So said the Modern Scholars of the early 20th Century
In the late nineteenth century Academic experts and scholars such as C. C. Torrey and others added the post-exilic writings of the Old Testament to the “round file” where they had previously tossed the Pentateuch.
Just as the writings of Moses had been deemed fictitious because they “knew” there was no writing in Moses day, they also were quite sure that both Ezra and Nehemiah were also creative fictions written in later time periods by ambitious Hebrew authors.
They arrived at this conclusion because they felt that the word usage of the authors was sprinkled with words of “late” origins, words that would not have been available at the time the documents themselves claimed to have been written. Because of this they claimed that there was no pre-exilic devastation, no exile at all, no Ezra and denied that any Jewish captives were ever taken into captivity in Babylon, particularly, Torrey asserted, no Jewish gardeners.
Once again, we find that the early modern academics showed little or no respect for the ancient document itself. They never for a moment appeared to give it the benefit of the doubt, even though they had to be aware that millions of people both Jewish and Christian, held these books in the highest esteem. Worse, they went beyond attacking just Ezra and Nehemiah and included Ezekiel and Jeremiah in the same frame as books which could be dismissed out of hand as fabrications.
You might be tempted to think that they came to these conclusions after carefully checking other documents in other languages from the surrounding cultures of the time, before pronouncing doom on these Biblical books. But according to the Scholar Robert Dick Wilson, one of the few who refused to adopt the anti-biblical and anti-supernatural bias of the majority, this was rarely true. Wilson could read more dead languages than any other scholar and was usually shocked at how easy it was to disprove their claims, simply by doing more research.
But whatever the case, the claims of Torrey, widely accepted and heralded by modern academia turned out to be false. Archeology has given ample evidence of the exile, the pre-exilic devastation and the captivity of the Jewish people in Babylon. Some examples;
1) In the Elephantine tablets orders were found in the form of a letter from the Persian government to the Jews in exile to keep the Passover. (One of Ezra’s main purposes was seeing the Jewish laws restored)
2) Tablets found near the Ishtar Gate in Babylon, give details of extensive lists of rations and payments to be made to the various captives from the surrounding nations living in Babylon or Persian Territories. Among the captives are listed the King of Judah, Joiachan, and his five sons, also listed are payments to various Jewish workmen, including….a Jewish gardener.
3) The various words that Torrey and others said had to be of late origin and shouldn’t have been found in the Aramaic…Have all been found in various inscriptions, tablets and cuneiform, both in Egyptian Aramaic and in Babylonian of that time period.
Remember that these smaller individual myths singling out Moses or Ezra were (and are) used to support a larger pre-supposition, very important to academia, that the Holy Scriptures are unreliable.
There are so many ” the bible is wrong because of (fill in the blank) myths having to do with the Hebrew Old Testament, that an entire book could be filled with both the very dogmatic and assured claims of the critics, and the empirical evidence that disproved them later. What I am trying to do here is give a sense of the track record of Academia versus the ancient Hebrew Scriptures, which they view as a threat to secular atheism. They weren’t wrong just a few times, and the mistakes and claims they made and make were not done in a cautious or careful manner.
They were wrong again and again and again, hundreds of times, perhaps thousands. If a wood cutter or logger makes a few mistakes, even if he is being cautious, he’s dead. If a student in a class room situation makes mistake after mistake after mistake, he is usually rerouted towards another career. How many times can modern academia be absolutely wrong, in their predictions, claims and attitudes, in history and biology and geology, before we ask what is causing this dogged propensity to error?
They have been consistently wrong because their pre-suppositions are wrong. And they have been arrogant and bereft of caution because of having placed too much confidence in their secular world view; call it naturalism, or anti-supernaturalism or secularism, or atheism, the old pagan variety.
Unfortunately, the knowledge of this abysmal record is one of the best kept secrets of modern times.