Biblical City of Bethsaida Found

Mark 8:22-25: They came to Bethsaida. They brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and brought him out of the village. Spitting on his eyes and laying his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people—they look like trees walking.” Again Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes. The man looked intently and his sight was restored and he saw everything clearly.

Yet another biblical archaeological discovery has come in within the last week, the identification of a New Testament city that was said to be the hometown of some of the twelve disciples of Jesus, that being Peter, Andrew and Philip, the city of Bethsaida. Jesus was also reported to have miraculously cured a blind man here.

As seekers of truth, we can learn something important from Bethsaida. In Matthew 11:21, after Jesus finishes performing some miracles in Bethsaida and the people remain unrepented of their evils, Matthew writes of Jesus angrily declaring “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes long ago.” 

The truth is that many people, regardless of how much evidence you show them for anything, be it the historical veracity of the Bible or literally performing a miracle before their eyes, will remain ignorant to the light, because as they love the darkness (John 3:19).

Anyhow, this comes in the latest of a slew of archaeological discoveries in the last month, where we’ve already seen confirmation of 1 King 21’s description of Naboth’s vineyard in Jezreel and Jeremiah 52’s description of the Babylonians burning down the houses of the city of Jerusalem. In the last few years alone, a number of fascinating findings throughout the land of Israel continue to shed more and more light on the background and historicity of the biblical narratives. As these pile on, we see the criticisms on the historicity of the Bible falling apart, one after another.

Now, this discovery enlightens us further on the geography outlined in the New Testament, and we know another location that Jesus stepped in during His lifetime before He was crucified in Jerusalem on a Roman cross. God continues to reveal to us what we seek. Keep praying.

New Evidence Confirms Jerusalem Destruction as Bible Records

Jeremiah 52:12-13On the tenth day of the fifth month—which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guards, entered Jerusalem as the representative of the king of Babylon. He burned the Lord’s temple, the king’s palace, all the houses of Jerusalem; he burned down all the great houses. 

Around two weeks ago, it was announced by IFLScience that recent archaeological excavations have shown that about 2,600 years ago, during the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem, the Babylonians decided to cause a widespread fire that ended up burning down the city, the capital of Jerusalem. And indeed, these archaeological discoveries in ancient Jerusalem perfectly corresponds to what the Bible narrates in 2 Kings 25:8-9 and Jeremiah 52:12-13, thus we have yet another archaeological confirmation of the biblical narratives. This is the second time an archaeological find has proven the Bible this month, the first being earlier in July when archaeological excavations in Jezebel confirmed that the region housed vineyards.

The biblical books of II Kings and Jeremiah tell us that Nebuchadnezzar invaded Israel around 587 BC and eventually conquered the nation and burned down the houses of the city of Jerusalem. The excavations confirmed a widespread fire during this period by showing that the entire area was practically burnt around the early 6th century BC in accordance with Babylon’s invasion of Jerusalem. The story tells us that Nebuzaradan’s, a high-ranking military figure of Nebuchadnezzar’s army, brought the Babylonian forces and encircled Jerusalem. He then broke into the city, destroyed the Temple (hence ending the First Timple Period), burned down all that he could and forced the population into exile. We now know this entirety is a historical truth. Thank God.

Copies of copies, the telephone game

A few weeks ago, I was having a debate about the reliability of the New Testament with someone who goes by Professor Taboo. Once, he claimed that the New Testament couldn’t have been preserved because we know messages get corrupted throughout time as they’re continuously transmitted because of the telephone game. He said the following;

“But if the originals are lost, and the nearest-originals do not have as many additional events as the copies done 300-years later (which make up the vast majority of your 25,000+ manuscripts), what does that imply about the veracity of ANY manuscripts/testaments written AFTER Paul’s epistles about 52 — 60 CE? Wouldn’t this progression be similar/identical to the Chinese whisper/telephone game where the final story is convoluted or contaminated from its original content and meaning?”

Many people, when talking about whether or not the Bible is preserved or not, have sought to use the example of the telephone game to prove that the Bible couldn’t have been preserved. In the telephone game, you have a group of people that form a circle. One person begins with a message and whispers it to the person beside them, and then that person whispers whatever it is that they heard to the next person beside them, and so on and so on until the message gets finally passed on through the entire circle. By the end of the round, the original whispered message becomes completely corrupted as the message slowly becomes misunderstood through its transmission in the circle as it slowly becomes less and less like the original, and everyone has a good laugh at the end.

So wouldn’t the same happen to the Bible through its preservation? As the Bible gets copied and copied into more and more manuscripts, the message gets more corrupted through each transmission as happens in the telephone game, and what we have today is only the result of a long history of corruption and textual mistakes that is nothing like the original text, which we know happens because of the telephone game.

