The Bible: Myth or History? -- By: Scott Ashley

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 15:3 (Summer 2002)
Article: The Bible: Myth or History?
Author: Scott Ashley


The Bible: Myth or History?

Scott Ashley

You’ve read the articles. You’ve watched the reports and listened to the stories. Routinely they allege or at least suggest that the Bible isn’t really believable. By now everyone knows that these reports imply the Bible’s stories could not have happened the way they are written. After all, plenty of reporters, professors, and scientists tell us such is the case—that the Bible is mostly myth.

But is it? Or is a different myth being foisted off on us?

Surveys show that belief in the Bible is declining at an astounding rate. According to pollster George Gallup: “As recently as 1963, two [Americans] in three viewed the Bible as the actual word of God, to be taken literally, word for word. Today [1999], only one person in three still holds to that interpretation” (1999:36). Only two years later, in 2001, the Gallup poll showed that only 27 percent of Americans—barely one in four—still believed the Bible to be the inspired Word of God and literally true in every respect.

In other countries, belief that the Bible is the true Word of God is far lower. A 1991 survey found that only 25 percent of the Irish, 20 percent of Italians, 13 percent of Britons, Norwegians and Dutch, and 10 percent of former West Germans believed the Bible was absolutely true and should be taken literally. A 1999 poll in Britain indicated that fewer than half its respondents believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Even more startling, 14 percent said they knew nothing at all about Him. More than one in five believed He was “just a story.” Almost half of those polled had never attended a church service.

“In the time of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came,” says 2 Kings 15:29. The fierce monarch’s portrait, carved in stone, was found in his place at Numrud 26 centuries later. He is one of many Biblical figures whose existence has been proven by archaeological discoveries.

What’s behind these trends? Only a generation ago, the common view among most Americans, and much of the Western world, was that the Bible was literally true—and the direct revelation of God and of His will. Now why do so many people, including many professing Christians, distrust or disbelieve what the Bible says?

A Shift to Unbelief

For many centuries, people simply assumed that everything in the Bible was true. But then, from the late 1600s through the 1800s, a series of scientific discoveries came to light that many assumed contradicted the Bible. In reality they didn’t contradict the Bible, but only the commo...

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