"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.VIII No.I Pg.31-33
June 1945

Voices From The Dead

Yater Tant

In all human experience, the way by which an individual's reliability and veracity are established is well defined. Over a period of years, every statement made by the man is found to be true; no statement made by him is ever found to be false. His trustworthiness is further enhanced when (1) statements which appear incredible are later found to be true, and (2) statements which are to his own detriment and disadvantage are shown to be exact statements of fact. If a man speaks the truth in every area where later tests and investigations confirm what he has said, then it can be safely assumed that he has spoken the truth even in those areas where no investigation has been made, or even where none can be made.

The reliability and trustworthiness of the Bible have been established in precisely the same way. In every area where men have ever put it to the test of hard and scientific investigation, it has been demonstrated to speak the absolute truth. This has been the case even when the thing stated in the Bible may have appeared to the whole world as (1) utterly fantastic and incredible, and (2) to the detriment and disadvantage of the very thing the Bible seeks to establish and teach. No test of man's devising has yet uncovered one single important error as to a statement of fact in all the pages of inspired literature. If the Book has demonstrated its veracity in the areas where testing has been made, and can be, shall it not be presumed to speak truth also in those areas where testing is impossible?

Archaeological Evidence

No more fascinating study has ever engaged the abilities of the scientist than the study of archeology. Through long and patient research, men have reconstructed for us the civilizations and customs of nations and races long since extinct. Cities have been uncovered; palaces and public buildings have been resurrected out of the accumulated debris of the centuries; a long dead people have been brought to life, and their very language and thoughts made real and vivid to us by the records of the stones. In the field of archaeology, no particular branch has been more fruitful than that of Biblical archaeology. And every single fact uncovered by the archaeologist which has had any bearing at all on the record of the scripture has fitted perfectly into the picture as presented by the inspired writers. Palestine is in every particular the matrix of the Book; the Bible fits into the contours of the land as a hand into a glove, or a precious gem into the matrix of the stone in which it was embedded, and from which it has been cut.

Through many years of scientific research, the archaeologists have come to accept as absolutely trustworthy every statement the Bible makes as to the topography and geography of Palestine. Also the relations between peoples and nations in times of antiquity, wherever these matters are touched upon by Biblical authors, and where modern discoveries have thrown light on the same questions, have been found to be exactly and accurately portrayed. The monuments of the past are an unanswerable argument for the veracity and dependability of those men who wrote in ancient times.

In Genesis 19 is recorded the story of the destruction by the judgment of God of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. These cities were located in the region around the lower the past as to the exact location of the cities, but by far the preponderance of weight has attached to the evidence supporting the traditional view of their location--that of the lower Dead Sea area. And, according to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, "recent researches at the lower end of the Dead Sea by the expedition of Xenia Seminary and American School of Oriental Research have made further discussion of the location of the Cities of the Plain superfluous." (Page 660)

"The Canaanite civilization represented in the story of Abraham and Lot as being upon the Plain was actually there. The Great High Place of the Plain, its greatness in dictated by the great fortress protecting it, was found. Beside the temple was a camping place where people gathered from time to time, as at Gilgal, to worship at the end of the Dead Sea. There has been some discussion in side of this camping place was a cemetery. From the graves came the unmistakable pottery of the Early Bronze Age, the time of Abraham and Lot. A careful search of the plain for 20 miles revealed the fact that for 2500 years from this time, there was no civilization of any kind on the Plain. In accord with this is the silence of the Scriptures concerning any history of the Plain onward to the end of the Biblical record." (Bibliotheca Sacra, July 1924). "As pointed out above, the pottery from Bab-ed-Dra is all older than the 18th century B. C. at the latest, since none of the characteristic Middle Bronze, or Hyksos, types appear, and everything is "first Semitic." The date we have fixed for the catastrophe of Sodom and Gomorrah, about the early part of the 18th Century B. C. seems exceedingly probable." (Albright, Annual of American School of Oriental Research VI).

