Did the writers of the Bible have a different understanding of history than we do? Was it so different that the history of the Bible cannot be trusted? This is what some, especially theistic evolutionists (TEs) allege.
However, I do not see any basis for such an allegation. For the Biblical writer, writing about history was a matter of truth or falsehood as it is for us. Writing falsely about history was a matter of bearing false witness, something that is uniformly condemned by the Bible. Let’s start with the Ten Commandments:
· Exodus 20:16 (ESV) “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Lying in general had been proscribed:
· Leviticus 19:11 “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another.”
· Psalm 5:6 You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
· Psalm 12:2-4 Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak. May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts, those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?”
Falsehood was understood as the opposite of faithfulness:
· Psalm 119:29-30 Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law! I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.
· Psalm 119:163 I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law.
There is no reason to believe that the recording of Biblical history would be exempt from such prohibitions. Instead, truth was the ideal, especially when it came to the Scriptures:
· Proverbs 3:3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.
· Proverbs 12:17-19 Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit. There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.
· Proverbs 12:22 Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight.
This is why Isaiah had warned that the Word alone was the model of truth:
· Isaiah 8:19-20 And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.
It is pointless to go further. The uniform testimony of Scripture favors truth over falsehood in all areas of life, even in the inscribing of history. Consequently, we find that the Hebrew scribes were meticulous in copying their Scriptures. Evidently, they had been fanatical about getting it right, even when they didn’t like what they had been copying, and their Scriptures said many demeaning things about the Jewish people.