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Purdue researcher verifies the existence of 53 people in Hebrew Bible

Lawrence Mykytiuk cannot document that everything in the Bible took place as written. But the Purdue professor says he can prove many of the people written about did, in fact, exist.

“While some would put their hand on the Bible and really mean it when they take an oath, a few revisionist academics would throw it out and say, ‘That’s creative writing.’ I was looking for concrete, objective evidence outside of the Bible that would help build the case,” Mykytiuk, an associate professor of library science, said in a press release.

Mykytiuk (pronounced MICK-ee-took) has added three names to the previously published 50 Old Testament individuals in the Bible, beginning with King David, all of whom he says he has verified through his research. The three new people are Tattenai (also translated as Tatnai), a Persian governor during the time of Ezra (after the Babylonian exile); and two high officials of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II: Nergal-sharezer, called the “samgar” official, and Nebuzaradan, “the chief of the guards.”

Tattenai is mentioned in the fifth chapter of the book of Ezra. He also is mentioned outside of the Bible in a letter on a clay tablet from Persian King Darius I the Great, in the year 502 B.C.

According to the Bible, Nergal-sharezer and Nebuzaradan were high officials of King Nebuchadnezzar II, who in 586 B.C. destroyed the First Temple, as well as Jerusalem, and exiled most of the remaining population of Judah. They are mentioned at the scene of the destruction in Jeremiah 39:3 and 39:9, respectively, and Nebuzaradan also is mentioned in 2 Kings, Chapter 25. Their king included them in a contemporaneous list of his courtiers that was written on clay tablets.

Mykytiuk has written about his latest findings in Biblical Archeology Review.

“When you verify that a person existed, you’re not usually verifying that they did what the Bible says they did, because you don’t usually get that much information in the inscription or in the Bible,” Mykytiuk said. “If you get the person’s name, his or her father’s name, and the person’s office or title, that doesn’t verify that they did certain things. But it can sometimes show they were in a position to do the things Scripture says they did.”

Read More at the Purdue Exponent.