Talk:Historicity of the Bible

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Archaeology, history and modern Arab-Israeli politics[edit]

This section is not irrelevant. Since the justification for the existence of modern Israel relies on the veracity of the biblical tale, the impact of the interpretation of history as rendered in the bible is essential to what the Israeli-Arab conflict is about. After all Jews claim Palestine exactly because of the alleged divine promise and the subsequently divinely justified possession of the land. And that is very much inside the scope of this article. Cush (talk) 17:55, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

Absolutely not. "Settlers". "Encroachment". Jews claim that land for numerous reasons, not the least of which is the fact that they were expelled from it involuntarily and have never in 2000 years stopped proclaiming on a daily basis their intent and desire to return. The fact that Arab squatters came in while the Jews were in involuntary exile does not in any way take away from Jewish ownership of the land. Not to mention the fact that there were Jewish communities in Israel continuously, through the Arab conquest, one of which was finally extripated by the Arabs less than two years ago (Peki'in).
If you want to fight about the issue, go somewhere else and do so. It doesn't belong in this article. -Lisa (talk) 12:18, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
The arguments advanced by Peki'in tend to underline that the section actually IS relevant :). Lisa doesn't advance any arguments at all. So on balance, I'm still inclined to the view that it should stay. PiCo (talk) 12:47, 19 August 2009 (UTC) Little later: Who or what is Peki'in? I thought it was a username, but it's not. PiCo (talk) 12:53, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
Seriously? Peki'in is the town I mentioned, which was finally rendered Judenrein in 2007. It does not belong here. Stick with the Bible and history, and leave the current political scene in the articles where it belongs. -Lisa (talk) 13:09, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for the Nazi reference Lisa - 124.191.144.183 (talk) 16:19, 10 April 2013 (UTC)

Lisa is right this article is about the bible's history. Not the politics produced from the bible. Reargun (talk) 13:23, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

And those who harp about "replacing Arabic place names" should have a look at "Ancient Place Names in Israel", by Daniela Santus. There's a good chart comparing the various versions of place names. -Lisa (talk) 13:32, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
It seems relevant to me; I agree with Pico. Lisa, are you saying the historical position of the Jews and the land of Israel have no place in an article about the Bible and history? That seems like a strange position for a history article. --StormRider 14:48, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
The article is titled "The Bible and history ". This means it deals with the accuracy of the bible as a source for history as well as the impact of the bible on history. Cush (talk) 16:03, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
No. The history in the article's title is that of the time in which the Bible takes place. Perhaps "Historicity of the Bible" would have made this more clear to you, but it's awkward, thus: "The Bible and history".
This article is not supposed to be a compendium of every historical vagary that has some connection to the Bible. We could include a section on the Talmud, and how, historically, the Bible relates to it. But that would be dumb, right? We could include a section on the founding of Christianity, and how, historically, the Hebrew Bible was used as a basis for many of its beliefs. But that would be ridiculous.
If you want to go and write a book about the impact of the Bible on history, by all means go and do so. And you can include any biased claptrap about encroachment on poor Palestinians that you want. But to use this article as a soapbox for your political views is just wrong.
Shall I propose a name change to Historicity of the Bible? I don't have a problem with it, but it seems like the thrust of the article should be clear without it. -Lisa (talk) 17:15, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
Just as a side note, Historicity of the Bible redirects to this article. Maybe it should be the other way around. -Lisa (talk) 17:19, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

It is not my interpretation of what it means but I agree to a change in name to make it clear the subject. If people want a page on the M.E. and bible they could then make there own page Reargun (talk) 10:26, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

BC or BCE[edit]

This article uses both, should it just use one and if so, which one? I prefer BC because it's only fitting to write that in an article about the Bible. Sfoske70 (talk) 18:47, 5 February 2012 (UTC)

Also, we use days from the Norse gods, and there are some Neopagans, so that's basically the same thing. Sfoske70 (talk) 23:55, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
The article has used BCE since it was created in 2005 but in 2010 someone added a new sentence which used BC - this was probably an error. As it's always been stable at BCE I've corrected that. You might want to read WP:ERA. Dougweller (talk) 07:19, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
OK. Sfoske70
Why is it only fitting to use BC in an article about the Bible? The Bible is not synonymous with Christianity. - 124.191.144.183 (talk) 14:08, 14 April 2013 (UTC)
It's not. This is one reason why this article uses CE and BCE. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 15:51, 14 April 2013 (UTC)
BTW, it's whatever the article was started with. Please don't switch any article to conform to secular or religious beliefs. Student7 (talk)
I personally prefer BCE as the Bible is a Jewish document too. And to use BC forces them to accept Jesus as the axis of history. But it doesn't matter, standardisation is the most important. Wiki policy is to use the standard in which the article was originally written except in cases where one form may cause offence.John D. Croft (talk) 11:02, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
Actually WP:ERA doesn't say that, although many people seem to think it does. Attempts to clarify this have failed. It would make no sense for someone to come along to an article whose first edit was BC, second edit changed it to BCE, and than thousands of edits later revert to BC on the basis it started that way. What WP:ERA says is "Do not change the established era style in an article unless there are reasons specific to its content." How you judge 'established' can lead to arguments. Dougweller (talk) 12:58, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
The argument that BC "forces them to accept Jesus as the axis of history" is specious as an argument for BCE, which is just BC waving a flag. It's still the same calendar with the same "axis". Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 14:10, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
I understand that CE/BCE is preferred by historians of antiquity and historians of comparative religion. I've heard various arguments that AD/BC is not any worse, and at least honest about it's origin, and I see the merit in them, but I think ultimately we need to conform to the current state of scholarship, whatever that is. I may be wrong about what it is, anyone studying the topic right now?--Tznkai (talk) 14:15, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
Assertions that the "extra E" flag is "preferred by historians" are bald assertions. First of all, the field is so vast, it would be challenging even with google tools to do a comprehensive survey of what is "preferred", and more often than not, when someone says what they think is preferred in "scholarship", they mean the books they've been reading lately themselves, and they also tend to have a selective definition of "scholar" not found in standard dictionaries. Poll after poll on wikipedia has shown it's a fairly even split among editors and highly contentious, ergo the established solution to consider both forms equally acceptable. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 14:23, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
As I said, I'm talking about scholars of antiquity and religion in particular, since these are the two historical fields implicated in this article title. (More specifically, comparative religion, Early Christianity, Early Judaism, and "classics studies" vis-a-vis ancient languages). I'd look to the usage and style guides of the past five-ten years of representative scholarly journals in the English speaking world one example. I don't actually know for sure what that would result in, I only know what I remember when I took classes on the topic.--Tznkai (talk) 14:45, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
(OD) You didn't exactly refute the opposing arguments, you said "I see the merit in them, but I think we need to conform..." That's tantamount to saying "meh" to the opposing argument but is not a logical refutation. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 15:08, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
The opposing argument is one on the merits that Wikipedia cannot solve, and has no place in, and definitely cannot solve in this instance. My personal opinion is that the argument is fair and makes a point, and it is probably a bit under 50%. However that is an argument between scholars, Wikipedia should reflect the consensus among scholars in the particular field. For example, if the body of historians of, stay, science use BC/AD, I think they are just ever so slightly wrong, but that does not matter, because we ought to reflect what they chose. This is the nature of relying on proper sources.--Tznkai (talk) 16:35, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
(ec) A logical refutation to what? "Various arguments"? This article is stable at CE/BCE, and has been for a long time. Do you (Til) disagree with that view? Or do you offer a serious argument that this article should change? --Stephan Schulz (talk) 17:22, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm not arguing for any change; I am arguing that existing policy should suffice. Why this is still being debated here is unclear though. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 17:34, 23 December 2013 (UTC)

Anyone want to fix this?[edit]

" Maccabees is a purely historical work of events in the 2nd century BCE." Hasn't anyone noticed that the link is to the people? Books of the Maccabees links to, well, some books - 8 of which we have articles for 5. They aren't all histories either. Dougweller (talk) 20:32, 9 January 2013 (UTC)

Fixed! You can do that yourself too. When you see a link that needs to be redirected, just type in (in this case) [[Books of the Maccabees|Maccabees]]. 216.238.225.200 (talk) 20:48, 12 March 2013 (UTC)

Anti-Biblical Bias?[edit]

I am concerned as I read through this article (specifically the section "challenges to historicity") that it is written from an anti-biblical perspective. My problem is not in citing all the doubtful areas of the Bible and history (I think that's great), but the fact that this section seems to be written from only one side. I believe that the article should include what biblical inerrantists think about such issues.

