Ah, the irony and humor here . . .
This is one of those familiar cases where -- in the past -- only the Bible mentioned something or other. So the "smart folks" (at least some among them): those enlightened, progressive souls who alone (so they never tire of informing us) have a lock on truth and inquiry with integrity and an open mind, at one time denied that the Hittites existed as a people in history. It wasn't sufficient for them that the Bible frequently mentioned them (the only known source that did until 140 or so years ago). They looked down their noses at the Bible as a source for solid historical documentation and information.
Lo and behold, in the last quarter of the 19th century and especially by 1906-1907 a series of archaeological finds placed the existence of the Hittites (as both a distinct ancient people and an empire) beyond the reasonable doubt of any serious scholar in the field. The Bible was right again.
But, alas, now there is apparently a polemical atheist canard that Christians have engaged in shoddy apologetics (too often for our friend DagoodS' taste), insofar as we have claimed that some skeptics once denied the existence of the Hittites. DagoodS says it ain't so!!! Who are we to believe? Are we Christian apologists engaged in a cynical cover-up of a truth we either know and have deliberately concealed (in our know-nothing dogmatism), or have long since forgotten (thus displaying our historical ignorance and shoddy research capabilities)?
The only refreshing motif in his wrongheaded jeremiad is his admission that he himself once did what he now accuses my tribe of apologists of doing. Thanks to DagoodS for more evidence that he was (as I have claimed before) woefully ignorant of good solid apologetics during his ostensibly Christian period. It's another classic case of projection. He said it . . . Now, here is what DagoodS claimed:
Why lying is not convincing
[5 October 2009]
This brought back to mind one of my great concerns while deconverting—how many times I caught Christian apologists in non-truths. I understand people bristle at the accusation of “Liar.” When we point out the complete and utter falsehood in a Christian apologetic, the battle cry is rounded out: “Prove they knew it was false!”
So they were either incredibly incompetent in doing even the most elementary research OR they printed an outright fable—either way, it is not persuasively credible. . . .
This—THIS—is where I struggled in my research. Too many times, Christians were willing (myself included) to believe anything--anything--in support of the belief. . . .
You think lying (and that is what it is, once you know it to be false) is O.K. if it gets the point across?
When else is a lie acceptable? When else can you bend the truth?
As I deconverted, I would read the non-believer’s position. Then I would read the believer’s position. Time and time again, I found the believer’s position to be based on non-truth.
I heard the statement how skeptics once claimed Hittites didn’t exist, but it turns out they did. Not true—no skeptic said this.
When will DagoodS learn one of the most elementary no-nos in debate?: you don't make sweeping, unqualified statements (especially about historical fact or some element in the Bible) that can get shot down with just one counter-example. I've caught him several times in these whoppers. But here he is doing it again. I need only find one prominent skeptic (professor, etc.) who denied their existence, and he is proven wrong, since he said "no skeptic said this." And if I find even one such prominent skeptic as to the Hittites, then all these Christians who have claimed that their existence was denied are not a pack of liars or incompetent buffoons, are they? DagoodS even upped the ante in the combox:
There is a third set. The enabler. That is the person who, even learning it is false, doesn’t bother to make the correction. They fear a loss of credibility. In Christian circles, bombastic over-preaching are seen as signs of being correct. Claiming one was wrong is a sign of weakness.
So Christians do not question their leaders (even when they learn it is wrong) and leaders don’t admit their gaffs. [10-6-09]
Now let's go on to an examination of whether anyone of note did deny the existence of the Hittites. In an article for the British Quarterly Review (July 1882), William Wright states:
I hope not only to prove the Bible true by contemporary and corroborative evidence, but also to show that a great empire, forgotten by ancient and modern historians must be restored to the ancient kingdoms of the world. By confirming the Bible we shall discover a lost empire.
It is desirable that this investigation should be undertaken, because the casual references to the Hittites in the Bible have been used by the enemies of Divine revelation to discredit the historical accuracy of the book, and some of the weak friends of the Bible have begun to propagate doubt where they cannot disprove.
In 1857 Professor F. W. [Francis William] Newman, fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, in his History of the Hebrew Monarchy [Pp. 178, 179, Vol. xii], speaks of the Bible references to the Hittites as 'unhistorical,' and as 'not exhibiting the writer's acquaintance with the times in a very favourable light,' and the Rev. T. K. [Thomas Kelly] Cheyne, Fellow of the same college, writing on the Hittites, in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, last year , treats the Bible statements regarding the Hittites as unhistorical and unworthy of credence. Referring to the mention of the Hittites in the Book of Genesis, he says, ' The lists of these pre-Israelitish populations cannot be taken as strictly historical documents,' 'they cannot be taken as of equal authority with Egyptian and Assyrian inscriptions;' and, carrying out his comparison, he adds, 'Not less unfavourable to the accuracy of the Old Testament references to the Hittites is the evidence deducible from proper names.' I shall examine these references to the Bible in the light of Egyptian and Assyrian inscriptions when I come to the passages referred to. It is enough here to draw attention to the manner and progress of unbelief. Professor Newman discredits what he does not understand, and Mr. Cheyne, mistaking the arrogance of scepticism for disproved facts, accepts his predecessor's conclusions, and gives them the wider currency of his own credit. [pp. 53-54]
[see also the same author's Hittites Up to Date (1892) for a general treatment of the Hittites and the history of archaeological skepticism]
[see also, Cheyne's entire article on the Hittites for the 9th edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica]
Note, however, that neither Newman's nor Cheyne's positions entail an absolute denial that the Hittites existed: only a severe doubting of many particulars and the general thrust of the biblical accounts, which have since been corroborated by archaeological evidence.
