As a Forged Document of the Second Temple Period, the Bible’s Historically Based Theology is Worthless (Revised)

Let's be honest and face reality: There is no Biblical manuscript (I repeat), not one single section of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) older than 250 BCE at the earliest! An ironic and alarming reality check for a text claiming to record over 4,000 years of divinely guided history! This presents a huge problem for believers in that a falsified historical record means a death blow for theology.

(In giving credit where credit is due, part of the idea that Biblical text was very late was inspired by a statement from Qumran scholar J.T. Milik who stated that the Book of Genesis should be re-dated and placed with the rest of the late Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. (quote to be located) In fact there is only one artificial term which really makes the Hebrew Bible different from the rest of the forged Pseudepigrapha texts: Canon!)

[The oldest Biblical texts are from Qumran in the Judean Desert where the remnants of 930 Biblical and non-Biblical scrolls have been found. (Tov: 93 – 99)(For Current research on the Discoveries in the Judean Desert)]

Introduction to Biblical Reality
Christians who inquire (usually to their minister) as to the age of the Old Testament are given some vague explanation mixed with theology that God’s Word has been preserved from Creation to Redemption in such ancient texts as the Dead Sea Scrolls (now for the average laymen, the term “Dead Sea Scrolls” sounds very ancient indeed and based on their willingness to believe or need to keep their faith in tact, the discussion usually ends). Then too, many times a minister or seminary professor may describe the first 39 books of the Protestant Bible as the O-L-D (holding “Old” for two beats) Testament giving the impression that this document is indeed an ancient book of truth recording the mighty acts of God. A conservative professor will likely discuss Mosaic authorship (as state by Jesus: “Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” John 7:19) making it clear that parts of the Torah were composed by Moses himself (Deut. 4: 44; 31:24; 32:45; Joshua 8:31; 23:6; I Kings 2:3; 23:5; Nehemiah 8:1, 13 – 18) but this line of logic is simply using the Bible to prove the Bible.

As for as ancient literacy in the Biblical goes, Genesis has the father of the Israelites (Abraham) coming from Ur (or Haran) in Mesopotamia (Genesis 11: 27 – 32; 15: 7) just southeast of Uruk on the Persian Gulf where writing can be traced to Uruk IV or 3,500 BCE. There we have textual finds of pictographs and scripting in proto-cuneiform appearing in Abraham’s home city; the first dynasty of Ur (circa 2575 -2400) (Driver: 1 – 8).

Support for this can be found the earliest material used in Assyria and Babylonia for writing was clay which was inscribed with a reed stylus leaving scholars with a printed record of the evolution of the cuneiform scripts. These ancient records were usually preserved to prevent from textual tampering and corruption by having the inscribed clay tablets baked over a fire (Driver: p. 10). For storage of these clay texts, temple-libraries were often used such as those found at Mari and Ugarit (Driver: 73 – 77). Yet even with a system of writing and preservation long in place, we have not even one small piece of text to support any reading from the Old Testament!

Fact is, important texts could be written and preserved such as in the case of the Laws of Hammurabi (ca. 1792 – 1750) which was cut into a hard rock stele measuring seven and half feet tall with 4,000 lines of cuneiform text direct to Hammurabi by the gods (likely the very emulation for the Mosaic commandment stories on Sinai).

Yet with all this recording in cuneiform scripts in the very area where the Bible's historical events were to have taken place, it is not until we get within 250 years of the Christian era before we have one single shred of recorded text of the Old Testament! The facts prove that the eternal god of the Israelites (Yahweh) along with Israel's divine history and laws simply didn't exist . . . zilch!

In 1997 the Yale Semitic scholar, William W. Hallo published the first of his three volumes on The Context of Scripture: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World (EJ Brill 1997) covering the writings of the ancient Near Eastern world from 3,000 – 500 BCE. The first volume of the series included both religious and royal canonical texts from Egypt, the Hittites, West Semitic (Hebrew), Akkadian, and Sumerian cultures in 599 pages with each text edited by thirty-seven liberal and conservative scholars working in their specialized areas. Yet, even in light of the subtitle (Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World), there is to be found not one small text supporting just one verse from any book of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament. This is indeed very ironic in that the Bible presents itself as a history recording over 4,000 years of divine truth, yet with totally no written trail of transmission, the only straws to grasps at are to claim that at least some sections are very old by using the subjectivity of From Criticism or by the etymologies of some Northwest Semitic words!

