"THE BOOK OF PROVERBS" Wisdom Regarding Alcohol by Mark Copeland


Wisdom Regarding Alcohol


1. A serious problem today involves the consumption of alcohol...
   a. More than thirty percent of Americans at some time in their lives
      has had an alcohol use disorder - Bridget Gant, National Institute
      On Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism
   b. Nearly 100,000 people die every year of alcohol-related causes
      - Dr. James C. Garbutt, medical director of the Alcohol and
      Substance Abuse Program (UNC at Chapel Hill)
   c. Alcohol is more dangerous than some illegal drugs like marijuana
      or Ecstasy and should be classified as such in legal systems
      - Professor David Nutt, Bristol University
   d. Alcohol is blamed for more than half of all visits to hospital
      emergency rooms - ibid.

2. The Book of Proverbs warns against the dangers of alcohol...
   a. Whether in the form of wine or strong drink
   b. With the potential of leading one astray - Pr 20:1

[What further wisdom can be gleaned from Proverbs concerning alcohol?
Let's see...]


      1. A warning against those who love wine - Pr 21:17
      2. A warning against spending time with winebibbers and drunkards
         - Pr 23:20-21
      -- Alcohol has been the downfall of many businessmen

      1. It can lead to woe and sorrow, contentions and complaints,
         wounds without cause and redness of eyes - Pr 23:29-30
      2. It is seductive, and can destroy one just like the seductress
         - Pr 23:31-32; 5:3-5; 6:24-26
      3. It can alter your senses, leading you to say things you'll
         later regret (e.g., "office parties") - Pr 23:33
      4. It gives a false sense of security, exposing you to great
         danger (e.g., "driving drunk") - Pr 23:34-35
      -- Alcohol has destroyed many lives, both those who drink and
         innocent ones who cross their paths

      1. Which is why kings and princes were to abstain - Pr 31:4-5
      2. It is better reserved for the dying and devastated - Pr 31:6-7
      -- Alcohol is not for those who would be wise

[Indeed, "Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is
led astray by it is not wise." (Pr 20:1).  Because of such warnings,
and with the serious problems with alcohol in our society, let's review
what is said about...]


      1. Drunkenness
         a. A work of darkness, not an element of the armor of light- Ro 13:11-14
         b. Conduct that not repented of will keep one out of the
            kingdom of God - 1Co 6:9-10; Ga 5:19-21
         c. Conduct suitable for church discipline - 1Co 5:11-13
      2. Social drinking
         a. We are to dedicate ourselves to doing the will of God, not
            the lusts of men - 1Pe 4:1-2
         b. Thus we are to abstain from drunkenness, revelries, drinking
            parties - 1Pe 4:3
         c. Though we should expect others to think ill of us for
            abstaining - 1Pe 4:4
      -- The popular and common use of alcohol has no place in the life
         of the Christian

      1. Concern for the weaknesses of others - Ro 14:14-18
         a. Are we willing to destroy the one for whom Christ died?
         b. Are we more interested in righteousness, peace, and joy in
            the Holy Spirit?
      2. Willingness to forego wine if a stumbling block to others - Ro 14:19-21
         a. Do we know someone who struggles with alcohol abuse and
         b. Do we love them more than any presumed right we may have to
      3. Evidently Timothy had chosen  to forego wine for such reasons
         - cf. 1Ti 5:23
         a. Paul prescribed that Timothy drink wine for medicinal purposes
         b. Wine was often used to purify water, yet for some reason
            Timothy had abstained
      -- The Christian must prayerfully consider the role of influence
         regarding alcohol


1. What is wisdom regarding the consumption of alcohol...?
   a. In view of the warnings found in Proverbs?
      1) It can lead to poverty
      2) It can destroy lives
      3) It impairs judgment
   b. In view of the teachings found in the New Testament?
      1) Prohibitions concerning drunkenness
      2) Concerns regarding influence on weaker brethren

2. What is wisdom in light of the problems of alcohol abuse in our
   society today...?
   a. Shall we flirt with the seducing effects of alcohol?
      1) Alcohol can be tempting and easily ensnare the unsuspecting
      2) If one in three have succumbed, might not we?
   b. Shall we be insensitive to the weaknesses that many have regarding
      1) Alcohol is the number one drug problem we face today
      2) If one in three have problems with it, dare we become stumbling
         blocks to them?

It shouldn't take the wisdom of Solomon to see that Christians should
take the dangers of alcohol seriously and be proactive in helping
themselves and others to remain free from its clutches...!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Science and the Bible by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Science and the Bible

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.
Generally speaking, science is the study of the natural world. Scientific breakthroughs produce amazing technologies that allow us to launch rockets into space, create vaccines that save lives, genetically modify crops to increase yields, and so much more. One thing we understand about science is that modern discoveries often disprove incorrect ideas that people had in the past. Newtonian physics changed the way the world viewed nature, and Einstein’s theories of relativity pushed our understanding even further. Quantum physics and mechanics continue to plumb the depths of the smallest subatomic particles, and the latest medical research proves that many of the old ideas en vogue years ago were simply wrong. Due to the nature of human fallibility, asbestos, that we once thought was a perfect flame retardant, has been replaced because of its health dangers. Lead-based paint that once seemed like such a good idea, must be removed from homes so babies don’t get lead poisoning. There is a good reason that many science textbooks are in their 10th, 11th, and 12th editions. The first editions needed correcting and updating. The most up-to-date modern science is often the most accurate, and even much of that will be replaced as the overall knowledge of humanity continues to increase.
The Bible, on the other hand, is an old book. The first books of the Old Testament were penned by Moses around 1450 B.C. The last book of the New Testament, Revelation, was finished before the end of the first century. That means the entire Bible is almost 2,000 years old and some parts of it are approximately 3,500 years old. If the 66 books that compose the Bible were written by mere humans, as some people claim they were, we would expect to find all of the foibles and mistakes that plague other books. In light of the rapid advances in scientific fields, we would certainly expect to find outdated information about the natural world; information that has been shown by modern science to be incorrect. If, on the other hand, the Bible is inspired by the Creator of the Universe, as the writers claim it was, we should find a different situation altogether. If the God Who Created the World inspired the Bible we should observe perfect agreement between every scientific statement in the Bible and everything that is verified as fact in the natural world. In addition, since the all-knowing God has knowledge that surpasses that of any human at any given time in history, we might also expect to discover that some of the scientific information in the Bible would exhibit an understanding of science that was far ahead of anything the writers knew at the time—an idea known as scientific foreknowledge.
The stage, then, is set for a showdown between the skeptic, who claims that the Bible is not inspired, and the Christian, who believes it is. The skeptic must simply show that the Bible, a 3,500-year-old book, is filled with the typical scientific mistakes made by mere humans. If the Bible is a human production, that should be extremely easy to do. The Christian, on the other hand, must show that the Bible does not contain even one scientific error. Further, it would add credence to the case for inspiration if it could be proven that the Bible exhibits scientific information that was ahead of anything the human writers could have known by themselves. Which of these two positions is validated by an honest comparison between the Bible and modern scientific research? Time and again, the Bible exhibits a perfectly accurate understanding of natural phenomena, even to the point of legitimate scientific foreknowledge, without putting forth a single idea that contradicts a known scientific fact. Let us turn our attention to a listing of some  of these findings.

