Page 10 - January 2018 - Truth & Tidings
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Belshazzar                           Luke as a competent historian, and rejected
          Belshazzar was co-regent of Babylon   much of what he recorded in the book of
        with his father, King Nabonidus. On the   Luke and the Acts. They scoffed at his ref-
        last night of his life, Belshazzar hosted a   erences to Lysanius as tetrarch of Abilene
        debauched party in honor of “the gods of   (Luke 3:1) and Sergius Paulus as proconsul
        gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and   of Cyprus (Acts 13:7), until excavations
        stone.” He, with the other revelers, drank   proved both claims to be true.
        wine from the golden vessels of God’s   One such critic was Sir William Ramsay,
        house. Then the fingers of a human hand   FBA (1851–1939) a Scottish archeologist
        wrote his doom on the plaster of the wall,   and New Testament scholar. By his death
        which Daniel interpreted. Belshazzar’s   in 1939, he had become the foremost au-
        city fell to the Persians on that night in 539   thority of his day on the history of Asia
        BC, and he was executed.  As part of their   Minor, and a leading scholar in the study
        attack on the Book of Daniel, however,   of the New Testament. Early in his career,
        critics scoffed at the story and denied the   Ramsay decided to discredit the Bible’s
        existence of “Belshazzar.” Then in 1854   claims by showing that the book of Acts
        AD, archeologist Henry Rawlinson dis-  was historically inaccurate. After 30 years
        covered an inscription in Iraq that named   of archeological research in the Middle
        Belshazzar as the oldest son and co-regent   East, however, Ramsay found no histori-
        of King Nabonidus, who frequently left   cal or geographical mistakes in the book
        Belshazzar in charge of Babylon while he   of Acts—a remarkable fact, since in Acts,
        traveled. This discovery also helped to   Luke mentions 32 countries, 54 cities, nine
        clarify Daniel 5:29, which states Daniel was   Mediterranean islands, and 95 people by
        elevated to the “third highest ruler in the   name. Ramsay came to the conclusion that
        kingdom.” Belshazzar was not the actual   “Luke is a historian of the first rank; not
        king of Babylon, and thus was not named   merely are his statements of fact trustwor-
        on the king lists. Instead, the Babylonian   thy ... this author should be placed along
        tablets describe him as the co-regent and   with the very greatest historians.”
        son of Nabonidus—and Belshazzar was    “Further study … showed that the
        in charge of Babylon on that fateful night.   book [Acts] could bear the most minute
        Historical research again demonstrated the   scrutiny as an authority for the facts of
        uncanny accuracy of the Bible.       the Aegean world, and that it was written
        Sir William Ramsay and the Acts      with such judgment, skill, art, and percep-
          In the opening verses of his Gospel, Luke   tion of truth as to be a model of historical
        states his purpose and describes his meth-  statement”(The Bearing of Recent Discovery,
        ods of historical research. In this prologue,   p85). He continues, “I set out to look for
        similar to other introductions found in   truth on the borderland where Greece and
        ancient texts, Luke states that he accessed   Asia meet, and found it there [in Acts]. You
        previous written accounts of Jesus’ life,   may press the words of Luke in a degree
        recorded the testimony of eyewitnesses,   beyond any other historian’s and they
        and then took great care to organize all of   stand the keenest scrutiny and the hardest
        this material into an orderly account so that   treatment...” (p89). When Ramsay turned
        a man named Theophilus might know the   his attention to Paul’s letters, many of
        truth. Critics, however, long discounted   which the critics dismissed as forgeries, he

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