Here, I’ll show this analogy clearly doesn’t stack up. Indeed, trying to use the telephone game as an analogy for the transmission of the biblical text is actually fallacious, just because the two processes are so unlike. In a round of the telephone game, one person can only tell the next person the message one time, whereas when copying a manuscript, you can cross-check the original as many times as you want before copying it down. Furthermore, in the telephone game, you have to intentionally whisper the message to the person beside you, to try to make sure they have a hard time getting the message, something that is totally unparalleled when a scribe copies from a manuscript. The objective of the telephone game is to corrupt the message, whereas the objective of manuscript transmission is to preserve the message. As the prestigious scholar, Daniel Wallace remarks;

…it’s a ridiculous comparison, frankly. For one thing in the telephone game the purpose is to skew the message so you can have a big laugh, and in fact the message is usually somewhat convoluted right to begin with, difficult to remember, and not something that’s easily communicated. Secondly, it’s all done orally, by whispers without repeition. You don’t get a chance to say “tell me that message again.” Thirdly there’s a single line of transmission only. Fourthly you only get to interview the last person in the line of transmission. With the New Testament manuscripts we’re dealing with written documents, we’re dealing with documents that are copied multiple times, and even the original texts of the New Testament would have been copied multiple times, so you’ve got various streams of transmission, not oral transmission, you’ve got multiple copies, and you can interview the witnesses earlier on in the transmission, so the comparison is really quite silly, it just doesn’t work.

In other words, the analogy of the telephone game falls apart when trying to challenge the preservation of the New Testament, especially when you just take a look at the astounding preservation of the biblical text we have through our many tens of thousands of copies we have preserved from ancient times.

Old or Young Earth?

Once, I had a conversation with a very nice fellow Christian who told me that I presented my arguments for my claims in a very clear, concise, decisive and convincing way. He only had one disagreement with me though, and that was regarding the age of the universe. I think it is billions of years old, however, he believed that this view was incompatible with Scripture. I responded to him, and I think that I’d like to share this response with everyone else who decides to read it to give everyone a better understanding of my view on the Bible, and why I take it. This was my response to him;

Hello, and thanks a lot for your kind words about my argumentation, research, and presentation of my facts.

It seems that you have a word or two for me about the age of the Earth. Listen dude, God gave us two ways to know the truth, and one of them is the Bible. The other one is nature, and the fact is that these two can’t contradict each other. If it is an objective fact that clouds exist in nature, then it must also be an objective fact that clouds exist in the Bible because these two sources cannot conradict each other, they both have the same source of course, God. Likewise, if it’s an objective fact that the universe is billions of years old in nature, then it’s an objective fact that the universe is billions of years old in the Bible, because these sources cannot contradict one another.

On that note, I do think there is good reason to think the universe is billions of years old, and there are good reasons why the primordial history of Genesis (Genesis chapters 1-11) is non-literal. Firstly, the age of the universe. There are galaxies that are located billions of light years away from our own galaxy, and light from those galaxies has reached our own galaxy. So, light that is located, for example, three billion light years away from us has arrived to our galaxy, meaning that it took three billion years to do so (since light travels one year in a light year). In other words, as far as I know, there is good reason to believe that the age of the universe is rather large. If my scientific theory is true, then the same is true in the Bible regardless of how ‘clear’ a simple reading of scripture might be, since it is true in nature. So this is why I think the age of the universe is very large.

Now, for my reasons for not interpreting Genesis 1-11 necessarily literally. It’s possible, and I’m always open to it. I’ve been a young-earth creationist in my life before. I’m simply trying to find the truth and I’ll leave old earth creationism in an instant if I don’t find it viable. But for now, I do. Let’s go to the flood story in Genesis. Specifically, the following passage;

Genesis 7:1-2: Then the Lord said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation. You are to take with you seven pairs, a male and its female, of all the clean animals, and two of the animals that are not clean, a male and its female,

God tells Noah to take seven pairs of every clean animal and two pairs of every unclean animal. However, God only revealed the list of clean animals in the Torah to Moses, meaning that the entire concept of clean and unclean animals was non-existent in Noah’s time — so how could God have told Noah to take pairs of clean and unclean animals? It makes no sense. I think it’s possible to make sense of Noah’s flood story in the following way: Jesus died for the sins of the world and took its punishment upon Himself, so that we don’t have to. On the other hand, God is showing us that, with Noah, what happens when humanity and the entire world pays for its own sins. God destroys the entire world and kills almost all of humanity, besides Noah, the one righteous man. God destroys the world for its sins, in effect. And what happens almost immediately after Noah gets off the Ark? According to the Bible, he got drunk (Genesis 9:21). So what happens now? Noah is destroyed and the world ceases to be. But that’s not what happens, as Noah’s keeps on having descendants. I think that Noah’s story presents a message, alongside the rest of the Genesis’ primordial history, about the coming of Christ and God’s plan for the world.

God created all reality and everything in it. I don’t exactly accept evolution, and I do lean towards the idea that God started humanity with Adam and Eve. I can’t claim to know how God did it all, but I don’t think that God did it in the way that you think it happened. I’d like you to see this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9h-hmlMz5c