For example, the "Challenges to Historicity" talks about Galileo and basically presents the traditional Galileo "controversy" to make it seem like the Bible and science are at war with each other. Of course, the presumption is that the Bible talks about the earth being at the center of the universe, but the verses in question can be interpreted differently. I think this article should include the opinions of major creationist groups regarding this issue. For example, Answers in Genesis has an article about that in which they present an explanation of the texts in question. I'm sure there are other creationists that have written about these things too.

But just look at this statement for instance!

The first casualty was the Creation story itself, and by the early 19th century "no responsible scientist contended for the literal credibility of the Mosaic account of creation."

Really? "Dethrone" Genesis? Hmm... is it just me, or is that biased? And then of course it has to say "casualty." Hmm...

And by the way, after that when it talks about the flood and that Adam Sedgwick "recanted" his ideas, does that prove it's not true? I don't see any reason for including this in Wikipedia. If someone changes their mind it doesn't mean I should too.

But the bias continues!

All of which left the "first man" and his putative descendants in the awkward position of being stripped of all historical context until Charles Darwin naturalized the Garden of Eden with the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859. Public acceptance of this scientific revolution was, and remains, uneven but the mainstream scholarly community soon arrived at a consensus, which holds today, that Genesis 1–11 is a highly schematic literary work representing theology/mythology rather than history.

Wow. Seriously? "Awkward position" for instance. I think this section is heavily biased.

Then the article goes on to say that the Pentateuch couldn't have been written by Moses. While I think it's great to talk about people who believe that way, I think Wikipedia should reflect various opinions and again include what many apologists and organizations say about that. I haven't even gotten through reading it yet, but for instance the Apologetics Press has an article all about that.

But as more discoveries were made, and anticipated finds failed to materialise, it became apparent that archaeology did not in fact support the claims made by Albright and his followers.

Are these weasel words? "It became apparent." Hmm.... While it may be apparent to the person who wrote this statement, others disagree.

As I read on, I noticed the article tried to put up some evidence for the biased claim above. It said:

The test case was the book of Joshua and its account of a rapid, destructive conquest of the Canaanite cities: but by the 1960s it had become clear that the archaeological record did not, in fact, support the account of the conquest given in Joshua: the cities which the Bible records as having been destroyed by the Israelites were either uninhabited at the time, or, if destroyed, were destroyed at widely different times, not in one brief period. The most high-profile example was the "fall of Jericho", when new excavations in the 1950s by Kathleen Kenyon revealed that the city had already been abandoned by the time of Joshua.

First off, I find it interesting how this statement completely ignores the fact that the fall of Jericho did happen even though it was recorded in the Bible. The author of this statement pulled out whatever negative he could find in it while ignoring the good.

And as for the accusations posited in this statement, again, it shouldn't be presented as a one-sided issue. Many Christian organizations have done research on this too. I haven't read these articles, but Biblical Chronologist, Bible Archaeology, and The Good News Magazine (among others) have comprehensive articles on the issue.

I could go on and on, highlighting biased sections where weasel words were used and the other side of the story is masked. But I think you get the point. This section needs some major revisions.

And again, I'll clarify: It's not that I want the text to conclude that the Bible is inspired, but just to explain what the various viewpoints are and let the reader decide what he/she will believe. Bias belongs on wikis that are designed for that purpose, like RationalWiki or, for Christian biases, on Conservapedia. 216.238.225.200 (talk) 04:00, 10 March 2013 (UTC)

By "Biblical scholars" Wikipedia means historians who live by "publish or perish" (in mainstream academic journals, not in self-published pamphlets). History is an empirical science and should not be conflated with theology, even if it requires knowledge of the theological issues of the past. The rest of your demands have been already settled by Wikipedia policies such as WP:RNPOV, WP:UNDUE, WP:FRINGE, WP:VER and WP:SOURCES. Take time to read them, otherwise you will have no idea what Wikipedia is about and you won't know who to behave on talk pages and what to write in the articles, so that it is acceptable according to Wikipedia's policies. See the quote below:
Ehrman, Bart (2010). "A Historical Assault on Faith". Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them). HarperCollins e-books. pp. 3–4. ISBN 9780061173943. "My hunch is that the majority of students coming into their first year of seminary training do not know what to expect from courses on the Bible. ... Most students expect these courses to be taught from a more or less pious perspective, showing them how, as future pastors, to take the Bible and make it applicable to people’s lives in their weekly sermons.
Such students are in for a rude awakening. Mainline Protestant seminaries in this country are notorious for challenging students’ cherished beliefs about the Bible—even if these cherished beliefs are simply a warm and fuzzy sense that the Bible is a wonderful guide to faith and practice, to be treated with reverence and piety. These seminaries teach serious, hard-core Bible scholarship. They don’t pander to piety. They are taught by scholars who are familiar with what German- and English-speaking scholarship has been saying about the Bible over the past three hundred years. ...
The approach taken to the Bible in almost all Protestant (and now Catholic) mainline seminaries is what is called the “historical-critical” method. It is completely different from the “devotional” approach to the Bible one learns in church."
  Tgeorgescu (talk) 19:35, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
OK I read the RNPOV thing you recommended, and from what they said I didn't see anything that showed I was wrong. I suggest that beneath all the statements arguing against the Bible, there should be statements such as "Many [or "Some"] Christians [label some] believe that so-and-so explains why so-and-so is there while other Christians [label some] believe so-and-so explains it instead."
And I completely agree with your statement - that the Bible should be criticized and checked for errors. If (and it's possible) there are contradictions and errors in the Bible, I would not in any way argue for them to be excluded because they contradict my religious beliefs. But why shouldn't Wikipedia include what people believe about certain issues? The RNPOV states: "Wikipedia content should ... encompass what motivates individuals who hold these beliefs and practices...."
So then it follows that if there is a contradiction in the Bible that has been answered by Christians, Wikipedia should include that because their answer (at least it seems to me) falls into the category of what "motivates individuals who hold these beliefs."
Any thoughts? 216.238.225.200 (talk) 02:07, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
Far-fetched, ad hoc answers to Biblical contradictions are not scholarship in any meaningful sense. By definition they are not historical research and they are low-quality theology, good for fundamentalist fanatics but not for academical theologians. In this respect Wikipedia renders historical-critical scholarship and academic-level theology. According to WP:BATTLE, Wikipedia in not a battleground wherein atheists, liberal Christians and conservative Christian argue in favor of their views and let readers decide who has won the debate, it is an encyclopedia which renders scholarship (i.e. what is taught or published by professional academical researchers or professional academical theologians). The TV evangelists are popular, some of them are notable in public discourse, but they are not busy with academical theology and they would make bad candidates for a PhD in theology at Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard. And Wikipedia relies upon scholarship which would not be turned down by academics in Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard. We cannot include as relevant bad-quality theology which would be seen as silly nonsense by the academia. Tgeorgescu (talk) 16:48, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
"theology which would be seen as silly nonsense by" - "would be seen as" = regarding from a particular aspect, vantage-point, or viewpoint; "the academia" - the academia that want you to accept that they are simply smarter and swallow their theories whole without question, but not to acknowledge the relevance of that other academia, none of whose books count for anything since they contradict the first academia. Isn't it funny how very often when one looks at only one side in a controversy, there appears to be a "consensus" on a controversy? This mainly appeals to thinkers who are incapable of seeing, tolerating or admitting both sides of an issue, because their heads are deep in a very dark place. It wouldn't be a "controversy" if it were consensus in honesty, would it? Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 17:19, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
I did not say that Protestants have to reach a theological consensus with Catholics, Eastern-Orthodox and the Neo-Protestants. In matters of theology, we agree to disagree. But upon who counts as a scholar by "publish or perish" there is not much to twist about, see WP:SOURCES and WP:PRIMARY. Otherwise, why to you think that Michael D. Coogan, a Catholic scholar at a Catholic college, and Bart D. Ehrman, an Evangelical-turned-agnostic teaching in the Bible Belt pretty much agree upon who's who in Bible scholarship? Tgeorgescu (talk) 17:45, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
E.g., Wikipedia editors should agree that snake handling is not a requirement for Bible scholarship and a diploma/test in snake handling does not qualify one as a scholar, even if some Christians think this is the true sign of the true faith. We may reasonably assert that snake handling is WP:FRINGE. Tgeorgescu (talk) 17:58, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
According to WP:GREATWRONGS, Wikipedia does not have the task to redress unjust exclusion from the academe. So, arguments about the "other" (i.e. excluded) academia are void by default. Tgeorgescu (talk) 18:47, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
Wikipedia does not buy tragic stories about how the truth about God gets nailed through peer-review. Tgeorgescu (talk) 18:57, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
A crap open-source essay full of loopholes that any wikilawyer can write to validate why they think "NPOV" means "taking sides", like WP:GREATWRONGS, and then thump it as a reliable source or a binding authority? Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 19:45, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
Wikipedia always takes and should take the side of academia. I think you already knew it. It pertains to the basics of Wikipedia. Wikipedia editors don't create their own sort of knowledge, but render the viewpoints expressed by academics. In respect to present-day biographies, entertainment and politics, reliable press is also included. I think that it is obvious that Wikipedia has and should have a pro-academia bias. According to some scientific knowledge theory, knowledge is forged by the academic community, i.e. a community of researchers which disinterestedly search for truth. If something can't be taught at an reputed university, then it does not belong in Wikipedia. I suggest reading Wikipedia:Why Wikipedia cannot claim the earth is not flat. Tgeorgescu (talk) 20:24, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
Once again, you're using your redefinition of "academia", which carries an implicit litmus test. (If they don't suit your biases, they're not "academia" according to you) It's like we speak two different languages. My definition of "academia" includes the scholars of ALL branches, even the ones you wish to exclude because of your clear bias. This is not a good way for wikipedia to move forward, because many people who work here also do not share your biases. You're not on the side of neutrality, you keep regurgitating the same stale, jaded reasons why you think only one side of the controversy needs to be accommodated, because basically you want more wp articles to be "in the face" of millions of readers, editors, and even published theologians who you see as on the other side. True Neutrality is when practically ANYONE can read it and see their viewpoint represented, and not feel like it is a polemic written by someone attacking their viewpoint. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 21:39, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
I don't "redefine" academia. I just take for granted that some people have proper credentials (like getting a PhD from a properly accredited university and getting a teaching position at a properly accredited university) and some don't. I just take for granted that certain people never published an article with peer-review in an ISI-indexed journal, therefore they don't count as scholars. There are theologians of all faiths who teach at reputable universities, so I don't try to silence any faith, except keeping the fringe out of the encyclopedia. Tgeorgescu (talk) 21:57, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
According to Rick Roderick, the only people who buy the idea that all opinions are equal (i.e. have equal value) are those permanently committed to the insane asylums. Tgeorgescu (talk) 20:32, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
The human race has already had millennia worth of demagogues lecturing us like kindergartners, telling us (as you are) that there is only one permissible way to see things, and no dissent may be voiced. This is Web 2.0. Now the people can easily talk back, and they will, and they are, and you MIGHT want to get used to it, 'cause it ain't going back to the old way soon! Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 21:44, 11 March 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────You have been making it clearer and clearer that you don't like our NPOV policy, Til. That's your prerogative, but until you get it changed it isn't your prerogative to try and change it article by article. Dougweller (talk) 22:02, 11 March 2013 (UTC)