The Law of Biogenesis

In biology, one of the most widely used laws of science is the Law of Biogenesis. “Biogenesis” is composed of two words—“bio,” which means life, and “genesis,” which means beginning. Thus, this law deals with the beginning of life. It simply says that life in the material world comes only from previous life of its own kind. We see this law played out everyday all around the world. Over the years, the truthfulness of this law has been documented by thousands of scientists, one of the most famous of whom was Louis Pasteur. His work dealt a crushing blow to the notion of spontaneous generation (the idea that life arises on its own from nonliving sources). In earlier centuries, the idea that life arose from nonliving chemicals was very popular.
Teachers and professors correctly point out today that Pasteur triumphed over this “mythology” when he disproved the concept of spontaneous generation through his well-designed scientific experiments. In truth, however, the naturalistic theory of evolution could not have occurred without some form of spontaneous generation. For this reason, many scientists have concocted experiments attempting to create life from nonliving substances. But after all these attempts, life has never been created from something nonliving. If thousands of scientists have designed carefully planned experiments to create life from something nonliving, and yet have failed miserably every time, how in the world can we be expected to believe that nature did it by using accidents, chance, and blind forces? On the contrary, whether in nature or in the laboratory, scientists never have documented a single case of spontaneous generation! Life comes only from previous life of its own kind, which is exactly what the Bible has taught for 3,500 years. To put it in the words of Genesis 1:24: “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind’; and it was so.”1

The Laws of Thermodynamics

The study of matter and energy and how they relate is often referred to as thermodynamics. There are four primary Laws of Thermodynamics, and two of them are of particular importance. The first is known as the Law of Conservation of Energy. It simply says that in a closed system, such as our Universe, matter and energy can change forms, but no matter or energy can be created or destroyed. To understand this, think of a burning piece of paper. The paper is burned and changes to ash, while heat and gases are released into the atmosphere, but the total amount of matter/energy is still the same. The Second Law of Thermodynamics basically states that closed systems are moving toward a state of disorder, also known as entropy. Think about the burning paper. The energy and gases released after burning are less usable than they were before. The Second Law dictates that rooms get messier over time, automobiles wear out, and things wear down.
As we look into the Bible, we see that it agrees perfectly with these Laws. As Dr. Jeff Miller stated:
The Laws of Thermodynamics, which science itself recognizes in its explanations of the phenomena in the Universe, were designed by the Chief Engineer. As expected, they prove to be in complete harmony with His existence…. God, Himself, articulated these laws centuries ago. At the very beginning of the Bible, the First Law of Thermodynamics was expressed when Moses penned, “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day, God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done” (Genesis 2:1-2). After the six days of Creation, the mass/matter/energy creation process was terminated…. Through the hand of the Hebrews writer, God also articulated centuries ago what scientists call the Second Law of Thermodynamics: “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands; they will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment” (1:10-11).2

Countless Stars

Who could forget God’s promises to the “father of the faithful?” Not only would God bless all nations through Abraham and give his descendants the land upon which Abraham’s feet had trod, but God also would cause Abraham’s descendants to multiply so that they would be as countless as the stars of the sky. In Genesis 15:5, we read God’s promise to His friend Abraham: “Then He [God] brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’” The fact that the stars are numberless comes as no surprise to those of us who have seen pictures taken from the Moon, or peered into other galaxies through million-dollar telescopes.3
Yet the idea that the stars could conceivably be counted remained firmly planted in the minds of some all the way up until the early 1900s. In the past, ancient (and not-so-ancient) personalities attempted to count the stars. One such Greek astronomer, Hipparchus, almost two centuries before Christ, went on record in multiple ancient sources with figures anywhere from 800 to 1,080 for the total number of stars. Chang Hing, put the number around 2,500 “not including those which the sailors observe.” The idea that there existed a fairly small number of stars that could be counted by humans was quite a prevalent notion.4
It is humorous today to compare the actual estimated number of stars to those figures garnered from the ancients. With our modern knowledge we have estimated that there are at least thousands of billions of stars! Indeed, the Bible was correct when it commented that the stars “cannot be numbered.” And, even though the promises to Abraham and David were not uttered with scientific information as their primary concern, it is true that whenever the Bible speaks on such matters, it is always scientifically accurate.

Ship Engineering

In Genesis 6:15, God instructed Noah to build an ark that was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high. This is a ratio of 30 to 5 to 3 (length to breadth to height). In terms that we understand better, the ark was about 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. As it turns out, these dimensions are the perfect ratio for a huge boat built for seaworthiness and not for speed. Obviously the ark was not built for speed, since it had nowhere to go! What is more, shipbuilders during World War II used a similar ratio to build a boat named the S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien, that came to be known as “the ugly duckling”—a barge-like boat built to carry tremendous amounts of cargo.5 How did Noah know the perfect seagoing ratio to use in building the ark? Modern shipbuilders had many generations of shipbuilding knowledge to use, but Noah’s was the first of its kind ever recorded.

Sewage and Waste Disposal

In modern First World countries, it is well understood that raw sewage carries disease. Historically, however, and even in some places today, people do not understand this fact. Literally millions of people have died due to diseases caused by the improper disposal of waste. The London cholera epidemic of 1846, in which 16,000 people died, is just one example of this unfortunate truth.6
If only the people of London had turned in their Bibles to Deuteronomy 23:12: “Also, you shall have a place outside the camp, where you may go out; and you shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse.” More than 3,300 years before London’s epidemic, the Lord, through his servant Moses, implemented a plan to stop such epidemics before they started. Such tragedies as those that befell London could have been prevented if people simply had accepted God’s Word on the matter and observed the kind of hygiene that the Israelites had practiced so many years before. The fact is, Moses’ instructions could still be used to save lives today in countries all over the world that do not have running water or proper waste disposal.

