The Table Briefing: Engaging Skeptical Challenges To The Old Testament -- By: Darrell L. Bock

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 174:696 (Oct 2017)
Article: The Table Briefing: Engaging Skeptical Challenges To The Old Testament
Author: Darrell L. Bock

The Table Briefing: Engaging Skeptical Challenges To The Old Testament

Darrell L. Bock


Mikel Del Rosario

Darrell L. Bock is Senior Research Professor in New Testament Studies and Executive Director for Cultural Engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas. Mikel Del Rosario is a doctoral student in New Testament Studies, Project Manager for Cultural Engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary, and adjunct professor at William Jessup University, Rocklin, California.

A strong sense of historical skepticism prompts many archaeologists and historians to challenge the reliability of Old Testament narratives. As a result, even ordinary details surrounding biblical stories now raise questions in people’s minds: Could Abraham really have used camels? Did the Israelites actually live in ancient Egypt? How can Scripture be true if even the most basic details appear suspect? This Table Briefing shares key ideas regarding Old Testament historicity from conversations with Steven Ortiz, who teaches archaeology and biblical backgrounds at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Gordon Johnston, who teaches Old Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary, and Robert Chisholm, who chairs the Old Testament Studies department at Dallas Theological Seminary.

How Archaeology Relates To Biblical Studies

In an episode of the Table called “Archaeology and the Bible,” Darrell Bock discussed with Ortiz and Johnston the nature and limits of archaeology.

Bock: [Archaeologists study the] physical layout of where people lived, the way in which their lives were constructed, what the rooms that they lived in looked like, the utensils that they

used. That’s actually what you’re finding. You’re helping to give a portrait.

Ortiz: We’re placing [the] text within its cultural [and] historical context. Most people who read the Bible [don’t] realize that [the narratives in] God’s Word occurred over a long period of time . . . in many cultures. . . . As a biblical archaeologist, I’m looking for . . . a lot of things that aren’t recorded in the biblical text.

Johnston: Even things like grain or just skeletons of little animals and things like that, which for most people [who] are interested in the Bible would seem to be very trivial . . . help you reconstruct the culture and the history of what was happening.

Ortiz: If you think of what archaeology does, we’re historians [who] look at the material culture [while] a textual scholar, a biblical scholar, will look at the text itse...

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