God new evidence

GOD: new evidence


'Just Stories? Evidence & the Bible'

What's in the series?

(1) Why it matters

A lot of people think that the Bible is just stories, but many of the things that it records have left traces that we can still see today - evidence for real events, real people, and real places. In these videos we are looking at some of this evidence.

Why does this matter? The Bible claims that God really is there, and that he speaks and acts in the world. God has spoken and acted through things that really happened, and the Bible claims to record how God has spoken and acted. The evidence that the Bible is true should encourage us to take its claim seriously as a message from God. So it is worth looking at this evidence.  And if it is convincing, it is worth taking the Bible’s message seriously.


(2) The First Mention of Israel

In 1896 the British archaeologist Flinders Petrie discovered a stele, (or monumental stone), in Thebes, Egypt. Dating to around 1200 BC, this was an account of pharaoh Merneptah’s military campaigns, and it includes a direct reference to the people of Israel. This is the first mention of Israel in the archaeological record, outside the Bible.


(3) The Kingdom of Geshur

Excavations at Et Tel, north of the sea of Galilee, have found the remains of the ancient city of Geshur. In the Bible, king David married the daughter of the king of Geshur (1 Chronicles 3:2)


(4) The Gates of Geshur

Geshur was a city-kingdom that formed an alliance with Israel in the time of king David. Archaeologists have recently discovered a stele (monumental stone) and the gateway of the city of Geshur from the 10th century BC - from the time of king David.


(5) King David

Scholars have often dismissed King David, in the Bible, as a mythical figure like King Arthur in British history. But archaeologists at Tel Dan, in Israel, found an inscription from around 800 BC, which refers to ‘the house of David.’ It also refers to the king of Israel. This is evidence that King David was a real historical person, not a figure of myth or legend.


(6) The Queen's Seal

A seal that came to light in the 1960s bears the letters Z, B, L. Part of the seal is missing, so it is difficult to reconstruct the full name, but the most likely contender is the Queen Jezebel. If this is right, it means that we have evidence that Jezebel was a real person from a real time in history (around 860 BC).


(7) The British Museum

The British Museum in London has one of the largest collections in the world, with eight million objects. About seventy thousand of these are on display to the public. Many of the objects on display come from the world of the Bible – from ancient Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. These objects help us to understand the Bible better, and - in some cases - they dramatically confirm what it says.


(8) Kings of Assyria and Israel

The Kurkh Stele was found in Turkey, in 1861. It dates from the time of King Shalmaneser III of Assyria, and it mentions king Ahab of Israel, who is also recorded in the Bible. Ahab was a real historical person, confirmed here by the archaeological record.


(9) King Jehu's Tribute

The black obelisk from the time of king Shalmaneser III of Assyria refers to the Israelite king Jehu, and shows the Israelites paying tribute to Shalmaneser. This inscription is a confirmation from the archaeological record that Jehu was a real historical person.


(10) King Sargon of Assyria

The Bible talks about an Assyrian king called Sargon who lived around 720 BC, and who attacked Israel. But the only Sargon known to archaeology had lived more than a thousand years earlier. So did the Bible get it wrong? In 1843, Paul-Émile Botta discovered the palace of the previously unknown king Sargon II, at Khorsabad, in present-day Iraq.


(11) Hezekiah and Isaiah

A clay impression of a seal (a bulla) carrying the name of king Hezekiah has been found near Jerusalem. Close by, archaeologists found another clay impression, carrying the name of Isaiah, and some Hebrew letters that come from the word 'prophet.' In 2018 the Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar announced that we now have a direct reference to the Biblical prophet Isaiah from the time of king Hezekiah.


(12) Shebna's Tomb

On display in the British Museum is the lintel from a tomb from the time of king Hezekiah. This tomb appears to belong to the official Shebna (Shebnyahu). In Isaiah ch. 22 in the Bible, God specifically condemns Shebna for building an elaborate tomb.


(13) Hezekiah's Tribute

When Hezekiah, king of Judah, was under threat from the Assyrian king Sennacherib, he stripped the gold from the temple in Jerusalem and sent it to Sennacherib to try to buy him off. A panel from Khorsabad, on display in the British Museum, lists Hezekiah’s tribute to Sennacherib.


(14) The Siege of Lachish...

One room in the British Museum is devoted to a wall frieze of the siege of the city of Lachish, in Israel. The Assyrian king Sennacherib laid siege to Lachish in 701 BC. The This siege is recorded in the Bible, in 2 Chronicles 32.