Let's be clear! A very late date for composition of the Hebrew Bible has a huge and devastating effect on the theology of the New Testament as both Jesus and Paul anchored their theologies of salvation on the claim that the history given in the Old Testament was as real as the Israelite God himself. For the New Testament writers and redactors, God is credited with shaping the Bible as a historical document by intervening in ancient Near Eastern history. More importantly, the Bible’s claim as a factual historical document is the only support for all prophetic predictions (for the genealogies in Matthew and Luke – even if added later) of the coming of Jesus as the Messiah. But most importantly, a historical Biblical text serves as the very anchor for God’s Covenant with a chosen people who were called out from among all the nations of the ancient Near East (the known Biblical world to ancient scribes). Thus, one can find how imperatively the Biblical God himself stands or falls in this history. Or to put it bluntly: No Biblical history; no Biblical God and no Salvation!

Reality for Jesus (or for the redactors of the Gospels) was that the Hebrew text did record real historical events as found in proof texts quoted from the Greek version of the Hebrew or the LXX. In the Gospels, we find a Bible Believing Jesus whose entire calling and proclamation are in vain without the truths of these ancient historical events. Events such as the serpent (the New Testament's Satan) in the Garden of Eden (John 8:44), that the Torah was given on Sinai (John 4: 22)and most ironically, Jesus based his entire Second Advent on the historical reality that Noah existed and the Flood happened(Matt. 24: 37 – 40 = Luke 17: 26 -27). But of the up most importance for Jesus and the Jews is that the Patriarchal stories were factual events grounded in the Israelite Covenant with its God (Yahweh) (Matt. 3: 9; Luke 16: 22 – 23 and John 8: 39)!

Likewise, the Apostle Paul (conservatively credited with writing 50% of the books of the New Testament) believed in the historical reality of the Torah: That the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3 was so historical, he (like the writer of the Wisdom of Solomon, whose theology Paul felt was inspired) saw God condemning the entire world in what later to become known as the Doctrine of Original Sin:

"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned for until the Law, sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come." (Romans 5:11 -14).

This eternal dogma of human sin has Paul blaming all women as committing an Unpardonable Sin. Thus, for ALL women, the Fall in Eden is the only sin of which even the very blood Jesus’ atonement can NOT offer forgiveness!

A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” (1 Timothy 2:11 – 14)

Paul's theology about women has been used to subordinate women for over 2,000 years as still enforced today in Roman Catholicism, the Orthodox Church, Islam and the largest Protestant denominations in the United Sates: The Southern Baptist Convention which demanded all women either resigned from teaching religion to men in all their colleges, universities and seminaries or be fired! For Paul's Jewish theology, Yahweh’s Covenant with the Jewish people must be historically modified and expanded as a way to not only evangelize the entire gentile world, but pass the Fall in the Garden of Eden to all humanity, especially tarring all women as gullible. It was the historical truth of the Old Testament that was to consume not only Paul’s life and mind as a Jew, but latter (as a follower of Jesus) his first letter to the Thessalonians to his final letter: Romans.

To reiterate once more, not to have the historical reliability of the Old Testament leaves all believers with a New Testament canon (followed by all the all the Patristic texts - from Origen to Augustine to Thomas Aquinas, to modern theologians) with nothing more than a house of Biblical cards built on the sands of lies.

A Self Proclaimed Record of Historical Truth

In 1991 Professor Graham Davies of Cambridge University (along with the help of a number of other scholars) published Ancient Hebrew Inscription: Corpus and Concordance that dealt with all known West Semitic inscriptions in ancient Palestine from 1,000 to 200 BCE (Davies xi – xvii; the Qumran Scrolls excluded). The texts included consisted of all known inscriptions in Hebrew, Phoenician, Ammonite, Moabite, Edomite and Aramaic. Of the 900 known inscriptions collected in this period, there is not one single Semitic inscription that supports an early reading of any Old Testament verse!

Well, since we have only dealt with the last 800 years of Old Testament history, what about the first 3,000 years before this? Surely, at least one holy Biblical verse must have been preserved by God and can be attested in at least just one ancient stone monument or table! Surely, if scholars were to examine all the archeological data, a reading of just a portion of one verse of some Biblical book could be located!
To be fair, we need to let the Bible present its case in this matter.
The Bible's Own Chronology of Time and History
Let’s now consider the Bibles own internal chronology. John J. Collins lists the approximate dates for the early history of the Hebrew Bible’s chronology in BCE. These are:

The Creation – 4,000
The Flood – 2,400
Abraham – 2,100
The Descent to Egypt – 1875
The Exodus – 1,445
David – 1,000
(Collins: p. 11)

