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Like the nose of a camel under the tent, archaeological research has raised new questions about the Bible's version of ancient history.

Two researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) studied the bones of camels found in an area of ancient copper ...

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Howard Pepper

February 24, 2014  2:09pm

Contrary to some of the comments on this issue, many of the findings of the archaeologists of the Near East do not need to be placed into a "two camps" contest. It's often NOT "unbelieving skeptics" challenging a supposedly historically accurate biblical account. Scholarly interests are much broader and more objective.... It is often mainly the media which then turns it into a "challenge" and controversy. William Dever, for example, is one leading archaeologist who is neither "maximulist" nor "minimalist" in regards to OT historical data; rather "let's see what we can find out and understand deeper". I highly recommend his "What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?" In it, he, though not an orthodox Christian, strongly objects to the extreme skeptics ("minimalists").

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Evan Owen

February 22, 2014  8:23am

William Goldman made a good comment "Yet another dispute between fundamentalist believers and fundamentalist atheists" Without good information it is not possible to draw an intelligent conclusion. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkZvjRgSGwA&feature=youtu.be

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Craig Hutton

February 21, 2014  7:11pm

Everyone appears to have the proverbial tail waging the dog here...I'm very embarrassed for the man who can't even make his own heart beat without the fiat of God passing judge on the credibility of the only document that God ever wrote. Kind of scares me when I have my entire eternal destination riding on this document being accurate when some are taking pot shots at it's accuracy and credibility. Have we capitulated to same group that says we came from monkeys or slime but refuse to tell us where the first monkey or first slime came from? Reminds me of the old picture of little JFK sitting on the floor in the Oval Office during the bay of pigs. I feel like today's archeologists are Little John jumping up on the desk and dominating the decision making of the President and his advisers...they best crawl back under the desk and quietly wait for Mom to call for supper because they are clearly declaring to be wise; however, they are becoming fools.

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David Lloyd-Jones

February 20, 2014  10:01pm

The point is not that there were "desert animals" so early. The domestic camel is a creation of the breeding industry -- a human activity clearly somewhat more than 6,000 years old. -dlj.

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Andrew Beltz

February 19, 2014  2:39pm

Yet another "studious but dubious" conclusion from the High Priests of Science, out gathering more votes and calling it "a consensus?" ROTFL After having noted the highly publicized and comedic debacle disguising itself as "research" at the University of East Anglia? Then last week finding out that "scientists" were amazed to learn that crocodiles can and do climb and perch in trees? And how long have crocodiles been around to be studied and observed and they're just now figuring this out?! That piously studious man in the white lab coat says camels weren't in the area when the Bible says they were. Hmmm. Really? Did you get a "consensus" on that, sir?

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William Goldman

February 18, 2014  5:31am

Yet another dispute between fundamentalist believers and fundamentalist atheists - yet another one that will be solved when the second group actually look at the evidence i.e. of course there were domesticated camels in Abraham's day.

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Todd Collier

February 17, 2014  11:11am

This has to be one of the most ignorant archeological "discoveries" of all time. Camels are attested in Sumerian texts dating at least a thousand years before Abraham and figurines of camels with riders have been dated to the Pre-Dynastic and early Dynastic periods in Egypt. There is also a three foot length of camel hair rope found in Fayum, Egypt that dates to the third or fourth dynasties. That is six hundred years before Abraham. Since we also know that Sumer and Egypt were trading partners and that their trade moved through Canaan it is pretty silly to argue that there would be no camels about in Abraham's days. Hardly an anachronism, Abraham's camels were old hat.

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Irving Hexham

February 16, 2014  10:55pm

This is an interesting discussion because it seems to show that with a few exceptions most CT readers are either fundamentalist conservatives or fundamentalist liberals. As a result neither group is interested in history, archeological evidence, or truth. All that matters to both camps is polemic and dogma. No wonder American churches are in decline.

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Paul Holmes

February 16, 2014  9:02am

For the late second millennium we have the following: From Egypt, south of Memphis, the figure of a kneeling camel loaded with two jars (hence, domesticated) from a tomb of the later thirteenth century; from northwest Arabia, on painted pottery from Qurraya (so-called Midianite ware), the broken figure of a camel, of thirteenth/early twelfth century; and a camel on an early thirteenth century sherd from Pi-Ramesse. There are other traces of camels much earlier, e.g., in Egypt and Arabia in the third millennium, and also in our overall period. But the examples just given should suffice to indicate the true situation: the camel was for long a marginal beast in most of the historic ancient Near East (including Egypt), but it was not wholly unknown or anachronistic before or during 2000-1100. And there the matter should, on the tangible evidence, rest.

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Paul Holmes

February 16, 2014  9:02am

From "On the Reliability of the Old Testament", 338-339: What about external sources between circa 2000 and 1200? We first consider the early second millennium (vaguely patriarchal), for which we have the following: from Egypt, a camel skull from Fayum, "Pottery A" stage of occupation, within circa 2000-1400; From Byblos, a figurine of a kneeling camel, hump and load now missing (originally fixed by a tenon), about nineteenth/eighteenth century; From Canaan, a camel jaw from a Middle Bronze tomb at Tell el-Far'ah North, Circa 1900/1550; From north Syria, a cylinder seal of the eighteenth century (of deities on a camel), in the Walters Art Gallery; And from mentions of the camel in the Sumerian lexical work HAR.ra-hubullu, going back in origin to the early second millennium.