I like NPOV very much, Doug - the way Jimbo set it up. Clearly when NPOV has become just another code-word for "one-sided" and "declaring whose hypothesis is correct, and showing absolute intolerance to any other", neutrality has been hijacked. I wouldn't be true to my conscience if I didn't oppose these moves. I mean, this is what has motivated the human race for thousands of years, and the world looks like it's still spinning the same way to me. At least now the least we could do tell both sides of the story instead of fight about it. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 01:29, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
Well, I initiated at Village Pump a proposal for recognizing that Wikipedia has and should have a pro-academia bias and the gist of the replies was that my proposal is superfluous since the Wikipedia policies, guidelines and essays already support/affirm it. What you shouldn't do is invent a parallel academe, consisting of self-published pamphlets, wannabe scientific journals and colleges legally exempt from accreditation on the basis of religious freedom. Reputable theological seminaries are all accredited, although they could spare their money by pleading the first. Tgeorgescu (talk) 15:58, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
You did what? I'll have to check that out! It sounds like you have some weird personal definition of "academic", where does it come from? According to wiktionary, it means 'associated with any institute of higher learning, or engaged in scholarly pursuits.' I think maybe the Marxist-Leninist Dictionary may give a membership-card only definition, but that's so passé... Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 16:11, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
Just as I thought, Wikipedia:Village_pump_(proposals)#Wikipedia_has_and_should_have_a_pro-academia_bias, all I see there are numerous editors disputing your quaint perceptions, but not a single one supporting this puerilia. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 16:27, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
Til, I think that Rick Roderick was the farthest from being an apologist of tyranny. Really, we has teaching about Derrida in a TTC course and said that Derrida has been smeared as being an apologist of the idea that all opinions are equally worth. If you advocate "anything goes" (knowledge anarchy), then you should know that Wikipedia does not operate according to "anything goes". Wikipedia has respect for proper scholarship, and as I said above I don't redefine the word "scholar", I just take for granted who is a scholar from credentials, teaching position and research output. Theologians can be scholars and many theologians are scholars, without discrimination in respect to sex, social origin, ethnicity or religious faith. Just because you advocate anarchy, it does not follow that liberals and libertarians advocate tyranny, even if they do not think that anything goes or that "nothing is true and everything is permitted" (Nietzsche). Tgeorgescu (talk) 22:43, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
Tgeorgescu, apparently you are very concerned about Wikipedia having the bias and material that is printed by prestigious journals and not just whatever fringe ideas come along. That's definitely true! But I don't recall any such extreme bias as I've seen here in prestigious historical journals. These journals report the facts, have ideas on how to explain the facts, and so on. But if you are arguing that the opinions and beliefs of Christians regarding the facts should be excluded and that the material present right now should be left the way it is, can you please point to a prestigious journal that is as biased as what is here in Wikipedia now? I really don't think you'll find one.
Oh, and by the way, I quickly looked at the list on Wikipedia for historical journals, and then for theological journals. It turns out many theological journals are classified as academic. I'm not sure how you separate the journals into different groups, and which ones are good to be referenced in Wikipedia and which ones are not. But anyway, a few that were classified as academic in Wikipedia's own article were the Bible Review (which later merged into the Biblical Archaeology Review), the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, the Journal of Cuneiform Studies, the Journal of the American Oriental Society, the Palestine Exploration Quarterly, the Quodlibet Journal (about philosphy), and The Master's Seminary Journal. Of course there's more, but there's a few to get you started. In fact, I found it interesting how you didn't do any research about the Biblical Archaeology Review. That was the same journal I referenced earlier! 216.238.225.200 (talk) 22:58, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
You have misunderstood what I have said. I never said that mainstream theological journals should not be cited in Wikipedia. I am for the inclusion of viewpoints from mainstream theological journals, with the specification that historians establish facts (if there is a consensus), while theologians only voice theological opinions. Of course, nobody stops theologians from doing historical research, but in this case they have to publish in historical journals and obey the rules of writing history. To make this clearer, Michael D. Coogan seeks to forge consensus about historical facts, while the Pope seeks to forge consensus upon what Catholics should believe as a matter of true belief. Coogan is a scientist, the Pope is a religious leader. Tgeorgescu (talk) 23:41, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
So, historians discuss scientific facts, while theologians discuss what should be believed by the members of their own church. What Coogan writes is not meant for a certain church, but to historians of every religious faith. What Catholic theologians write is meant for Catholic believers. Of course, if a theologian assumes the role of historian, he/she could make claims aimed at having universal validity. Otherwise he/she speaks only as spokesperson of his/her own religious persuasion. Science and theology should not be conflated, they are different discourses aimed at different audiences. E.g. the Pope does not usually state what should be believed by Pentecostals as a matter of true belief. While Coogan, although a Catholic, tries to determine facts which do not depend upon the religious persuasion of his audience. Tgeorgescu (talk) 00:09, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
I just read Wikipedia:GREATWRONGS and I totally agree with it too, but I don't see how it supports your argument to keep this biased material unchanged.
What the page actually said would not allow me to write something like this:
  • So-called "archaeologists" have, for long, falsely stated that the fact Moses talks about camels somehow disproves the Bible. However, this is not the case. Various archaeological discoveries have actually been found that have proven camels did indeed exist in Egypt even before the time of Moses. Another argument from silence has been disproved.
This statement shouldn't be included, not only because it's heavily biased, but because it is original research. That's what Wikipedia:GREATWRONGS is about.
The current text says the following:
  • In Protestant England the philosopher Thomas Hobbes in his major work Leviathan denied Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and identified Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings and Chronicles as having been written long after the events they purported to describe. His conclusions rested on internal textual evidence, but in an argument that resonates with modern debates, he noted: "Who were the original writers of the several Books of Holy Scripture, has not been made evident by any sufficient testimony of other History, (which is the only proof of matter of fact)."
However, I think that a statement similar to below would be more neutral:
  • In Protestant England the philosopher Thomas Hobbes denied Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch in his major work Leviathan. He also held that the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles were written long after the events they described. He reached this conclusion from statements within the texts themselves. These statements referenced things that didn't exist in the time when the authors were believed to have written the texts. Hobbes concluded, "Who were the original writers of the several Books of Holy Scripture, has not been made evident by any sufficient testimony of other History, (which is the only proof of matter of fact)."
  • For example, Moses mentions camels in passages like Genesis 12:14-17; 24:63; 30:43; and so on. In 1899 Thomas Cheyne wrote, "The assertion that the ancient Egyptians knew of the camel is unfounded." Norman Gottwalds, Norman Finkelstein, and Neil Silberman among others have taken the same position. However, many Christian archaeologists hold that evidence for camels existing in Moses' time is growing. Joseph Free, in his article in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, presented several finds which he believed supported the Egyptian domestication of camels from antiquity, before Moses lived.
This statement presents both sides of the argument. And by the way, my source is the Apologetics Press, but it itself has many sources, so in Wikipedia we should cite the original sources, not the Apologetics Press article. And of course, if skeptics have replied to these statements, their opinions should be expressed too. Oh, and I wanted to mention, Joseph Free's article was published in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies so it qualifies as an academic journal.
As I was writing this, you posted another reply. You were talking about religious persuasion and that theology and history shouldn't be mixed. I will quickly respond. It isn't about religious persuasion, but about interpretations and opinions about the facts. And sometimes it's even more than that, like in the example text I wrote above. It's about facts that were missing from this biased article right now. Even though Joseph Free is a Christian, that doesn't make his historical discoveries invalid. On the other hand, his conclusions about his historical discoveries are definitely not facts, and that is the same for secular historians and archaeologists. I know that you know that, so I'm not saying you were saying that. 216.238.225.200 (talk) 00:43, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
As far as Wikipedia is concerned, water boils at 100 degrees centigrade because physicists have consensually agreed that water boils at 100 degrees centigrade. Their consensus makes it a fact.
There is also WP:UNDUE and WP:FRINGE which say that minority views among the experts should not be over-emphasized nor given equal footing with mainstream views. I don't know if Free's view is fringe or if it has been accepted as mainstream by historians all over the world and of all religious persuasions, but you should not include arguments just because they sound plausible or have the appearance of being scientific. In respect to weighing novel claims, priority is granted to secondary sources (reviews) published by the authorities in the field, which make explicit claim about some ideas being considered fringe or being accepted as mainstream. Extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence. Until you can provide a reliable source that Free's view has gained widespread acceptance among historians, you should not include it in the article, especially based upon short quotes given by apologetic sources. To most historians the label "Biblical archaeologist", as in someone with the Bible in one hand and spade in the other, is a disparaging label serving as a display of scorn. Tgeorgescu (talk) 01:16, 12 March 2013 (UTC)