Exact names of the skeptical archaeologists and other scholars who denied the historicity of the Hittites are hard to come by (I've spent many hours myself trying to track some down), but (according to reputable reports) they appear to have been numerous to some extent prior to the last quarter of the nineteenth century, when many successful and fantastically fruitful excavations were undertaken. Here are, for example, three allusions to such skepticism, from Christian scholarly sources:
The lack of extra-biblical testimony to their existence led some scholars about a half-century ago to deny their historicity. They scoffed at the idea of Israel allying herself with such an unhistorical people as the Hittites, as narrated in 2 Kings vii.6. But those utterances have vanished into thin air.
(Ira M. Price, The Monuments and the Old Testament [Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society: 1907], pp. 75-76).
[S]ome scholars in the nineteenth century expressed doubts as to the existence or at least the importance of such an ancient people.
(Joseph P. Free, Archaeology and Bible History [Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc., revised edition: 1969], p. 125)
Twenty-five years ago some of the foremost orientalists did not believe in the existence of a Hittite nation.
(The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, edited by James Orr, five volumes [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1956; from the 1929 version], "Hittites," John Garstang, vol. III, p. 1402F)
Now, of course, the atheist will come back and say, "those are Christian sources, so who cares if they merely make a general statement like that?! Why should we trust them? It doesn't prove anything. They're biased, and are just perpetuating the old wives' tale. They don't name names or document their contentions."
Well, I would say we trust them because two of them come from archaeologists who can be trusted to accurately report the history of their own area of study (even if they are biased towards Christianity), whereas DagoodS is biased against the Bible and any corroboration of it and is an attorney, not an archaeologist.
Note that archaeology scarcely existed in the mid-19th century, which is why none of the three citations use the term "archaeologist." An "orientalist" or near eastern historian or biblical scholar would be more what they had in mind.
So if the choice in conflicting statements lies between two Christian archaeologists with a bias towards "pro-biblical" sentiments (one even an expert on the Hittites) and a professor of Semitic languages on one side, and a polemical atheist lawyer with a strong bias against the Bible on the other, I think (in matters of archaeology and the history of same, and of its precursors) I will go -- all things being equal -- with the Christian archaeologists: just as I would prefer DagoodS if the question had to do with the law: that being his field.
Joseph P. Free was chairman of the Department of Archaeology at Wheaton College, Illinois. He led extensive excavations at Dothan (associated with Joseph and Elisha in the Bible) from 1953-1964.
John Garstang (1876-1956) was an eminent archaeologist: educated at Oxford, professor at the University of Liverpool (1907-1941), and author of many volumes in the field, including The Burial Customs of Ancient Egypt as illustrated by the Tombs of the Middle Kingdom... (London, John Constable, 1907), The Land of the Hittites... (Constable, 1910), The Hittite Empire... (Constable, 1929), The Heritage of Solomon (Williams and Nortgate, 1934), and (with J. B. E. Garstang) The Story of Jericho (Hodder & Stoughton, 1940). He is listed in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Ira Maurice Price (1856-1939) was a professor at the University of Chicago and cooperating editor of The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures from 1892 till his death. He had a distinguished scholarly career, receiving his doctorate from the University of Leipzig (1886). He was a professor of Semitic languages and literatures in the University of Chicago from 1900-1939 and author of books such as Syllabus of Old Testament History (New York, 1891), The Great Cylinder inscriptions (A and B) of Gudea, part 1 (Leipzig, 1899), Some Literary Remains of Rim-Sin (Arioch) of Larsa (1905), and The Ancestry of our English Bible (Philadelphia, 1907).
Besides, I can keep looking and nail down particular sources and documentation. I'm sure this is possible. All I need to do to disprove DagoodS' contention that Christian apologists have been lying about this all along, is to find one such person, since he wrote:
I heard the statement how skeptics once claimed Hittites didn’t exist, but it turns out they did. Not true—no skeptic said this.
But if the three sources above are to be believed, there are many more than one. The more we can find, the stronger the case becomes. But if we believe three experts in the field (two of them quite eminent indeed) DagoodS' contention has collapsed, and it is he who is lying about Christian apologists, insofar as the history of thought about the Hittites is concerned -- not the other way around (Christians lying in the service of special pleading, polemical apologetics).
