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BIBLE CRITICISM - Intellectual Idolatry!
Good News Magazine
January-February 1969
Volume: Vol XVIII, No. 1-2
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BIBLE CRITICISM - Intellectual Idolatry!
William F Dankenbring   
Church of God

Member Since: 1957
Ambassador College: 1963
Office: ACE

Master of Arts Degree from Ambassador.

Disbelieving in any God, men with minds swayed by evolutionary thought have attempted to discredit, and virtually destroy Bible testimony. Bible history has come under attack. Bible personages have been called fictitious. Bible events are regarded in circles of "higher critics" as legendary. Bible miracles came soon to be regarded as sheer superstition! Is the Bible mere tradition or ancient myth? What about Bible criticism? Is it honest, reliable? It is time you knew about the DOUBLE STANDARD used by the critics of God's Word!

   JUST WHAT IS Bible criticism? How does it affect YOU?
   For more than one hundred years, the western world has abounded with highly educated men who have devoted their lives to tearing down and "demythologizing" the Bible. Since the time Darwin shocked the world with his evolutionary theory, Bible scholars and German rationalists have applied his theory to the Bible itself!
   According to critics of the Bible, the books of the Bible gradually EVOLVED INTO EXISTENCE, and are the legendary writings of an ancient race of men the Hebrews Did God inspire the Bible? Of course not, they tell you. The original God of Israel, Himself, they claim, was merely an ancient tribal deity! He was merely the local mountain "god" of the Sinai region, adopted by wandering Hebrews as they passed through.

An Ancient Drug-Taking Cult?

   Notice the amazing words of one ardent Bible critic. John Marco Allegro, a humanist professor and Hebrew language scholar working with the Dead Sea Scrolls, said the roots of Christianity lay in an ancient drug-taking cult and the New Testament is "just a cover story" for it.
   Said Allegro, "Now my views are more critical than ever about the New Testament story." He added, with seeming disdain, "It is no more than a COVER STORY for a vegetation cult, involving the use of drugs of earlier times."
   This scholar called Bible priests and prophets the "dope pushers" of their day and compared them with South American drug-using Indians. When the prophets saw visions, they were probably "taking a trip" on LSD or something like it, he said.
   Says Allegro, "The Bible is a literary work and not a religious or historical work. It's got to be accepted on that basis.
   "If you can lay bare the real purpose behind the Old and New Testament stories, then the whole foundation of the church must be shattered. They'll have to think again. Figures like David and Solomon, Samson and Delilah, are just myths. The very possibility that Jesus ever existed is open to question."

Drugs and Scholars

   Another member of the 12-man team analyzing the Dead Sea Scrolls, Dr. James A. Sanders, has taken the opposite tack and said there is no evidence to support Allegro's speculations. Dr. Sanders noted that Allegro cited no evidence for his opinions and said they seem "to reflect his own state of mind rather than anything in antiquity."
   But his bold-faced declarations and suggestions should not simply be ignored. What about modern Bible criticism? Can it be relied upon to reveal the TRUTH? Or is it a lot of speculation, guesswork, and fraud? You need to know!

Bible Skeptics

   Surprisingly enough, even many modern ministers publicly declare the Bible is not inspired by a Creator God. Harry Emerson Fosdick, a noted American minister, wrote, "We know now that every idea in the Bible started from primitive and childlike origins..." (The Modern Use of the Bible, p. 11).
   He spoke of certain "crudities" in the earlier writings in the Bible and said, "Their lack is a lack of maturity."
   Dr. Edgar J. Goodspeed, who translated the Bible into English, said of the first twelve books in the Bible, "It is man's first attempt to organize his knowledge of his past into what we would call an outline of history. Genesis," he wrote, "is a great encyclopedia of Hebrew, thought..." NOT divine revelation from Almighty GOD!
   The book of Joshua, he says, "is the legendary story of the conquest of Canaan." The book of Ruth, he believes, "belongs to Israel's fiction, rather than to its history, and should be among its tales and stories" (How to Read the Bible, p. 39, 51).
   THESE are the words of ministers translators, and Bible scholars! WHY do they believe the Bible is merely a grouping of stories, legends and myths?
   There is a REASON!
   Most professors and scholars are unwilling to admit the divine inspiration of the Bible because if they did, they would have to recognize its AUTHORITY over their lives they would be obligated to OBEY it!
   How can you know what to believe? How can you be sure?
   James Moffatt, an English Bible translator, claimed, "The Old Testament is a collection of religious literature thrown up in the course of this story" the story of history of the Hebrew people.
   Moffatt did not believe the Bible to be inspired by the Almighty God. He believed portions of the Bible were badly edited and arranged, so he tried to improve on them. He rearranged entire chapters to suit himself.
   According to James Moffatt, "Ezekiel was a priest, but the collapse of the temple turned his priestly fervour into theory instead of practice, and predictions run out into a kind of ecclesiastical Utopia."
   He claimed that the traditions of national unity and supernatural guidance "are at the heart of the tales and traditions within the first five books of the Bible.''
   Why do all these men reject the Bible as inspired truth? Why do even ministers repudiate the Bible as divine revelation? What grounds what PROOF do they stand on?