I find it interesting how you continue to add more barriers for me in adding my ideas in order to make your bias stay. First you're telling me that it has to be published in a mainstream academic journal, and now you're telling me that it has to be widely accepted among historians.
While I agree with what you said, I bet that you weren't as reluctant to implement secular ideas as you were with me. You wouldn't say, "Hold on! You need this first! No, you need this, AND that!" Here I think you're reluctant because you don't want any opinions expressed that contradict your secular bias.
I agree that fringe ideas shouldn't be put on Wikipedia. But how is this a fringe idea? Do you classify all of religion as "fringe"? That seems rather biased to me. Some things are widely accepted, some are not because they're not widely known. I'm sure there are secular historians that have discovered things that not many people know about, but they don't need to wait until thousands of journals have written on their discoveries before their work can be referenced.
You talk about "extraordinary discoveries needing extraordinary evidence." I guess by "extraordinary" you probably mean "ridiculous" or "insane." Why is this an "extraordinary" discovery? Because you classify it as so according to your bias. But let me ask you something: If I find a rock outside, take a picture of it, put it in a box in a museum, and publish a paper with the details of my findings in an academic journal, how many people do I need to look at the rock and say, "Yup, it's real"? None, except when it comes to religion, right? That's not fair.
By the way, Joseph Free's work has been checked out by other Christians. Kenneth Kitchen, a respected chronologist who studies Egypt, checked out Free's research and took his side. Perhaps that doesn't mean anything to you because Kenneth Kitchen is a Christian too. Are religious people really that vulnerable to fraud? Hopefully you know about all the secular frauds too, like Piltdown man for instance. The Wikipedia stuff you mentioned would not allow me to reference the work of someone like Ron Wyatt, who supposedly discovered Noah's ark, the ark of the covenant, Jesus' blood, the crossing of the Red Sea, and so on. His claims probably came from his wild imagination. He has barely any proof to back them up.
Wikipedia and you want secondary sources on what Joseph Free researched. Does the Apologetics Press count as a secondary source? No, you probably wouldn't think so. It has to be peer-reviewed. But the same Apologetics Press actually has an article about being peer-reviewed and the reason that Christian research is often excluded from peer-reviewed journals. The reason is that only naturalistic articles are allowed. You could also read "Creationism and Academia: Mutually Exclusive?" for a nice article about the problem.
Joseph Free's work is published in an academic journal, so it is original research. In fact, I think it's both a primary and secondary source because it has the original facts and then an interpretation of those facts. So I don't think you have any more excuses for not mentioning his work in Wikipedia.
Oh I just read something really neat from Wikipedia's guidelines! On the page about identifying reliable sources, it says the following:
  • Wikipedia articles are required to present a neutral point of view. However, reliable sources are not required to be neutral, unbiased, or objective. Common sources of bias include political, financial, religious, philosophical, or other beliefs.
  • Sometimes "non-neutral" sources are the best possible sources for supporting information about the different viewpoints held on a subject. When dealing with a potentially biased source, editors should consider whether the source meets the normal requirements for reliable sources, such as editorial control and a reputation for fact-checking. Editors should also consider whether the bias makes it appropriate to use in-text attribution to the source, as in "According to the opinion columnist Maureen Dowd..." or "According to the opera critic Tom Sutcliffe..."
From my reading of the text, it seems clear that referencing opinions is not prohibited on Wikipedia. Of course, like you said before, minority opinions shouldn't be overemphasized, but I really don't see these as minority opinions. I gave a nice list of several organizations that had articles on these issues. Christian Answers too has articles I didn't even mention. What's important is that in the text we make sure that when we cite these opinions, we present them as opinions and not as facts. We don't say, "This is the way it is; it's a fact," but instead, "Some people say this, some people say that."
And we also don't say, "Some people say this, some people say that, but the facts clearly show this idea is correct and this idea is wrong." It's more like, "Some people say this, and some people say that. Then this fact was discovered, and these people said that, but these people said that." That's exactly what I emphasized in my proposed edits. 216.238.225.200 (talk) 16:45, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
Peer-review excludes supernatural causation because history is an empirical science and only works with natural, political, military, social and historical events. You obviously have no clue of how history works if you pretend that supernatural causation should be allowed to pass peer-review in an empirical science. Really, this idea is the fringe within the WP:FRINGE/PS. Historians, regardless of their faith, have consensually agreed to use a naturalistic methodology. I read an Adventist reply to Ronald Numbers which tries to explain away Ellen G. White plagiarisms through supernatural inspiration. Well, that guy was pretending to write history ignoring that historians have no access to God (as Bart Ehrman repeatedly said on YouTube) and they can never, absolutely never prove supernatural inspiration. That "historical study" is not history in any meaningful way, it would not pass peer-review in any respectable history journal and the worse part is that the author devised it as a conflation of theology with history, knowing full well that the basics of historical research forbid writing historical studies which suppose supernatural causation. Historians, of any religious faith, can never prove that a miracle has happened as a real historical event. This is because historians have to evaluate the probable cause of past events and miracles are by definition the most improbable cause of any event. So it is a contradiction in terms to say that the most improbable event is the most probable cause of any past event recorded by historians. Otherwise we would have historical studies aiming to prove that Vespasian was truly a god, or that Attila the Hun was possessed by evil spirits and so on down the slippery slope towards the loony bin of weird and unsubstantiated metaphysical claims. And should these studies pass peer-review? Give me a break. You should become at least familiar with the basic requirements of historical research before attempting to edit Wikipedia articles about the history of religion. You are a clear case of WP:COMPETENCE: you are so ignorant that you are even unable to understand the critique of others who point what is wrong with your arguments. You don't have the education needed for understanding such critique. Your arguments are so weird that they don't even qualify for being wrong, they are unfalsifiable and being unfalsifiable they are not science, they are not history. Empirical science is required to be falsifiable. There are minority views which are nevertheless historical theories, your viewpoint does not even qualify as a minority scientific viewpoint. It is not science, it is a weird conflation of theology and empirical science. Tgeorgescu (talk) 22:33, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
If you want to give live commentary upon a football match, you are required to know that the rules of soccer don't apply to football. This is why supernaturalist history falls in the category WP:CB. Tgeorgescu (talk) 01:13, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
In case you haven't noticed, Miracles of Jesus doesn't state "This is complete bollocks". It is a good example of a neutral article that doesn't take sides. I don't watch or edit that article, but I daresay you'd have a hard time getting it to say "This is complete bollocks" because that's not really wp's policy, that's an express violation of NPOV policy and an attack on religion. For exactly the same reason, you'd have a hard time getting Quran to say "This is complete bollocks". It's like the Village Pump told you. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 01:28, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
(in response to Tgeorgescu)
I see that now you have switched your focus from whether or not it is wrong for religious opinions to be expressed on Wikipedia to pounding me down with personal attacks. I find that interesting. I just explained why I think that various views should be presented in Wikipedia. I quoted from several Wikipedia policies. And now I see you're just refuting me by saying that anything that has a supernatural explanation is unscientific.
Actually it's not. It is falsifiable. Something caused supernaturally has natural consequences just like any other cause. If a certain miracle occurred, we would see so-and-so. If we see these evidences in the real world, then the supernatural theory may be a plausible explanation for something. I don't really want to get into an argument, and that's not my point. You can believe what you want to believe, and I will too. I just think that beliefs of different people should be allowed on Wikipedia.
In response to what you cited from Wikipedia:COMPETENCE, I'll say this: It doesn't mean anything unless you believe that religious interpretations of anything are pseudoscientific. But since you only determine that according to your bias, then citing WP:COMPETENCE doesn't do anything for your side.
