A friend and I talked for a little while tonight regarding Bible evidence, and when we talked about prophecy, he raised the argument that prophecies from the Bible verified purely from within the Bible can't be used to prove the Bible. Is that a fair argument? And are there non-biblical evidence of prophecies coming to pass?
At first glance, you might think it is a fair argument. But it misses a vital point: the Bible is a collection of books written over a 1,500 year period. It also contains a collection of writing by about 40 different authors who come from different backgrounds. Given the character of the Bible, he would need to show that it is an inaccurate record of history, something that has often been asserted and never been proven.
Let's take an easy one. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all record that Jesus prophesied that Jerusalem would fall. The statements are so detailed and so accurately match history that disbelievers assert that the accounts had to been written after the fact. What you end up with is that the Bible does record prophecies that it says came prior to the event, but then the very records are disputed as being forged, not by any proof but by a claim of "impossibility."
Daniel contains a detailed set of prophecies about a series of four empires: the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman empires. It was written during the span from the Babylonian to the start of the Medo-Persian empires. Yet, it foretells details such as that after the founder of the Greek empire died, the empire would be split four ways. It gives details in the last two chapters about the disputes between two of the splits (the King of the North and the King of the South). It tells of the character of the Roman empire, its instability, and the founding of Christianity during that empire, along with the fact that Christianity would outlast it and all other empires. The prophecy, known as the seventy weeks, even pinpoints the years when these things would happen. Again, people have tried to move the writing of Daniel up to be after the fact, but the Dead Sea Scrolls put a damper on much of that effort. We have most of the Old Testament on scrolls dating back to 200 years before Christ.
There are also the prophecies of Isaiah about the fact that God's Messiah would be rejected and killed. That book dates back 700 years before Jesus and we have copies of it among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Even if you ignore the details of the Gospels, the historical fact still remains that Jesus lived, was rejected by his people, and crucified.
Some other interesting points:
- Non-biblical accounts of New Testament events and/or people
- What do we know about Jesus - from non-biblical sources?
- Historical Proofs of the Bible
- Biblical Archaeology: Factual Evidence to Support the Historicity of the Bible
These support that what the Bible mentions historically is accurate. The weight of evidence is that what is mentioned in the Bible should not be dismissed simply because it is found in the Bible.