Before the Bible

Before the Bible

Exactly when God first created the earth and put life on it is unknown.  Close to 100 years ago, astronomers and mathematicians calculated the existence of the earth to be 2 billion years, and life on earth to be 300 million years.  1 EarthThrough studies of the many sciences, most believe that the earth is around 4.5 billion years old.  This is actually of no importance, but it’s interesting to some.  All that’s important is God (Matt 6:33).

According to James Ussher (and I haven’t heard of any disagreements from anyone) the creation of us began in 4004 B.C. Genesis 1:1 says,

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” 

And Genesis 1:2 says,

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God (the Holy Ghost) moved upon the face of the waters.” 

There are many that believe there was a wide gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.

God made us in His own image and after his likeness (Gen 1:26), and that explains why there were others before us that were not quite like us, such as Neanderthal man (around 24,000-130,000 years ago). 

Neanderthals (or Neandertals) are our closest extinct human relatives. There is some debate as to whether they were a distinct species of the Homo genus (Homo neanderthalensis) or a subspecies of Homo sapiens. Our well-known, but often misunderstood, fossil kin lived in Eurasia 200,000 to 30,000 years ago, in the Pleistocene Epoch.

2 Neanderthal Man Reconstruction
Neanderthals (or Neandertals) are our closest extinct human relatives.
There is some debate as to whether they were a distinct species of the Homo genus (Homo neanderthalensis) or a subspecies of Homo sapiens.

Our well-known, but often misunderstood, fossil kin lived in Eurasia 200,000 to 30,000 years ago, in the Pleistocene Epoch. Neanderthals’ appearance was similar to ours, though they were shorter and stockier with angled cheekbones, prominent brow ridges, and wide noses.

Though sometimes thought of as dumb brutes, scientists have discovered that they used tools, buried their dead and controlled fire, among other intelligent behaviors.

It is theorized that for a time, Neanderthals, humans and probably other Homo species shared the Earth.

Neanderthal man was thick-skulled and heavy-boned; he stooped forward and could not hold his head as erect as we do.  He was chinless and probably incapable of speech, he was very thick-set, not quite one of our species.  Yet, his brain-case was at least as large as ours, and there can be no dispute about his inclusion in the genus Homo. 

Many people believe in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, also recognized as Natural Selection or Survival of the Fitness.  But where did everything come from, the Big Bang?  Where did space come from so there could be a Big Bang?

Darwin’s Theory suggests that man evolved from an ameba to whatever up to the Neanderthal Man and on up to what we are today. 

Problem here is that Neanderthal Man, Paleolithic Man, and Cro-Man all became extinct.  Adam and Eve did not evolve from anything they were created by God.

We may not be the first beings created, but we are the first beings created in God’s likeness and after his image.  And not only that, to prove how much we mean to God, everything He created, besides us, he just spoke into existence.  He made us with His own hands and breathed life into us (Gen 2:7).

Archaeology and the Bible

The data recovered from archaeological excavations can be used by the biblical scholar in many ways.  Archaeology has provided the basic chronology for both the Old and New Testaments. Our knowledge of the biblical languages – Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek – has greatly increased through ancient texts discovered in excavations. 

Entire civilizations mentioned in the Bible have been resurrected by the work of the archaeologist.  Occasionally archaeology has provided data that has clarified the meaning of a biblical text. The meaning of the term Millo in 2 Samuel 5:9 formerly puzzled scholars.  Discovery of a vast stone terrace that supported structures in David’s Jerusalem – the “millo” – makes clear what the ancient term meant.

3 Skulls

Stratigraphy and Typology

Excavation proceeds on a scientific basis by employing the twin principles of stratigraphy and typology.  Stratigraphy refers to the different layers or strata that make up the tell (areas built up by successive settlement at a single site).

4 Hebrew Language
Archaeologists have found one of the oldest artifacts of Jewish culture on the Iberian Peninsula. This marble plate has a Hebrew inscription, “Yehiel”, at an excavation site in the south of Portugal and it is believed to be a tomb slab.

The first task of field work is to untangle the different layers found in the tell and establish a stratigraphic sequence.  Each layer represents a separate part of the site’s overall history and must be distinguished from other layers to avoid confusion.

Archaeologists normally excavate in 5 x 5 meter squares and leave a catwalk or balk either of 1/2 or 1 meter unexcavated along the perimeter.  The balk reveals the different layers to the trained eye.  All objects and remains recovered from each layer are kept separate, their exact locations carefully noted.

During the last forty years, greater emphasis has been given to the principle of stratigraphy, thanks to the pioneering efforts of Kathleen Kenyon, resulting in greater precision and more accurate results.

Perhaps most importantly, archaeology has brought the biblical world to life and allowed us to understand it on its own terms.  The illustrative value offered by archaeology cannot be overemphasized.  Through archaeology the biblical text and the world in which it was written have been given flesh by the dedication of countless excavators working on thousands of ancient sites.

Archaeology: Recovering Ancient Societies

5 Milo
King David’s Palace and the Millo
The Millo was the Stepped Stone Structure.

Since about 1860, the archaeologist has provided a wealth of material enriching biblical studies. The remains of long-dead civilizations and forgotten cities have given life to the biblical text. We’re in a much better position than ever before to understand the Bible and its world.

The Old Testament is not in an exact chronological order, meaning that many of the incidents that happen are mentioned in more than one book and/or different events occur in the same time frame so that the years/books may cross one another. 

Or the books may just be out of place, for example, it appears that Job lived during the Book of Genesis, but the Book of Job is the 18th book of the Bible. 

I’m not going to change the order of the books of the Bible, and following the Bible isn’t difficult, but placing historical facts in the right place, without repeating myself, will be impossible in many places. 

6 Assyrian Map
Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire of the ancient Near East, existed as an independent state from perhaps as early as the 25th century BC, until its collapse between 612 BC and 599 BC, spanning the mid to Early Bronze Age through to the late Iron Age.

From the end of the 7th century BC to the mid-7th century AD, it survived as a geopolitical entity, for the most part ruled by foreign powers, although the Neo-Assyrian Empire and successor states arose at different times during the Parthian and early Sasanian Empires between the mid-second century BC and late third century AD, a period which also saw Assyria become a major center of Syriac Christianity and the birthplace of the Church of the East.

Centered on the Tigris in Upper Mesopotamia (modern northern Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and the northwestern fringes of Iran), the Assyrians came to rule powerful empires at several times.

A substantial part of the greater Mesopotamian “cradle of civilization”, which included Sumer, the Akkadian Empire, and Babylonia, Assyria was at the height of technological, scientific and cultural achievements for its time. At its peak, the Assyrian empire stretched from Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea to Iran, and from what is now Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus, to the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt and eastern Libya.

Therefore, instead of being redundant I will separate the historical facts within different books of the Bible.  For example, the Assyrians were quite active for many, many years.  They’re mentioned in Genesis, Kings, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Micah, and Zephaniah. 

Yet, they also play a part with the Philistines, Israel, Judah, Babylon, and others.  Therefore, I will try and place the facts where they best fit.

Some of these, let me call them, historical plates will be quite lengthy, but I will try and keep them short and in sync with what you just read, or in some cases, what you are about to read, in the Bible, but I’m not God, I cannot put a square in the corner of a circle.

This isn’t my scheme, but God’s.  And I’m not trying to get your attention, God is.  If you aren’t right with Jesus when He comes back and you end up going to Hell, I won’t cry over it because I won’t have any recollection of this life (Is 65:17-18), but God will, you can count on that (Eze 33:11; 2 Pet 3:9).  Wouldn’t you cry if your child died?

7 Jesus Return
Jesus returns

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