An author, named Karen Armstrong, has written a book called, “The Bible, a Biography,” in which she proclaims that the Bible wasn’t meant to be a historical record. Apparently, the long ago authors of Scripture never imagined their work would be taken literally, that spiritual truth was their goal. Reading between these lines, one discerns that the author does not believe in the inspiration of God, which existed in all the authors of the books of the Bible. 2nd Peter chapter 1: 19 – 21, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well to take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts; Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
John 14: 6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” This is a profound statement, but I ask, if Jesus is the truth why would He (or even could He?) inspire His writers to record something that was not the truth? So those who agree with Karen’s book do not believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures and/or do not believe that Jesus is the truth. As far as I am aware, not a single archaeological finding, or recorded secular history disproves the history as recorded in the Bible
Now, our columnist who writes about the book begins with a personal anecdote. Briefly stated, the author took her daughter, some years ago, to see the Christmas pageant put on by Trinity Anglican Church in the shadow of the Eaton Centre in Toronto. When the child heard of the slaughter of the children in Bethlehem, she was outraged and wanted to know if it really happened. Her mother professed not to know. Ever since, various Bible stories have foundered on the same shoals of literal interpretation for her daughter and subsequently, for her son
There was a historian named Josephus, who lived during the time of Christ and into the first century. His work the, “Antiquities of the Jews.” covers the reign of Herod the Great, the monster who ordered the death of the innocents of Bethlehem so as to remove any challenge to his throne. Isn’t it ironic that Josephus does not consider this event worth reporting? Well, Bethlehem was a small town and there would be few babies under two years of age. (I think the number has been exaggerated over time) Anyhow, Josephus was concerned with the affairs of state and records those with confidence
So, what kind of man was Herod? Could he be capable of ordering the death of the children? What follows is drawn from Josephus’ record and you will probably reach your own conclusion. Ten wives spawned a brood of sons who quickly turned the court into a snake pit in their slithering to succeed him. An example of Herod’s brutality is found in the following; He killed his wife, her grandfather, her mother, two brothers in law, and three of his sons, not to mention numerous subjects. But there is more
At 70 years of age, Herod was sick with various severe disorders and was in a melancholy condition which had been brought about by calamities that had happened to him by his children. Two men of learning incited a rebellion, including the removal of the golden eagle over the great gate of the temple. This was accompanied by the rumour that the king was dying, raising their courage. The king’s guard captured forty of the men who removed the eagle. The people were afraid lest a great number should be found guilty but hoped he would only punish the forty. The king complied, with difficulty, and ordered the forty to be burned alive, but delivered the rest to the proper officers to be put to death. But, there is more
Returning to Jericho from some medical treatment, he proceeded to attempt a horrible wickedness; for he got together the most illustrious men of the whole Jewish nation, out of every village, into a place called the Hippodrome, and there shut them in. Then he made this speech to his sister, Salome, and her husband, Alexas, “I know well enough that the Jews will keep a festival upon my death, however it is within my power to be mourned for other accounts, and to have a splendid funeral, if you will be subservient to my commands. Do you but take care to send soldiers to encompass these men that are in custody, and slay them immediately upon my death, and then all Judea and every family of them, will weep at it, whether they will or no.” He also gave the order that one out of every family should be killed, although they had done nothing that was unjust. Fortunately, his sister did not comply with his wishes. But there is more
Since a rumour in the palace was that the king was dying, Antipater, his son, tried to bribe the guards for his release, but the chief guard obstructed the guards and informed Herod. Herod sent the guards to kill his son five days before he died
So, let’s recap. Although Josephus did not record the killing of the innocents of Bethlehem, he did record the brutality of the king called, Herod the Great, and his record of building in Palestine, which is confirmed by modern archaeology. It is very obvious that it would be easy for him to execute a few children to protect his throne
I am always distressed by those who attack our Bible as a bunch of myths and fairy tales. This is a lovely way of removing the, “unsmooth things” and could even bring into question the historical death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour. Even in Isaiah’s day, the people were asking him not to tell them the truth but to tell them “smooth things”. I can easily imagine these “smooth things” being similar to the smooth things we hear from pulpits to-day. John exhorts us to believe those things we have heard from the beginning. Yes, there are unpleasant things recorded in the Bible and we are surrounded to-day by unpleasant wickedness of every kind
For me, I will continue to try and practice the law of the Lord, as written in His word, the Bible, and recommend that you do the same. The inspired Word of God should not be taken lightly, but with due diligence! John had things to say about the Word of God; John 1: 14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Whom do I believe? I believe the Word of God, Jesus, the only name under heaven by which man shall be saved.