Thursday, May 29, 2014

Revisionist History

I like history. I am one of those people who read ALL the little signs at a historical site. I like knowing little facts about places I visit and people I read about. To me, these little details make life more interesting. But lately I have been frustrated with the onslaught of revisionist history that seeks to rewrite history. Lately, it seems that someone can find a scrap of paper in an obscure location and rewrite centuries of history without any corroborating evidence. The media picks up on the shocking new revelation and everyone accepts it as fact without realizing it is based on a very minute about of data, which may or may not survive further scrutiny.

While I think we should take all such discoveries seriously, and include important finds that are independently supported by further discoveries, in new versions of our history books, I see no need to instantly rewrite history based on a line or two someone found hundreds of years after the fact, especially when there is legitimate question about the authenticity of the find.

This is particularly troubling in the area of faith. The recent popularity of the Gospel of Jesus's Wife caused quite a stir, and is still being touted by some as authentic. However, questions about its authenticity have always existed and despite all the media hype about it a few months ago, just this month serious scholars concluded is was indeed a forgery. No need to rewrite the story of Jesus after all.

Then there is the recent discovery that claimed camels were not used in the time period of the Old Testament. That discovery was thought by some to prove the Old Testament was not as accurate as some people thought. The scholars who made that discovery, two researchers at Tel Aviv University, found some camel bones at a copper mine and dated them 1,000 years later than the time of the patriarchs. No one disputes that the bones were there and the date given is probably correct. But many attempted to use this discovery to claim that the Bible was either written or edited long after the events it describes. But Todd Bolen, professor of Biblical Studies at the Master's College points out that "to extrapolate from that and say they never had domesticated camels anywhere else in Israel in the 1,000 years before that is an overreach." Attempting to re-write history because two guys find a bone of an animal in one spot does not undo the reality that those animals also lived in other places too, unless the one trying to rewrite history has an agenda.

Perhaps that is the problem. Many people trying to rewrite history have an agenda. For some that agenda is simply to be famous, or sell books or magazine articles. For others, it is to undermine faith based concepts and the accepted facts those faiths are built upon. For still more, it is a clear attempt to spread a lie in an effort to promote an ideology that cannot stand on its own truth. Whatever the reason, we must have discerning minds and not accept whatever startling new discovery pops up on our news feed or social media as truth. We must consider the source. We must find out if there is independent verification. We must look for agendas, hidden or obvious. In the end, the truth is the truth, and no effort to rewrite it will stand the test of time.

Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a church planter in New England. He is a happy husband, proud father, thankful cancer survivor, and the author of numerous books aimed at helping small churches become healthier and individual Christians grow in their faith. You can find his books at:

1 comment:

  1. A well-written post! As someone from a scientific and technical background I have similar concerns with much that is written about science in the media. Simply put: a lot of it is inaccurate. Some of those inaccuracies come from the fact that most journalists know little or nothing about the subjects in their stories. But in other cases the reporting is a deliberate lie to manipulate public opinion.