Let's examine the definition of "pseudoscientific." Wikipedia:FRINGE says that the characteristics of being that way are: changes the basic laws of nature to allow a strange phenomenon to happen which has no evidence, attacks mainstream scientific theories, relies on weak evidence, and makes extraordinary claims. As I was reading this, I thought to myself of a perfect example: c-decay. These people believe that the speed of light is decaying (slowing down), but that is an extraordinary claim, relies on weak statistical evidence, attacks mainstream scientific views, and is designed only to strange phenomena to happen (solve the "distant-starlight" problem and explain long radiometric dates for young-earth creationists).
What about a biblical interpretation of history? Does it fit this definition? The Bible says that Jesus rose from the dead (could be considered an extraordinary claim), and that means that a miracle must happen. The basic laws of nature (death and decay; entropy) must be temporarily denied. But the Wikipedia policy page says that very strong scientific evidence could justify an extraordinary claim. I believe that there is such evidence:
  • The New Testament has over 24,000 copies of it from various times in history, meaning that throughout the ages it was not edited hardly at all and that it is even more accurate than reputable historical documents like the Iliad or Homer's writings (which have only a few hundred copies). The New Testament says that Jesus lived, died, and resurrected.
  • The various eyewitnesses do not contradict each other in any reasonable way (besides very disputed contradictions).
  • Historians from the early time period all agree Jesus existed.[1]
  • Jesus died. Nobody disagrees with that.[2]
  • Jesus lived again (came back from the dead). Hundreds of people listened as He spoke during the 40 days after His resurrection before He ascended to heaven. It wasn't just a fake pretending to be Jesus because the tomb was empty. And remember that the disciples were skeptical at first too.
  • Alternative explanations are very poor. For example, 500 or so eyewitnesses wouldn't all have hallucinations. And a half-dead Jesus wouldn't survive enough to convince His disciples He rose from the dead. [3]
Obviously I know I won't convince you with this (I'm not trying to), but just pointing out that many people believe there is lots of evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. That was an exception allowed in Wikipedia's policies, and so that allows religious opinions to be expressed.
Now the question arises, "why should we care about what 'some people' think?" That's where Wikipedia:NOR comes in. It says there are three categories: majority views, minority views, and extreme minority views. Obviously Christianity is not an extreme minority view and in many parts of the world it's a majority view. I agree that Wikipedia should give each view its due weight, and I think Christianity has a lot of weight.
Then you said, "it is a contradiction in terms to say that the most improbable event is the most probable cause of any past event recorded by historians." Here you are referring to miracles. I agree with you, that when we find something we should search for a naturalistic explanation. But I also think that we shouldn't purposefully ignore all the evidence or come up with extreme pseudoscientific explanations in order to make something naturalistic. For example, some creationists argue that dinosaurs and humans coexisted and they cite the Chinese dragon in their calendar as historical evidence. They point to the facts that the "dragon" is displayed alongside real animals and that it would be strange for the Chinese to include a mythical animal where all the rest were real. In response to this, to explain away all the evidence, one evolutionist said that the Chinese inherited memory of dinosaurs that their ancestors had seen millions of years ago. Of course, there is no evidence that memory can be inherited and modern genetics tells us the opposite. [4]
Please no personal attacks next time you respond! 216.238.225.200 (talk) 01:58, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── The article on the miracles of Jesus makes no claim that such miracles were historical facts. If it would come to being scientific facts, all serious historians would agree that history can never prove miracles, period. The miracles of Jesus can never be shown to be historical facts, so they are either unreal or unprovable. In both cases they cannot be considered facts. Arguing for a historical proof (i.e. scientific proof) of Jesus's resurrection is a sign of being deluded. Claiming that empirical sciences could falsify supernatural causation show that you have never been educated in any empirical science. Supernatural causation is an affirmation of God's arbitrary intervention in nature and while it affirms the intervention of God, it represents the death of science. Why do HCl and NaOH produce NaCl and water? Because God wants to perform such divine miracle every time somebody tests it in the laboratory. Well, give me a break. Please find other websites to harass people. Tgeorgescu (talk) 16:32, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Tgeorgescu, you have a very broad definition of "harrassment" - instead it seems pretty clear that you are in fact the instigator of any vitriole here. I see no problem with the IP's very logical arguments in stark contrast to the insults, strawmen, and red herrings that you keep throwing in to "prove your point".
That being said, is there some way that we can get back to the IP's original questions/comments before he was shouted down because the current discussion is going nowhere... Ckruschke (talk) 18:26, 13 March 2013 (UTC)Ckruschke
Ok, I admit, I got irritated. But what are you saying: that historians could use written texts in order to prove supernatural events? Like using the Gospel of Vespasian in order to show that Vespasian was a god? Perhaps I was not quite polite, but Bart Ehrman says on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cweYRarq664 that historians cannot prove faith claims like miracles and resurrections. I mean, I couldn't get this wrong: the whole methodology of history says that historians cannot prove miracles. People are free to make theological claims (faith claims) that miracles have happened, but they cannot be historical claims. Tgeorgescu (talk) 19:43, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
First off Tgeorgescue, the reason the New Testament is different than other texts is that the synoptic gospels were written right after these events took place. We have copies from all time periods meaning that little to no editing took place.
But that's beside the point. I agree with Ckruschke that we should get back to the main point. I want to ask right now, how many editors think that the current text that I highlighted above is unbiased and agrees with Wikipedia's NPOV policy? How many think that it is perfectly good the way it is? I'm seriously wondering. Thanks. 216.238.225.200 (talk) 19:54, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
I would recommend reading Dating the Bible#The New Testament. Tgeorgescu (talk) 22:52, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
Yeah, it's interesting, isn't it? Christ died around 30-36 CE and some of Paul's letters were written in 50 CE. Obviously all those ideas about Christ were made up in that amount of time. JasperTech (talk) 22:59, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
A point made by the Bible scholar Bart Ehrman: primary (first generation) Christians did not think that Jesus was God (e.g. Mark, Matthew and Luke do not report anything remotely like that). It only appears in the Gospel of John (written sometime between 80 CE and 95 CE). So, there were ideas about Jesus developed after 50 CE. Tgeorgescu (talk) 18:27, 14 March 2013 (UTC)
I highly recommend we stop this debate since, like the person said on the noticeboard, Wikipedia isn't a forum for debate. I'm sorry for whatever I may have done to turn the discussion into a debate.
It is interesting regarding the claims made above that
  • The New Testament has over 24,000 copies of it from various times in history, meaning that throughout the ages it was not edited hardly at all and that it is even more accurate than reputable historical documents like the Iliad or Homer's writings (which have only a few hundred copies). The New Testament says that Jesus lived, died, and resurrected.
In actual fact there is much internal evidence in the Biblical texts themselves of editing, going right back to the original composition and contradictions between the texts themselves.
  • The various eyewitnesses do not contradict each other in any reasonable way (besides very disputed contradictions).
There were no Biblical texts written by eye-witnesses of the events of Jesus life.
  • Historians from the early time period all agree Jesus existed.[1]
There have been no contemporary historians of the period - all are one or even three generations later
  • Jesus died. Nobody disagrees with that.[2]
Yes, all humans die
  • Jesus lived again (came back from the dead). Hundreds of people listened as He spoke during the 40 days after His resurrection before He ascended to heaven. It wasn't just a fake pretending to be Jesus because the tomb was empty. And remember that the disciples were skeptical at first too.
The skepticism was written into the account to answer claims to the contrary made within pharaisical Judaism.
  • Alternative explanations are very poor. For example, 500 or so eyewitnesses wouldn't all have hallucinations. And a half-dead Jesus wouldn't survive enough to convince His disciples He rose from the dead. [3]
There is no evidence of 500 eyewitnesses. The Jewish Nazoraean movement that Jesus led had many who denied a physical resurrection had occurred. They were hunted down later by the orthodox and persecuted as Judaisers.

