We Christians have a particular interest in the past of the Near East, because our religious and cultural roots lie there. Our beliefs are guided by an ancient book, the Bible, that was produced in its entirety in lands strange to us by people who did not speak our tongue and whose customs were not ours. If the message contained in that ancient book is to have meaning for us moderns of the Western world, we must understand it and have confidence in its authenticity, its veracity, its timelessness, and its eternal values.

During the last two centuries, the Old Testament more than the New has been subjected to much critical investigation. We know it was written in Hebrew by Jews 2,500 years ago and more. It contains accounts of miracles that cannot be verified, events that seem unreal or fantastic, and prophecies in a symbolism that requires special study to be understood. Little wonder that many thinking people have questioned the value of the Old Testament for this modern age and have subjected it to a scrutiny that no other book, ancient or modern, has ever experienced.

Many fields have undergone revolutions during the last few centuries. In the space of 150 years, traveling has been accelerated from 4 to 17,000 miles an hour. Electronic computers now make calculations with breathtaking speed. Electric and atomic power has been harnessed and can be released at will. The worlds of the Arctic and the Antarctic, of the deep sea, of the air that surrounds us and of the empty space beyond our atmosphere—all these have been explored. No wonder the inquisitive mind of modern man began also to question traditional religious beliefs, when he saw that values changed in many areas and that the views of his forbears in many fields of ...

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