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Christina Rich

February 16, 2014  7:24am

Really? I tend to think of Abraham (not only as a faithful man of God) but as an entrepreneur from Mesopotamia, a skilled warrior, and a devoted and loving man of God. Read about him in a Bible near you. All I know is that, once I was blind but now I see. Great story by the way. “He therefore answered, "Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see." (Joh 9:25) Speaking of camels, did you ever read this one? “But when he had heard these things, he became very sad; for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! "For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." And they who heard it said, 1"Then who can be saved?"”(Luke 18:23-26)

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Christina Rich

February 16, 2014  7:24am

Really? I tend to think of Abraham (not only as a faithful man of God) but as an entrepreneur from Mesopotamia, a skilled warrior, and a devoted and loving man of God. Read about him in a Bible near you. All I know is that, once I was blind but now I see. Great story by the way. “He therefore answered, "Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see." (Joh 9:25) Speaking of camels, did you ever read this one? “But when he had heard these things, he became very sad; for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! "For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." And they who heard it said, 1"Then who can be saved?"”(Luke 18:23-26)

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Christina Rich

February 16, 2014  7:23am

Really? I tend to think of Abraham (not only as a faithful man of God) but as an entrepreneur from Mesopotamia, a skilled warrior, and a devoted and loving man of God. Read about him in a Bible near you. All I know is that, once I was blind but now I see. Great story by the way. “He therefore answered, "Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see." (Joh 9:25) Speaking of camels, did you ever read this one? “But when he had heard these things, he became very sad; for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! "For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." And they who heard it said, 1"Then who can be saved?"”(Luke 18:23-26)

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NEIL MAMMEN

February 15, 2014  12:15pm

Re: We don't need proof comment -The danger if we don't look to external proof for validation of the Bible is that we then don't know if we have blind faith much like all other false religions. If you say strong faith is sufficient then we can fall in to the same trap as the Thagees of India - a Hindu cult. They felt so strongly with NO evidence that their beliefs were true - they were willing to go out of their comfort zone to kill people. Many of us aren't willing to go outside our comfort zone to help save people. In the OT God punished the Israelites for their blind faith in Baal vs. their proven faith in Him through the miracles of the Prophets and in the Wilderness. While modern science has many twists & turns & should be viewed with careful scrutiny, in the end unless we can prove the Bible was accurately transmitted, and is true in its description of the physical world we would be no different than those who believe in the Koran or the Bhagavad Gita. www.NoBlindFaith.com

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Clark Coleman

February 15, 2014  12:07pm

Audrey Ruth: Thanks for your compliment, but carbon dating has nothing to do with Mt. St. Helens. There was a misguided attempt to sow doubts concerning potassium-argon dating, which is never used by archaeologists because it is not valid for recent samples, such as those examined by the Israeli scientists. The Mt. St. Helens story is debunked in various places, such as http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4146

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audrey ruth

February 15, 2014  11:43am

ITA with Clark Coleman's very well-stated comment. It's also helpful to remember that carbon dating was disproved following the Mt. Saint Helens volcanic eruption.

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Scott Sykes

February 15, 2014  10:04am

It was funny how they sensationalized this story in Yahoo. How quickly people were to attack my comment "Camel bones showing no evidence of carrying copper ingots = proof camel not domesticated? Yeah ok. I think until they can PROVE to me that this is a viable means of showing that camels were NOT used for anything but this kind of labor I will stick with the story related to Moses from God." So I went back to clarify it, "Yes, small minded in the knowledge that this earth is way older than what the Catholic church and fundamental Christians think it is. Small minded in knowing that dinosaurs once roamed this planet and were destroyed in a cataclysmic event. However, camels were used and "domesticated" work animals far long before the need for copper ingots to be transported..." There was more but you'll have to go to the article and read the replies and my second comment. Just because an animal is used for one thing at a particular time does not make them useful at something else.

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Clark Coleman

February 15, 2014  9:53am

It is comical, but also sad, that in the midst of a discussion that proves that a supposed challenge to Biblical inerrancy is in fact no challenge at all, that some think this is an opportunity to lecture the inerrantists. With the supposed criticism of the Bible's accuracy having been proven to be one of: prejudice and/or ignorance on the part of the Israeli scientists, or prejudice and/or ignorance on the part of the journalists reporting the story, it would seem that this is not a great opportunity to score an anti-inerrantist point. But the smug superiority of the errantists needed an outlet, I guess.

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gordon payne

February 15, 2014  8:45am

Many have used a written record or its absence to justify impugning an oral tradition leading to an established fact, inspiring a revival in good governance. Some, following a 'higher' vein of criticism, presuming the falsity of a written record based on an inability to discover the underlying fact in the archeology, only succeed in establishing sufficient doubt to inspire greater achievement. Edward's quo warranto survived Pollack and Maitland. Welhausen's shortfall inspired Cassuto. The response and the comments seem to follow suit. Fiat Lux.

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Greg Moeller

February 15, 2014  8:13am

And how is this a challenge to the Bible's accuracy? Finding evidence of camel domestication in one era and place does not affect the data regarding another era and place, except to say that domestication was done at least that early in the general region. If anything, finding earlier evidence adds to data pointing in the biblical record's direction. One additional point: Archeologists are usually looking for settlements of some sort to dig at, or at least some sort of concentrated, long-term human activity. (burial grounds, villages, cities, water sources, etc.) But what of Bedouin-like lifestyles? If they were using camels, you would not find many bones together, but more like with wild animal deaths - sporadically here and there. This is far more difficult to discover conclusively using archeological techniques. "And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents." [Gen 13:5 KJV] “…Abraham …dwelt in the land of promise… dwelling in tents." [Hbr 11:8-9 NKJV]

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