Your claims are made by believers who have a definite POV. John D. Croft (talk) 13:07, 23 December 2013 (UTC)

Sources: Mosaic authorship[edit]

Back to my original requests. I'll sum it all up. The section "Challenges to Historicity" in this article unambiguously violates several Wikipedia policies.

First off, WP:RS says, "Wikipedia articles should be based on reliable, published sources, making sure that all majority and significant minority views that have appeared in those sources are covered."

However, the article as it is only expresses one view, despite the fact that Christianity is definitely at least a significant minority view.

WP:NPOV goes even further by stating, "Editing from a neutral point of view (NPOV) means representing fairly, proportionately, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources."

So not only should all significant viewpoints be expressed, but they should be expressed "fairly, proportionately, and as far as possible without bias." Right now this section does neither. It only presents one viewpoint, and it presents it as fact, which doesn't stand up against the requirements in the above quote.

While I think that largely the whole section should be redone, I will provide an example of a change that could be made to give other editors ideas. I posted this idea previously, but I've pasted it below alongside the current text to make things easier.

Existing Text Proposed Change
In Protestant England the philosopher Thomas Hobbes in his major work Leviathan denied Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and identified Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings and Chronicles as having been written long after the events they purported to describe. His conclusions rested on internal textual evidence, but in an argument that resonates with modern debates, he noted: "Who were the original writers of the several Books of Holy Scripture, has not been made evident by any sufficient testimony of other History, (which is the only proof of matter of fact)."[5] In Protestant England the philosopher Thomas Hobbes denied Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch in his major work Leviathan. He also held that the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles were written long after the events they described. He reached this conclusion from statements within the texts themselves. These statements referenced things that didn't exist in the time when the authors were believed to have written the texts. Hobbes concluded, "Who were the original writers of the several Books of Holy Scripture, has not been made evident by any sufficient testimony of other History, (which is the only proof of matter of fact)."[6]

For example, Moses mentions camels in passages like Genesis 12:14-17; 24:63; 30:43; and so on. In 1899 Thomas Cheyne wrote, "The assertion that the ancient Egyptians knew of the camel is unfounded." Norman Gottwalds, Norman Finkelstein, and Neil Silberman among others have taken the same position. However, many Christian archaeologists hold that evidence for camels existing in Moses' time is growing. Joseph Free, in his article in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, presented several finds which he believed supported the Egyptian domestication of camels from antiquity, before Moses lived.

Since citing references is a bit messy on the talk page (as I've now learned), I will just let everyone know that my reference is generally this Apologetics Press article, although this article in turn has its own references which may be more desirable for referencing.

Please forgive me for my lack of knowledge in citing references, as I'm a new user, but I need a reference for the 1899 quote from Thomas Cheyne. The Apologetics Press article simply has in brackets "1899, 1:634." I did some research to try and find out what that meant and I even went onto the Wikipedia article about him to see what books he published and where the quote may have come from. I now believe that it was from the 1903 edition of Encyclopaedia Biblica, but I may be wrong and nevertheless I do not know what "1:634" means. I would assume that it would mean something like "first edition, page 634" but that's too much speculation to be sure.

And do we need individual references for Norman Gottwalds, Norman Finkelstein, and Neil Silberman as well? Anyway, I bet that if someone could direct me on how to find a certain work from a certain person given the year, last name, and quote, then I'd be able to find references for everything above. JasperTech (talk) 01:34, 15 March 2013 (UTC)

JT, are you deliberately trying to give the reader the impression that Hobbes' view was wrong? That's the impression I get by the way you immediately follow Hobbes' argument on with your own choice of one example plus a refutation to that specific example.
That example is completely irrelevant to the context. Hobbes doesn't mention or rely on camels. Your random insertion/synthesis of a digression to 1899 between paragraphs about the 1600s breaks the historical progression of that section. (Moreover, if you wish to explain a viewpoint by means of an example then it is far more informative to choose the strongest argument than a weak seeming one. But ultimately, presenting arguments is only a tool to illuminate the current mainstream academic view, not to try to resolve the question here ourselves. So try to focus more on which groups hold which views, and avoiding the point-retort-point-retort style.) Cesiumfrog (talk) 02:39, 15 March 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Cesiumfrog for your thoughts! I see what you're saying and now I realize the problem. It reminds me of what one Wikipedia policy warns against (I don't remember the specific one unfortunately). It basically says that when you cite references you shouldn't pair two references together that have nothing to do with each other because that's original research.
So I thank you for pointing that out! How about I reference the Apologetics Press article, state that the author of the article (and potentially some other people too) hold that the Pentateuch was written by Moses, and then quote some text from various other people but not regarding specific examples. Sound good? I'll make another proposed edit sometime. JasperTech (talk) 02:48, 15 March 2013 (UTC)
I just thought about it and I think that I can't really just propose a short edit to a paragraph or two, but the whole section needs to be redone in order to remain consistent and keep the nice layout of historical progression that it has right now. Perhaps I'll make a new section to the talk page and work on the whole section over there. I may not work on it a lot, but hopefully other editors interested in removing the bias can contribute too. I'll do what I can though. JasperTech (talk) 03:03, 15 March 2013 (UTC)

@JasperTech: I've broken this section off because it was getting unwieldy. As I understand, you want to have a discussion on Mosaic authorship. I'd just say a word about sources: Please avoid websites, such as article Apologetics Press. Far better to use scholarly sources, whether books or journal articles. On a slightly different aspect, I doubt that the authorship of the first five books of the bible is sufficiently important to merit all this attention - the real point to be made is that Jewish and Christian tradition ascribes the biblical books to authoritative figures, mostly potential eyewitnesses (hence Moses for the Pentateuch, but also Joshua for his book, Samuel and other prophets for Samuel/Kings, etc). This should certainly be mentioned, but it can be done using scholarly sources rather than non-scholarly websites.

