I really appreciate the time you take to read and respond these emails (which I believe does not give you anything in return but I believe you do it for Christ). I need an advice from you. I have been a kind of person who looks to validate things. I have followed a lot of your research work ever since you came to Delhi Church. I finallly became a Christian last year (after plus 7 years of Bible study) because Christ really is the truth. However my thirst just does not seem to die. I can see things do get established through scrolls, texts and many other ancient scripts. How would you advise me to gain more confidence in the scriptures since it is human to sometimes doubt. For example how do we in current times find the age of a document or a scroll like dead sea. I believe this may have to do with the art of archaelogy. I have read many works which validate that Bible is a foolproof document and they present an excellent case of thier truthfulness. However, the only hindrance that exists is following. How do scientists, archaelogists etc establish that a certain document was written around so and so long back. I understand I may be asking too much outside your domain but your insight (which has helped you to gain confidence in Bible) can help me too!
Can you also help me with what the book of annals were (mentioned repeatedly in Books of Kings) and can I have access to them from net?
I am so pleased that you have become a Christian. If my visit to Delhi played even a miniscule part in helping you, I am extra glad about that. I am especially glad that your thirst for truth and quest to check out the validity of your faith is still active. I want to encourage you to investigate your doubts. I am confinced that the truth will win out and your faith will be confirmed, even if some questions take a while to settle.
As for the dates of manuscripts, a fairly wide variety of methods are used to determine this important information. You might think that C-14 isotope dating would be the principle means of determining the age of a papyrus or vellum scroll or codex. In fact, this method is quite rarely used simply because the manuscripts are so valuable. A small number of manuscripts have been checked by this method. However, other methods are more common. For example, scholars are well aware of changing methods of writing. The style of certain letters, the type of ink, the quality and preparation of the writing surface and other clues can often allow scholars to determine the date of a manuscript to within perhaps 30 years or so. The more data, the more reliable the date. Another method is to date the materials found with the scroll. Often this is useless, as the manuscript may have been moved. But occasionally, we know when a particular city was destroyed, and can then get a lower limit on the age of a document. In rare cases, we have some record of the location of particular individual manuscripts. Also, scholars can approximate the date when certain textual variations seem to have come into the text of a particular book. Such information can be a cross-reference for the date. For the Dead Sea scrolls, scholars are able to establish their age to within about plus or minus about 50 years, depending on a few factors. As far as I know, C-14 has not been used, but it is possible that it has been used on one or two fragments, but there are literally hundreds of documents in the collection known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, so dating one document would not do all that much to date all of them. The scrolls are as recent as about AD 50 and as old as about 250 BC. Some are in paleo-Hebrew and are quite old. You can get a hold of any good book on the Dead Sea Scrolls and read up more thoroughly on how scholars estimate the date of the different manuscripts. If you want more information on this question, you can get a copy of my book “Reasons for Belief” (www.ipibooks.com
) A number of other books, such as “The Documents and the Scrolls” by FF Bruce will give you even more information than my book.
As for the Book of the Annals of the Kings, this literary source was apparently around when the book of Kings (singular because the Jews had just one book, which we divide into two), but it has long since been lost. There is no extant copy of the Book of the Annals of the Kings. We can assume that the Jews kept records of their history and that these records were used by the writer of 1 and 2 Kings to produce the inspired books which are in our Bibles. It would be nice to have the Annals of the Kings, but I assume that this document has not existed for most likely over 2000 years.