Criticism in "CHAOS"

   Modern scholars themselves have some remarkable things to say about the field of Bible criticism. John Bright, of the Union Theological Seminary, said, "The whole field is in a state of FLUX. It is moving, certainly, but it is not always easy to say in what direction."
   Read that again. That's quite a statement!
   But that is not all. Bright adds, "Sometimes it gives the impression that it is moving in several MUTUALLY CANCELING DIRECTIONS at once. Even upon major points there is often little unanimity to be observed" (Modern Study of Old Testament Literature, p. 14).
   Think of that!
   That is the state of modern Bible criticism, TODAY! Controversy reigns supreme. New theories, says Bright, "make their appearance from time to time." New light has been thrown on theories of yesteryear so that a "revision of them is required, SO DRASTIC as to amount to virtual abandonment."
   Notice carefully these staggering statements. These were made by LEADING BIBLE SCHOLARS leading modern critics of the Bible!
   They confess that the whole field of Bible criticism seems to be "moving in SEVERAL MUTUALLY CANCELING DIRECTIONS at once." Does that sound like something you can BELIEVE in? Something you can have faith in?
   They admit that even on "MAJOR POINTS" there is often "LITTLE unanimity" to be observed! Does that sound rational, logical the way it should be!
   They admit that hardly a statement could be made about Bible criticism that would be absolutely provable, absolutely true, acknowledged by the majority of scholars!
   Perhaps the most generally accepted statement one could make about the whole field of modern Bible criticism is that it is in a STATE OF FLUX!
   George E. Mendenhall, however, goes further. He wrote, "The 'fluidity' in this field... may with perhaps less courtesy but more accuracy be called CHAOS." Mendenhall confesses that Bible criticism has come to an "IMPASSE" (Biblical History in Transition).
   Confusion is rampant. Theories come and go. They make their appearance like lions, but soon depart meekly like lambs.
   Too often, in far too many theories of Bible criticism "only those facts which FIT THE HYPOTHESIS are taken up and others IGNORED."
   Doesn't sound too promising, does it?
   How did Bible criticism come to such a state? What led to the present modern CHAOS the present IMPASSE?
   Obviously, something is seriously wrong with modern Bible criticism!

Evolutionary Criticism

   After the rise of the theory of evolution, popularized by Charles Darwin, the evolutionary concept wormed its way into many facets of education including Bible criticism. Critics came to believe that ancient Israel developed from a primitive animism or polytheism to monotheism in a period of five or six short centuries.
   Theologians and critics concluded that the first books of the Bible could not have been written by Moses for writing, they believed, was invented at a later time. Hebrew religion, they taught, gradually evolved. The evolutionary process led to the rising up of Christianity. Therefore, the entire Old Testament, having served its purpose, was discarded.
   Of course such a belief makes Christianity itself merely one stage of the evolutionary process. Now, with the "God is dead" theology, and the advent of modern science, technology, and western civilization, historical "Christianity" is also in danger of passing away!
   It must either evolve with the times or become defunct.
   It must either change, and adapt itself to the modern world or be replaced by a NEW RELIGION with Science as the Messiah!
   Thus, the evolutionary concept became the backbone of Biblical criticism. Biblical records were rejected as unreliable. Biblical history came to be regarded as myth. Biblical miracles were called superstition and legend.
   In this way Satan managed to have the entire Word of God thrown into QUESTION! He duped the world into embracing a fable the fable of evolution and into rejecting divine TRUTH!
   The WHOLE WORLD has been deceived! (Rev. 12:9.)
   When the blind lead the blind, they both fall into the ditch.
   But you can PROVE the Bible is reliable history! You can prove conclusively the Bible is inspired! You can prove Bible history is AUTHENTIC!