If DagoodS or other atheists wish to dispute our claim, I have many friends and acquaintances, including lots of academics, and I'm quite confident that if we pool our efforts we can provide further particular proof and "name names" if they want to make an issue out of it. I would even welcome that challenge. I have no good reason to doubt the above reports: especially that of Garstang, who wrote books about the Hittites and can be fully expected to know the history of his own field and the history of general scholarly thought regarding the Hittites.
I have found more information, from The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ("Archaeology," written by M. G. Kyle, Vol. I, p. 230-231 [italics as they appear in my own hardcover set; red highlighting my own] ):
2. Theories Affecting the Integrity or Historicity of Scripture.
Many critical theories attacking the integrity or historicity of Scripture, i.e. reconstructive theories, have been utterly discredited by archaeological evidence, and, in some cases, abandoned by those who held them (compare Driver, Genesis, addenda, 7th edition, xx). . . .
Descending now to a few of the great mass of particulars, we may mention:
(d) Mythology and Bible:
The theory of the legendary character of the four kings of Genesis 14, and of the Hittites; and theory of the generally mythological character of the early portions of the Bible. The four kings have been called "petty sheiks of the desert," and their names "etymological inventions." The historical character of the account of these kings has been utterly discredited by many. Noldeke in his Untersuchungen arrives at the result that the history (Genesis 14) is throughout a "free creation," and the person of Melchizedek a "poetical figure." [Dave: Noldeke also regarded Abraham as a mythical tribal deity] And Wellhausen thinks Noldeke gave the "death-blow" to the historicity of the story (Wellhausen, Comp. of the Hexateuch, 311-12). Ed. Meyer is of the same opinion as Noldeke, but expresses himself in a still more unfavorable manner (Gesch, 136). Hitzig, however, goes to the extreme of depreciation when he sees in the expedition of Chedorlaomer only an adumbration of the invasion by Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:13). Delitzsch gives a very comprehensive review of those critics who have regarded this narrative of the kings as legend of small or no historical basis (Gen, I, 396-99; compare Dillmann, Gen, II , 32-33). In addition, the mythological character of the early portions of the Bible generally has had ardent advocates (Stade, Gesch, 129-30; Schultz, Old Testament Theology, I, 31; Wellhausen, Gesch Israels, 317-20).
(1) Chedorlaomer and Allies:
But the four kings have appeared in archaeological discoveries. While there is still some dispute about the identification of certain of them, the confederacy has appeared in Babylonia and also the Babylonian suzerainty over Palestine in the age called for by the narrative, and, indeed, the whole historical setting into which the narrative fits with perfect naturalness (Jeremias, Das alte Testament im Lichte des alten Orients; Hommel, Hebrew Tradition, chapter v; Clay, Light on the Old Testament from Babel, chapter vi). But myths do not receive archaeological confirmation such as has not only been given to the narrative of the confederacy of the four kings, but which is rapidly bringing out the features of the whole early Old Testament history (Gunkel, Gen, 263; Ladd, Doct of Sac Scrip, I, 737).
(2) The Hittites:
Then grave doubts in the past have been raised concerning the Hittites. Occasionally it has been boldly said that "no such people ever existed" (compare Newman, Hebrew Monarchy, 184-85; Budge, Hist of Egypt, IV , 136). But in addition to the treaty of Rameses II with the "Kheta," long generally believed to have been the Hittites (RP, 2nd series, IV, 25-32), and the references to the "Hatti" in the Tell el-Amarna Letters, also thought to be the same people, we now have Winckler's great discovery of the Hittite capital at Boghaz-Koi, and the Hittite copy of the treaty with Rameses II in the cuneiform script. The Hittites are seen to be a great nation, a third with Egypt and Babylonia (OLZ, December 15, 1906).
Dr. M. G. [Melvin Grove] Kyle (D.D., LL.D.) (author of this article) was an Egyptologist and Newburg Professor of Biblical Theology and Biblical Archaeology at Xenia Theological Seminary, associate editor of Bibliotheca Sacra, and author of the books, Moses and the Monuments: Light from Archaeology on Pentateuchal Times and The Problem of the Pentateuch: A New Solution by Archaeological Methods (both Oberlin: 1920). He wrote a chapter entitled, "The Recent Testimony of Archaeology to the Scriptures," which was Chapter 17 of Volume 1 of The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth (1909): the famous work of Christian defense. In his chapter, he wrote:
II. The Hittite Vindication
A second recent testimony of archaeology gives us the great Hittite vindication. The Hittites have been, in one respect, the Trojans of Bible history; indeed, the inhabitants of old Troy were scarcely more in need of a Schliemann to vindicate their claim to reality than the Hittites of a Winckler.
In 1904 one of the foremost archaeologists of Europe said to me: "I do not believe there ever were such people as the Hittites, and I do not believe ‘Kheta’ in the Egyptian inscriptions was meant for the name Hittites." We will allow that archaeologist to be nameless now. But the ruins of Troy vindicated the right of her people to a place in real history, and the ruins of Boghatz-Köi bid fair to afford a more striking vindication of the Bible representation of the Hittites.
