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What Biblical Events/Figures Are Historical?

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Posted by John Morgan Powell on March 5, 2001 18:33:33 UTC

I've been wondering what events or characters mentioned in the Bible are historical.

As a youth I was told by my Mormon mother that Jesus Christ was accepted as a historical figure by virtually all historians, religious or otherwise, although different people had different ideas about what reported events actually occurred. Now I doubt that he existed at all for a number of reasons such as archaeological and historical data which suggest that Nazareth did not exist.

I wondered about the Exodus from Egypt. My brother and sister-in-law visited there a few months ago and were critical of Pharoah because, according to them, he lied about what happened to the Israelite slaves and his army.

I'm willing to accept as historical virtually everyone mentioned in the Bible. What they did is a different story. I don't accept any miracles since I don't see them operating in the present.

Adam and Eve, if they existed, corresponded to early ancestors, perhaps the first settlers in Babylonia, but were not the first homo sapiens.

Noah may have been based on the story of someone who had a boat and saved a few goats and chickens when the Black Sea flooded about 4000 or 5000 BC.

Abraham was probably a resident of Ur who migrated to Palestine with his family.

The Israelite activities in Egypt and Exodus may be mythical. Evidently there's no Egyptian record of Israelites until after the Exodus. I don't know what this suggests about Moses, Joshua, and such.

King David and Solomon and such probably existed.

John the Baptist and Paul probably existed.

Jesus Christ may be a mythical figure derived from an earlier Jesus.

Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, claimed he was given golden plates, saw God and Jesus and other supernatural beings. If this is a lie, yet accepted by faith and self-deception by millions of otherwise respectable Mormons, why should we have confidence in any religion (Mormon or otherwise) to lead us to truth? What confidence can we have in people who claim there is a god when it comes primarily from such self-deceived persons?

If Jesus was a myth, yet accepted by faith and self-deception by hundreds of millions of otherwise respectable people, why should we have confidence in any religion (Christian or otherwise) to lead us to truth? What confidence can we have in people who claim there is a god when it comes primarily from such self-deceived persons?

Science does not require this level of faith. You should be able to test the laws of science. On the other hand, experiments that might be attempted to test spiritual "laws" are not supported (such as the efficacy of remote prayer, greater blessings on Earth from fulfilling religious duties, superior after-life conditions based on obedience to religious commandments.)

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