Unfair Critics

   Critics of the Bible don't generally like to admit it, but since the first excavation in the Middle East in 1842 at Nineveh, a huge mass of texts and materials from archaeology has been gathered confirming the history of the Bible!
   Excavations have uncovered the ancient capital of the Hittites and confirmed their business practices as alluded to in the Bible (Gen. 23:17). Ten thousand texts from the Hurrian city of Nuzu in Mesopotamia have confirmed the Bible description of the period of the patriarchs. Similar customs were evidenced.
   For instance, in Nuzu a childless couple could adopt a servant who would then inherit their goods. If a child was later born, the adopted heir would be set aside. Reminds you of the case of Abraham and his servant Eliezer (Gen. 15:2-4). Further, barren wives in Nuzu were under the obligation to have a handmaid produce a son by their husbands. How similar to the case of Sarah and Hagar (Gen. 16:1-3). The firstborn at Nuzu were permitted to transfer their birthright, also. as in the case of Jacob and Esau (Gen. 25:29-34).
   What about the time Joseph was sold as a slave by his brothers into Egypt? An Egyptian papyrus dated during the time of Joseph (around 1740 B. C.) lists the names of almost a hundred slaves from one household about half called "Asiatics" or Semites! Here is proof that what happened to Joseph was a fairly common occurrence in those days.
   But will Biblical critics admit the proof? Will they accept the evidence? In most cases NO THEY WILL NOT!
   Most agree with Bertrand Russell who wrote in 1944, "The early history of the Israelites cannot be confirmed from any source outside the Old Testament, and it is impossible to know at what point it ceases to be purely legendary" (Ancient Israel, p. 6). Most still cling doggedly to the outdated, disproved "documentary hypothesis" which states that there were four different documents (represented by J, E, P, and D) which were later compiled into five books of Moses. The theory might be knocked around a bit, but critics generally are unwilling to completely depart from it.
   Admittedly, ancient documents regarding the Flood, the days of Creation, genealogies and others were used by Moses when he wrote the Book of Genesis. That should he clear. But critics go too far when they claim four different schools, the Jahvists, Elohists, Deuteronomists, and Priests, were responsible for editing and writing the first five books generally ascribed to Moses. Jewish tradition and of all people, they ought to have known has consistently stated that MOSES was the author of the Pentateuch!
   A noted scholar, the late William I;. Albright, declared that he defended the historicity of patriarchal tradition. Archaeological facts always support the Biblical record!
   But, influenced by the evolutionary theory and the reasonings of previous scholars who had little but their own imaginations to support them, most modern scholars and Biblical critics have fallen into the same error.

Written Traditions

   The Epic of Gilgamesh, as well as other Babylonian and Egyptian documents from early times PROVE that written records and traditions existed LONG BEFORE MOSES!
   Contrary to the commonly accepted idea among Bible critics a few decades ago, that writing was unknown in the early days of Old Testament history, such records and documents prove writing was known from the dawn of history. Berosus, the Chaldean historian, related the tradition that Zisuthrus (the Babylonian Noah) buried the sacred writings before the Flood, on tablets of clay,
   Both Arabs and Jews have a tradition that Enoch invented writing. An ancient king, historical documents show, said he loved to read the writings of the age before the Flood. An Assyrian king, Assurbanipal, who founded the great library at Nineveh, wrote of the "inscriptions of the time before the Flood" (Halley's Bible Handbook, p. 48).
   Therefore, the main support of the documentary theory, that writing was unknown in the time of Moses, crumbles to dust before the searching light of archaeological knowledge!

The Double Standard

   Sixty years ago, classical critics believed that even the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer were not written by him at all, but were later compiled from the original works of several different minstrel poets. A hundred years ago a critic of Homer declared, "We may safely say that no scholar will again find himself able to embrace the unitarian hypothesis." It became heresy to believe Homer wrote Homer!
   BUT Heinrich Schliemann began excavating at Troy in 1870. Further excavations were undertaken between 1932-38. Archaeological finds and the archaeologists' picks and shovels PROVED that (what do you know about that!) Homer did write the Iliad and Odyssey, after all! It was, after all, in agreement with historical facts. Archaeology uncovered even the bronze breastplates mentioned by Homer!
   In the field of classical criticism, the critics have been willing to confess the errors of past generations. Homer has been vindicated. But when it comes to vindicating the BIBLE, hardly a voice can be heard among the critics! Why?
   Why are they unwilling to confess they have been WRONG? Why are they unwilling to discard the ridiculous theory that Moses did not write the five books of Moses?
   Is it because there is a DOUBLE STANDARD among professional critics of the Bible and classical literature? Seemingly, it is so!
   Scholarly men will exonerate a pagan poet such as Homer. But they would be the last to confess the Old Testament is historical, and ACCURATE as Jesus Himself testified after all!
   Amazing! But TRUTH, nonetheless!
   The truth of the matter is, artificial criteria have been imposed upon the Bible which have NOT been imposed on classical literature such as the words of Homer. Very little research has been done in the literary evaluation and analysis of ancient Egyptian or Babylonian texts and records to help understand more about the language used in the early records of the Bible.
   Biblical critics have approached the study of the Bible with a totally NEGATIVE ATTITUDE! No wonder, then, most of their conclusions have been negative as well, and they are today mired in a quagmire of confusion and chaos!
   Scholars are now beginning to admit that if the criteria applied in the past to the Bible were applied to other classical literature, multiple authorships would have to be theorized for literature which is CLEARLY one man's work!
   The truth should be plain. If scholars must not draw conclusions from dialectal mixtures in classical literature of the Greeks, then they must not do so for the Bible!