Blood: The Liquid of Life

Blood has always been an amazing substance whose vast mysteries and capabilities have yet to be fully explored. Doctors in the twenty-first century transfuse it, draw it, separate it, package it, store it, ship it, and sell it. And, although modern-day scientists have not uncovered completely all of the wonders of blood, they have discovered that it is the key to life. In the past, ignorance of blood’s value caused some “learned” men to do tragic things. For instance, during the middle ages, and even until the nineteenth century, doctors believed that harmful “vapors” entered the blood and caused sickness. For this reason, leeches were applied to victims of fever and other illnesses in an attempt to draw out blood containing these vapors. Also, the veins and arteries located just above the elbow were opened, and the patient’s arms were bled to expunge the contaminated blood. George Washington, the first President of the United States, died because of such misplaced medical zeal.7
Thousands of years before the lethal practice of bloodletting was conceived, mankind had been informed by God that blood was indeed the key to life. In Leviticus 17:11, Moses wrote: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.” Today, we understand completely the truthfulness of Moses’ statement that “the life of the flesh is in the blood.” How did Moses know, almost 3,500 years ago, that life was in the blood, while it took the rest of the scientific and medical community thousands of years (and thousands of lives!) to discover this truth?

Germs, Labor Fever, and Dealing with Dead Bodies

In 1847, an obstetrician named Ignaz Semmelweis was the director of a hospital ward in Vienna, Austria. Many pregnant women checked into his ward, but 18% of those women never checked out. One out of every six that received treatment in Semmelweis’ ward died of labor fever. Autopsies revealed pus under their skin, in their chest cavities, in their eye sockets, etc. Semmelweis was distraught over the mortality rate in his ward, and other hospital wards like it all over Europe. If a woman delivered a baby using a midwife, then the death fell to only 3%. Yet if she chose to use the most advanced medical knowledge and facilities of the day, her chance of dying skyrocketed to 18%!8
As he contemplated his dilemma, he watched young medical students perform their routine tasks. Each day the students would perform autopsies on the dead mothers. Then they would rinse their hands in a bowl of bloody water, wipe them off on a common, shared towel, and immediately begin internal examinations of the still-living women. As a twenty-first-century observer, you probably are appalled to think that such practices actually took place in institutes of what was at the time “modern technology.” What doctor in his right mind would touch a dead person and then perform examinations on living patients—without first employing some sort of minimal hygienic practices intended to kill germs? But to Europeans in the middle-nineteenth-century, germs were a foreign concept. They had never seen a germ, much less been able to predict its destructive potential. According to their theories, disease was caused by “atmospheric conditions” or “cosmic telluric influences.”
Semmelweis ordered everyone in his ward to thoroughly wash his or her hands in a chlorine solution after every examination. In three months, the death rate fell from 18% to 1-3%. Semmelweis had made an amazing discovery. Or had he? Dr. Semmelweis simply “rediscovered” what was written millennia earlier. Almost 3,300 years before Semmelweis lived, Moses had written: “He who touches the dead body of anyone shall be unclean seven days. He shall purify himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day; then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not be clean” (Numbers 19:12). The Bible was right all along.9


Moses detailed measures to prevent the spread of germs from dead bodies to living humans long before such was understood and prescribed in modern medicine. But the Old Testament added another extremely beneficial practice to the field of medicine in its detailed descriptions of maladies for which living individuals should be quarantined. The book of Leviticus lists a plethora of diseases and ways in which an Israelite would come in contact with germs. Those with such diseases as leprosy were instructed to “dwell alone…outside the camp” (Leviticus 13:46). If and when a diseased individual did get close to those who were not diseased, he was instructed to “cover his mustache, and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!” (13:45). It is of interest that the covering of one’s mustache would prevent spit and spray from the mouth of the individual to pass freely through the air, much like the covering of one’s mouth during a cough or sneeze.
Concerning such quarantine practices, S.E. Massengill wrote in his book A Sketch of Medicine and Pharmacy:
In the prevention of disease, however, the ancient Hebrews made real progress. The teachings of Moses, as embodied in the Priestly Code of the Old Testament, contain two clear conceptions of modern sanitation—the importance of cleanliness and the possibility of controlling epidemic disease by isolation and quarantine.10
In regard to the understanding of contagion implied in the quarantine rules in the Old Testament, McGrew noted in the Encyclopedia of Medical History: “The idea of contagion was foreign to the classic medical tradition and found no place in the voluminous Hippocratic writings. The Old Testament, however, is a rich source for contagionist sentiment, especially in regard to leprosy and venereal disease.”11 Here again, the Old Testament exhibits amazingly accurate medical knowledge that surpasses any known human ingenuity available at the time of its writing.

Laws of Food Consumption

Food regulations enumerated in the first five books of the Old Testament have been scrutinized repeatedly by credentialed professionals in the fields of dietary and pathological research. The regulations have proven to coincide with modern science’s understanding of various aspects of health and disease prevention. Old Testament food laws exhibit knowledge of bacteria, food preparation, and pathogen awareness that surpasses anything from cultures contemporary with the ancient Israelites. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the knowledge inherent in the laws was, or could have been, gathered experimentally by the Israelite nation. Thus, the Israelites could not have copied these laws from nations around them, nor did they arrive at them through their own experimental, scientific research. Where, then, did such amazingly accurate laws originate? Moses repeatedly acknowledged that the laws came from the Lord (Deuteronomy 10:4-5). These laws included a prohibition of eating pork, a meat that is known to be more susceptible to contamination than others such as beef or mutton.12  They also prohibited the consumption of the bat, an animal with an extremely high probability of carrying diseases harmful to humans. The fact that animals in the water had to have scales and fins to be eaten would have helped the Israelites avoid bacterial laden oysters and poisonous/venomous fish such as the blowfish and the lionfish. In addition, warnings against handling and eating reptiles would have cut down on the spread of salmonella, since the vast majority of reptiles carry the bacteria.13

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Countries across the globe are experiencing major epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases. For instance, every hour in China a baby is born with syphilis, and “the rate of mother-to-child transmission jumped from 7 to 57 cases per 100,000 live births between 2003 and 2008.”14 In recent years, syphilis cases in China were “rising by 30 percent every year.” Syphilis infection is increasing in the United States as well. To what do the experts attribute the surge of syphilis infection? “Prostitutes along with gay and bisexual men, many of whom are married with families, are driving the epidemic” in China. And in the United States, “more than 60 percent of cases [are] linked to gay sex.”15
What is the solution to epidemic sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis? The United States Center for Disease Control outlined a simple, effect way to eradicate such diseases: 
The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis, is to abstain from sexual contact or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected.16
The recipe for eliminating STDs bears a striking resemblance to the Bible’s instructions concerning sex being reserved for a life-long covenant marriage relationship between one man and one women (see Matthew 19:1-4; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 6:15-20).
In truth, God’s instructions concerning sex and all other aspects of human life have always been intended to help humans be truly happy. In Deuteronomy 6:24, Moses wrote: “And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day.” The biblical instructions in this regard agree perfectly with the best scientific research we have on the subject.