Only the preliminary announcement of Winckler's great treasury of documents from Boghatz-Köi has yet been made. The complete unfolding of a long-eclipsed great national history is still awaited impatiently. But enough has been published to redeem this people completely from their half-mythical plight, and give them a firm place in sober history greater than imagination had ever fancied for them under the stimulus of any hint contained in the Bible.There has been brought to light a Hittite empire in Asia Minor, with central power and vassal dependencies round about and with treaty rights on equal terms with the greatest nations of antiquity, thus making the Hittite power a third great power with Babylonia and Egypt, . . .
Dr. George Frederick Wright (D.D. LL.D.; [evolutionist] geologist as well as historian and theologian, and prolific author) wrote Chapter 16 in the same volume (I), entitled "The Testimony of the Monuments to the Truth of the Scriptures." He stated:
Until the decipherment of the inscriptions on the monuments of Egypt and Assyria, the numerous references in the Bible to this mysterious people were unconfirmed by any other historical authorities, so that many regarded the biblical statements as mythical, and an indication of the general untrustworthiness of biblical history. A prominent English biblical critic declared not many years ago that an alliance between Egypt and the Hittites was as improbable as would be one at the present time between England and the Choctaws. But, alas for the over-confident critic, recent investigations have shown, not only that such an alliance was natural, but that it actually occurred. . . .
It is impossible to overestimate the value of this testimony in confirmation of the correctness of biblical history. It shows conclusively that the silence of profane historians regarding facts stated by the biblical writers is of small account, in face of direct statements made by the biblical historians. All the doubts entertained in former times concerning the accuracy of the numerous biblical statements concerning the Hittites is now seen to be due to our ignorance. It was pure ignorance, not superior knowledge, which led so many to discredit these representations. When shall we learn the inconclusiveness of negative testimony?
Hermann Schultz, in his Old Testament Theology, Vol. 1 (T. & T. Clark: 1892; p. 31) denies the historicity of much of the first several books of the Bible. But because he mixes real history in with his view that there is a lot of mythology and legend, we can't be absolutely sure what he would say about the Hittites specifically:
The result may be given in outline as follows:—Genesis is the book of sacred legend, with a mythical introduction. The first three chapters of it, in particular, present us with revelation-myths of the most important kind, and the following eight with mythical elements that have been recast more in the form of legend. From Abraham to Moses we have national legend pure and simple, mixed with a variety of mythical elements which have become almost unrecognisable. From Moses to David we have history still mixed with a great deal of the legendary, and even partly with mythical elements that are no longer distinguishable. From David onwards we have history, with no more legendary elements in it than are everywhere present in history as written by the ancients.
A survey of the biblical references to the Hittites reveals many that occur within his "mythical" or "legendary" time periods.
As an example of modern general skepticism regarding early Bible history, see, e.g., The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts: a 2001 book by Israel Finkelstein, Professor of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, and Neil Asher Silberman, contributing editor to Archaeology Magazine. According to the lengthy Wikipedia article about the book:
Although the book of Samuel, and initial parts of the book of Kings, portray Saul, David and Solomon ruling in succession over a powerful and cosmopolitan united kingdom of Israel and Judah, Finkelstein and Silberman regard modern archaeological evidence as showing that this is a pious fiction. Archaeology instead shows that in the time of Solomon, the northern kingdom of Israel had an insignificant existence, too poor to be able to pay for a vast army, and with too little bureaucracy to be able to administer a kingdom, certainly not an empire; it only emerged later, around the beginning of the 9th century BCE, in the time of Omri. There is little to suggest that Jerusalem, touted by the bible as David's capital, was little more than a village during the time of David and of Solomon, and Judah remained little more than a sparsely populated rural region, until the 7th century BCE. Though the Tel Dan Stele confirms that a ruler named 'David' existed, it says little else about him.
They write on p. 128:
Did David and Solomon Exist?
This question, put so baldly, may sound intentionally provocative. David and Solomon are such central religious icons to both Judaism and Christianity that the recent assertions of radical biblical critics that King David is "no more a historical figure than King Arthur," have been greeted in many religious and scholarly circles with outrage and disdain. Biblical historians such as Thomas Thompson and Niels Peter Lemche of the University of Copenhagen and Philip Davies of the University of Sheffield dubbed “biblical minimalists’ by their detractors, have argued that David and Solomon, the united monarch of Israel, and indeed the entire biblical description of the history of Israel are no more than elaborate, skillful ideological constructs produced by priestly circles in Jerusalem in post-exilic or even Hellenistic times.
They themselves do not deny their existence, but they are detailing some skeptical views that do exist today. For example Thomas L. Thompson (b. 1939), referred to above, takes a radical position. The Wikipedia article devoted to him notes:
The focus of Thompson's writing has been the interface between the Bible (specifically the Old Testament) and archaeology. His The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives (1974), was a critique of the then-dominant view that biblical archaeology had demonstrated the historicity of figures such as Abraham and other Biblical patriarchs. His The Early History of the Israelite People From the Written and Archaeological Sources (1993) set out his argument that the biblical history was not reliable, and concludes: "The linguistic and literary reality of the biblical tradition is folkloristic in essence. The concept of a benei Israel ... is a reflection of no sociopolitical entity of the historical state of Israel of the Assyrian period...." . . .
