologist who was addressing among other finds "the wall of Nehemiah". I would have thought the views of a professional in this field would have been enlightening for all and very much on topic.

Was that on the wall of Nehemiah? Okay, repost the link.

bk,

Oh no! If I didn't know that you are a nice guy, I would think that you deleted my post (and the link) because it did not agree with your view, and because you could not immediately debunked it, you went after the credibility of the author.

Come on... why doesn't CADRE cut some slack in the future to the people who disagree with your views. You blog is way more interesting to the readers if you allow other views to be expressed and discussed. Once you starting deleting non-agreeing comments on arbitrary basis, non-Christians will move away and you turn your site into Christians high-5ing each other.

-Peter

BK said...

Was that on the wall of Nehemiah? Okay, repost the link.

12/07/2007 05:46:00 PM

Nope, not gonna do it again. Have decided to post it on my blog instead. If anyone wants to find it they will have to look for it on my blog in a day or two from now -- from which blog, incidentally, cadre posters have in the past posted links to this cadre site.

But of course there being one rule for Christians and another for sceptics I am naturally forbidden to post a link on cadre to anything on my blog that references another point of view on topics raised here. Must keep the internet pure and clean from all porn and doubt.

Neil

Peter,

I will tell you exactly why we decided to disallow most links to lengthy off-site articles: abuse. Here's what happens: we post something that is on this blog that we spend time preparing and making arguments on. We allow comments so that people can "high-five" or contend with us on our arguments. What some people do is post something like: "Well, that's already been answered here." We follow the length and it is to a seventy minute audio or a long-winded argument that often has little or nothing to do with the points that we raise. When it does, the argument contains so many fallacies that it would take an hour or more in our comments section to write a response. Alternatively, it ends up with someone posting to someone like Avalos (who I contend is a fool) and then we start arguing over Avalos' credibility and not the point of the post.

If you feel that the argument has been refuted elsewhere, then make the argument here. That's all we're asking. If Avalos has something worthwhile to say, then say what it is. Make the argument. I generally respond to arguments. But we have decided (collectively) that we will not allow people to take the easy way out and simply make a simple link rather than make the argument themselves.

That's the reasoning. If you disagree, fine. But that is why we do it this way.

Neil,

I certainly don't feel deprived that you won't re-link. And as I told you before, if you don't like the link policy, you don't need to comment. There are plenty of other places to comment. But it appears to me that you have no problem stating your opinion without the need for a link, so I don't know what your problem is.

bk,

"then make the argument here. That's all we're asking."

Did you read my post before deleting? I did make four arguments to refute your claims


"Avalos (who I contend is a fool)"

Of course... Psalm 14:1
and when you considered your opponents reference as a fool, you delete the comment. Sweet.
Have you ever deleted a link to a Christian apologists site?

-Peter

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