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Why We Study History, Part Four

Updated on March 18, 2019
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Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology

Some beginning thoughts

We have mentioned the fact that when we study history and archaeology, we understand the bible a lot better. We also get the correct information to refute the unbelievers’ arguments. We are probably going to get a little detailed here but it is important.

We are going to start with the example of the camel because it plays an important role in the biblical record. It has been mentioned around 30 times in the Old Testament alone (Kennedy, 2004), but the problem is that the archaeological record states that the domestication of camels did not take place until roughly the 9th century BC.

Archaeologist error

One of the first mistakes archaeologists, biblical scholars and others make is assuming that archaeology looking at partial evidence knows more than the God who wrote the Bible and who saw everything.The second mistake these people make is to assume that archaeology gets the facts correct.

As you read Kennedy’s article, you will see how some archaeologists take the word of archaeology over that of the Bible. Just because archaeology says that the camel was not domesticated until the 9th century BC, they conclude that the Bible is the one in error. This is done even though they, and everybody connected to archaeology, have learned that archaeology is a very limited research field.

But there are historical records that will show how these archaeologists are in error. In this case, the information doe snot come from historical religious writings but from a book about the top 25 Indian wars in America. The passage reads

Old Camp Verde, located just two miles north of Bandera Pass,on Camp Verde Creek, was the only camel post to be established in the United States. (Fisher, 1960)

We will conclude that the author of those words knew the difference between a camel and a horse; between a camel and every other animal on earth. America is not known for being the right climate for camels even though it has some fairly arid deserts. We will also conclude that the author of those words is intelligent and knows what he is talking about. If archaeologists read this record and start excavating they may end up concluding that the historical author may have lied or be guilty of being anachronistic.

Why? One, for the above reasons we just gave and two, they may have dug in the wrong spot and found nothing. A third reason would be that the camel bones did not fossilize or be spared from the wild animals that like to chew on bones or some other destructive force. The archaeological record in these cases would not support the historical record and knowing archaeologists as we do, they would obviously say that the historical record is in error. The historian side of the issue would say the reverse.

A Korean Example

A second example comes from our time in Korea. Many people who have lived in that country probably have written, as we have done, about the camel ride in one of the amusement parks that dot the Korean landscape. Now again, everyone knows that the Korean environment is not conducive to raising camels or domesticating them. Yet these camel ride does exist and the last time we were there, it was the only camel in the country.

But if archaeologists go and dig for remains of the camel to prove the written record, they may not find the physical evidence they need.If they excavate say in Daegu they would be out of luck as the camel ride is only in the outskirts of the Seoul metropolitan region. The place is called Everland but even if they dig in the right area, they may not be able to find any bones of the camel or camels used. This is because the bodies of the camels were removed to a separate burial site. They are not buried on the property or they may have been cremated due to the lack of space in Korea.

What these to examples show is that the archaeological record is going to be the record that is in error. Not the biblical record. Yes, there may have been remains of camel domestication in the 9th century BC but that does not mean that camels were not domesticated and used by Abraham and others in the 19th to 23rd centuries BC. It is also possible that the camel domestication industry did not start prior to the 9th century as the demand was not there in earlier times BUT that does not mean that the people who used camels did not import camels or purchased their livestock from someone who had a camel importing business. For all we know Abraham and Lot brought their camels from Ur.

People needed to work in ancient times just like they do today and they may have tried their hand at selling imported camels.It is a possibility. In spite of what archaeologists claim, the ancient people had to work, some had their own businesses and so on.

Some final comments

How does this relate to the biblical record? As you can see, it is not the Bible that is in error here. What is in error is not only the archaeological record because it has not dug in the right places; but also the archaeologists who use the archaeological record to bolster their unbelief and opposition to the Bible. The use the weakness of archaeology for their benefit and are not being honest about what the archaeological record maintains. The archaeological record cannot be used as an infallible guide to the past.

It misses or ignores evidence, even factual historical records, to build its perspective of the past. History will give us facts we need, if we follow the Holy Spirit to the truth instead of stopping where the experts stop. History, with God’s help, brings us the truth that will set us free.

Works Cited:

The Date of Camel Domestication in the Ancient Near East by T.M Kennedy, 2014, Retrieved January 20, 2018 from http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2014/02/17/The-Date-of-Camel-Domestication-in-the-Ancient-Near-East.aspx

Great Western Indian Fights by Members of the Potomac Corral of the Westerners, 1960, pg. 42


© 2019 David Thiessen

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