The Old Testament is rejected by a few for various reasons. Some reject it because they cannot comprehend an angry God – a God of wrath (e.g. Canaanite massacre, Levitical punishments etc.). Others reject it because of the miraculous narratives such as the Red Sea parting, Jonah living in the big fish, talking snake etc.
However, scores of Christians believe in the Old Testament. How do we defend the reliability of the Old Testament?
CHRISTIANITY IS SECURE (EVEN IF OLD TESTAMENT IS MYTH)
First things first; those who reject Christianity (because they reject the Old Testament) should understand that their skepticism of the Old Testament offers no valid reason to reject Christianity.
Christianity cannot go bust even if the Old Testament is a myth. This is not to concede that the Old Testament is a myth. But this is an assertion that there are no valid reasons to reject Christianity under the pretext that the Old Testament is hocus-pocus.
Dr. William Lane Craig, in response to a question disputing the credibility of the Old Testament, asserts that the core of Christianity is predicated on the facts of God’s existence and Christ’s resurrection; hence questions about Old Testament’s credibility should not impact the integrity of Christianity, “The unreliability of certain Old Testament narratives would have no impact upon the truth of theism or the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. The questions you ask are thus “in-house” concerns to be debated among Christians. Should we accept the Old Testament as inspired throughout by God? To what extent does inspiration imply scientific or historical reliability? These are, I think, open questions to be discussed. But they should not be obstacles to belief in mere Christianity and, hence, faith in Christ.
So I would encourage you, Jason, simply to bracket these questions until you have made up your mind about (1) whether or not God exists and (2) whether or not He raised Jesus from the dead in vindication of his radical personal claims. If you answer either of these questions in the negative, there’s no reason to be concerned about your questions. On the other hand, if you do answer these questions in the affirmative and become a Christian, then you can proceed to explore your questions further. Don’t get hung up on them now. They’re not deal-breakers.”1
There are reasonable evidences corroborating God’s existence and Christ’s resurrection. Hence, Christianity is secure.
DOUBTS ABOUT OLD TESTAMENT CANNOT DISCOURAGE AN UNBELIEVER
Do not fail to comprehend the other significant assertion made by Dr. Craig. He asserts that the topic of Old Testament’s reliability concerns the Christians and should be discussed “in-house.”2 The unbeliever need not be concerned about the reliability of Old Testament.
The unbeliever should, in principle, be concerned with the facts pertaining to God’s existence and Christ’s resurrection. The unbeliever should believe in Christ because God exists and that God raised Christ from the dead. Hence the onus is on the unbeliever to sincerely study these evidences with a humble and a seeking heart.
OLD TESTAMENT IS RELIABLE: AFFIRMATION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
It is imperative that the New Testament (authored after the Old Testament) affirmed the reliability of the Old Testament. The reliability of the Old Testament would have been greatly undermined if the New Testament had not affirmed the Old Testament or if it had not quoted the Old Testament.
“Answers in Genesis,” a Christian apologetics ministry, highlights the New Testament’s affirmation of the Old Testament, “The New Testament writers did not doubt that the Old Testament prophets spoke for God. Peter and John saw the words of David in Psalm 2, not as the opinion of a king in Israel, but as the Word of God: “You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David” (Acts 4:25, NIV). Similarly, Paul accepted Isaiah’s words as God speaking to men: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers” (Acts 28:25).
The New Testament writers were so convinced all the words of the Old Testament Scripture were inspired by God that they even claimed, “Scripture says,” when the words quoted came directly from God. For example, “The Scripture says to the Pharaoh” (Romans 9:17).
