In major news breaking now that will shake up both the Jewish and Christian religions – assuming their adherents are interested in facts rather than merely having a fundamentalist obsession with literal truth – evidence has emerged that the early chapters of the Old Testament were written long after they have sometimes been suggested to have been written. And they are historically inaccurate.
In short, the chapters were not eye-witness accounts, and even if they were brought down by oral tradition, they were later embellished by the actual writers, which contradicts long-held dogma that they were transmitted without a word being changed or added from the earliest story tellers.
Biblical scholars have long been aware many of the stories and accounts in the sacred book were not written by eyewitnesses, and according to new research, further evidence of that historical distance has appeared in the form of a hump-backed camel.
New research using radioactive-carbon dating techniques shows the animals weren’t domesticated until hundreds of years after the events documented in the Book of Genesis.
The research was published by Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen, archaeologists from Tel Aviv University in Israel. They believe camels were not domesticated in the eastern Mediterranean until the 10th century B.C.
And yet, the hump-backed creatures are mentioned repeatedly alongside Abraham, Jacob and Isaac, indicating the Bible’s writers and editors were portraying what they saw in their present as how things looked in the past. These camel stories “do not encapsulate memories from the second millennium,” said Noam Mizrahi, an Israeli biblical scholar, “but should be viewed as back-projections from a much later period.”
While there are conflicting theories about when the Bible was composed, the recent research suggests it was written much later than the events it describes. This supports earlier studies that have challenged the Bible’s veracity as a historic document, for example, by pointing out that the destruction and plundering of Jericho actually occurred some centuries distant from the life of the long-asserted Hebrew general and leader Joshua.
The new biblical questioning wasn’t the focus of the recent research, though, just an after-the-fact observation.
The question over “phantom camels” is not new one, according to TIME magazine. Biblical scholar William Foxwell Albright “argued in the mid-1900s that camels were an anachronism.”
In an opinion piece for CNN, Joel Baden writes that there was no deliberate deception intended on the part of the Bible’s authors.
“Biblical authors,” Baden writes, “simply transplanted the nomadic standards of their time into the distant past. There is nothing deceptive about this. They weren’t trying to trick anyone. They imagined, quite reasonably, that the past was, fundamentally, like their present.”
A similar conclusion was reached by Smithsonian.com author Colin Schultz, who wrote, “these findings don’t necessarily disprove all the stories of the Bible. Rather, knowing that there are camels where there definitely shouldn’t be shows that the Bible’s authors, working thousands of years after the events they were describing were supposed to take place, took a modern lens to these ancient tales.”
Nevertheless, the findings confirm again that the Bible is not LITERALLY true.
This should not really come as a surprise to Jews and Christians. Authoritative figures in the Roman Catholic Church have already said it, in plain language. Like their acknowledgement that Adam and Eve never existed.
With this latest finding, it is simply scientifically impossible for us to see the Old Testament as entirely, immovably factual.
And we now also have categorical evidence that the Old Testament authors were operating based on their current world view, which would undoubtedly reflect predominant cultural mores, too.
Here’s the key point: if we can unarguably subtract one fact from the Bible, then it is logically consistent that we can subtract others, too.
For example: the few lines that are (incorrectly in my opinion) supposed to be about homosexuality, which have caused misery, persecution and death for millions of good people down through the centuries.
Or, most dramatically: creationism. Specifically “young Earth” creationism.
Today is a day for celebration. The moment we acknowledge that the Bible need not be literally true to be true, we free humankind from mindless, meaningless intellectual navel gazing, and set free our own critical faculties, to lead us closer to the Divine.
Now, to coin a phrase, that’s Good News for Modern Man.