In the book of Genesis, the text relates that God chose Abraham and his descendants to be a “special” people who were set apart from all other nations. The covenant that God made with Abraham included a physical “sign” that was to be implemented in all future generations of Abraham’s descendants. According to the text, God said: “He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant” (Genesis 17:12).
The Bible’s inclusion of this surgical practice provides another excellent example of the scientific accuracy of the text.17 The day on which the biblical record commands the practice to be implemented is of extreme importance. The human body requires prothrombin, Vitamin K, and platelets in order for blood to clot. The percent of available prothrombin in a newborn dips from about 90% of normal on its day of birth to about 35% on its third day of life outside the womb. After the third day, the available prothrombin begins to climb. By the eighth day of the child’s life, the available prothrombin level is approximately 110% of normal, about 20% more than it was on the first day, and about 10% more than it will be during subsequent days and years of its life.18 Such data prove that the eighth day is the perfect day on which to perform a major surgery such as circumcision. This amazing medical accuracy cannot be accounted for on the basis of human ingenuity in the ancient world. Divine oversight remains the only reasonable answer.

A Global Flood

Genesis chapters 6-9 tell the story of Noah and a worldwide Flood that covered every square inch of the globe. Consider the boldness of such a statement. There would have been no possible way for one man or family to know what happened across the whole Earth. The most any person could do would be to describe what happened in their specific geographic area. Today we have global communication and satellite surveillance that allow us to know what is happening on the other side of the world, but nothing like that was available during the time of Noah or Moses who recorded the story. For a mere human to recount with certainty the fact of a global Flood would be beyond the scope of any and all human knowledge. Yet, that is exactly what Moses did.
When we look at the globe, do we find evidence of massive, worldwide flooding? We certainly do.  Geologist Andrew Snelling provides a list of six powerful lines of evidence that verify the fact of a global Flood:
  1. Fossils of sea creatures high above sea level.
  2. Rapid burial of plants and animals
  3. Rapidly deposited sedimentary layers spread across vast areas
  4. Sediment transported long distances
  5. Rapid or no erosion between strata
  6. Many strata laid down in rapid succession19
Snelling further described a geological formation known as a seismite that normally forms in water during earthquakes. The ones formed in modern times generally are only a few inches. The ones he describes are 30 feet thick, massively bigger than anything geologists have ever seen form. He noted that those who reject the Flood have no explanation for these huge seismites. The Flood, however, perfectly predicts and explains their existence.20

Archaeological Accuracy

The scientific discipline of archaeology deals with the study of human artifacts from the past. These artifacts provide information and evidence for historical events. Just as we can study various aspects of geology and know what happened in the past to cause certain formations, we can study archaeological finds and gather accurate information about ancient people and civilizations. This field of research provides an excellent arena in which to test the accuracy of the Bible. If the Bible was composed by mere men, the writers should have made various mistakes in listing ancient peoples, places, and events. If God inspired the text, it should be perfectly accurate in its discussion of all past events. When we apply the study of archaeology to the Bible, we find that it is the most historically accurate book ever penned, without a single error.21


The challenge is a simple one. If ancient humans authored the Bible, it would be filled with all the baggage and mistakes that come with being human. We would find some accurate information, but a noticeable amount of inaccurate information. Due to the rate at which scientific knowledge increases, a book as old as the Bible should be filled with scientific statements that are outdated and have been proven false. That is not what we find. Instead, we find a series of 66 books that are thousands of years old that contain a depth of scientific accuracy that has never been seen in any ancient writing. Not only are scientific mistakes completely absent from its pages, but the writers often exhibit an understanding of the world that was unavailable by human wisdom or understanding at the time. The ancient psalmist, speaking of God’s Word, once wrote: “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of your righteous judgments endures forever” (119:160). His assessment was exactly right, from the largest ships to the tiniest germs.


1 For an extensive, in-depth discussion of this topic, see Jeff Miller’s 2017 book Science vs. Evolution (Montgomery: Apologetics Press), pp. 61-110.
2 Miller, pp. 19-39.
3 It is not to be understood that the words “countless” or “numberless” indicate an infinite number of stars. This is a hyperbolic expression used by the Bible writer to mean simply that humans could not count the number because it is so vast. The fact that many in the past attempted to count them shows the wisdom of the Bible writer’s statement. Furthermore, it seemed obvious to Abraham in his discussion with God that he could not count the stars. This example of science in the Bible may not necessarily be one of major foreknowledge as much as one of accurate knowledge that was ignored by many.
4 Kenny Barfield (1997), Why the Bible is Number 1 (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock), chapter 12.
5 Walter W. Jaffee (1993), The Last Liberty: The Biography of the SS Jeremiah O’Brien (Palo Alto, CA: Glenncannon), pp. 2-3. Also Harry Butowsky (1985), SS Jeremiah O’Brien, “Warships Associated with World War II in the Pacific” National Park Service, http://npshistory.com/publications/nhl/world-war-ii-warships.pdf.
6 See S.I. McMillen and David Stern (2000), None of These Diseases (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell), third edition, p. 31.
7 While it is true that the ancient world could have easily understood the value of blood, it seems that many of them did not. As with other examples of biblical scientific accuracy, this instance may not necessarily be one of major foreknowledge as much as one of accurate knowledge that was ignored by many. Such examples validate the point that the Bible is not plagued with scientific mistakes that are so common among other books and writings.
8 McMillen and Stern, p. 19.
9 For an extensive, in-depth discussion of this topic see Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery: Apologetics Press), pp. 108-111. It is of further interest that the water of Purification discussed in Numbers 19 is composed of several germ killing agents and substances that would have further acted as disinfectants; pp.111-114.
10 S.E. Massengill (1943), A Sketch of Medicine and Pharmacy (Bristol, TN: S.E. Massengill Company), p. 252.
11 Roderick McGrew (1985), Encyclopedia of Medical History, (London: Macmillan Press), pp. 77-78.
12 The Old Testament has been replaced by the New Testament, and God now permits His followers to eat all kinds of animals (1 Timothy 4:1-5). The knowledge found in the Old Testament food laws, however, would still be valuable in places where proper preparation and sanitary practices are not understood or available.
13 For an extensive, in-depth discussion of this topic see Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery: Apologetics Press), pp. 115-126.
14 Margie Mason (2010), “1 Chinese Baby Born With Syphilis Every Hour,” http://www.nbcnews.com/id/36967341/ns/health-infectious_diseases/t/chinese-baby-born-syphilis-every-hour/#.W4BQbWRKgr8.
15 Ibid.
16 “Syphilis—CDC Fact Sheet” (2008), http://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/STDFact-Syphilis.htm#protect, emp. added.
17 For an extensive, in-depth discussion of this topic see Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery: Apologetics Press), pp. 126-129.
18 L.E. Holt and R. McIntosh (1953), Holt Pediatrics (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts), twelfth edition, p. 126.
19 Andrew Snelling, “Transcontinental Rock Layers” (2008), https://assets.answersingenesis.org/doc/articles/pdf-versions/flood_evidence_3.pdf.
20 Snelling, “When Continents Collide” (2017),  Answers Magazine, https://answersingenesis.org/geology/plate-tectonics/when-continents-collide/.
21 For an extensive, in-depth discussion of this topic see Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery: Apologetics Press), pp. 57-103.

