An older Hebrew Bible? Not so fast.

In Houston recently, a team of archaeologists announced a startling new find: an inscribed tablet from ancient Israel, well over 3,000 years old, that they believed could prove that the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, was written centuries before most contemporary scholars believe it was. It is, they claimed, “the most important inscription ever found in Israel.”

Social media quickly revved into high gear. The rest of us would be wise to proceed more slowly.

When people ask me the age-old question of whether a biblical account that looks to be historical matches up well with other evidence, like this newly discovered inscription, my answer is almost always “well, sort of but not exactly.”

The inscription remains inside a folded lead tablet, a little less than an inch square, and was deciphered through a series of high-tech scans. It was found while sifting piles of dirt that were excavated years ago from Mount Ebal in the West Bank. What it purportedly says turns out to be rather a downer: “Cursed, cursed, cursed – cursed by the deity YHW (the Lord). You will die cursed. Cursed you will surely die. Cursed by YHW – cursed, cursed, cursed.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.