(Please note: This is in agreement with the data Bishop Ussher and others who have traced the Bible’s chronology have concluded that the Bible uses major historical events to anchor itself in time and reality. For the scribes who wrote the Bible, its entire historical scheme of “truth” rides on the back of its own internal reality (Barr: Biblical Chronology: Legend Or Science?) )

But again, the Bible's reality loses ground as noted by Professor William W. Hallo when comparing the vast textual evidence we have as recorded and preserved from Israel’s neighbors in business documents, religious texts and history:

What then of the comparable harvest, from the Biblical period, of the Hebrew monuments in general, and of royal inscriptions in particular? Here we come up against the curious fact that it has been meager to the point on non-existence!” (Hallo: vol. II, p. xxiii)

Hallo continues:

We can rule out the accidents of discovery. The soil of the Holy Land is the most carefully and thoroughly excavated real estate on the face of the earth, and has been for over a century. (This is assuming we date the beginnings of scientific excavation no earlier than Sir Flinders Petrie in 1880.)The chance that future discoveries will turn up a whole genre of Hebrew (or Aramaic) inscriptions overlooked so far is remote at best, especially given the many discoveries of non-Israelite monuments already made. Nor need we to be long detained by a second possibility, namely that all traces of such inscriptions have been destroyed by the many wars the land of Israel has experienced and the many enemies it has faced. Other peoples of the Biblical world faced just as much conflict and hostility yet their monuments have survived or reemerged.” (Hallo: vol. II, p. xxv)

This is also driven home by the fact of the Amarna Letters (texts written in cuneiform comprising of 382 clay tables sent to the Egyptian king by his subjects dealing with affairs in Syria and Palestine during the fourteenth century BCE). Yet not once, in all these clay tablets, do we find the name Israel mentioned nor is any part of the recorded Biblical history given credence! (For a complete discussion and a translation of these tablets see: (Moran: xiii - xxxix)

Thirdly, Biblical books such as Joshua (part of what scholars call the Deuteronomistic History) describes Israel’s emergent in the land of Canaan with the massive slaughtering of the Canaanites. Yet from the all the cuneiform alphabetic texts found at the Canaanite city of Ugarit (destroyed circa 1200 BCE), Ras Ibn Hani and other sites in northern Canaan; we find nothing about any conquest. Totally nothing to support the Biblical record nor again do we have recorded any references to a people called Israel much less anything to support the major figures in the conquest of Canaan as historical! (Dietrich – Loretz: 1 – 222)

But, wait! Maybe there is some historicity to the Old Testament even if no ancient recorded verse of the Old Testament can be found such as the name Israel and its god Yahweh are indeed found in two monumental inscriptions. However, according to Gosta Ahlstrom, what we have mentioned is nothing more than a small clan of people called Israel living in the hill country as a subculture of the rich and powerful Canaanites on the coast. This view is summed up by Gosta Ahlstrom:

A short summary of the results of this investigation would be that from its beginning, the name Israel, as far as known, was a territorial term linked to the central hill country of Palestine. As a consequence, all settlers of the hills could be labeled Israelites. This means that the Israelites societies and their culture were an integral part of the Canaanite scene and should be seen as a continuation of the Late Bronze tradition rather than as intrusive.” (Ahlstrom: p. 118)

Let’s now consider the Old Testament’s divine record as found in two monumental Inscriptions where the name “Israel” occurs. The earliest is the Egyptian war victory Stele of Merneptah (circa 1208) stating that Israel (lines 26 -27) has been totally destroyed (an event not mentioned at all in the Bible) and in the Moabite Stone (circa 835) tells us that Israel (lines 5, 7, 10 -11, 14, 18), Yahweh (line 18) and King Omri (line 4-5) had historical relations with Moab, but a relationship glossed over or omitted from the Bible. (Driver: p. 109)

We might add that the Israelite god Yahweh is also mentioned in a fragmentary blessing formula inscription from Kuntillet ‘Ajrud (circa 780) written in Paleo-Hebrew, but making it clear that Yahweh was just a localized deity who (like most all pagan deities of the ancient Near East) had a goddess wife “asherah” whose marriage was an anathema for the late scribes who created the Bible!

Secondly, it might appear that the Hebrew Bible may have a historical chance with the discovery Deir ‘Alla Inscription (circa 800), but this ancient text is a mythical story of polytheism containing magic stolen from its original context by the late Biblical scribes as redacted in Numbers 22 – 24. Moreover, this is an ancient pagan story stolen snf recycled just as the creation and flood stories were plagiarized and redacted by the scribes of the Second Temple period to make the late Biblical text appear old and historical.