Thompson is closely associated with the movement dubbed biblical minimalism by detractors (other major figures include Niels Peter Lemche, Keith Whitelam, and Philip Davies), a loosely-knit group of scholars who hold that the bible's version of history is not supported by any archaeological evidence so far unearthed, indeed undermined by it, and that it therefore cannot be trusted as history.
John Tiffany, assistant editor of The Barnes Review, illustrates another instance of modern radical biblical skepticism:
Fables of Ancient Israel Now Being Dissected
Be ready for a major upsetting of the apple cart. Unknown to almost all laymen, a huge number of scholars have quietly come together agreeing on a historical fact that will overturn the entirety of “court history” when all the facts they have gathered become widely known.
They agree that the various tales of “ancient Israel” are largely fictional. Based upon the known facts of geography, history, archaeology and even biblical scholarship, many of them argue there was no such entity as “ancient Israel”—that it never existed. Is it possible that ancient Israel is a hoax? . . .
The mythic legends of Moses, Joshua, King David, Solomon etc are largely fake. The myths of the Old Testament are no more valid than the ancient Greek and Roman belief in a pantheon of idiosyncratic and psychologically unstable gods. But as today’s Israel derives her very legitimacy for statehood (and for the continued genocide in Palestine) from these ancient fairy tales, it would seem the historical truth in this case undermines the very foundation of the modern state of Israel.
Rev. F. E. Hartman, in "The Story of Biblical Criticism" (The Expositor, Vol. XXI, No. 241; October 1919), writes:
Vatke regarded the first four books of the Old Testament as largely mythical . . .
The Hittites mentioned in the Bible were claimed by the destructives to be mythical and the numerous statements concerning them an indication of the general untrustworthiness of biblical history, because those statements were not confirmed by any other historical records. But now the Inscriptions on the monuments discovered in Egypt, Assyria, Armenia, Asia Minor, and northward, tell us of the expeditions and wars and widespread power of the Hittite kings. . . . The monuments have confirmed so much of biblical history that the supposed silence of profane history should be considered of small account in the face of the direct statements of the biblical writers.
In the same work, Hartman names several higher critics (he calls them "destructives"): [Johann Gottfried] Eichhorn, [Frederick Carl] Eiselen, [Wilhelm Martin Leberecht] De Wette, [Wilhelm] Vatke, [Abraham] Kuenen, [Johann S.] Vater, [Julius] Wellhausen, [Heinrich] Ewald, [Edward] Reuss, [George] Graf, [David] Strauss, [Ferdinand Christian] Bauer, and [Ernest] Renan. He is referring to at least some of these men in his statement above. Perhaps searching these names with "Hittite" will yield some individual skeptical statements.
Ewald's "distinguished pupils" included August Schleicher, Ferdinand Hitzig, Eberhard Schrader, Theodor Noldeke, Ludwig Diestel and Christian Friedrich August Dillmann.
See also the Wikipedia listings of German Theologians and German Orientalists. and additional figures listed in Wikipedia, "Higher Criticism":
Jean Astruc (mid-18th cent.), Johann Salomo Semler (1725–91), Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834), Ludwig Feuerbach (1804–72), Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Benjamin Jowett.
See also: Biblical criticism, Textual criticism (lower criticism), Documentary hypothesis., "Biblical Criticism (Higher)": Catholic Encyclopedia.
William Wright, responding to T. K. Cheyne on 3 April 1885 (in The Academy, Vol. 27, April 18, 1885, No. 676, p. 278), stated:
Dr. Cheyne saw reason more than two years ago to modify his views with regard to the "Hittites of Genesis."
Dr. Cheyne is pleased to contrast his principles of Old Testament criticism with mine, of course without knowing what mine are. But on this point there need be no mystery. For the purposes of my book it is enough to assume that the Bible is a venerable old document which professes to deal with certain fact.'. These facts I assume to be true until I have reason to doubt them, and on this principle I welcome every discovery and scrap of genuine evidence which add to the reasonable probability of the statements in the Bible. The Saturday Review, referring to the point at issue between Dr. Cheyne and me, fitly sums up the case thus:"Granting that the sacred writers were unscrupulous, it would still be impossible to imagine why they should fill their early records with the most matter-of-fact references to a purely imaginary people. There is no nonsense that the professors of the Higher Criticism will not talk."I have nothing to do with Dr. Cheyne personally. But Dr. Cheyne's articles in the Encyclopaedia Britannica are public property, and he has no right to demand that I shall omit all references to his assertions. I venture to say that such a demand was never made before by an author. Why should he make such a request, seeing he has nothing to alter? It has been my aim not to misrepresent Dr. Cheyne's statements, and in the second edition of my book, now in the press, I have softened a few phrases which I feared might give pain; but until he formally withdraws certain assertions discrediting Bible narratives I shall consider it my duty to confront his assertions by the ascertained facts of modern research.
