Historical problems with the old testament

I would argue that the lack of evidence from major events such as half a million slaves escaping Egypt, a large monarchy under the rule of David and Solomon, is in of itself evidence against the events. What is the catholic view of these stories? Can you interpret certain things in non literal ways etc?

Of course the first thing to understand is that absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence.

Next, think about the Egyptian propensity for attempting to expunge inconvenient or unflattering history and ask yourself whether or not the escape of a large number of slaves (or even just a mass emigration of servants or employees) is something they would have no problem with keeping in the historical record. I can’t speak to the David and Solomon part because I am not familiar with the archaeology of that area and time period.

And as far as Biblical interpretation, don’t confuse literal with literalistic. One thing I keep seeing on these sorts of threads is that the Bible is neither a history book as we understand it today nor is it a science text.


What do you see as a lack of evidence here?

"Six clay seals found at the archaeological site of Khirbet Summeily in Israel offer evidence that supports the existence of Biblical Kings David and Solomon, says a team of archaeologists led by Dr Jeff Blakely of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.’

We must remember that while Israel looms large in the Old Testament – which was after all written by Jews, Israel was pretty much of a backwater to other people.


There is archaeological evidence, you just have to research it.

Scripture is not a record of world history, it is a record of Salvation History.


Certainly. I find that the Church has staked out general claims on the historicity of certain events , i.e. Israelites did escape slavery from Egypt, but not absolutely fixed claims, i.e. half a million slaves consisting of X men, Y women and X children of this Jewish community escaped from this particular location in Egypt on this particular date and founded this city in ancient Israel.

I also think it’s worth mentioning that much of the recent research on ancient Israel tends to be part of a broader political debate on modern Israel: the modern state claims its legitimacy (to some extent) based on the historicity of an ancient Jewish kingdom that ruled a similar geographic area. Some vociferously disagree.

It’s a very polarising area, and I’m always wary of entering that debate.

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Absence of evidence can be evidence against it since it seems like there would be a lot of evidence.

Not as much evidence as one might expect.

But its inerrant right? And if the author intended to write history it should be that way?

And there’s the rub. We can guess or we can rely on the Church which Christ founded to hand the faith on.

It would help to know which Christ you preach:

  1. Judaic Messiah?
  2. Trinitarian?
  3. Oneness Pentecostal?
  4. LDS Christ?
  5. Watchtower Christ?
  6. Muslim Jesus?
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Why do you assume that there would be a lot of evidence? How much evidence for any given group of people from the same general time period exists?

Edit to add: And what do you consider a lot?

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What is the distinction?

What does one expect? What have you discovered so far

It really depends on what you meant by “writing history”. Our sense of history as an objective, scientific and “minimially biased” task of writing “just what happened” is really a modern, post-Enlightenment discipline.

Most ancient writers weren’t interested in that sort of historical writing (the closest is perhaps Thucydides), likely because they didn’t see the relevance. Ancient Jewish and Christians, especially, were primarily interested in theological histories that examined the relationship of man to God through shared narratives of particular events.

I find that from the 1850s-1950s there was an intensive period of historical skepticism against Christian claims to historical events (e.g. the resurrection, Noah’s ark, etc.): it was a very black and white reading of what history is, what writing history looked like in practice, how do we evaluate the historicity of claims, etc.

So there eventually rupted two diametrically opposed camps: (1) the “figuratists” - for lack of a better term - who disbelieved the historicity of any narrative and understood everything figuratively, “it’s a metaphor!”; and (2) the “literalists” - again, for lack of a better term - who believed that Christianity hinges upon finding pieces of gopherhood shaped in an ark on Mount Ararat lest the entirety of Christianity be disproved.

I find that contemporary discussions tend to be more nuanced: yes, we should test Christian claims against history (we exist in history after all), but we should be wary of making the evidentiary standards particular to the academic history discipline into the be all and end all of Christian faith.

The problem with the latter case is that you’re not so much theologically believing in Jesus as you are historically believing in the analyses of professional historians.

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During the 18th century, a French philosopher went through the New Testament and compared it with the archeological evidence of the day. It was determined that everything was accurate with the exception of a few details in the Gospel of John. Then in the 20th century it was determined that the details in the Gospel of John were also correct.

That is a good one. Next time a Jehovah’s witness knocks on my door I will point that, ok your Watchtower Christ is the same as the Archangel Michael. But not the real Christ.


That would be the 501c3, a not-for-profit corporation Christ.


Read some articles on it and it will answer your questions.

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