Regarding your proposed changes to that paragraph: I don't like the original, and I like your proposal even less. The original is longwinded and unnecessary - all it's saying, really, is that Hobbes questioned Mosaic authorship.So he did, but so did a lot of people after him. We really don't need a discussion of history like this. Your proposal compounds the weakness of the existing para by taking the argument even further into minute detail. What's needed (in line with policy on NPOV, "representing fairly, proportionately, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources", is simply a statement that MA was traditionally accepted, but has since been abandoned by scholars. I don't even see a need to rehearse the reasons that this happened - after all, MA applies only to the first 5 books of the OT, and we can hardly go through the entire bible book by book. Something more general is needed. PiCo (talk) 08:29, 15 March 2013 (UTC)

Thanks PiCo for your input. I was concerned that this would take a long time, and I like your idea quite a bit. And yeah, I was wondering about that Apologetics Press article since I wasn't sure it met the sources criteria. I think all I'll focus on right now is not adding new information, but just changing the existing text to make it meet NPOV standards. That way, even if only one side of the story is being told, it's made clear in the text that these are the opinions of the respective authors of those quotes.
So I'm kind of thinking of a two-stage process. Step one is to change the biased text to make it written from a neutral point of view, while step two would be to add the Christian viewpoint. But I will try to avoid using specific examples as I can clearly see how long that would take to write out. JasperTech (talk) 14:35, 15 March 2013 (UTC)
Don't mean to be cruel here, but Catholics, Orthodox Christians and "Mainline Christians" support not knowing who, exactly, wrote the books of the Bible, except maybe 1 Isaiah. They constitute perhaps 80% of the world's Christians. So contradiction would add the views of the minority 20%.
Also, guidelines support not using titles with "and" in them. We have a first-hand view of how they can cause problems here IMO. Student7 (talk) 18:55, 15 March 2013 (UTC)
Nonsense, those Churches that have said for almost two thousand years exactly who they think wrote all of the books of the Old and New Testament (not just Isaiah) are in every sense "mainline" Churches, you are fabricating doctrine and your definition of "mainline" seems to reflect your own systemic bias. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 19:12, 15 March 2013 (UTC)
Christianity is notable, I don't doubt that. However, history isn't Christian or Muslim or Hindu or Atheist or Agnostic. History is history, regardless of the faiths professed by historians and their audience. Since history is a science, historians establish scientific facts (where consensus holds). Therefore there is nothing wrong with presenting scientific facts as facts. The Christians and the theologians got smarter and recognized the value of the Age of the Enlightenment and of scientific progress, even when it applies to their own holy books. You can hardly get an MDiv from a properly accredited theological seminary if you hold to the naive belief that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible. Tgeorgescu (talk) 01:31, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
That last sentence is simply not true. While there are numerous unaccredited seminaries, there are lots of "properly accredited" evangelical seminaries that actually require faculty to hold to (some form of) this belief. StAnselm (talk) 02:01, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
History is history, but there are differing views of history that books are written about, we cannot say someone's particular view of history is "the" correct one about a topic where there are other views or interpretations that have taken root. All of the groups you just named have their own views of history, and they are significant to some topics. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 02:07, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
The Catholic Church holds no official position on who the authors of the various books of the bible were. I can't comment on the Orthodox and Protestant positions, but there are so many Protestant churches (and more than one Orthodox too) that I doubt there's a common approach. Anyway, this is all besides the point. The article is about the bible and history, not the bible and authorship. PiCo (talk) 02:23, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
I would be very interested in seeing statistics on what ordinary Christians (as opposed to scholars, clergy and leaders) actually believe concerning these things. I did a google search and all I could find was a totally unscientific but nevertheless interesting poll at an inter-denominational discussion forum. I'm sure there must be something better somewhere. StAnselm (talk) 02:26, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
I doubt that ordinary Christians give the matter much thought - try asking one if he can recall who wrote Third Corinthians and see what answer you get. (Um, wasn't it Saint Paul or someone?) PiCo (talk) 02:41, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
So what? There isn't a Church that says someone else wrote it, regardless of what was maintained above here. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 03:11, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
@Til Eulenspiegel: I was making the point, perhaps obliquely, that most ordinary Christians don't really have any opinion on who wrote the scriptures; your point concerns official Church teachings, which is something else. On that, though, I do know that the Catholic church holds no official position on authorship. I imagine some Protestant denominations would, since they regard Scripture so highly. I have no idea about Orthodox churches. PiCo (talk) 06:23, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
It could be argued that the RCC has an official position at least on the Pauline corpus, because the decrees of the council of Trent, which are supposedly infallible and have apostolic authority, define "fourteen epistles of Paul the apostle", thus not only including all 13 letters written in Paul's name, but also the internally anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews. Similar formulas are indeed found in protestant confessions, such as the Westminster Confession of Faith, though the latter names Hebrews separately. - Lindert (talk) 10:11, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
The Council of Trent at that point was concerned with defining the canon of Scripture - the Protestants had defined an extremely narrow canon, and the Church wanted to establish that books it had traditionally regarded as authoritative (and which the Lutherans did not) should continue to be used. The naming of authors in relation to the epistles was simply a way of identifying them. The current position is set out by Divino Afflante Spiritu of about 1940, which encouraged Catholic scholars to investigate questions such as authorship using the latest critical/scholarly tools. And I repeat, this is irrelevant: the article is about historicity, not authorship. PiCo (talk) 12:05, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
My dear Pico, in most books of both testaments, the human author identifies himself, and the Episcopalian catechism for one does NOT teach that these are pseudepigrapha that were actually written, but only by someone other than the person they claimed to be. What church does? Please be explicit. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 13:07, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
I sorry, but preceding paragraph no grammar! --Stephan Schulz (talk) 14:46, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
What do you not comprehend? My paragraph construes perfectly, in English. Each sentence or clause has a subject and a predicate. Do I need to break it down in "simple English" for you? Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 17:57, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
"Clear" would suffice. In particularly, I find the use of "but" confusing (not to mention the use of "construes" in the active voice, but there I get the gist). Thanks. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 01:55, 17 March 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── How about this: "the Episcopalian catechism for one does NOT teach that these are pseudepigrapha -- [i.e.] that were actually written, but only [written] by someone other than the person they [i.e. he or she, but all I think are male so "he" is more proper grammar than "they"] claimed to be." The word written is an understood parallelism that I have supplied to clarify. In fact the catechism of every denomination AFAIK is quite clear that the OT/NT books are canonical and written by who they say they are written by. Inconvenient thing for revisionists, those catechisms... And 'construe' was originally an intransitive actively used verb before it was ever a transitive, passively used one, however I digress... Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 02:58, 17 March 2013 (UTC)

@Til Eulenspiegel, it's not true that "in most books of both testaments, the human author identifies himself". In the OT, none of the Torah identifies an author, nor any of the Former Prophets; nor do the entire books of the Major and Minor prophets identify authors, although they do, naturally, mention the prophets. In the Writings the position is somewhat different, with Psalms, Qoheleth and a few other books having apparent authorial ascriptions, but these are questionable (a psalm "of David", for example, might have identified a psalm identified with the royal house, rather than the author). For the NT, the ascriptions for the gospels appear fairly late, in the 2nd century. Most of the epistle have authors' names, though.

So far as I can tell the Episcopalian catechism doesn't mention anything about the authors of the biblical books. This is what it has under "Holy Scriptures:"

Question 55: What are the Holy Scriptures? Answer 55: The Holy Scriptures, commonly called the Bible, are the books of the Old and New Testaments; other books, called the Apocrypha, are often included in the Bible.

Question 56: What is the Old Testament? Answer 56: The Old Testament consists of books written by the people of the Old Covenant, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to show God at work in nature and history.

Question 57: What is the New Testament? Answer 57: The New Testament consists of books written by the people of the New Covenant, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to set forth the life and teachings of Jesus and to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom for all people.

Question 58: What is the Apocrypha? Answer 58: The Apocrypha is a collection of additional books written by people of the Old Covenant, and used in the Christian Church.

Question 59: Why do we call the Holy Scriptures the Word of God? Answer 59: We call them the Word of God because God inspired their human authors and because God still speaks to us through the Bible.

Question 60: How do we understand the meaning of the Bible? Answer 60: We understand the meaning of the Bible by the help of the Holy Spirit, who guides the Church in the true interpretation of the Scriptures.

That's from this website. PiCo (talk) 05:21, 17 March 2013 (UTC)