Resurrected “Savior-Gods” and the Prophets of Old by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Resurrected “Savior-Gods” and the Prophets of Old

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Periodically, critics of Jesus question why there are so many stories of “savior-gods” (outside of Judaism and Christianity) that sound somewhat similar to the story of Jesus. Why would various civilizations (e.g., Egyptians, Greeks, etc.) that existed centuries before the time of Christ have “legends” about god-like characters who worked miracles, conquered death, and were revered by their followers? What logical answer can be given as to why stories similar in some ways to the Gospel story existed hundreds or thousands of years before Jesus?
Although several reasonable answers have already been given to the above questions in past articles (e.g., Butt and Thompson, 2001a and 2001b), another logical explanation for the presence of these stories revolves around the prophets of old. When Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and lawyers for their hypocrisy, He mentioned their unrighteous ancestors and made the following statement:
Therefore the wisdom of God also said, “I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,” that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation (Luke 11:49-51, emp. added).
According to Jesus, God used prophets as far back as “the foundation of the world,” specifically from the time of Abel, Adam’s second son recorded in Scripture. The apostle Peter made a similar statement while preaching to thousands of Jews in Solomon’s Portico.
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:19-21, emp. added).
“Since the world began,” God has revealed messages to mankind via His prophets. Sometimes these messages were regarding the coming physical destruction upon a particular nation (e.g., Jonah 3:1-10; Nahum 1-3). At other times, they were about one particular person or tribe of people (e.g., Genesis 40; 49). But no prophecies were more important (nor more prevalent in Scripture) than those concerning Christ. And, God’s spokesmen have been foretelling His Coming specifically since the earliest of times. Luke recorded how, after the birth of John the Baptizer, his father, Zacharias, “was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying,”
Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began (Luke 1:67-70, emp. added).
God’s prophets have not foretold the coming of a great Redeemer only since the Mosaic period, nor were prophecies concerning the Savior of the world limited to the Jewish people. Zacharias rejoiced that God was sending the Redeemer and Savior of Whom the prophets had spoken “since the world began.” Admittedly, most all of the Messianic prophecies recorded in Scripture appear after God revealed to Abraham that through his seed “all the nations of the world shall be blessed” (Genesis 22:18; 12:1-3; 49:10; etc.). Yet, one recorded messianic prophecy goes back centuries before Abraham—all the way to Adam and Eve’s tenure in the Garden of Eden. There God informed the serpent following his deception of Eve: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15). In this very first messianic prophecy, a suffering, but victorious, Redeemer is pictured.
Thousands of years later, hundreds of similar prophecies about the Christ were given to the Israelites. It is logical to conclude, however, that similar messianic prophecies would have been delivered by other prophets outside of Judaism. The patriarch Enoch, just seven generations from Adam, “walked with God three hundred years” and “prophesied” (Genesis 5:22; Jude 14). His great-great-grandson Noah, whom the apostle Peter described as “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5), very likely knew of the Messianic prophecies during patriarchal times, and may very well have received direct revelation from God on the matter (similar to how God spoke to him regarding the Flood—Genesis 6:13-21). Centuries later, non-Jewish, God-fearing men such as Melchizedek, king of Salem, “the priest of the Most High God” (Genesis 14:18; Hebrews 7:1), Job, and others worshipped and served the one true God.
We have no way of knowing how many of God’s spokesmen through the centuries have prophesied about the coming of a Savior. We do know, however, that some prophecies about Christ are virtually as old as the world itself, and the Bible nowhere pretends to contain every Messianic prophecy ever spoken.
One may reasonably conclude that a chief reason nations outside of Israel possessed stories of savior-gods who share many commonalities with Jesus is because they had heard either inspired prophets foretell the Redeemer’s coming, or the prophecies made “from the foundation of the world” had been passed down to them by word of mouth. Interestingly, some of the first people on Earth to recognize the arrival of the Messiah were men the Bible calls—not Jews—but “wise men (magi, NASB) from the East” (Matthew 2:1). From where did these men receive such knowledge? How did they know that a particular “star in the East” (Matthew 2:2) would indicate the Messiah’s entrance into the world? The fact is, they received Divine direction (cf. Matthew 2:1-12).
Truly, God’s scheme of redemption through a “hero” that would save the world from sin and death has been revealed since the fall of man. Simply because civilizations from the past (outside of Judaism and Christianity) possessed similar “redemption” stories and/or knowledge of a Redeemer should not be troubling or surprising. They likely were based (at least partly) on messages preached by the prophets of old.


Butt, Kyle and Bert Thompson (2001a), “Jesus Christ—Unique Savior or Average Fraud? [Part 1],” Reason and Revelation, 21[2]:9-15, February, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/156.
Butt, Kyle and Bert Thompson (2001b), “Jesus Christ—Unique Savior or Average Fraud? [Part 2],” Reason and Revelation, 21[3]:17-24, March, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/475.

Responding to the Skeptic’s Attack Against Nazareth by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Responding to the Skeptic’s Attack Against Nazareth

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

The town of Nazareth is “located in the southern end of the hills of Lower Galilee at about 1200 feet above sea level” (McRay, 1991, p. 157). Nazareth is about four miles southwest of Sepphoris. During the time of Christ, Sepphoris was the capital of Galilee, a major center of political and economical activity, and home of Herod Antipas (DeVries, 1997, p. 318). Primary research was done on the city in the mid-1950s by Bellarmino Bagatti. He discovered that the village during the time of Jesus was “an agricultural settlement with numerous winepresses, olive presses, caves for storing grain, and cisterns for water and wine” (1969, p. 25). McRay noted that pottery found in Nazareth dates “from Iron Age II (900-600 B.C.) to the Byzantine period (330-640), including Roman pieces from the time of Christ” (p. 158). Bagatti stated:
The entire village of Nazareth has very many subterranean cavities, some used as 
The Church of the Annuciation in Nazareth
stores, some used as tombs. The earliest documentation is indicated both by their form and the ceramics found therein. The latter put us in the presence of tombs already existing in the Middle Bronze Period, and silos already in use in the Iron Period (1969, p. 25).
During Bagatti’s digging in the 1950’s, he excavated an area underneath the modern Church of the Annunciation in an attempt to find any previously existing structures that dated before the 4th century A.D. Not only did he say, “The excavations in Nazareth have revealed grottos and basins of pre-Constantinian times which served for baptism” (1971, p. 243), he also noted:
From the excavations it emerged that the Byzantine church was not the first to be erected on the site, but it had been preceded by a religious site, of which notable remains still exist within the refill of over two metres height over the native rock.... We can, therefore, hold that the first edifice, raised on the traditional site of the Annunciation, was erected in about the 3rd century in the synagogal form of the edifices mentioned (1971, p. 125).


