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Volume 3, Issue 1
March 24, 2013
The History of the Bible 
Passages: Experience The Bible Like Never Before
Passages: Experience The Bible Like Never Before
(Click on the picture to watch the Explore Passages video.)


It has been awhile since I have sent a newsletter on the subject of the archaeological evidence of Noah's Flood and about the Mount Ararat discovery of what appears the remains of Noah's Ark. I have a lot of updates regarding both that I will be covering in upcoming newsletters but in this first newsletter of my return, I want to remind everyone the reason these related topics are so important and relevant. It has to do with the truth and authority of the Bible.

The Bible is the one visible thing that all of divided Christianity share. Great portions of this book are shared or honored by Jews and Muslims as well as by all who understand the Bible's importance for the course of man's history. What is taught in the Bible was responsible for the rise of European and American civilizations from the most backward part of the ancient world to the prosperity and leadership that the West has so long enjoyed. The rise of formerly poor nations follows the work of Christian missions and schools in those undeveloped countries. But whatever be the cause, the troubles now facing our world follow Europe and America's rejection of the Bible for what was hoped would be a more progressive world based on the authority of science. Even in the West, few today envision a bright and happier future as was the norm for much of the Christian past.

During my break in sending these newsletters, perhaps the best exhibit ever put together regarding the text of the Bible has been on display only a few miles from where I live. I refer to Explore Passages, an exhibit of the Green Collection, what may be the largest private collection of manuscripts and artifacts related to the Bible ever assembled. It is currently on display just off I-85, near the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. (Click for directions.) Those who want to visit this exhibit while it is in Charlotte, NC must do so this week before Explore Passages heads next week to Colorado Springs!

Only since 2009 has the Green family, owners of the arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby, been assembling this collection. It is unusual not simply for its size but for the owners' intent to make these priceless manuscripts available to scholars. Perhaps of even greater importance to the world, the Greens are using exhibits and animated dialogues to acquaint even children with the entire history of the Bible: from the beginning of writing to the cutting-edge technologies employed for the latest scholarship. One exhibit is a working replica of Gutenberg's printing press while another features the press used to print the King James Bible. Some of the oldest copies of passages from both Old and New Testament are now on display in Charlotte.

The Green Collection will eventually find a home in a new Washington, DC museum devoted to the history of the Bible. The museum will be not far from the National Mall (between the Capital and Washington Monument) and just behind the Smithsonian. Exhibit space at the new museum of the Bible will be split equally between exhibits from the Green Collection, the Israel Museum (owner of the Dead Sea Scrolls), the Vatican Library, and the British Museum where exist the deposits of the world's most famous manuscripts and artifacts related to the Bible. The participation of such a broad spectrum of institutions and scholars reveals the Green family's intention to see this exhibition about the Bible remain as it began: a non-sectarian endeavor.

One of the themes of the Explore Passages exhibit is the controversy that has always accompanied the Bible. To quote from the Passages video, "The Bible, a book that is both loved and despised. It is the most debated, most banned, [most burned] and yet best-selling book of all time. How has this controversial piece of history survived through centuries of war, tyranny, and hostility?" This exhibit dispels the popular myth of the supposed sponsorship of the Bible through the centuries by powerful interests. This exhibit's many examples of burned and discarded passages from the pagan persecutions of the third century, to the leafs recovered from the burnings of the Reformation, to the Torah scrolls retrieved from Nazi' burnings show the opposite to be the case. Currently, do not the US Courts recognize the Bible as harmful not only to science but to the most powerful government in the history of mankind.

While the Passages Exhibit show how the Bible's survival has depended on those who love the book to the point of making great personal sacrifices, I submit that the controversy that has always accompanied the Bible has to do with its truth. Myths and lies can be used to great advantage and do in fact depend on powerful patronage, but their existence is no threat to those who know the truth. As the contrasting histories of the US and Europe demonstrate, the Bible flourishes best where there is no government patronage. Official patronage only limits who can read and teach from the Bible. But when governments in Europe and US did regard the Bible as their chief source of truth, they saw no threat from science, contrasting with the way that the patrons of science and secular government now regard the Bible.

Contrary to liberal scholars like Bart Erhman, the Explore Passages exhibit visibly demonstrates how the text of the Bible has scarcely changed since the words were first put on paper. Visitors may be surprised to discover how, rather than vanquishing the Bible, the most recent work in scholarship and science pertaining to the Bible is favoring the text's integrity and antiquity, attesting its authority for understanding ancient times. In contrast to what one may learn from the media, among top scholars these issues are scarcely controversial.

