Purported factual blunders of the Old Testament

I’m not too familiar with issues surrounding the historicity of the Bible, so don’t know how to approach this. At a blog I read for its political coverage there’s a new post up about purported factual blunders of the Old Testament.

What do you all think?


Yeah, I saw this and laughed.

The “blunder” is restricted to the Biblical mention of domesticated camels which were recorded (in scripture) earlier than known fossil remains of domesticated camels.

There is a span of a HUNDRED MILLION YEARS from which NO fossil is known (and, perhaps, none survive). This “blunder” is only a few thousand years. Absolute nonsense.

Many fossils that appear in museums (such as the giant dinosaur skeleton in the Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC) are not actually fossils - they are castings. In many cases, only one such fossil is known.

The fossil record is woefully incomplete. It is entirely possible that there were domesticated camels in the Holy Land whose fossils we have not yet been discovered.

It is also possible that the ancient stories referred to other beasts of burden (such as donkeys), but, when told by successive generations, were adapted to more “modern” beasts (camels). The intent of the Scripture is to communicate doctrine, not strict history. I do not understand how the specific identification of animals is doctrinal.

FWIW, modern biologists speculate that as much as 98% of all species on this earth are not yet identified. Many are microscopic.

We don’t really understand the life on the planet in which we inhabit TODAY. It is silly to think that we could understand life as it was 4000 years ago.

FWIW, I HIGHLY recommend the book by Bill Bryson, “A Short History of Nearly Everything,” from which I draw the facts that I have stated here. This book was a gift to me from my brother (Father Eric Filmer of CA’s “Ask an Apologist” Forum), and is one of the best books that I have ever read. FWIW, the book is not presented from any religious point of view. Indeed, there is nothing in it that I can discern that the author is Christian or Catholic, although it is “friendly” to Christians (for example, he mentions that Gregor Mendel, the “father of genetics”) was a Catholic monk - a fact often absent in other accounts.) It is a religiously-unbiased history of human understanding of several sciences (physics, biology, geology, chemistry, etc), presented in a manner that is easily understood by average people.

In short, those far right wing Israelis who use the bible stories as a basis for kicking Palestinians out of their homes in East Jerusalem are making many mistakes, including historical ones, as well as human rights mistakes.

The author reveals himself as an anti-semite. He is writing from his prejudices, not facts. There may or may not be apparent chronological issues in the Old Testament but they do not justify rejection of the Jewish scriptures.

Some people have been attempting to find a smoking gun in scripture for almost 2000 years for a variety of reasons (most personal), probably longer if you count OT times, and they still have not succeeded. I don’t worry so much about this sort of thing.

But these claims being made and then going unchallenged does not reflect well on the credibility of Christianity. One only need review the comments under the blog post.

Juan Cole may be harshly critical of the Israeli government and actors on its political scene, but this comment is uncalled for. Please bring forward evidence of his anti-Semitism or retract the charge.

There may or may not be apparent chronological issues in the Old Testament but they do not justify rejection of the Jewish scriptures.

Why do you think so?


The bible gives us some history. But it is not a history textbook. I also heard about these claims. It seems to me the only people who would be dismayed by them are people who take the bible too literally.

Still, there are those who seem to think that credibility of ancient writings must be measured against 21st century standards.

Anti-semites are of the devil. Don’t fall for this evil, no matter how fashionable it may seem today.

Why do you think so?

I don’t believe that the radiocarbon dating of a few camel bones justifies the rejection of Judaism and Christianity.

curiosity.discovery.com/question/how-reliable-is-radiocarbon-dating The article says that carbon dating isn’t 100% accurate, that a number of factors can alter the results.

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