King's Business - 1947-01

The Unlocking of Ancient Civilizations Paul R. Bauman, D.D.

to be found on the ruined walls, pil­ lars, and ceilings of the ancient pal­ aces, temples, and tombs, the knowl­ edge of the Egyptian language had been lost long since, and no one could read the inscription. It was while excavating at Roset­ ta, near the mouth of the Nile, that a French engineer by the name of Boussard uncovered a strange black granite stone, about three feet nine inches high, two feat four and one half inches wide, and eleven inches thick. The stone contained inscrip­ tions in three languages, written in three registers, one above the other. The top register was immediately recognized as Egyptian hieroglyphic, although- no one could read it. The second, likewise unknown, was writ­ ten in Demotic, a modified form of the Egyptian, something like our shorthand. The third was in the Greek script. It occurred to the scholars that what had been written in the known language, i.e., the Greek, might like­ wise be written in the unknown, and for years efforts were made to de­ cipher the Egyptian inscriptions. Fi­ nally, in 1818, a Frenchman named Champollion began a comparison in an effort to unlock the secrets of the Egyptian hieroglyphics, and, after several years of tireless effort, “the inscriptions on the idols which had remained dumb for over two thou­ sand years were made to speak.” 1 Now, just what bearing did all of this have on the truth of the Bible? Let us not forget that a considerable portion of Biblical history is inter­ locked with the history of Egypt. Abraham is said to have journeyed into Egypt (Gen. 12:10). The chil­ dren of Israel sojourned in this land for about 450 years. There are nu­ merous other allusions to this great country throughout the Old Testa­ ment. With the secrets of the Egyp­ tian language now known, scholars, for the first time in more than a mil­ lennium, were able to reconstruct from the ancient inscriptions an ac­ curate history of that great country. This history could be checked with certain Biblical statements and the accuracy of the Bible tested. T H E K I N G ' S B U S I N E S S

can hardly be explained on the grounds of mere coincidence. Simul’- taneously with the growth of higher criticism, there began to develop a science which has done more to prove false the theories of destructive criticism than anything else in exist­ ence. This science is known today as archaeology, and the story of its beginning is worth our consideration. Scientific archaeology originated in the days of Napoleon. When he invaded Egypt in 1799, he took with him a staff of scholars whom he commissioned to investigate and re­ port on the ancient monuments of the land. These scholars were beset by one major difficulty, for, while there were hundreds of inscriptions

Let us not forget the Rosetta Stone. It was a decree in three scripts concerning the birth of a prince who lived and died. The parchment on Calvary’s Cross was a decree in three languages concerning the death of another Prince who died and lived. A rchaeology is the study of an­ cient things, but as a correlated science, archaeology is not old. It dates back a little more than one hundred years, and its beginnings can be considered nothing short of providential. The story of the way God has cared for His Word down through the centuries, despite the machinations of sinful man, is a fas­ cinating one. Those who know this story will find it a real source of encouragement to their faith in these days of doubt. The church has always faced here­ sies, but on one truth there has been almost universal agreement: the in­ spiration of the Bible. Even heretics appealed to the Scriptures In an ef­ fort to substantiate their views. It is hardly necessary to say that belief in an inspired Bible is rejected by many today. Whence this remark1 able change of attitude? A little more than one hundred and fifty years ago, there began within the church a movement, which, as time went on, more and more openly denied the historical accuracy of the Bible. This movement, known as higher criticism,1 became the parent of the religious liberalism of our present day, and is now to be recog­ nized under the more common, but somewhat inaccurate, term, modern­ ism. Destructive criticism gained such momentum in religious circles that many Christians began to won­ der if they could reasonably main­ tain, in the light of developing re­ search, their belief in a historically accurate and, hence, an inspired Bible. Then something happened which P«ge 20

The Rosetta Stone which unlocked the secrets of' ancient Egypt.

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