Clearly, the Lord Jesus Himself believed the words of the Old Testament were God-breathed. In John 10:34 (quoting from Psalm 82:6), He based His teaching upon a single phrase: “I said, ‘You are gods.’” In Matthew 22:43–44 He quoted from Psalm 110:1 and emphasized a single word, “Lord,” to reveal Himself as the Son of God.”3
OLD TESTAMENT IS RELIABLE: TRANSMISSION, ARCHEOLOGY & FULLFILLED PROPHECIES
Christian apologist J. Warner Wallace, who was once an atheist and a cold case detective, has adeptly summarized the case for the reliability of the Old Testament by considering the accurate transmission of the Old Testament text, the availability of archeological discoveries, and the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies:4
“(1) The Old Testament Has Been Faithfully Transmitted
(a) Careful Masoretes Subscribed to an Incredibly High Standard
(b) The Dead Sea Scrolls Confirm the Transmission Process
(c) Ancient Sources Confirm the Early Canon of the Old Testament
i. Prologue to Ecclesiasticus
(2) The Old Testament Has Been Verified with Archeology
(a) Findings from Neighboring Cultures
i. The Ebla Tablet
ii. Archaeological digs in the city of Bogazkoy, Turkey
iii. Archeological Digs in Sargon’s Palace in Khorsabad…
(b) Extra-Biblical confirmation of Biblical events
i. The campaign into Israel by Pharaoh Shishak
ii. The revolt of Moab against Israel
iii. The fall of Samaria…
(3) The Old Testament Has Been Confirmed by Prophecy
(a) Accurate Predictions of Ancient Historical Events
i. Babylon Will Rule Over Judah for 70
ii. Babylon’s Gates Will Open for Cyrus
iii. Babylon’s Kingdom Will Be Permanently Overthrown…
(b) The Old Testament Accurately Predicts The Coming Messiah…”
OLD TESTAMENT IS RELIABLE: HISTORICAL RELIABILITY
While studying the reliability of the Old Testament, the work of Dr. Kenneth A. Kitchen, a preeminent scholar in defending the historicity and the reliability of the Old Testament, cannot be ignored. Dr. Kitchen is also an Egyptologist (the study of the archaeology and language of ancient Egypt).
History affirms the credibility of the Old Testament. Dr. Kitchen highlights the following historical aspects to defend the reliability of the Old Testament:
“Primeval History: Shared memories represent one proof of the reliability of the OT. Far antiquity saw the passing of countless human generations, but they kept a living memory of momentous events. For instance, other cultures told stories that are strikingly similar to Noah’s Flood. This is indirect proof for the reliability of the OT…
Patriarchal History: With Abraham we enter the era of the patriarchs (ca 2000-1600 b.c.). Historical records are more plentiful from this point on in history. The patriarchs herded sheep and cattle, ranging from Ur (modern Iraq) down to Egypt. Data from Ur during this era record large flocks of sheep, which fits with OT depictions. Archives from Mari mention Haran, where Abraham once lived. From the time of Abraham down to Jacob, Canaan was a land of independent “city-states” like Shechem, (Jeru)salem, and Gerar. These population centers were sustained by pastures, frequented by local herdsmen and visitors like Abraham and his descendants (Gn 37:12-13). Egyptian “execration-texts” provide extrabiblical evidence of this practice…
Historical Israel: … We have discovered ration-tablets from Babylon for the banished Judean king Jehoiachin and his family for 594-570 b.c. The well-documented Persian triumph in 539 b.c. enabled many exiles to return to Judah and rebuild Jerusalem and its temple, just as the OT says…”5
DO NOT FEAR
Christians need not fear or suspect the reliability of the Old Testament.
For instance, the detractors of Christianity claimed, for many years, that the Old Testament is mythological. Their claim was predicated on their belief that writing was not existent in the time of Moses (cf. Julius Wellhausen’s Documentary Hypothesis). However, R. K. Harrison’s work “Introduction to the Old Testament” and discoveries in archeology proved that writing existed even before the time of Moses.6So it was not the Old Testament that was proved to be a myth, rather the belief that there was no writing in the time of Moses was proved to be a myth.
Therefore, considering all the evidences that are in the public domain establishing the reliability of the Old Testament, Christians can confidently trust the Old Testament.
Websites cited were last accessed on 24th November 2016.
This article was originally published at http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.in/2016/11/why-should-we-trust-old-testament-old.html