In spite of the very few occurrences of some historical terms from the Bible found externally, sadly for all Bible Believers, of the more than 23,145 verses in the Old Testament, the nearest we can get to a quotation of a verse is a prototype of a priestly blessing inscribed on two very small silver amulets reminiscent of a blessing in Numbers 6: 24-26 from a cemetery at Ketef Hinnom dating from around 600 BCE.

But the above adds totally nothing to the Bible’s own account of its divine history much less the very theology which the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions are so dependent on. After all, the use of early terms in much latter forged compositions is a well established ploy encountered in the non-canonical works of both the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and New Testament Apocrypha. Plus, the fact that if ancient terms used in late forgeries make them looks historically reliable, then the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price are just as authentic as the Bible! (This very fact is pushed by professors with PhD’s at the LDS's FARMS Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies.)

In Conclusion:

My post discussed facts that prove the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible DID NOT exist prior to 250 BCE. The fact that only a few personal names from the Bible occur in monumental inscriptions is little (if any) evidence to support the Biblical books as history as most forged records will employ early names and accounts from history to anachronistically project itself text back into time. Facts also prove that nowhere in the Bible is lying or forging a divine document in the name of God is a sin as long as the forged text brings in converts. This has been proven time and again in as in one of the fastest growing Christian sect in the world today, the Latter Day Saints and their used of the Book of Mormon.

For a Biblical text written post 250 BCE, ancient names were easily inserted into this forged history to give it credence by putting a late Biblical historical account anachronously back in time. This point is grounded in the fact that scribes could read and write in several Semitic languages, plus the fact that Akkadian was still in use as a written median until the 2nd century CE.

The earliest date that the text of the Hebrew Bible proves it too was composed in what Christians call The Silent 400 years between Malachi and the New Testament. But this statement, like the theology it supports, is very misleadingly false as Second Temple Judaism was saturated with forged scriptures as the sixty-five texts edited by James H. Charlesworth in his masterful and rich 2 volumes: The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Thus, facts prove that the Old Testament is little more than a canonized group of forge books written at a time when Palestine was awash in religious turmoil and where long dead Biblical figures all seem to have written something ancient. (McCall: Lying, Salvation and the Word of God: Proselytizing and the Fabrication Scriptures in Judaism and Christianity )

The question apologists must answer is why has a major historical record left no trace as a written text for over 3,750 years, but suddenly - just as Palestine was swamped with religious turmoil - forged Biblical books seemed to appear out of nowhere?

[Apologists Please Take Note: Throughout this article I've presented facts to prove my position that that the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible is a late product entirely of the Second Temple Period. To argue that the Bible was an ancient historical document that existed prior to this period, one MUST have textual support! This means to prove me wrong, you MUST only provide factual evidence that the Bible existed written form; be it cuneiform (the major Semitic writing system of the ancient Near East) or in a Alphabetical Semitic script. This article is NOT about the lack of evidence for a historical Israel (though it could be) which is in heavy discussion today. My goal is to prove that there was no Biblical record until the middle of the Second Temple Period!


Ahlstrom, Gosta W. 1986 Who Were the Israelites (Winona Lake, Eisenbrauns)

Barr, James: 1987 Biblical Chronology: Legend Or Science? (The Ethel M. Wood Lecture 1987)

Charlesworth, James H. 1985 The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Garden City, Doubleday)

Collins, John J. 2004 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Augsburg-Fortress Press)

Day, John 2004 In Search of Pre-Exilic Israel (London, T&T Clark)

Davies, G. I. 1991 Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions: Corpus and Concordance (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press)

Dietrich M. – Loretz O. 1996 Word-List of the Cuneiform Alphabetic Texts from Ugarit, Ras Ibn Hani and Other Places, 2 ed. (Munster, Ugarit-Verlag)

Driver, G.R. 1976 Semitic Writing from Pictograph to Alphabet, 3rd ed. (Oxford, Oxford University Press)

Hallo, William W. 1997 The Context of Scripture, vol. 1: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World (Leiden, EJ Brill)
2000 The Context of Scripture, vol. II: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World (Leiden, EJ Brill)

Moran, William L. 1992 The Amarna Letters (Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Press)

Tov, Emanuel 2012 Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, 3rd ed. (Augsburg-Fortress Press)

Harry McCall

[First posted on 10/5/12. Revised and re-posted.]