The Bible – A Scholarly Response to Critics

Millar Burrows (Wyoming, Ohio, October 26, 1889 – April 29, 1980) was an American biblical scholar. He was a leading authority on the Dead Sea scrolls and a professor emeritus at Yale Divinity School. He eventually was Director of American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem (now the William F. Albright School of Archaeological Research).

Burrows was internationally known for his prompt editing of the Dead Sea manuscripts of Cave One. He was able to communicate the results of research in language understandable to the public. He also gave working names to several of the scrolls, such as the “Manual of Discipline” to 1QS. In addition, Burrows worked on the Isaiah scroll, pointing out its consistency with the Masoretic text. Below are some quotes from Millar Burrows.

“Why don’t scholars believe?… The excessive skepticism of liberal theologians stems not from a careful evaluation of the available data, but from an enormous predisposition against the supernatural.”

“Archeology has in many cases refuted the views of modern critics. It has shown in a number of instances that these views rest on false assumptions and unreal, artificial schemes of historical development. This is a real contribution and not to be minimized.”

“What we really need, after all, is not to defend the Bible but to understand it.”

-Millar Burrows

Father of Modern Archaeology

What happens when theory meets actual scientific inquiry? Much the same with evolution turning out to be a house of cards, so too is the world of radical or higher textual criticism. It just doesn’t hold up under the light of scrutiny.

Sir William Mitchell Ramsay (1851–1939) was a Scottish archaeologist and New Testament scholar. Ramsay was educated in the Tübingen school of thought (founded by F. C. Baur) which doubted the reliability of the New Testament. Tubingen School taught that the New Testament was largely a 2nd Century composition – representing the synthesis of two opposing theses: Jewish Christianity and Gentile Christianity. His extensive archaeological and historical studies convinced him of the historical accuracy of the New Testament. By his death in 1939 he had become the foremost authority of his day on the history of Asia Minor and a leading Bible scholar.

Ramsay was the first professor of classical archaeology at Oxford and pioneered what became the study of antiquity. For this reason he is largely regarded as the Father of Modern Archaeology. He became a Bible believing Christian studying the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. His methods formed the basis for the science of archaeology as it is taught today.

“I may fairly claim to have entered on this investigation without any prejudice in favor of the conclusion which I shall now attempt to justify…[i.e., reliability of Book of Acts]. On the contrary, I began with a mind unfavorable to it, for the ingenuity and apparent completeness of the Tübingen theory had at one time quite convinced me…but more recently I found myself often brought in contact with the book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities, and society of Asia Minor.”

“It was gradually borne in upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvelous truth. In fact, beginning with the fixed idea that the work was essentially a 2nd Century composition, and never relying on its evidence as trustworthy for 1st Century conditions, I gradually came to find it a useful ally in some obscure and difficult investigations…

Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, he is possessed of the true historic sense…In short this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.”

Sir William Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveler and Roman Citizen

The Book of Acts

Most of the Book of Acts is a review of the Missionary Journeys of Paul. This gives rise to numerous geographical/topographical references. Every city and location mentioned in the Acts has now been archeologically located and identified. This includes 32 countries, 54 cities, and 9 islands! Archaeologists and historians have been able to find extra-biblical references to just about all of them from the 1st Century.