Has The Bible Been Discredited By Archaeology And Genetics? Critiquing A Recent Article

Joshua 16:10 “But they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites live in the midst of Ephraim to this day, and they became forced laborers.”

Introduction:

Today I read a news article claiming that recent genetic testing and archaeology discredits the historical accuracy of the Bible. The title of the article: “Bible says Canaanites were wiped out by Israelites but scientists just found their descendants living in Lebanon”. Whenever one reads the title, let alone the article, where does one start? The writers make it sound like this serves a deathblow to the reliability and credibility of the Bible’s accuracy. As will be seen, a simple question can be asked: “Is there any proof that the skeptic has read the Book of Joshua, or the Old Testament, in making their case?” Below I will offer a simple critique of the article and demonstrate why it fails to disprove the narrative of Joshua. To make this evaluation as brief as possible, I will lay out in summary form the central idea of the article by constructing the following four-point argument:

1. The Bible claims that all the Canaanites were wiped out by the Israelites, per God’s command, thus there ought not to be modern-day descendants

2. Recent DNA testing from ancient Canaanite remains links genetically modern-day descendants

3. Therefore the Bible’s claim about the Canaanites being wiped out is false

4. Therefore it follows, the Bible is false

For those desiring to read the article in its entirety, the link is here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/bible-canaanites-wiped-out-old-testament-israelites-lebanon-descendants-discovered-science-dna-a7862936.html

In order to respond to the claims made by this article, one only needs to deal with the first premise or statement in the above argument, namely: “The Bible claims that all the Canaanites were wiped out by the Israelites, per God’s command, thus there ought not to be modern-day descendants.”  One only needs to explore whether or not the Bible actually makes such a claim. If no evidence can be found for this central thought proposed in the article, then the arguments are invalidated. 

As we have noted already, if we simply ask the critic whether or not they have read the Biblical account, we find out quickly whether or not their arguments are solid. So, did the Israelites wipe out every single living Canaanite? Consider the following Biblical texts:

Joshua 16:10 “But they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites live in the midst of Ephraim to this day, and they became forced laborers.”

Joshua 17:12 “But the sons of Manasseh could not take possession of these cities, because the Canaanites persisted in living in that land.”

Joshua 17:13 “It came about when the sons of Israel became strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but they did not drive them out completely.”

Joshua 17:16 “The sons of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the valley land have chariots of iron, both those who are in Beth-shean and its towns and those who are in the valley of Jezreel.”

As can be seen in the underlined texts of Joshua, there were still Canaanites living in the land after the Northern and Southern campaigns led by Joshua. As one goes later on into Old Testament history, we still find left-overs of the Canaanites. Take for instance the Jebusites who occupied what would become the city of Jerusalem during the beginning years of King David (2 Samuel 5). David’s driving out of the Jebusites and turning their stronghold into the famed “City of David” shows that Canaanites were still alive some 350 years after Joshua. 

Or how about even later still, in the New Testament, in Matthew 15:22 “And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” This episode in the ministry of Jesus occurs over a millennium after the recorded events in Joshua. Canaanites were still around in Jesus day! He demonstrated incredible mercy to this woman – a profound lesson on the mercy of God!

If we take the Biblical data, the first premise of the above re-constructed argument is show invalid. In terms of the central point of the article, we then find that its insistence on the Bible being inaccurate is also rendered invalid. Whenever we find a skeptical argument rendered false by a simple reading of the Biblical text, whatever other details mentioned by the critic are rendered irrelevant. So what if Lebanese people are descendants of the ancient Canaanites? If there is evidence of survivors from the Canaanites throughout the Bible (which there are), then the information about the DNA linkage is just simply information and doesn’t overturn Biblical reliability, the existence of the God of the Bible nor the Christian worldview. 

Closing thoughts

The above evaluation ought to remind everyone who is a Jesus-follower and student of the Bible to be sure they know their Bibles. Sadly, too many unsuspecting Christians can be shaken by such a poorly researched article like the one written above. If we know our Bibles, we can say with confidence that it is accurate and that as always, any attempt to discredit the Bible fails in the long-run. 

Advertisements

About pastormahlon

By the grace of God I was converted to saving faith in Jesus Christ at the age of 10 and called into the Gospel ministry by age 17. Through the Lord's grace I completed a Bachelors in Bible at Lancaster Bible College in 1996 and have been married to my beautiful wife since that same year. We have been blessed with four children, ranging from 7-18 years of age. In 2002 the Lord enabled me to complete a Master of Arts in Christian Thought at Biblical Theological Seminary, Hatfield PA. For nearly 25 years I have been preaching and teaching God's Word and have been studying the original languages since 1994. In 2016 God called my family and me to move to begin a pastorate at a wonderful Southern Baptist Congregation here in Northern New York.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s