In 2008, the American Atheist Press published a book by René Salm titled, The Myth of Nazareth: The Invented Town of Jesus. The thesis of the book simply is that Nazareth was uninhabited at the time of Christ, thus the Bible writers could not have been correct in their statements concerning Christ’s life there. The publishers are so positive that Salm has effectively proved his thesis, that the back of the book cover includes tremendously brazen statements by those who have read the book. The cover quotes Frank Zindler who says: “Christianity cannot survive unless this book can be refuted,” and “By proving scientifically that Nazareth was uninhabited at the time Jesus of Nazareth and his family were supposed to be living there, Salm strikes the Achilles’ heel of a very popular god.” Robert Price’s comment on the back cover states: “I am amazed by your work and can’t wait to see the pathetic attempts to reply.” According to his “fans,” Salm’s book must be answered in order for Christianity to remain a reasonable, historic religion.

The fact of the matter is, the skeptical community often writes and publishes material that makes such brash claims about its potency. One reason for such hubris is that outlandish claims of this nature excite the curiosity of those in both the Christian and skeptical community. Such bold assertions often draw the attention of those who are weaker in the faith and who do not understand that this tactic is used regularly by the skeptics. In truth, Salm’s book can be refuted. But more importantly, if no one in the Christian community chose to turn a page of the book or write a sentence in response, Christianity as a whole would certainly continue to survive.


Salm focuses his attention on the town of Nazareth because he says:
Unlike aspects of the gospel story that are quite beyond verification—the miracles of Jesus, his bodily resurrection, his virgin birth, or even his human nature—the existence of Nazareth two thousand years ago can be proved or disproved by digging in the ground. Because the archaeology of a site is empirically demonstrable, “Nazareth” is in a category apart. To this day, it preserves the explosive potential to either prove or disprove the gospel accounts. Upon that determination depends a great deal, perhaps even the entire edifice of Christendom (2008, p. xii).
Salm claims that work done by Bagatti and other researchers like Père Viaud are “unabashedly apologetic” in their attempts to prove that Nazareth was inhabited during the time of Christ. He also says that most people who study Nazareth go to Bible dictionary and encyclopedia articles about the site, and not to the direct sources. He claims that this reliance on “secondary literature” causes the average person to be “two steps removed from a correct appreciation of the site” (p. xiv). Salm then claims that his book “brings together all the primary reports for the first time, and allows an independent and objective opinion to be formed regarding the site’s history” (p. xv).

The irony of Salm’s statement is two fold. First, it is apparent from Salm’s title that his book is “unabashedly apologetic” in his attempt to disprove Nazareth habitation at the time of Christ. One could not read ten pages of his book without feeling the force of his blatantly one-sided attack against the biblical idea. Second, Salm’s book is “secondary literature.” He has not done primary excavations at the site himself, and while that fact does not disqualify him from writing on the subject, his accusation that secondary literature clouds the “correct appreciation” undermines his own work. In a very real sense, Salm is a biased author of secondary literature about Nazareth.

In his book, Salm acknowledges the numerous pieces of pottery and other excavated evidence that date the city of Nazareth as early as the Middle Bronze Age. He noted: “The Bronze Age finds at Nazareth come from five tombs and date to the Middle and late Bronze Ages (2200-1200 BCE)” (p. 36). He stated: “The fact that five tombs in the Nazareth basin already exist by the end of the Intermediate Period shows that this quiet and fertile location enticed a substantial group of people to cease their wanderings and settle down” (p. 40). In addition, Salm recognizes that artifacts from the site date to an extended period during the Iron Age, which he classifies as about 1100-700 B.C. He stated: “Combining historical data, the evidence from the ground, together with that from surveys of Southern Galilee, it is probable that a new group of people entered the Nazareth basin about 1100 BCE, and that they continued to live there for about four centuries” (p. 53). These statements are based primarily on the Bronze Period pottery Bagatti describes in Excavations of Nazareth (pp. 258-268) and pieces from the Iron Period (pp. 269-272).

It is at this point in his writing that Salm interjects his thesis. He claims that habitation in Nazareth ended within “a generation or two of the Assyrian conquest” and did not resume until the middle of the 1st century (50-100 BCE) (p. 53). “Thus,” writes Salm,
732 is a terminus a quo for the beginning of a long hiatus in the Nazareth basin. I call it the Great Hiatus (or simply the hiatus), a multi-century gap in evidence of human habitation. The Babylonian and Persian periods are entirely unattested by evidence in the Nazareth basin (p. 60).
Salm bases his Great Hiatus hypothesis on the claim that no artifacts have been found that date between about 700 B.C. to about A.D. 50. He mentioned excavations done in the area of the Church of the Annunciation during the 1930s in which no evidence of a Greek or Roman settlement was found. Salm then wrote: “The following year, R. Tonneau wrote an article in which he registered an amazing fact: no evidence of either Greek or Roman settlement had been found in the excavations” (p. 65).

Notice, however, that Salm stresses the lack of material being found. Throughout the rest of his book, he equivocates the absence of evidence with the absence of a settlement. In essence, he says that since the excavations did not find a settlement, that proves that no settlement existed. Salm’s assertion violates one of the most fundamental rules of interpreting archaeological information. It is a well-known truth that “absence of evidence” does not provide “evidence of absence.” A host of reasons exist as to why the settlement may not have been discovered by the excavations. It could be that the small area excavated was a field or a yard in a settlement that did not have any artifacts to yield. Yet Salm insists that because no evidence of such a settlement was found at that time, then that proves there was not a settlement. He wrote: “The fact that habitations and other domestic evidence have never been uncovered on the hillside confirms the obvious. It is clear that the settlement in all ancient periods was situated on the valley floor” (p. 68). Actually, the only thing that the lack of evidence of a settlement proved at the time was that excavations had not yet uncovered one, not that one did not exist. All it would take to refute Salm on this important point is simply to find evidence of a settlement.

Salm’s Missing Settlement is Found

Salm’s faulty reasoning became apparent in late 2009 when evidence of a domestic habitation was unearthed in the area he claimed was never a first-century settlement. In December of 2009, Nazareth made worldwide headlines. Archaeologist Yardena Alexandre and her colleagues uncovered a small structure that they dated to the time of Christ (Hadid, 2009). The Israel Antiquities Authority official press release hailed this discovery as the first of its kind in which a residential structure was uncovered. The announcement noted the importance of the discovery, and quoted Yardena:
The discovery is of utmost importance since it reveals for the very first time a house from the Jewish village of Nazareth and thereby sheds light on the way of life at the time of Jesus. The building that we found is small and modest and it is most likely typical of the dwellings in Nazareth in that period. From the few written sources that there are, we know that in the first century CE Nazareth was a small Jewish village, located inside a valley. Until now a number of tombs from the time of Jesus were found in Nazareth; however, no settlement remains have been discovered that are attributed to this period (as quoted in “Residential Building...,” 2009).
Alexandre based her dating conclusions on the clay and chalk pottery shards that were found in the house. The pottery shards date from the Hellenic Roman period from 100 B.C. to A.D. 100. The researchers suggested that the existence of chalk indicated that Jews lived in the town, since such chalk “was used by the Jews at the time to ensure the purity of the food and water kept inside the vessels” (Hadid, 2009). The Israel Antiquities Authority confirmed this statement, and added that using such chalk vessels was unique and exclusive to the Jewish community (“Residential Building...,” 2009). Hadid also reported that Yardena and her fellow archaeologists believe that the lack of fancier, more expensive materials such as glass indicates that the residents of the small village were “simple,” maybe traders or farmers.

