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Is the Bible Considered a Historical Text?

The very act of these men recording information about Jesus and His early followers attest to the truth that the Bible is a historical text. The Bible has been proven to be a true, accurate, and historical text as it is the very Word of God.

Contributing Writer
Updated Jun 29, 2023
Is the Bible Considered a Historical Text?

Many people believe the Bible is not a historical text. Atheists try to claim the Bible is filled with errors and contradictions. In reality, the Bible is a historical text and has stood the test of time. Considering the Bible as a historical text is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of facts, truth, and historicity.

Does the Bible Pass the Historical Test?

In order for any text to be proven as historical, the text has to pass the external test. The external test is one of the three tests a text has to pass in order to be seen as reliable. The other two tests to validate the reliability of a text are the bibliographic test and the internal test.

The bibliographic test looks to see if the biblical manuscripts are reliable, the internal test looks at the information provided by the biblical authors, and the external test looks at outside information to confirm the historicity of the Bible, such as archeological evidence and secular sources.

The Old Testament and the New Testament pass all three of these tests; however, this article will be focused strictly on the external test since the goal of this article is focused on showing the validity of the Bible being a historical text.

Many biblical and secular archeologists have researched and worked on archeological digs surrounding information provided in the Bible. The information found in the Old Testament has been found in congruence to the practices of the ancient world.

The Nuzi Tablets, found before the Second World War through archeological digs, provide information about the servant heir custom, which is recorded in Genesis 15:2-5 (Ibid.).

But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars — if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring  be.”

The servant heir custom is spoken of by Abraham in relation to Eliezer, in which a person’s oldest servant could inherit all of their master's inheritance if the master did not have any children. 

The Nuzi Tablets also mention the birthright custom made between Esau and Jacob. “Jacob replied, ‘First sell me your birthright’” (Genesis 25:31). It also includes information on the everyday occurrences of individuals possessing household idols as found in Genesis 31:19 (Ibid.).

In 1993, another set of ancient tablets were found, which is now known as The Mari Tablets. These tablets date back to 1800 B.C. and include governmental records and conversations of King Zimri-Lim (Ibid.).

Within The Mari Tablets, there is information in congruence to the patriarchal customs mentioned in Genesis, there is mention of the city of Nahor (believed to be named after Nahor in Genesis 11:24, and a mention of the “Habiru” people, which would be the Hebrew people spoken of in the Bible (Ibid.).

Thirdly, the Merneptah Stele was written in hieroglyphics and it records information about the Egyptian Pharaoh’s conquest of the Israelites, which is “the earliest reference to Israel in nonbiblical sources and demonstrates that, as of c. 1230 B.C., the Hebrews were already living in the Promised Land.”

The Ebna Tablets discovered between 1964-1970 also attest and affirm the historicity, accuracy, and validity of the Old Testament. The Moabite Stone unearthed by archeological digs confirms the revolt recorded in 2 Kings 3, in which the King of Moab rebelled against the King of Israel after Ahab’s death.

Can Biblical Archeological Evidence Be Found?

Archeology has also found the cities listed in the Old Testament and the New Testament to be accurate. Cities such as Haran, Hazor, Dan, Megiddo, Shechem, Samaria, Shiloh, Gezer, Gibeah, Beth Shemesh, Beth Shean, Beersheba, Lachis, Jericho, Jerusalem, and Babylon have all been found correct geographical markers for the events detailed in the Bible (Ibid.).

In addition to this vast number of historical evidence of the Bible, archeology has also found the burial plaque of King Uzziah, King Hezekiah’s tunnel, the Cylinder of Cyrus the Great, and Shishak’s Invasion of Judah, in favor of the historicity and accuracy of the Bible (Ibid.).

Furthermore, the New Testament has also been proven historically accurate through archeological digs and secular sources. Archeology has discovered many places mentioned in the New Testament such as the Pool of Siloam, the Pool of Bethesda, Jacob’s Well, Cana, Bethlehem, Capernaum, Chorazin, Nazareth, and the validity of Pilate living in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ ministry.

Many of the cities where Jesus taught, performed miracles, and walked through are still in the Middle East today and have been rigorously put through the tests of historical validity. Each of these cities has been proven as correct geographical marking grounds as well as the route of Jesus’ ministry has been found to be accurate as recorded in the New Testament (Ibid.).

The gospel writer, Luke, is also known to be a well renowned and accurate historian. Critics have tried to downplay Luke’s information contained in his gospel account; however, Luke has been proven to be an accurate researcher and historian of the life of Jesus Christ (Ibid.).

The life of Jesus has been mentioned by many outside secular authors besides the writers of the New Testament. Among these secular authors include Tactius, Pliny the Younger, Josephus, the Babylonian Talmud, and Lucius of Samosata. Each of these secular authors records information about Jesus that is in agreement with the Bible.

Tactius in his Annals and the Babylonian Talmud refers to Jesus being crucified, Pliny in his Epistles and Lucian in his On the Death of Peregrin, discusses the worship performed by the early Christians and how the early Christians viewed Jesus, and Jospheus affirms Jesus’ resurrection (Ibid.).

Josephus also includes in his Antiquities of The Jews, information about Herod, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the high priests, the Roman governors, as well as he mentioned John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and James by name. These secular authors would have no reason to lie as none of these men were supporters of Christianity.

Why Does Historical Evidence Matter?

The very act of these men recording information about Jesus and His early followers attest to the truth that the Bible is a historical text. In conclusion, the Bible has been proven to be a true, accurate, and historical text as it is the very Word of God.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

For further reading:

Why Is Reading the Bible in Context Important?

How Can We Read the Bible as Culture Changes?

Is the Bible Reliable? The Evidence We Know So Far

A Flood of Evidence: Chronological Snobbery and Archaeology

Why Does it Have to Be Creation or Evolution?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/scorpp

Vivian BrickerVivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.


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