Of all the world religions, the Christian faith is one that totally and fully depends upon the reliability of the historical narratives of its Holy book. Consequently, the radical theologians and rationalists are quick to attack the historical narratives of the Bible. This is why the practice of Legal and Historical Apologetics is important for Christian Apologists.
As seen above no sooner attacks began coming against the historical aspects of the Christian faith, tools of Legal and Historical Apologetics were developed to counter it. These developments had many advantages in addition to providing a defense of the Christian faith. Some of these are:
1-Insights Into History/Chronology: Most people do not realize that the way history is written, and the way in which chronologies are constructed, vary from culture to culture. Thus the historical and chronological records produced by people of one culture can be understood only if we understand the presuppositions and methodologies of those people. Legal and Historical studies have furnished much information to help us understand Biblical history and chronology more accurately.
2-Insights Into Culture/Customs/Manners: Culture, customs, and manners vary from place to place and time to time even within a single country. So much so that what is considered as appropriate and even desirable behavior in one part of a country can be interpreted as undesirable in another part of the same country. Since that is the case, the Biblical history covering a span of 4000 years, having taken place in dozens of countries, contains many things related to these things that might perplex people today. Some of the Biblical statements can even be misinterpreted today. However, historical investigation furnishes insights into these things, eliminating confusion.
3-Insights Into Languages/Meanings: As mentioned before, Biblical languages are dead today. They are not spoken anywhere. Thus it is difficult for the twentieth century reader to understand all the finer nuances of these languages when they were used by people for whom it was their native language. Historical investigations, however, have produced tens of thousands of writings of all kinds in these languages, enabling linguists to understand vocabulary, word usage, and idioms of these languages more accurately.
4-Insights Through Reconstruction/Investigation of Biblical Histories/Incidents: Many events become more meaningful to the readers when the background is reconstructed more fully to them. This is the reason why popular magazines sometimes carry detailed reconstructions of historical events like the sinking of Titanic, or the fist voyage to the North Pole. Historical and Legal investigations have helped Bible scholars to perform similar reconstructions of many Biblical events (siege of Jericho, fall of Persian Empire, etc), providing greater insights into the significance and impact of these events.
Other Values Of Historical Investigations
Though the purpose of Apologetics is defense of the Christian Faith, Apologetical investigations always help the entire spectrum of Biblical studies. For example, in addition to the benefits mentioned previously, Historical investigations provide help in many other areas of Bible studies and research. Some of them are:
1-A Better Understanding of Biblical Text/Transmission: The way the Biblical Text was produced, preserved, and transmitted has an exciting history of itself. Often this can shed much light for those who investigate the accuracy of the current text of Bible. Further, when radicals and rationalists claim that the present text is unreliable, such studies help scholars to refute them. For example, when a radical claims that a certain translation of the Old Testament contained the Apocrypha Books also, such studies help scholars to show that they were not part of the Canon.
2-Better Appreciation Of Reliability Of Scriptures: The historical nature of Bible and the Christian faith has prompted radicals and rationalists to attack all historical aspects of the Christian faith, including the reliability of the Hebrew and Greek Texts that are available today. However, venturing into the history of these things not only vindicates the accuracy of the present texts, but also fills Christians with awe about the ways in which God caused this text to be transmitted so reliably for His children.
3-Better Appreciation Of Prophecy: Most of the prophecies recorded in the Bible have already taken place. Thus it is often very difficult for the present-day reader to appreciate their apologetic value. But when historical studies demonstrate how incredible these prophecies were at the time of their giving, our appreciation for prophecy increases manifold. (This subject is discussed in detail in another portion of this series).
Unlike the major world religions, the Christian faith is firmly rooted in history. There is no way to separate the historical portions from doctrinal ones. Either both of them stand together, or they fall totally. This is why the historical narratives in the Bible have become favorite targets of attack for theological radicals and rationalists. Legal and Historical Apologetics is the answer to these people. History has turned out to be a great friend of the Bible and the Legal and Historical apologetics have turned out to be very strong answers against all objections !