Hi folks! So I just listened to an online History discussion about Ancient Greece, but at this point they were discussing Zoroastrianism in the Persian Empire. The professor made the statement, in passing, that the Hebrew scriptures were written down after the coming of Zoroastrianism and that it had an influence on the writings. I know Christians who are committed to the inerrancy of Scripture generally hold that the books like the pentateuch, for example, were written down by Moses, not post Babylonian exile. I don’t know what this professors views are on Christianity are, but I am interested in investigating it myself. Are there any resources you can recommend that deal with the dating of, particularly OT, scripture? Thanks for any help!
https://online.hillsdale.edu/courses/athens-and-sparta/lecture-4 Here’s the link to the discussion! Its in the Q and A and the relevant part comes at about 14:30 into the video!
@adam Interesting question! I think this is a case of skeptics claiming as fact what is in reality only a theory. Ancient history has to be reconstructed from scant evidence and it is therefore easy for those who do not want the Bible to be true to create a version of history that suites their fancy. There is lots of archaeological evidence that supports the Bible - but there are gaps simply due to the nature of things that are ancient. Ted Wright makes this point in the Cross Examined article below:
"Lastly, we must keep in mind that there is still much that we do not know. As one scholar once observed, “ Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence .” As the much respected archaeologist Dr. Edwin Yamauchi reminds us:
Only a fraction of the evidence survives in the ground.
Only a fraction of possible sites have been detected.
Only a fraction of detected sites have been excavated.
Only a fraction of what has been excavated has been thoroughly examined and published.
Only a fraction of what has been examined and published makes a contribution to biblical studies"
Here is an article by a Dr. Corduan on this issue of Zorastrianism and the OT and here are a few quotes:
“The scanty information that we have of the Zoroastrianism of the
Achaemenid period gives us no reason to assume that the beliefs in question had developed in Persia in the way in which they were
supposed to have influenced Judaism.”
“Finally, beyond resemblances, there are no particular data to support the assertion that Zoroastrianism influenced Judaism rather than the other way around.”
Here is a good article on Cross Examined that suggests a few books as well:
" There are actually two major views among archaeologists and Bible scholars on Israel’s early history. One view is called biblical maximalism which holds that the Biblical text, archaeological and historical data are in general agreement. The other view is called biblical minimalism and holds that there is virtually no correlation between the Bible and history at all. Biblical minimalists are historical revisionists and believe that much of what we think we understand about the Old Testament needs to be completely rewritten."
" I would recommend these two excellent books. On the Reliability of the Old Testament (2003), by Egyptologist, Professor Kenneth A. Kitchen and the insightful volume, Israel: Ancient Kingdom or Late Invention? (2008), Edited by Daniel I. Block."
“This looks to be another case of skeptics citing a pre-Christian religion, assuming that the post-Christian form of the religion (which we know about) has remained faithful to the pre-Christian form of the religion (which we know nothing about) and speculating that the similarities between the religion and Christianity are due to Christianity borrowing from the religion in question.”
I found this book to be helpful. It doesn’t answer your question(s) specifically but it will get your wheels turning. People often forget that the Hebrews were predated by many cultures by a 1000 + years and that those cultures had creations stories, deities, codes etc. What this book does is compare and contrast these stories and for me makes a very strong case for the uniqueness of the God of the Bible. I would be interested in your thoughts.
@SeanO Thanks! It’ll be great to dig into those! I’ve heard J. Warner Wallace do a good podcast on Mithras and he makes very similar arguments! John Lennox writes, in his book on Daniel, about how skeptics of the book of Daniel have to assert that the book was written after the events happened in history because according to their view there couldn’t have been any real prophesy because real prophesy doesn’t exist. I think there is a similar case going on here where they say the OT must have been manufactured at a later date because it couldn’t have been written down as it actually happened because it didn’t actually happen. I’m excited to dig into the evidence that it did actually happen!
@adam Yes - my NT teacher at a secular college assumed the supernatural simply did not exist and all of her arguments concerning the Bible began at that point. So often these initial assumptions drive how the evidence is interpreted. In line with John Lennox, my history professor at Swansea in Wales (I did study abroad there one semester) claimed Daniel could not have been written until after the events - again, assuming prophesy was not real. I enjoyed the class - I learned lots about Alexander the Great and all of the empires described in Daniel, but the teacher occasionally went out of her way to discredit the Bible (again, with no real factual reason for doing so). I pray that these teachers may come to a knowledge of Christ!
Let us know if you find any other good resources. This is not a topic that I’ve necessarily done a super deep dive on, but I have encountered it quite a few times due to the bias against the supernatural in the current culture and peoples’ desire to be able to ignore / discredit Scripture.
What is Mithras?
@Jimmy_Sellers That is a good point - it is easy to forget that God was reaching down into such a pluralistic world and differentiating Himself from false gods and false worldviews. It is so ironic that people think the Bible has copied other religions when very often the explanation / story in the Bible is actually probable, while the myths of the other religions either hold massive distortions of reality or gods that are little different than men themselves.
Very tricky area. As @SeanO pointed out already, there is so little evidence one way or the other, so much of the authorship and dating of the OT books devolves into heavy speculation on both sides. I would take a look at Josh & Sean McDowell’s latest version of Evidence That Demands A Verdict
There are many new chapters on the OT, to include chapters on specific books. Also, and I know we aren’t supposed to reference our own work here in this forum, but you can look at Chapter 4, which is on the transmission of the OT manuscripts, since even if you had good evidence for Mosaic authorship, there is still the question of preservation of the texts themselves.
Some said that the story of Daniel was too perfect to be true. However, the prophecies of Daniel were so accurate that i give it the benefit of the doubt. Moreover, the Bible said that every word in the Bible is God’s breathe and is inspired by the Holy Spirit. As a believer of Jesus Christ, i can only say i believe because Jesus is Lord:)