Encyclopaedia Britannica (1888, Vol. 12, pp. 25-27: "Hittites" -- written by T. K. Cheyne):
In the Egyptian inscriptions they are called the Khita or Kheta; in the Assyrian, the Khatti; in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Khittim. Some confusion has been caused in the treatment of the history of the Hittites by the uncritical use of the Old Testament It is true that the Khittim or Hittites are repeatedly mentioned among the tribes which inhabited Canaan before the Israelites (Gen. xv. 20; Ex. iii 8, 17, xiii. 6, xxiii. 23, 28, xxxiii 2, xxxiv. 11; Num. xiii 29; Deut. vii 1, xx. 17 ; Josh, iii 10, ix. 1, xi 3, xii. 8, xxiv. 11; Judg. iii 6 ; 1 Kings ix. 20; 2 Chr. viii. 7; Ezra ix. 1; Neh. ix. 8), but the lists of these pre-Israelitish populations cannot be taken as strictly historical documents. Not to dwell on the cases of the Perizzites (properly speaking, an appellative and not an ethnic name), and the Kenites and other Arab races, sometimes included, but evidently by an anachronism (see vol iv. p. 763), it is obvious that narratives written, or (as all will agree) edited, so long after the events referred to cannot be taken as of equal authority with Egyptian and Assyrian inscriptions. How meagre the tradition respecting the Hittites was in the time of the great Elohistic narrator is shown by the picture of Hittite life in Gen. xxiii. As Ewald remarks, "Abraham's allies in war are Amorites; but when he desires to obtain a possession peaceably he turns to the Hittites." Yet the undoubtedly authentic inscriptions of Egypt and Assyria reveal the Hittites in far different guise, as pre-eminently a warlike, conquering race. Not less unfavourable to the accuracy of the Old Testament references to the Hittites is the evidence deducible from proper names. As we shall see presently, the Hittite names preserved in Egyptian and Assyrian records are on the whole strikingly un Semitic The three Hittite names given in the Old Testament (Ephron, Gen. xxiii. 8, 10; Ahimelech, 1 Sam. xxvi. 6; Uriah, 2 Sam. xi. 3, xxiii. 39) are, however, of undeniably Semitic origin. Is it unnatural to infer that these three names are no less fictitious than the Semitic names ascribed in the Old Testament to the non-Semitic Philistines? It is not surprising that at least two eminent Egyptologists (Chabas, Ebers) should absolutely deny the identity of the Khita and the Khittim. This, however, seems to be going too far. The Old Testament writers clearly meant by the latter name the same people as the Egyptian inscriptions by the former, but in their time the memory of the Khita had grown so dim that they could include it among othershadowy names of conquered Canaanitish peoples. No impartial scholar, indeed, will deny that a branch of the Khita may once have existed in Palestine. Unfortunately there is no historical evidence that it did so.
Methodist Review, January 1895, p. 137 ff.: "Archaeology and Biblical Research: The Hittites" (unknown author):
Should the reader take a concordance of the Old Testament and examine the passages referring to the Hittites he would be convinced at once, if he had no theory to maintain, that he was reading history, and not the exploits of some legendary people, the mere creation of some Oriental story-teller. The references are so explicit and numerous as to preclude the idea of a myth or interpolation. . . .
The last three notices, though not as full and explicit as could be desired, yet read like genuine history and show clearly that the Hittites, mentioned, as they are, alongside of the kings of Egypt and Syria, were a people of commanding influence. It is, therefore, strange that, in the face of such evidence as we have and such circumstantial statements in so many places in the Old Testament where there could have been no motives for interpolations or the introduction of myths, there are learned men, like Francis William Newman, who boldly stamp the account of the panic in the Syrian camp at Samaria as an extraordinary creation of the imagination. The story as told in the Bible, according to Newman, "does not exhibit the writer's acquaintance with the times in a very favorable light. Its unhistorical tone is too manifest to allow of our easy belief in it." And, as if these statements were not strong enough, the appends the following note: "No Hittite kings can have compared in power with the king of Judah, the real and near ally, who is not mentioned at all. . . . Nor is there a single mark of acquaintance with the contemporaneous history." Scholars like De Goeze and Merx insist that several references to the Hittites in the Old Testament are either interpolations or unhistorical.
Professor Cheyne is very loath to accept the biblical account of the Hittites, and, were it not for the more sure word of the Egyptian monuments and Assyrian tablets, he, like Newman, would make a short work of this troublesome people. Says the learned professor, in an article on the subject, '' Some confusion has been caused in the treatment of the history of the Hittites by the uncritical use of the Old Testament." Cheyne, though forced to admit that the Hittites are repeatedly mentioned in the Bible, yet insists that the lists in which they and other pre-Israelitish populations are given cannot be strictly historical documents. To throw greater doubt upon the biblical records he assumes that they were all written centuries after the events described had taken place and, therefore, less worthy of credence than the monuments of Egypt and Assyria. . . .
Though we know, with certainty, neither the language nor the origin of the Hittites, the time has passed when any scholar will relegate this ancient and powerful people to the realm of the mythical. How gloriously God's word vindicated by the ancient monuments of lost empires!
