1. The painful truth
The Bible is unique among the world’s history books – it is brutally honest about the great men it describes. It gives a balanced picture. It tells us what to admire in them and, with equal openness, it tells us where each one fell down. Most historians’ records of ancient kings are noticeably silent about their misdeeds – they usually concentrate on how great and mighty they were. The media in our day often expose facts about leaders that they would rather hide. No leader wants his bad points to be public knowledge, and great efforts are sometimes made to conceal them. It is a natural reaction to want to hide our weaknesses.
The Bible gives an unusually balanced view:
- Abraham, one of the greatest characters in the Old Testament, betrayed his wife to save his own life
- King David, another famous Old Testament character, murdered to try and cover up the fact that he had taken another man’s wife
- The men who founded the first-century church are all shown initially as being selfish in wanting to be “number one”
- In his early days, the great New Testament preacher Paul condemned many people to death because he disagreed with what they believed
The Bible is unlike any other record of history with its unbiased viewpoint.
2 Undesigned coincidences
Blunt’s book Undesigned Coincidences shows many groups of passages that have the “ring of truth”
This was the name that Professor J J Blunt gave to unrelated groups of Bible verses that either support each other or reveal some extra information.
Here are just two examples:
a) The giants
If we look at three verses from the books of Numbers, Joshua and 1 Samuel, we find an “undesigned coincidence”:
There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants) …Numbers 13 v 33
None of the Anakim were left in the land of the children of Israel; they remained only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod. 1 Samuel 17 v 4
These three verses were written by three different men at different times, but they all reveal a harmony which gives a “ring of truth”:
- The first verse tells us that the giants that troubled the early Israelites were sons of a man called Anak
- The second verse tells that at one time the “Anakim” or “Sons of Anak” were found mainly in three towns: Gaza, Gath and Ashdod
- The third verse mentions that a giant called Goliath came from Gath. It is highly unlikely that the writer of the third verse was a fiction writer who searched the earlier books of the Bible until he found the “right” town to put his giant into!
There is a “ring of truth” about this set of verses. They sound more like accurate history than fiction.
b) Ahithophel’s treachery explained
In another section of his book Blunt brings together a whole string of apparently unrelated chapters from one book, with remarkable results. There were two great tragedies in the later part of king David’s life. The first was when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then murdered her husband, Uriah the Hittite. The second occurred when David’s son Absalom rebelled against him and temporarily seized the throne.
The Bible tells us that the second incident was God’s punishment on David for the first. But on the surface it does not tell us that there was also a purely human connection between the two incidents.
Then Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counsellor, from his city – from Giloh – while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy grew strong, for the people with Absalom continually increased in number. 2 Samuel 15 v 12
When Absalom decided to stage a rebellion, he sent for a man called Ahithophel the Gilonite to join him. This was a very surprising thing to do. Ahithophel was David’s own right hand man. Yet Absalom clearly expected Ahithophel to change sides. Why?
The answer is in a list of names:
… Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite … Uriah the Hittite: thirty-seven in all. 2 Samuel 23 v 34 and 39
In this list of the 37 officers of David’s guard occur two vital names: Uriah the Hittite (the man David murdered), and “Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite” - that is, the son of the traitor. So the son of the future traitor and the murdered man had been colleagues, and probably friends. But this is not all:
So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, "Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" 2 Samuel 11 v 3
From an entirely different part of the book we learn that Bathsheba, the wife of the murdered man, was “the daughter of Eliam”. Uriah had evidently married the daughter of his fellow-officer. With these facts before us it is easy to see why Absalom anticipated Ahithophel’s treachery, while David was astonished by it. The young woman that David had seduced was Ahithophel’s granddaughter. The man David had murdered was Ahithophel’s grandson by marriage. Blinded by his own passion, David could not see what effect this had upon Ahithophel. But Absalom was well aware that Ahithophel was seething with anger, and ready for revenge.
It goes without saying that this fascinating story-hidden-within-a-story would have been difficult to contrive. Either these passages represent a whole series of lucky coincidences or - much more probably - they are an integral part of real history, told with meticulous accuracy.
There are about a hundred of these undesigned coincidences in Blunt’s book. A similar book by Paley looking at the New Testament, lists many more. Bible students are constantly discovering still more of them for themselves.
Try discovering large numbers of undesigned coincidences in any work of fiction you like to choose. You will not succeed. They are the hallmark of true history, not fiction.
The Bible is unlike any other collection of writings in having many "Undesigned coincidences" - the hallmark of true history
The Bible gives a totally unbiased record and has a "ring of truth" unlike any other writing.
J J Blunt, Undesigned Coincidences, Christadelphian Magazine Publishing Association, Birmingham, 1967
W Paley, Horae Paulinae, T R Birks, London, 1850 and 1855
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