Weighing the Evidence
Is the Bible True? How Modern Debates and Discoveries Affirm the Essence of the ScripturesJeffery L. Sheler (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco and Zondervan, 1999) 278 pp., $24.00 (hardback)
It’s the question that gnaws at nonbeliever and believer alike: Can we trust the Bible? Was there a catastrophic flood that wiped out human civilization? Did Joseph, son of Jacob and his beloved Rachel, rise to the position of viceroy of Egypt? Did Moses lead the Israelites on a 40-year trek to the land of Canaan? Can we know the real Jesus through the Bible, or is he hopelessly wrapped in pious myth and later dogma?
That basic question is more pressing today than ever. After a tumultuous half century of archaeological discoveries and sharp challenges to traditional assumptions about the Bible, some have retreated into fundamentalism while others have rejected the Bible in favor of a deep skepticism. Jeffery Sheler, religion writer for U.S. News & World Report, travels a middle road, surveying recent biblical studies to judge how well the Bible accords with the modern study of antiquity. Sheler pronounces the Bible generally reliable; the Bible is neither a fraud nor an imaginative construct, but a living product of the ancient Near East.