The house on which Alexandre and her team focused their research seems to have been about 900 square feet in area. Due to constraints at the sight, however, the team believes the house could be larger than the area that they have uncovered, but Yardena does not foresee the chance to excavate the area further. The remains of the house include “a wall, a hideout, a courtyard and a water system that appeared to collect water from the roof and supply it to the home” (Hadid, 2009). In addition, the team also found a hidden entryway into a small cave that Alexandre believes the Jews living in Nazareth used to hide from Roman soldiers.

The dating method used by Yardena and her team, of matching pottery from the site to other pottery in an attempt to properly identify the time frame of the dig, is one of the most frequently used dating methods in archaeology. McRay mentioned this dating method as one of the most effective:
The potters of antiquity were careful imitators but reluctant innovators.... At any rate style did seem to change from period to period, slowly but decisively, and we are now able to observe those changes in style and from them establish a chronology. The methodology is not exact, but within reasonable limitations it does provide a workable typology upon which to construct a fairly reliable chronology (1991, p. 32).
Since Salm’s book was published in 2006, he could not have included the 2009 find in his writings. And while he may attempt to dismiss the new find, or re-work his information around it, the fact that only one year after his major publication a new archaeological find in the area overturns numerous assertions he made shows that his misguided reasoning is inherently flawed.

More “Absence of Evidence” Reasoning

In addition to his faulty reasoning from the absence of evidence regarding a first-century settlement in Nazareth, Salm applies the same type of reasoning to literature that does not mention Nazareth. He wrote: “Nazareth is not mentioned in Jewish scripture, nor in the writings of the first century Jewish general Josephus, nor in the Talmud of later times. How, then, was it possible for the town to exist and yet to evade mention for so many centuries?” (2008, p. 64). As we have seen, the fact that a city or settlement is not found, or is not mentioned, does nothing to provide positive evidence that it did not exist. In regard to Salm’s statement, one could easily respond that the New Testament documents do, in fact, mention the city and those documents happen to be among the best-attested and most historically accurate ancient literature available (see Butt, 2007). In addition, the New Testament testimony about the city reveals that it was most likely small and despised at the time. As Freund noted: “Although the city name of Nazareth might not have been known in antiquity, it is also possible that Nazareth is simply not mentioned in these other writings because it was a small, out of the way village” (Freund, 2009, p. 297).

Salm’s “Lack” of Evidence Lacks Evidence

It has been shown that Salm’s “lack of evidence” reasoning is inherently flawed. Furthermore, we have seen that a single new find can upset the most painstakingly devised assertions based on such thinking. Salm’s thesis runs into additional problems when one takes a close look at the evidence that is actually available, and that he acknowledges as authentic.
Bow-Spouted Lamps
As mentioned earlier, one of the most accurate ways to date any ancient location is by the pottery and lamps that are found there. In an attempt to prove his claim that none of the pottery or lamps
A bow-spouted Herodian lamp
found in Nazareth shows that the town was inhabited during the time of Christ, Salm must deal with the numerous pieces of pottery that others have dated to that time. He stated: “Ultimately, an accurate history of Nazareth can be determined only on the basis of datable material excavated on the site” (2008, p. 105). To describe evidence that he believed would meet that criterion, Bagatti wrote concerning the grotto he labeled #25: “Small pieces of ‘Herodian’ lamps found at the threshold and a little inside show clearly how this place was in use already in the first century” (1969, p. 46). Concerning the various “Herodian” lamps from this grotto and others around the site, Bagatti stated: “The ‘Herodian’ lamps give the known variants: without ornament, with circles near the wick-hole, the body with walls both roundish and angular” (1969, p. 309).

Concerning the lamps, Salm stated:
In 1961 P. Lapp wrote that undecorated bow-spouted lamps were current “75 B.C.A.D. 70.” In that same year, however, R. Smith tentatively dated the type from c. 37 BCE (the accession of Herod the Great). Smith even considered a later beginning for this lamp possible.... In 1980 J. Hayes wrote that such lamps were common in Jerusalem in early 1 CE. In 1982 Varda Sussman dated the appearance of this type in Judea to ‘the reign of Herod.’ A few years later, however, she was able to conclude: ‘Recent archaeological evidence suggests that their first appearance was somewhat later, after the reign of Herod (emphasis added). We will adopt the latter view in these pages. Thus, we can now date the first appearance of the bow-spouted lamp in Jerusalem to c. 1-25 CE. Because a few years must be allowed for the spread of the type to rural villages of the north, c. 15-c. 40 CE is the earliest probable time for the appearance of this type in Southern Galilee. Accordingly, we shall adopt 25 CE as the terminus post quem for the bow-spouted oil lamp at Nazareth (2008, pp. 168-169, italics in orig, emp. added).
This lengthy quote shows the inherent bias and subtle ways that Salm chooses to evaluate the available evidence. Notice that many writers date the Herodian lamp to much earlier than A.D. 1-25, yet with a quick scratch of the pen, Salm simply states. “We will adopt the latter view in these pages.” Yet the “latter view” happens to be the crux of the issue. Could it be that the latter view is not right—that the lamp dates to as early as 75 or 37 B.C.? Yes. Salm gives no verified reason why the reader must “adopt the latter view.” In fact, Salm’s primary reason to adopt that view is because he has to have it in order to construct his case that Nazareth was not inhabited from 75 B.C.

Furthermore, after arbitrarily adopting the “latter view,” he again gives a date of A.D. 1-25 for the lamp’s appearance in Jerusalem. Yet the “latter view” (that he arbitrarily adopted) only mentioned that the appearance was “somewhat after” Herod’s reign. Salm picks the dates of A.D. 1-25, when it just as easily could have been 4 B.C.-A.D. 4. Then he again arbitrarily pulls out of the air the idea that A.D. 25 is the earliest the lamp could have arrived at Nazareth. Salm notes that the lamp continued in use until about A.D. 135 and stated: “The time span, then, for the bow-spouted lamp in Lower Galilee is slightly over a century: c. 25 CE to c. 135 CE” (p. 169). Salm then writes: “In conclusion, the data clearly show that settlers did not come into the basin before c. 25 CE” (p. 172). Let us notice, however, that Salm’s conclusion is not “what the data clearly show,” but only what Salm arbitrarily adopts as his earliest estimates. Using other estimates that he mentioned from other writers as possible dates of the lamps, one could just as easily say that the data “clearly show” that the settlers could have come in the basin in 60, 37, or 4 B.C.