Stop lying to the people, Pico. You are not a Bible teacher. The Prophets all mention human authors in their very first verse, eg "This is the burden of the LORD that was revealed to Obadiah". Now there seems to be agreement that obviously SOMEONE wrote it. But the answer Churches get from this is that the person who wrote it was named "Obadiah". What your scribes and scholars conclude from this on the other hand is "NO! Never! It can't be so! This must be a pseudepigrapha, therefore this proves that the author could not have been Obadiah, and was therefore anybody but Obadiah". Which is fine for you, up until the point that you start enforcing that P.O.V. with no authority or REAL proof, on the congregations that accept that the author's name was Obadiah because it says so in the first verse. As for you being an authority on what the Episcopal Church teaches on who wrote, did you attend Confirmation classes? If you had you might understand what the meaning of the word "CANONICAL" is (hint: it is mutually exclusive with "Pseudepigrapha") and you might know better than to spout these blatant falsehoods about Church teaching. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 12:56, 17 March 2013 (UTC)
Please Til Eulenspiegel, let's not accuse other editors of lying, remember to always assume good faith. This helps keep discussions civil and useful.
@Pico: I do wonder where you got the idea that none of the Major and Minor prophets have an authorial ascriptions as do the book of Qoheleth and many of the Psalms, while most do in fact have an introduction very similar to this, mentioning the book's author. Consider e.g. the Book of Amos: "The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake." How is that different from "The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem."? The book of Ezekiel is written in the first person throughout, after the author introduces himself in the first three verses. It is true that the Book of Daniel (not counted among the Nevi'im) lacks any introduction of the sort and some, such as that of Zechariah can be interpreted as part of the narrative rather than an authorial ascriptions. Nevertheless the sweeping statement you made regarding all the Major and Minor prophets seems to me quite inaccurate. - Lindert (talk) 14:19, 17 March 2013 (UTC)
@Lindert, I think we're getting well off-topic here, plus we're not discussing improvement to the article. I'd just say that you might like to read Marvin Sweeney's introduction to his study of Isaiah 1-39, where around pages 10-11 he describes how Gunkel put forward the idea that the prophets spoke their prophecies (in a state of ecstasy - possession by God) and others wrote them down. The written prophecies were preserved by schools of followers and gradually grew into books. But we really should be concentrating on this article. Is the original post-maker still reading this? PiCo (talk) 00:47, 18 March 2013 (UTC)
PiCo - we all have our pet authors who support our own "opinions" on the Bible - doesn't mean yours is any more correct than anyone elses' - especially considering neither Sweeney or any of the rest of us were there...
Yes - we are well off topic as it appears Student7 highjacked the conversation on the 15th and we should go back to the original thread. Ckruschke (talk) 18:48, 19 March 2013 (UTC)Ckruschke
Theological opinions about the Mosaic authorship are notable, but they aren't science. The facts in this matter are established by historians who live by publish or perish, the rest is theological opinion (opinion as opposed to facts). Wikipedia should consider fact what is taught at Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard about the Mosaic authorship. According to WP:RNPOV the deal is this: state the theological viewpoints, state the historical facts and then state the theological reply to the historical facts. With the specification that science decides what constitutes fact, and theology decides what should be believed by this or that church. Facts do not depend on one's religion, if one says that the truth claims of a historical study could only be evaluated by committed, Bible-believing Christians, it is a way of saying that such study is pseudohistory. Tgeorgescu (talk) 19:11, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
Are you suggesting that the questions of Torah authorship have all been suddenly settled now by means of the scientific method, or is this more cheerleading propaganda? Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 19:24, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
Careful - Mosaic authorship is not based on concrete - anything - other than modern scholarship attempting to reconcile their opinion of the absence of the supernatural. Similar to the books of Isaiah and Daniel, since precognition of the future or divine guidance is "impossible", there MUST BE multiple authors - with at least one who wrote after the historical events discussed in the text. Authorship determinations are NOT based on solid ground such as Archeology or anything else listed in WP:RNPOV. So while I agree that the leading, scholarly viewpoint needs to be reflected, with a nod to "traditional" viewpoints, let's not get carried away. Ckruschke (talk) 19:41, 19 March 2013 (UTC)Ckruschke
Huh? Who interprets the Torah as prophesying any future events? Are you talking bout the same Torah? Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 19:58, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
I suggest reading Historical method before saying that the exclusion of the supernatural (or paranormal) causation would be a violation of WP:NPOV. No historian worth his/her salt works with supernatural (paranormal) causation and automatically relegates all such attempts to the garbage bin of pseudohistory, regardless of the religious faith he/she professes. It's history 101, you cannot miss this if you get first year classes in a faculty of history. In fact you cannot miss this if you have ever took first year classes in any empirical science faculty. It is so general that it pertains to empirical science as a whole. Perhaps you should also read Occam's razor for knowing that science cannot ever affirm paranormal events such as miracles and precognition. Tgeorgescu (talk) 21:42, 19 March 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── On the question of authorship of the Torah (leaving aside the question of what you think of its content), I do not believe any "scientist" has gotten past the "hypothesis" stage, I do not believe there is any kind of experiment to falsify conclusively the tradition that Moses wrote most of the Torah (See Torah for a good example of an unbiased treatment that doesn't push any particular POV) and I do not believe "Because I said so" is any substitute for the scientific method. and should not be pretended as such. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 21:55, 19 March 2013 (UTC)

Well, to me the consensus seems to be that the documentary hypothesis wasn't radical enough. People worked from it to even more daring theories. I agree there is no specific consensus on who wrote the Torah, but it seems to me there is broad consensus on who didn't write it. Tgeorgescu (talk) 14:25, 20 March 2013 (UTC)

Proposed move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: Moved as proposed. Even though I personally don't think "historicity" should be in any article title ever. Scope of the article may need to slightly change to follow consensus here. (non-admin closure) Red Slash 21:42, 31 December 2013 (UTC)



The Bible and historyHistoricity of the Bible Based on the content of this article, I believe it should be moved to Historicity of the Bible, which currently redirects here. This should serve as the top level article for all articles focused on the historicity of any of the books of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, as well as the deuterocanonical books, or the figures within. Any comments on this proposal? --Tznkai (talk) 03:27, 18 December 2013 (UTC)

There is some discussion on WP:WikiProject Bible on this.--Tznkai (talk) 16:46, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Move. This solves Wikipedia's dislike for "and" titles. These can result in confusion as to what the topic really is. Student7 (talk) 21:35, 22 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Move. And lets get the debate about Authorship into the Authorship of the Bible page abd get it out of here....John D. Croft (talk) 13:20, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. While "historicity" is almost too big a word for general readership, and I might prefer Historical study of the Bible, I am swayed by consistency with the other articles named as Historicity. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 04:37, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Support Should clarify title confusion issues. Ckruschke (talk) 17:36, 31 December 2013 (UTC)Ckruschke
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

Why is this here?[edit]

In the "Challenges to historicity" section, is the following sentences:

Galileo is the name most closely associated with the first scientific assault on biblical authority, but the heliocentric universe was sufficiently peripheral to biblical ontology to be eventually accommodated. Galileo's writings were on the Catholic Index of prohibited books[23] until 1835 when all traces of official opposition to heliocentrism by the church disappeared when these works were finally dropped from the Index.[24] Nevertheless heliocentricism has been accepted by most (but not all) of today's fundamentalists.

Why is this section here? Galileo's battles with the Catholic church over heliocentrism has nothing to do with whether the Bible is historically accurate and everything to do with the arrogance of the Roman Catholic church. The Catholic leaders in the first centuries after the birth of the church CHOSE to adopt an Earth-centric astronomical model based on the writings of the Greek philosophers Aristotle and Socrates - so what in the world does this have to do with the Bible which is largely silent on the issue? Seems to me that someone tacked in this section to "show everyone how stupid the Church was". The section should probable be completely deleted or rewritten to clearly show what the actual discussion was. Ckruschke (talk) 20:10, 17 February 2014 (UTC)Ckruschke

I'm inclined to agree. The quoted part is more a general science v. religion issue.--Tznkai (talk) 22:51, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
rm it. But the "sun rises and sets" long after Copernicus and Kepler. But nothing to do with Bible per se. Student7 (talk) 01:48, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
Student7 - Agreed. Ckruschke (talk) 16:54, 24 February 2014 (UTC)Ckruschke

What is the definition of "Few" and "Many"[edit]

In the lede is the following sentence:

Archaeological discoveries in the nineteenth and twentieth century have supported few of the Bible's historical narratives and refuted many of the more important ones,[1] although the Bible still remains subject to considerable debate.

Considering I can name "many" Biblical historical narratives that have been supported through archeology (including the existance of David's kingdom, the existance of the Hittite people, the cataclysmic destruction of Jericho, etc), whose definition of "few" are we following - Enns'? And if it is Enns, I see that he's "A" biblical scholar, but is he "THE" source such that he's the only ref for this in the lede? Likewise whose definition of "many of the more important ones" are we following? Yes, there is no evidence of Eden or any of the history pre-Flood, but the Bible obviously has an explanation for that. So whose definition of "more important ones" are we going by? Appears to me that the sentence was crafted off the one ref with the author's opinion inserted as the page's main stance. I'm not sure what to do, but "few" and "many" are clearly non-NPOV weasal words. Ckruschke (talk) 19:27, 18 February 2014 (UTC)Ckruschke

This entire entry is riddled with POV words and phrases, it really needs to be cleaned, the example you've provided is one of the main ones. Enns only describes ONE in his blog post, not a 'few'.-203.26.178.133 (talk) 05:05, 27 May 2014 (UTC)
We're going to have to disagree about Jericho. Yes, it mentions its destruction, but the story isn't supported by archaeology. Dougweller (talk) 05:13, 27 May 2014 (UTC)