None of this is to say that there are not controversies concerning the Bible and history. Archaeological and scholarly studies pertaining to the history of much of the Old Testament continue to be controversial. The area of most controversy concerns the earliest chapters of Genesis where the history of man as taught by the Bible so clashes with the one taught by science. It is in fact the scientific challenge to the early chapters of Genesis that licensed the modern skepticism of the Bible and is the reason that I decided to focus my investigation in this area. When many years ago, I chose to embark on this mission, I had no idea that I might one day be involved in what appears the re-discovery of the actual remains of Noah's Ark.

I love to quote George Washington University archaeologist Eric Cline's remarks on Good Morning America when this discovery was first announced: "If you can find a piece of Noah's Ark, then the Ark must be real, then the Flood must be real, then the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament must be real. I mean you can make it go layer by layer...." Of course what has been found is far more than what appears a "piece" of Noah's Ark, but the implications are just as Cline implies: truly stunning. It stands on head what is currently reckoned as the comparative truth of man's history as taught by science versus what is taught in the Bible. Should this discovery be confirmed, my book will become invaluable in teaching the world just where and how modern science got it so wrong with regard to man and the earth's recent history.

Regards to all,

Philip Williams
New and old recipients

Welcome. If this is your first newsletter or even if its not, you may find a lot of interesting articles in the:
archive of earlier newsletters.

In this issue
* A History of the Bible
* The Smithsonian and the Bible
Ebook available!
Ebook versions of my book are now available, at the ebookstores.

The Archaeological Evidence of Noah's Flood
can be purchased on your favorite reader. Click on links below to the ebook stores.  

The Smithsonian Institution and the Bible
Complementary, conflicting, or non-overlapping teaching magisteria?
Interestingly, the new Bible museum endowed by the Green family is planned for a site not far from the Smithsonian, America's oldest and the world's largest complex of science museums. A significant portion of the Smithsonian's collections concern the origin and ancient history of the world and man, subjects that the Bible also addresses. America's premier science museum addresses these subjects, not by what is recorded in ancient texts, but in accordance with the teachings of anthropology and cultural history and by the natural sciences that address the history of life on earth.

Despite the secular museum's intention to avoid subjects pertaining to the Bible, there are places where its fields overlap with what is taught in the Bible. One such area concerns the many cultural traditions of a worldwide Flood. Another place pertains to the archaeology of the Ancient Near East where are found places, people, and even events that are mentioned in the Bible.

In response to frequent inquiries, the Smithsonian has on occasions given opinions regarding the Flood and the historicity of the Bible. These opinions attribute the Flood traditions of the world's peoples to frequent floods that occurred at the end of the Ice Age. While noting the remarkable historicity of much of what is taught in the Bible in comparison with other ancient writings, the Smithsonian has endorsed liberal scholarship in attributing the early chapters of Genesis to borrowed myth. Currently, I can find no opinion about these topics on the Smithsonian website. This government institution may wish to avoid all references to the Bible as well as to extraordinary historical events.

Nonetheless, what may have been recently rediscovered in eastern Turkey will bear greatly on the truth of these recorded Smithsonian opinions. Suppose a number of leading archaeologists and scientists recognize that what has been found at great heights on a mountain in Eastern Turkey is a ship matching the biblical description of Noah's Ark. Suppose they also fail to discover evidence of the great ship having been constructed on the mountain where it was found. Will the Smithsonian modify its earlier opinion by affirming the historicity of the account in the Bible?

There are of course other ways that the Smithsonian might respond. Regardless of the evidence of the historicity of Noah's Ark and Flood, the Smithsonian might reject the evidence due to the fact that it conflicts with recognized principles of naturalistic science. Of course, that would be to settle the question by dogma rather than by inquiry and evidence as one supposes is the method of science.

There is still another way is this venerable institution may respond to the new evidence. That would be in accordance with what might already be Smithsonian policy: to altogether avoid opinion or study of any area pertaining to the historicity of the Bible. Holding to the opinion that religion and science are non-overlapping magisteria (teaching authorities) was an idea promoted by the great Harvard paleontologist of note, the late Stephen J. Gould.

In this case, a new museum of the Bible supported by private donations will become of exceptional importance, not just for the study of the Bible, but for knowledge pertaining to both human and natural history.  These are the questions that those everywhere who are hungry for truth really want to know.  
ArchaeologicalEvidenceThe Archaeological Evidence
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The Archaeological Evidence of Noah's Flood
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Christian Leaders & Scholars is the newsletter and publication site of Philip Ernest Williams, author of The Archaeological Evidence of Noah's Flood (2011). The site is also a ministry not only to Christian leaders and scholars but all who are interested in the more difficult issues pertaining to the Bible and its implications for science and history. (Read more)