The significance of these facts is further heightened when we consider what geologists have to say about the earth formations still to be seen in this region. "A stratum of salt 150 feet thick underlies the ground surface. Over it is a stratum of marl mingled with free sulphur. This is now a burned out region of oil and asphalt. Moreover, a great rupture in the strata completes the story. At some time, somehow, God kindled the gases which always collect where there is oil; a great explosion took place and the salt and the sulphur were carried up into the heavens red hot so that it literally rained fire and brimstone over the whole Plain." (I. S. B. E. -page 661)

The conclusions are unmistakable and decisive:

(1) There was a fairly high state of civilization existing in these regions for many hundreds of years prior to the time of Abraham.

(2) This civilization came to an abrupt end at the time of Abraham, and the places were not re-inhabited for approximately 2,500 years.

(3) At some unknown time in the past, there was a tremendous explosion in the geologic formations here which resulted in a veritable "rain" of fire and brimstone over the whole Plain.

These are facts which are obvious to all--both atheist and believer alike. Thus in one clear-cut and definite narrative the Bible is found to be recording cold and literal facts--not the dreamy fiction of imaginative visionaries and enthusiasts. When the test was made on what the unbeliever undoubtedly would have described as a lurid and impossible melodrama, it reveals that the event was undoubtedly lurid, and it was the most tragic sort of drama, but far from being impossible, it actually happened.

Bricks Without Straw

For many years the unbelievers and those who considered themselves authorities in the field of Egyptology looked with considerable skepticism, if not derision, on the Biblical accounts of the enslavement of Israel in Egypt. The whole record of Moses was dismissed contemptuously by them as being the folklore of a nomadic desert tribe, with absolutely no foundation in fact. But during the last century, the excavations in Egypt have produced such overwhelming testimony as to the historicity of Israel's bondage that it is highly unlikely even one dissenting voice could be found in all the realm of scholarship to that assertion. Moses relates (Exodus 1) in detail the oppressive measures which the "new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph" launched against the captive Israelites. And further along, (chapter 5) he recites in fullest particulars how the Israelites were forced to gather stubble for straw, and finally were compelled to make bricks without any straw whatsoever.

The ruins of Pithom (Exodus 1:11) were excavated in 1883 by Naville of the University of Geneva. "On the great gateway was the inscription by Ramses the Great:

I built Pithom at the mouth of the East'." In his book (Moses and the Monuments) Professor Kyle describes these ruins of Pithom as he saw them: The bricks were laid in mortar, contrary to the usual Egyptian custom, and contrary to the observations of explorers in Egypt previous to the time of Naville's discovery at Pithom. The lower courses in at least some of the store chamber work are laid with brick filled with good chock straw; the upper courses are made of brick having no binding material whatever; and the middle courses are made of brick filled with stubble pulled up by the roots. The impress of the roots is as plainly marked in the bricks as though cut by an engraver's tools.' " (Christian Faith and the Spirit of the Age-C. E. McCartney, page 39)

From the excavations of the archaeologists, therefore, we record these indubitable facts:

(1) Ramses the Great who lived at the time ordinarily accepted as the time of Israelitish bondage in Egypt declared that he built the city of Pithom.

(2) The first bricks laid in the store chambers of this city were made with good chock straw; the next bricks laid were made with stubble and roots instead of straw; the top layers of bricks were made with no binding material whatever.

Compare this with the Biblical account which records that: (1) The captive Israelites built for Pharaoh the store cities of Pithom and Ramses (Exodus 1:11)

(2) At a certain period in their enforced labor the Israelites were suddenly denied the use of straw with which to make bricks, but were compelled to make as many bricks as they had previously. (Exodus 5:7-8)

(3) The captives were compelled to go out through all the land of Egypt gathering stubble for straw (5:11).

(4) They were finally forced to make their allotted number of bricks, regardless of whether they could find straw or stubble to put in there or not. (5:18). They complained that they had no straw.

