Now here’s the real kicker; there is absolutely no independent evidence that any of the people in the Bible ever existed, any of the events actually occurred, or any of it is true on anything other than a metaphorical level.
That being said, I have to stress the ‘independent’ evidence part. That means you can’t use the Bible to prove its own existence. I learned in grade school you can’t use a word to define another word derived from it; ie: you can’t define ‘consciousness’ as ‘the state of being conscious’.1 See what I mean? If you take the Bible out of the equation there is no evidence anywhere of any of it. No Noah, no flood, no Tower of Babel, no Moses, no David, no Solomon, no Jesus, no Paul, none of it.
And it’s not like there weren’t other people around who could have written about it. After all, pretty much all of it happened in the Cradle of Civilization among significant civilizations who we do have independent evidence of and who were prodigious record keepers. The Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Greeks and Romans all documented everything.
Even though the Israelites apparently had contact with several of these civilizations, nowhere is there any record of a guy named Abraham2. There’s no record of his son Joseph or how he saved Egypt and the entire known world. There’s no record of Moses, much less the escape of two and a half million Hebrew slaves. There’s no record of David or Solomon or the huge kingdom they created. There’s no record of Noah’s Arc, Sodom and Gomorrah, or the Tower of Babel. And believe it or not, there is no record of Jesus or the Apostle Paul or any of Jesus’ disciples. There’s a bit of empirical evidence that people point to that may or may not refer to someone or something. But as far as hard, independent evidence, none, zilch, nada, nothing. We take it all on faith.3
The earliest record we have of anyone known as an Israelite is on the Merneptah Stele4 which is a big obelisk thing covered in hieroglyphics. It dates back to 1206 B.C.E. and refers to a group of people known as Israelites who weren’t big players in the region. They weren’t numerous enough to be a city state or kingdom but there were enough of them to at least rate mention as a ‘people’ living in the land of Canaan. This is when, according to the Bible, Israel was on a roll and basically dominated the entire region.
Then there are the Tel Dan Stele and Mesha Stele, both dated around the mid 800’s B.C.E. that seem to make a reference to the ‘House of David’. The Mesha Stele actually refers to the ‘House of Omri’ which some claim to be a reference to David while others say it refers to the Moab king named Balak. Either way, none of that, if true, actually proves the existence of the David we read about in the Bible.
Think about it; we have the state of Washington, Washington D.C. and a ton of people named Washington, but none of that proves George Washington ever existed. The only reason we believe there was ever such a man as George Washington is because there is loads of independent evidence of his life and times. Even still, legends have grown up around him that are complete fabrications.5
History is littered with fictional characters and places that were all created for one reason or another. For instance, there was a guy named Geoffrey of Monmouth who wrote a book back in the 12th century called ‘The History of the Kings of Britain’ where he basically made up a whole history of Britain, including King Arthur, and claimed it as fact.
By referring to real places and accepted lore, Geoffrey’s account was counted as a valid history of Medieval England for centuries. He was basically the Ezra of Britain. Except Monmouth’s history has since been proven to be complete fabrication.
If you’ve ever read Mark Twain’s “Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc” you get the idea how writers can take liberties with accepted fact and create an absolutely believable fiction.
Some refer to the Dead Sea Scrolls as proof of the Bible. What they fail to realize is the oldest of these scrolls only date back as far as 408 B.C.E. In fact, they are copies of Ezra’s books and a plethora of early Christian writings, many of which didn’t make the cut at the Council of Nicea and were not included in the New Testament. They were hidden in caves in the Judaean desert as a means to preserve them from the purges of the Roman church.
Remember, you can’t use a source to prove its own existence, and these scrolls can in no way be viewed as independent evidence; they are just earlier writings, some of which match up to contemporary Biblical content and many that don’t.
I know this can be pretty daunting, It sure was to me. But when I finally started digging, I was amazed that the Western world has built so much of its history on a very shaky foundation.
I realize no amount of science will shake some people’s faith and that’s okay. It doesn’t really matter anyway. People believe what they want to believe, whether it’s true or not. Who am I to say what’s true and what’s not? I admit, I may be completely off base. So, at the very least, I encourage you to do your own research and, based on what you find, decide for yourself.
1 Or being ‘believable’ as ‘having the quality of being believed’
2 In the Old Testament Abraham was a really big deal
3 And the fact that it’s been literally beaten into the Western Civilization mindset for several thousand years
5 Cutting down the cherry tree; having wooden teeth; throwing a coin across the Potomac River.