Monday, September 24, 2007

The Historical Reliability of the Old Testament

By Dr Leong Tien Fock, B.E. (Hons) in Civil Engineering from the University of Malaya, M.A. in Old Testament Studies from Wheaton College, M.A. and Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from University of California, Los Angeles.

The Bible has been subjected to an incredibly extensive and intensive scrutiny by critics. Yet, unless one only reads the critics' work, it has not only survived the trial but has in fact thrived in it. Christians should be familiar with a defense of the Bible even in the absence of an offense. For the intellectual and spiritual climate we live in is such that the claims of the Bible do not seem or feel real. We need to be able to consciously affirm in our heart that the Bible is reliable and trustworthy.

The reliability of the Bible is fundamental to the credibility of the Christian faith. All Christian doctrines, including the doctrine of the Bible as the Word of God, are based on the Bible. Given the often vicious and seemingly credible attacks on the Bible, a Christian who is confronted with them may find his faith shaken or even shattered. This essay is written with the conviction that it is possible for anyone who is not already prejudiced against the Bible (or who is at least willing to temporarily suspend such a bias) to see that there is a remarkably solid basis to believe in the reliability of the Bible.

We will focus only on the Old Testament and use three criteria to establish the its reliability: the bibliographical test, the internal evidence test, and the external evidence test. These common-sense tests, often used to test the reliability of the New Testament, cannot be said to be biased towards the Bible. For they are postulated by military historian C. Sanders in his 1952 book, Introduction to Research in English Literary History. The tests are most suitable for our purpose not only because they are not biased towards the Bible. Since they are employed in testing the reliability of general historical and literary documents, they are also most suitable because we are testing the reliability of the OT as a literary-historical and not as a religious document (thus its claim to divine origin will not be assumed).

Read on for more information on:

Bibliographical Test
Internal Evidence Test
External Evidence Test
Concluding Remarks


Ipoh Kawan said...

Hey dave u must be superbusy need a favor, u hv any contacts in spore for church or group which has scope for apologetics for my bro?

Dave Chang said...

Who is your bro la? Would be nice to network with another 'apologist' in the making…

In Singapore, I would suggest to get in touch with the Ravi zacharias ministry team i.e.

LT Jeyachandran -
Iching -

For churches, do get in touch with the church (cant recall the name… Evangel something..) where Mark Chan and Soo Inn are pastoring (
That's also where Dave Geisler, (son of the famous Norman Geisler) of Meekness & Truth Ministries worships…

Else, I would suggest Covenant Evangelical Free Church, Singapore (which is an excellent church near bukit panjang)…

Melissa said...

Thanks for the post. This is so much easier to read than the threads with all that alice in the wonderland in the forum =P. great help.

Anonymous said...

Remember the argument from C14 dating in response to my article in The Agora on The Historical Reliability of the Old Testament? I depended on the dating of the conquest by Bryant Wood based on pottery. I trusted pottery dating rather than C14 dating. I had actually doubted C14 dating all along. Just found Wood's defense for pottery over C14 dating. If interested go here:

God bless,
Tien Fock