Another question regarding the OT and its historicity. Interesting debate, but my response was very last minute so I’m not certain it contains anything but an interesting avenue for discussion.
Old Testament scholars discuss vigorously at times the extent to which the account of Israel’s national origins, as related in the Pentateuch and on into Joshua/Judges, corresponds to extra-biblical historical evidence. How important is it that we seek to demonstrate such historical connections for the stories about early Israel?
In order to understand the importance of demonstrating the historical connections for stories about early Israel, we need to understand why the opposition is intent on discrediting the stories in the first place.
I think, personally, that much of the whole debate stems from world view. In essence, those who seek to discredit the stories in the Pentateuch or Joshua / Judges are beginning with a low view of Scripture and what it is. In essence, they treat it like a historical document instead of a divinely inspired document that details the story of redemption for humanity. In this way, people aren’t attacking so much the historicity of the bible as they are attacking the fundamental truths behind it; that of God, sin, redemption, salvation, Jesus Christ etc etc. I don’t doubt that the intentions, in some way, they have in trying to disprove the bible is founded in a disbelief in the eternal and divine, or at the very least a restriction of those concepts into human understanding so as to remove any supernatural element to it.
Consequently, I believe these issues must be approached in some way like one would approach apologetics; with an understanding that you’re defending the faith, rather than just the historicity of the bible. If we deny historical accuracy in the bible, then we throw out an element of truth and, frankly, this calls into question the entire Word itself.
I contend that to demonstrate historical connections to the story of Israel is as important as demonstrating historical proof for the resurrection; they all follow the same thread in that we believe the bible is detailing to us truth, and if we deny the truth of part of it, then it stains the truth of the rest.
I think Andrew’s comment [Note – comments in reference to our lecturer, Andrew Brown, who contributed to the forum] that some scholars are on a battlefield is right – we are fighting for the truth in this area in as legitimate a way as when, say, a Christian debates Richard Dawkins regarding the atheist agenda to show science disproves God. If we lose on any front, we lose on all for once truth is shown to be false, then where does that leave us?