Review of Peter Masters, Heritage of Evidence in the British Museum, The Wakeman Trust, London, 2016. www.wakemantrust.org
SOME people of strong Christian faith set aside any attempt to show the veracity of Scripture, preferring instead to assert: ‘God says it, I believe it – that settles it!’ This of course is a noble expression of strong Bible-believing faith and is not to be despised. I see just two problems with it, though.
First, even for the strongest of believers there’s no harm in ‘making assurance doubly sure’ by standing against Satan’s persistent asking of the question: ‘Did God really say …?’ (Genesis 3.1) with readily available data which confirms the confident answer: ‘YES He did!’
Secondly, it’s all very well for the believer to believe the Bible simply on the premise that it IS the Word of God, but what about the sincere seeker after truth who hasn’t yet come to know Jesus Christ as his Saviour and Lord, or what about the person who deceives himself as someone who ‘holds the form of religion but denies its power’ and needs to be led on to confident knowledge of God’s grace and mercy as disclosed in His Word?
In any case, Dr Peter Masters (Spurgeon’s latest successor at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London) takes us in this book on a room-by-room tour of the British Museum, pointing out various exhibits and assessing each one of them as being direct evidence for biblical events and names, or confirming the authenticity of biblical descriptions, or giving insights into the biblical environment.
Wonderfully, the publication of this book has a further dual usefulness. For those who cannot get to London and consequently cannot visit the British Museum, this book will give them a virtual tour. And for those who can get to London and actually visit the Museum, this book will open their eyes to the way in which various exhibits can enrich their faith and trust in the Biblical record.
The book is attractively presented with many full colour illustrations of various exhibits. My own favourite exhibit is described on p.120 (‘The Politarch Inscription, 2nd Century AD’.) Dr Masters writes:
‘This exhibit is included at the end of this guide because it is unusual for Room 78 on the Lower Floor, where it is exhibited, to be open. It is also quite a trek to get to it. It is a significant vindication of Luke’s record in Acts. Intrepid visitors may wish to try (to view it).
‘In Acts 17.6,8, Luke calls the city officials at Thessalonica “politarchs” (translated “rulers of the city” in the KJV). This term was absent from Greek literature, and so prior to 1835 critics of the Bible did not hesitate to call Luke an unreliable historian. However, in 1835 the title “POLITARCH” with a list of rulers’ names was found on a 2nd Century AD inscription on an arch in Thessalonica, proving that Luke was right and reliable after all. The Bible is always vindicated in the end. Similar inscriptions have turned up in other places subsequently.’
So much for the reliability of those who approach the Bible with the presupposition that it is full of errors – the word POLITARCH not only appears in Greek literature, but it is written in stone! Well could Luke write in the introduction to his Gospel, ‘Therefore since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account … so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.’ (Luke 1.1-4.)
Heritage of Evidence is a valuable guide both for those who can take a walk around the British Museum as well as for those who wish they could.
– Bob Thomas