Furthermore, there is an extremely important point to be made about Salm’s biased dating of the lamps. Even if we allow him to use all the latest possible dates, adding to them arbitrarily designated times spans of how long it would have taken the lamp to get to Nazareth, his own statements show that Nazareth could easily have been inhabited during the time of Christ. Salm wrote:
The incipience of a village is not equivalent to the arrival of the first settlers at the site. No village springs up overnight. It requires a certain amount of time—perhaps a generation or two—to come into existence.... The presence of tombs [in Nazareth] indicates both permanence and population, and it is strongly suggestive of a “village.” Thus, the earliest tomb at Nazareth is a significant clue regarding the existence of a village. Determining its date will be an important goal of these pages. The period of tomb use can be revealed by dating funerary artefacts found in situ (pp. 156-157, italics in orig.).
In this regard, Salm further noted that several of the bow-spouted lamps were found in tombs. Thus, according to Salm’s reasoning, tombs show the presence of a village, and settlers in the area could/would have been in the area possibly two generations before that village came into existence. Using Salm’s personally concocted date of A.D. 25 for the earliest date of the lamps, that means that the earliest tomb could possibly date to A.D. 25. And, if settlers were in the area two generations before that (using 40 years as a generation), that would put people in the area in about 55 B.C. Taking that into account, there is absolutely no way that Salm can prove that Nazareth was not inhabited during the time of Christ. The most he can do is suggest that, if his arbitrarily chosen dates are adopted, it seems improbable. Yet even this “improbability” does not accord well with the ranges of dates that are often adopted for such artifacts as the “Herodian” lamps.
Kokh Tombs
One of the most prevalent archaeological features of the area of Nazareth is the abundance of tombs. Salm and others recognize approximately 20 tombs in Nazareth as “kokh-type” tombs. Salm admits that kokh tomb use began in Jerusalem about 150 B.C. But he does not believe that such an early date can be attributed to the tombs in Galilee and Nazareth. Thus, he states: “As regards to Nazareth, the failure to completely appreciate a lag time between the appearance of kokh tombs and bow-spouted oil lamps in Jerusalem and their appearance in Galilee has generally resulted in an early chronology for the site” (p. 158). Salm asserts
that kokh tomb use begins c. 150 BCE in Jerusalem, comes to prevail in that city after Herod’s accession, and spreads to Galilee only after c. 50 CE. Thus M. Aviam has noted that “no Jewish tombs from the Hasmonaean or Early Roman periods have yet been excavated in the Galilee.” In all, there is a 200-year delay between the first beginnings of kokh use in Jerusalem and its appearance in Galilee (p. 159).
Again, notice Salm’s “absence of evidence” argumentation when he claims that since M. Aviam states that no kokh tomb from Hasmonaean or Early Roman times has been found or excavated, that must mean that none exists. Such is simply not the case. Furthermore, if one were to date the bow-spouted lamps back to 75 or 37 B.C., that would put the tombs at Nazareth in the early Roman period, as Chancey and Porter stated: “One of the more commonly discovered lamps for the early part of the Roman period is the so-called ‘Herodian Lamp,’ which appears at sites all over Palestine. The wide distribution of these lamps is probably a result of their relatively easy manufacturing process” (2001, p. 184).
A typical Kokh tomb in the first century A.D.

Salm then reasons that the earliest kokh tomb in Nazareth could date to A.D. 50. Yet, again, his number is nothing but arbitrary determination. Are we supposed to believe that it was impossible for the tomb design to reach Nazareth in less than 200 years? Could it have been 50 years earlier that the tomb design reached Nazareth? There is no evidentiary reason to conclude that such is not a possibility. In addition, using Salm’s own admission that such tombs show that settlers had been in the area for possibly two generations, using 40 years for a generation would still put people in the area by 30 B.C., well before the early childhood of Jesus. Once again, even if Salm is correct about his date (which is most likely not the case), his reasoning could only be used to suggest that there “might not” have been a village in the time of Christ, based only on the scant excavations done up to 2006. But he has taken it upon himself to prove that there could not have been, which he very well has not, and cannot, do.


The excavations of Nazareth have stirred intense debate among scholars in recent years. In an effort to disprove biblical inerrancy, the skeptical community, led by René Salm, has attempted to prove that Nazareth was not inhabited during the time of Christ. Much of the argumentation used to come to this conclusion is based on a lack of evidence, and such reasoning has been repeatedly shown to be flawed. Furthermore, the recent find of a structure that corresponds with a domestic habitation in the area, with datable pottery, overturns a host of the skeptical community’s false assertions concerning Nazareth.

In addition, the dates for bow-spouted lamps and kokh tombs admit, at the very least, the possibility of a settlement in the area, even using Salm’s dating and reasoning. And to the unbiased observer, exhibit obvious signs of habitation during the time that Christ was said to be living in the area. Salm’s arbitrary dates, however, show an evident bias and subjective stance, and far earlier dates could most rationally be assigned to both of these archaeological artifacts. In summary, a reasonable investigator must recognize that Nazareth was inhabited as early as 2000 B.C., and its habitation by Jews between 100 B.C.—100 A.D. fits well with all the information currently extant from the site.


Bagatti, Bellarmino (1969), Excavations in Nazareth From the Beginning till the XII Century, trans. E. Hoade (Jerusalem: Franciscan Press).

Bagatti, Bellarmino (1971), The Church from the Circumcision (Jerusalem: Franciscan Press).

Butt, Kyle, (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Chancey, Mark A. and Adam Porter (2001), “The Archaeology of Roman Palestine,” Near Eastern Archaeology, 64[4]: 164-203.

DeVries, LaMoine (1997), Cities of the Biblical World (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).

Freund, Richard A. (2009), Digging Through the Bible: Understanding Biblical People, Places, and Controversies through Archaeology (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield).

Hadid, Diaa (2009), “First Jesus-era House Found in Nazareth,” MSNBCDecember 22, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34511072/ns/technology_and_science-science/.

McRay, John (1991), Archaeology and the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

“Residential Building from the Time of Jesus Exposed in Nazareth” (2009), Israel Ministry of Foreign, December 21, Affairs, 21 December, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/History/Early+History+-+Archaeology/Residential_building_time_Jesus_Nazareth_21-Dec-2009.htm.

Salm, René (2008), The Myth of Nazareth: The Invented Town of Jesus (Cranford, NJ: American Atheist Press).