Conclusions About Historical Accuracy of the Bible
by Glenn Smith
I have posted several entries that document the accurate historical accounts in the Bible, especially in the book of Acts (see here, and here, and here.) As shown in Colin Hemer’s landmark work, The Book of Acts In The Setting of Hellenistic History, there is a massive amount of evidence that shows that Luke, the Greek-educated physician, wrote an accurate eyewitness account. Acts describes a long series of specific local knowledge, including technical nautical terms, cities, people groups, wind directions, sailing routes, correct local dialects, rules for Roman guards, multiple geographical landmarks, titles of leaders in different countries, correct first-century local terminology, attitudes of local populaces, which ports were suitable during winter, philosophical schools of the day, Roman edicts, scheduling of Jewish feast days, religious practices in different cities, specific buildings in certain cities, local ethnic terms, and on and on.
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All this is further supported by the extremely educated style of Greek that the author used (see the first 4 verses of Luke in Greek, but even a more literal English translation will suffice), and the fact that many eyewitnesses were still alive that could have refuted the accounts if they were inaccurate (see Luke 1:2). The best evidence shows that Luke and Acts were composed by 60 A.D., within one generation of the events of Jesus’ life. Luke and Acts are so well attested historically and archaeologically that they have more support than any other book in ancient history. Hemer’s book spends a great amount of ink evaluating the historical details in Acts. There is no reasonable way that Luke/Acts could have been written by anyone other than someone living in the region in the first century.
Critics will say that these facts do not prove historical events happened, that the book could have been a historical novel. This view is refuted by C. S. Lewis, professor of medieval literature at Cambridge. Lewis said that it is unreasonable to suggest that Luke could have invented a literary style that did not exist in any genre prior to that, include such a rich wealth of detail, then be wrong about the key facts of the book (e.g., the facts about Jesus). To suggest that all the historical facts listed by Hemer are correct, but the book is wrong about Jesus, takes a leap of blind faith that is much greater than the faith of a mustard seed asked of us by Jesus.
So what difference does it make?
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