David Friedrich Strauss, The Life of Jesus: Critically Examined (Vol. 1, translated from the fourth German edition, London: Chapman, Brothers: 1846, pp. 24 ff.):
RISE OF THE MYTHICAL MODE OF INTERPRETING THE SACRED HISTORY, IN REFERENCE FIRST TO THE OLD TESTAMENT.
Sender had already spoken of a kind of Jewish mythology, and had even called the histories of Samson and Esther mythi; Eichhorn too had done much to prepare the way, now further pursued by Gabler, Schelling, and others, who established the notion of the mythus as one of universal application to ancient history, sacred as well as profane, according to the principle of Heyne: A mythis omnia priscorum hominum cum historia turn philosophic procedit. And Bauer in 1820 ventured so far as to publish a Hebrew mythology of the Old and New Testament''. The earliest records of all nations are, in the opinion of Bauer, mythical: why should the writings of the Hebrews form a solitary exception?—whereas in point of fact a cursory glance at their sacred books proves that they also contain mythical elements. A narrative he explains, after Gabler and Schelling, to be recognizable as mythus, first, when it proceeds from an age in which no written records existed, but in which facts were transmitted through the medium of oral tradition alone; secondly, when it presents an historical account of events which are either absolutely or relatively beyond the reach of experience, such as occurrences connected with the spiritual world, and incidents to which, from the nature of the circumstances, no one could have been witness; or thirdly, when it deals in the marvellous and is couched in symbolical language. Not a few narratives of this description occur in the Bible; and an unwillingness to regard them as mythi can arise only from a false conception of the nature of a mythus, or of the character of the biblical writings. . . .
Vater expressed the opinion that the peculiar character of the narrations in the Pentateuch could not be rightly understood, unless it were conceded that they are not the production of an eye witness, but are a series of transmitted traditions. Their traditional origin being admitted, we cease to feel surprised at the traces which they discover of a subsequent age; at numerical exaggerations, together with other inaccuracies and contradictions; at the twilight which hangs over many of the occurrences ; and at representations such as, that the clothes of the Israelites waxed not old during their passage through the wilderness. Vater even contends, that unless we ascribe a great share of the marvellous contained in the Pentateuch to tradition, we do violence to the original sense of the compilers of these narratives. The natural mode of explanation was still more decidedly opposed by De Wette than by Vater. He advocated the mythical interpretation of a large proportion of the Old Testament histories. In order to test the historical credibility of a narrative, he says,' we must ascertain the intention of the narrator. If that intention be not to satisfy the natural thirst for historical truth by a simple narration of facts, but rather to delight or touch the feelings, or to illustrate some philosophical or religious truth, then his narrative has no pretension to historical validity. Even when the narrator is conscious of strictly historical intentions, nevertheless his point of view may not be the historical: he may be a poetical narrator, not indeed subjectively, as a poet drawing inspiration from himself, but objectively, as enveloped by and depending on poetry external to himself. This is evidently the case when the narrator details as bona fide matter of fact things which arc impossible and incredible, which are contrary not only to experience, but to the established laws of nature. Narrations of this description spring out of tradition. Tradition, says De Wette, is uncritical and partial; its tendency is not historical, but rather patriotic and poetical. And since the patriotic sentiment is gratified by all that flatters national pride, the more splendid, the more honourable, the more wonderful the narrative, the more acceptable it is; and where tradition has left any blanks, imagination at once steps in and fills them up. And since, he continues, a great part of the historical books of the Old Testament bear this stamp, it has hitherto been believed possible (on the part of the natural interpreters) to separate the embellishments and transformations from the historical substance, and still to consider them available as records of facts. This might indeed be done, had we, besides the marvellous biblical narratives, some other purely historical account of the events. But this is not the case with regard to the Old Testament history; we are solely dependent on those accounts which we cannot recognize as purely historical. They contain no criterion by which to distinguish between the true and the false; both are promiscuously blended, and set forth as of equal dignity. . . .
In like manner Gabler recommended the mythical view, as the best means of escaping from the so called natural, but forced explanation, which had become the fashion. The natural interpreter, he, remarks, commonly aims to make the whole narrative natural; and as this can but seldom succeed, he allows himself the most violent measures, owing to which modern exegesis has been brought into disrepute even amongst laymen. The mythical view, on the contrary, needs no such subtleties; since the greater part of a narrative frequently belongs to the mythical representation merely, while the nucleus of fact, when divested of the subsequently added miraculous envelopments, is often very small.
"THE EMPIRE OF THE HITTITES."