(15) ... But Not Jerusalem

Why did Sennacherib record the siege of Lachish - a relatively unimportant city? As his army moved on from Lachish and headed towards Jerusalem, the Bible records (in 2 Kings 18 & 19) that they were supernaturally destroyed. Sennacherib is not about to admit that something went wrong with his campaign. He immortalises his victory at Lachish, rather than his failure to take Jerusalem.


(16) A Bird in a Cage

The Taylor prism is an ancient clay prism, found by Colonel Robert Taylor in 1830. It is the official record of the Assyrian king Sennacherib’s military campaign in Israel (701 BC).  Sennacherib has to explain away his failure to take Jerusalem.  On the Taylor prism, he says ‘As for Jerusalem, I shut up (king) Hezekiah like a bird in a cage.’ Sennacherib portrayed his Israel campaign as a complete victory, but this is not the truth of what happened.


(17) Robin Hood

There are many stories about the legendary English outlaw Robin Hood. A lot of people think that the Bible is just a collection of ancient stories – like the legends of Robin Hood. But the Bible is about real people, in real places, and things that really happened.


(18) Nebuchadnezzar's Lions

A new addition in the British Museum is a glazed relief of a winged lion. This comes from the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Babylonian empire, around 600 BC. But what does this have to do with the Bible?


(19) The Last King of Babylon

According to the Bible, the last king of Babylon was Belshazzar. But history records that the last king was Nabonidus. The discovery of the Nabonidus cylinder resolves this problem, and shows that Nabonidus spent long periods of time away from Babylon, leaving his son Belshazzar in charge.


(20) The Cyrus Cylinder

The book of Ezra in the Bible records a decree by the Persian emperor Cyrus allowing the Jewish exiles in Babylon to return home (Ezra 1:1-3). This seemed a very unlikely decree for an ancient emperor to make. But the Cyrus Cylinder records a decree by Cyrus allowing the displaced peoples of his empire to return to their homelands - exactly as the Bible says.


(21) Real People

In 2014, the Biblical Archaeology Review published an article that listed fifty people in the Bible whose existence has been confirmed by archaeology. The Bible is not a collection of myths and legends. It is about real people, real history, and real events.


(22) Documentary

There are many more hand-written copies of parts of the Bible than of any other ancient document, and there are copies that go back much closer in time to when they were originally written. These show that the Bible documents have not been changed or corrupted over time.


(23) Codex Alexandrinus

Codex Alexandrinus is one of the earliest copies we have of the whole Bible in Greek, having been made around the 450s AD. It is on display in the British Library, in London.


(24) The Oldest Bible

The oldest Bible in the world is Codex Sinaiticus - this literally means ‘the book from the Sinai peninsula.’ It was made around 325-350 AD, and it originally contained all 66 books of our current Bible. Today it is on display in the British Library.


(25) Found in the Rubbish

The Oxyrhynchus papyri are a collection of ancient documents, including parts of the Bible dating from around 250 AD. They were discovered in Egypt, on a rubbish tip.


(26) Four Gospels

Chester Beatty papyrus P45 is a collection of the four Gospels and the book of Acts, from around 250 AD. It shows that these (and no others) were the documents that the early church trusted.


(27) The Jesus Papyrus

The 'Jesus papyrus' (Magdalen papyrus, or P64) was found in Egypt in 1901. It is the oldest copy of any part of Matthew’s Gospel. This Gospel was not written in Egypt, so this is evidence for it being widely recognised and accepted. The P64 fragments contain the earliest mention of some important names - Peter, Judas, and Jesus himself.


(28) The Earliest Fragment

The earliest fragment of any part of the New Testament in Greek is the John Rylands fragment - officially called P52. This is a fragment of John’s gospel, and dates to around 125-150 AD.


(29) The Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in 1947 and onwards, contain manuscripts of almost every book of the Old Testament, dating from around the time of Jesus. This shows that the manuscripts have been faithfully copied for the past two thousand years.


(30) The Isaiah Scroll

The great Isaiah Scroll, in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, is one of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It shows that the text of Isaiah has been accurately copied for more than two thousand years.


(31) Scrolls from Ketef Hinnom

The Ketef Hinnom scrolls are two miniature silver scrolls dating from the seventh century BC, with the earliest texts ever discovered of parts of the Old Testament.


(32) Reliable Documents

Whenever an older copy of a Bible document is discovered, it always confirms that the Bible has been copied accurately for hundreds or even thousands of years. What we have today is what the authors wrote. It has not been changed or corrupted through time. We can trust it.


(33) What Next?

The Bible is not ‘just stories.’ It is about real events, real people, and real places. So shouldn’t we take its message seriously?


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