Biblical Understanding & 19th-century CE Archaeology
The stories which the Bible relates were considered to be historically accurate and entirely unique until the mid-19th century CE when archaeologists discovered the civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt. The Bible, in fact, was considered the oldest book in the world until much older literature was discovered which told the same stories, in an earlier form, than those found in the Bible.
Scholars had long known that the Bible was a compilation which had been gathered from earlier works and authorized under the Bishops of Rome but no one seemed to be aware that those works were drawn from even earlier pieces. No one could read Egyptian hieroglyphics until Jean Jacques Champollion (1790-1832 CE) deciphered them and the literature of Sumer was completely unknown to the modern world.
In the mid-19th century CE museums and publications sent archaeologists from the west to the region of Mesopotamia to find physical evidence that would substantiate biblical narratives. The 19th century CE was an interesting period for religion in the west, especially Christianity, in that people became more vocal in their criticism of the faith and new ideas and philosophies provided for acceptable alternatives to religious belief. Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection was published in 1859 CE and challenged the traditionally held belief in the creation of humanity by an all-powerful God.
The Bible claimed that God had made man “a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8:5) while Darwin was claiming humans evolved from lower species.
In 1882 CE the German philosopher Nietzsche published his work The Gay Science, which famously argued “God is Dead – and we have killed him.” Nietzsche’s line is almost always taken out of context as a defiant repudiation of religion but, actually, he was only saying that advances in technology and knowledge throughout the 19th century CE had rendered the concept of God obsolete. Partly in response to such claims, museums and predominantly Christian societies in the west sent these teams of archaeologists to Mesopotamia to find hard evidence of the truth of the Bible.
What they found instead was the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia and the rich literary heritage which had been buried under the sands for centuries. Iconic stories such as the Fall of Man and the Great Flood, they found, were not unique to the Bible at all but had already been written down centuries before the Hebrew scribes revised them in their own work. The great law code of Moses, thought to be the first in history, was discovered to have had a predecessor in the Law Code of Ur-Nammu and the more famous Code of Hammurabi.
Excavations in Egypt, meanwhile, found no evidence for the story of the enslavement of the Hebrews under the pharaoh of Egypt nor any for the other details found in the Book of Exodus. Once ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics were able to be read, the myths of Egypt were found to have similarities to the Christian figure of the dying and reviving god and Mary, the mother of Jesus, to have taken on many of the attributes and epithets of the Egyptian goddess Isis. As stories of these discoveries became more widely known, belief in the Bible as the word of God began to change to an understanding of the work as inspired by God or as scripture written by inspired men.
Although many people throughout the world today continue to believe in the Bible as the authoritative word of God, this belief is not as widespread as it was prior to the 19th century CE. The interpretation of the Bible in the present day is largely a matter of individual understanding without the societal expectation which informed western society prior to the work of scholars, archaeologists, and historians in the 19th century CE.
These individuals changed the world by radically revising people’s understanding of history and the Bible and opening up avenues of inquiry which greatly broadened human knowledge. The revised understanding of the Bible and its place in history upset many people at the time and continues to in the modern day but, to many others, the beauty of the Bible’s language and the grand vision of redemption it presents is undiminished by the revisionist revelations of the 19th century CE. The Bible continues to inspire and encourage people around the world, translated into every language, and remains the bestselling book of all time.
I FIND IT VERY HARD TO ACCEPT THAT THE BIBLE IS BEAUTIFUL, IT ACTUALLY IS A TOTAL HORROR STORY OF JEALOUSY REVENGE CRUELTY EVIL INTENTIONS AND UTTER MISMANAGEMENT! AND IS SO OBVIOULSY CREATED BY MAN!