London : April 27, 1888. In the midst of much that is incoherent in Dr. Cheyne's letter he has not made very clear his attitude pro tem. to the Bible. My assumption that "the Bible is a venerable old document which professes to deal with facts " he declares to be "a bold historical heresy." The assumption is one which no scientific man, whether he believed in the Bible or not, would challenge. For the purposes of my book it was unnecessary to assume any higher authority for the Bible than that accorded to any other venerable book. I thought I should be here on common ground with Dr. Cheyne. I did not even assume that the Bible deals with facts, but only that it professes to deal with facts. Is it this lowly and self-evident assumption that Dr. Cheyne stigmatises as "bold historical heresy"? Or is it simply the word document instead of documents that Dr. Cheyne makes so much of? He speaks of the " seventy tablets" of Sargon as a "venerable document," and he would hardly call it heresy to speak in the same convenient way of the collection of books which make up the Bible. If this should be his meaning I am quite willing to use "collection of documents," or any similar phrase, but without changing my position in any other way.
A few secondary matters in Dr. Cheyne's letter require correction. He begins by accepting my "concession." I am not aware that I have made any concession, or that I can make any concession consistently with loyalty to facts.
He says: "No one would guess from Dr. Wright's letter that the book (not books) of Kings was quite distinct from the book of Genesis." I have made no reference in my letter to either book or books of Kings. Does Dr. Cheyne's theory permit him to annotate without consulting his text?
I am not sure if Dr. Cheyne still labours under the impression that I am an American. He thinks it was not uncharitable to account for my criticism "on the assumption of the author's different nationality." It is my privilege to know a number of American scholars who, with firm loyalty to the Bible, advocate as I do the fullest critical freedom; and I think Dr. Cheyne would act more charitably if he conceded ordinary morality to scholars of every nationality.
I notice with pleasure the increase of courtesy in Dr. Cheyne's style, and I think it is to be regretted that he considered it necessary to import personal matters into this controversy, or to raise the absurd cry of " heresy."
Having said so much, I think the time has come for closing this controversy. Dr. Cheyne admits that the references to the Hittites in the Book of Kings are in accordance with "recent archaeological discoveries." He wishes me to mention that he does not object to support "the statements of a Biblical writer by sound archaeological evidence." He admits that the Kheta of the Egyptian inscriptions, the Khatti of the Assyrian, and the Hittites of the Bible are the same people. He admits that Hittite influence "extended even into Asia Minor." He considers it proved " that the Hittites penetrated through the Eastern barrier formed by the Taurus range," and he recognises evidence of the extension of their power to the shores of the Aegean. He is favourable to the hypothesis that the Hittites were the early civilisers of Asia Minor, and he considers them non-Semitic, and the authors of the Hittite inscriptions.It would thus seem that we are agreed on all points but one, namely, the accuracy of the account of the Hittites in the Book of Genesis. On this point there should no longer be any difference between us. Dr. Cheyne admits publicly, "that a branch of the Kheta may once have existed in Palestine"; but he adds, "unfortunately there is no historical evidence that it did so." Since he wrote these words, as I have already pointed out, Dr. Cheyne admitted privately, that he had reconsidered the question, and I cannot understand why his full recognition should be any longer withheld from a cause which his own industry has done so much to promote.The new edition of my book is delayed by the preparation of additional plates of new inscriptions and sculptures, but I shall not regret the delay if thereby I may be able to add Dr. Cheyne's maturer conclusions.
Up until the late 1870s, critics argued loudly that the Hittites were a myth, that the Bible's references to them were inaccurate and non-historical. Even early editions of the respected Encyclopaedia Britannica referred to the Hittites as "a mythological civilization mentioned only in the Bible." All that changed when archaeological discoveries produced startling evidence of a thriving Hittite civilization.
[Other sources citing this same eight-word quote: one]
Remember, once again, what our friend DagoodS stated:
I heard the statement how skeptics once claimed Hittites didn’t exist, but it turns out they did. Not true—no skeptic said this.
From the above information, we have now determined that there were a number of people (essentially, adherents of the school of "Higher Criticism") who questioned not only the existence of the Hittites, or at least the biblical accounts of same, but also the bulk of the early narrative histories of the Old Testament. 27 of the 46 biblical mentions of the Hittites (or 59%) occur in Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Judges. Here they are:
Johann Philipp Gabler (1753-1826; German)
Johann Severin Vater (1771-1826; German)
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775-1854; German)
Wilhelm Martin Leberecht De Wette (1780-1849; German)
Ferdinand Christian Bauer (1792-1860; German)
Wilhelm Vatke (1806-1882; German )
David Friedrich Strauss (1808-1874; German) [lengthy quotation]
Hermann Schultz (1836-1903; German) [quotation]
Theodor Noldeke (1836-1930; German)
To a somewhat lesser extent, the following persons were also skeptical of the Hittites, as presented in the Bible:
Francis William Newman (1805-1897; English) [quotation]
Thomas Kelly Cheyne (1841-1915; English) [quotation]
Sir Ernest Alfred Thompson Wallis Budge (1857-1934; English)
Moreover, there are several scholars today of the "biblical minimalist" view, who are about as radical, if not more so, than the older German higher critics:
Thomas L. Thompson (b. 1939; American/Danish)
Niels Peter Lemche (b. 1945; Danish)
Philip Davies (b. 1945; English)
Keith W. Whitelam (b. ?; English?) [see his paper, "The Death of Biblical History"]