Negative Approach

   Unfortunately, many scholars tend to reject a part of the Bible record for the sole reason that they have not found corroborative evidence in classical literature, history, or documents.
   This is a tragic mistake. A leading archaeologist recently said that o d y two percent of the known sites in Palestine have been excavated. Most of the record is still buried in the ground. Scholars reveal unscholarly bias when they make negative pronouncements about Biblical history simply because classical history is silent on the subject! This fault has been all too common in the past, and still lingers in the attitudes of many archaeologists today!
   Even when positive archaeological support is discovered from some excavation supporting the Biblical record, some critics shake their heads with mystification and maintain that they are still not convinced!
   In other words, some critics demand only a scrap of circumstantial evidence when it comes to denying the Bible, but when it comes to finding archaeological corroborative evidence, they demand MOUNTAINS of proof!
   By its very nature, archaeological evidence is hard to come by. Usually it is fragmentary, discovered by the fortuitous circumstance, and may have only a slight bearing on the matter.
   Is that a fair attitude? Or is that a negative approach? Is the reasoning of some critics clouded by the evolutionary theory to the extent that their minds are virtually unwilling or unable to admit much archaeological evidence supports and PROVES the Biblical record to be true?
   To give you an example, critics have pounced on the gospel of John. claiming it was not authentic. The gospel uses the word didaskalos for "teacher." Critics claimed this was a second-century word not used in the time of Jesus.
   Who was right? The author of John's Gospel, or the higher critics?
   Answer: The Hebrew scholar Dr. E. L. Skenik made a careful study of ossuaries (burial urns) dating before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. He found the word didaskalos inscribed on one of the burial urns he unearthed!
   The critics were in error!
   But other critics claimed the proper names used in the Gospel of John were not names currently used during the time of Jesus. But, again, burial urns uncovered by archaeologists dated to the time of Christ refuted the skeptics. Names such as Miriam, Martha, Elizabeth, Salome, Johanna, etc., have been found on such ossuaries!
   Again the evidence of archaeology proves the Bible true, and confounds the claims of skeptics and critics!

Are You Convinced?

   It is time YOU were able to disprove and refute the claims of Bible critics. If someone comes to you and says Biblical history is nothing but legend, are you able to give him an answer for the faith within you? Are you able to CONFUTE the critics, and convict gainsayers?
   The apostle Paul tells us the servant of God should be able "by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince (Greek CONVICT) the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers... whose mouths must be stopped..." (Titus 1:9-11).
   If someone approaches you, and asks you about the Bible, are you able to GIVE AN ANSWER for the hope which is within you (I Peter 3:15)?
   The truth is, it requires FAR GREATER FAITH to swallow the claims of skeptics than it takes to believe the simple, honest, truthful Word of God which is corroborated and proved true by the spade of archaeology!
   Biblical history stands PROVED! YOU can bank on it! God's people have no need whatsoever to stand in awe of the ideas of Bible critics. The fact that critics have resorted to a double standard when it comes to the Bible should be obvious to all. The fact that some, out of their own mouths have confessed, "only those facts which FIT THE HYPOTHESIS are taken up and others ignored" should be apparent for the absurdity that it is.
   Whom will you believe? How sure are YOU that the Bible is the proved, tested, and tried WORD OF GOD?
   Brethren, there is no reason for any to remain in doubt. You should KNOW with positive confidence that the Bible is TRUE and Biblical history is accurate!
   "For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true but every man a liar" (Rom. 3:3-4).

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Good News MagazineJanuary-February 1969Vol XVIII, No. 1-2
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