We believe it to be impossible for an unbiased mind to compare these two records (the archaeological record and the Biblical record) without being fully convinced that they refer to identical happenings. The Biblical record has been known for thousands of years; during some of those years, at least, it has been scorned and rejected by some as being unhistorical and fantastic. The archaeological record has only recently come to light. But it now shows in undeniable demonstration that the Biblical record is absolutely trustworthy and reliable. Again, in an area where testing has been made possible, the Book has met the test. Turning through its pages and picking somewhat at random from the thousands of events, incidents, customs, and historical happenings recorded there, we test first this one then that one, and then another, and another--giving the most searching analysis possible to every bit of evidence which the expanding archaeological discoveries make available to us. Without a single exception, in every instance where testing is possible, it has been found that the words of the Bible are sober truth. These men who wrote this Book dealt in facts, not fiction.

The "Higher Critics"

The higher critics for many years tried to reconstruct the whole Biblical picture of Palestine and its history. They sought to show that the patriarchs were not individuals but personifications; that Moses was comparatively unimportant; that many of the heroes of the Old Testament were purely legendary and had no actual existence except in folklore and fairy tales; that Israel's religion was a very gradual development from purely naturalistic origins, etc, etc., It is of the deepest significance that increasingly the archaeological discovers are forcing a complete revision of schools of theology today are having to re-examine and modify the concepts which they have been so vehement in trumpeting forth for a generation as "the assured results of competent scholarship." The archaeological findings are compelling a return to the accepted and traditional view of the historical accuracy of the Biblical record. "Of the current reconstructive theories of criticism-the patriarchs not individuals but personifications; the rude nomadic, semi-barbarous condition of Palestine in the patriarchal age; the desert; Egypt; the comparative unimportance of Moses as a law-giver; the gradual invasion of Palestine; the naturalistic origin of Israel's religion from astral myths; the late authorship of the Pentateuch not one is being sustained. In fact, however much archaeological evidence there may be that is negative in character or that is not definitely against the reconstructive theories of criticism, no one can point to a single definite particular of archaeological evidence whereby any one of these theories is positively sustained and corroborated." (I. S. B. E. -page 233)

It would be impossible in any one treatise to consider all the archaeological evidence which has a bearing on the scriptural record. Many volumes would be necessary even to list, much less discuss, the thousands of instances where a monument, a piece of pottery, a ruined stone wall, a debris covered altar, the charred remains of a palace, or some other bit of archaeological testimony has fitted perfectly into the Biblical narrative. And not one instance has been found where any single iota of archaeological evidence has demonstrated the falsity or inaccuracy of a statement of the Bible.

In view of this overwhelming confirmation of the reliability of the inspired record, considering the multiplied thousands of points at which it has been tested, we confidently affirm that no competent student can study the evidence and retain any doubt whatsoever as to the accuracy and dependability of the statements of these men. Their veracity has been established, their truthfulness vindicated.

Concerning then, those men who still try to cling to the outmoded and fantastic theories of the "higher critics," we bluntly charge that they are either incompetent or dishonest. If they are unacquainted with the vast accumulation of archaeological discoveries bearing on the Biblical record, they are incompetent; if they are unable to recognize how completely this evidence shatters the modernistic interpretations, they are intellectually unqualified to speak. If they have seen the evidence, and have correctly evaluated it, and still cling to their theories, they are dishonest. There is no other explanation. In past years, there have been a few sophomoric minds among gospel preachers who have been bedazzled by the aura of "scholarship" which the modernists tried to arrogate to themselves. In their naive simplicity, they have thought they could be "intellectual" simply by accepting the vacuous vapor essence of these self-styled "scholars." Fortunately (for the church) such men have either gone completely into agnosticism, or else have come to their senses and returned to the proclamation of the fundamental truth of the gospel. The church of Christ has not been cursed, as have been sectarian churches, by the presence in her pulpits of doubtful or skeptical voices. If gospel preachers will take the trouble to acquaint themselves with the evidence from the field of archaeology, we anticipate the church will never be in danger of the bitter controversy over modernism which has so emasculated the power of denominational organizations. Since we are living in a scientific age, let us be truly scientific! The record of the rocks is pure science its voice is thunderous, and unmistakable.