Dr Clifford Wilson Passes Into Glory

Dr Clifford Wilson, Australian Archaeologist, Author, Academic and committed Christian worker died on the evening of Wednesday April 4, 2012 just a few weeks short of his 90th birthday.


Clifford Wilson was well known and much loved internationally, having contributed widely in Christian apologetics, academia, psycholinguistics, archaeology, Christian broadcasting, publishing and public speaking.

At the same time Clifford was cherished as a father, grandfather and great-granddad, with the ability to engage in encouraging conversation with people of all ages and walks of life.
He was truly a remarkable man with tireless energy and unbounded vision.  He contributed above and beyond the call of duty, boldly stepping into issues where others shrank away.
And his many wonderful achievements would not have been possible without the capable and devoted support of his first wife, Avis, and his second wife, Barbara, who both preceded him in death.

Clifford’s achievements were listed at the Thanksgiving Service as:
*    Naval Seaman during World War II
*    Missionary to India (see comment added below with detail of his work there)
*    First Regional Director of Emmaus Bible College (see comment below for a review of the early history of Emmaus and Clifford’s involvement)
*    Hansard Reporter for the Fijian Government
*    Pastoral service in Australia and USA
*    Passionate supporter of Essendon Football Club (Aussie Rules Football)
*    Lecturer at Emmaus Bible College, Melbourne Bible Institute (MBI), New Zealand Bible School, Collumbia Bible College, Pacific College of Graduate Studies, Toorak Teachers College and Monash University (among others)
*    Named in America as an outstanding Educator of the Year
*    Academic degrees in History, Education, Theology, Divinity and Psycholinguistics  (B.A., M.A., B.D., M.R.Ed., Ph.D.)
*    Founder of the Word of Truth Ministries and Pacific Ministries
*    Radio Broadcaster in Australia, USA and internationally
*    Founding President of Pacific College of Graduate Studies and Pacific International University
*    Director of the Australian Institute of Archaeology
*    Author of approximately 100 books
*    Editor and Assistant Editor of New Life Christian Newspaper (Australia)
*    Husband to Avis for 54 years
*    Father to Bruce, Elaine, David and Lynnette and Father-in-law to Shirley, Alan, Debbie and Greg
*    Grandfather to Darren, Debbie, Phil, Michelle, Ray, Bruce, Benj, Dee Dee, Marney, Jabin, Ryan, Brianna and Geordie
*    Great grandfather to 23 children
*    Husband to Barbara for 12 years
*    Friend to ‘millions’

Dr Wilson, May 10 1923 – April 4 2012, was interred at a private burial on the morning of April 10, and a Thanksgiving Service followed at Canterbury Gardens Christian church that afternoon.

An article on the life of Barbara Wilson, who passed away in 2010, can be found at: http://chrisfieldblog.com/2010/06/03/barbara-wilson

Additional information about Clifford’s life can be found in the comments following this article.

Tribute to Barbara Joan Wilson

Friends of Clifford and Barbara Wilson are saddened to hear that Barbara passed away on June 3, 2010, at 8.10pm, in Epworth Eastern Hospital, in Box Hill, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia.

For many months Barbara bravely met the challenge of cancer which she had confronted in the past. However less than 2 weeks before her passing she and Clifford decided they would not continue with chemo and other medical interventions, since those seemed to be ineffective.

Many dear friends assisted and supported Barbara and Clifford through this challenging time. Their church community, Canterbury Gardens Community Church, assisted in getting Clifford to and from the hospital each day. People kept them both in prayer and longed to see Barbara win through again.

Every day Clifford was at Barbara’s side, encouraging her in those moments when she was conscious. She slept much over the past few days.

Clifford and Barbara are known to tens of thousands around the world, through their radio broadcasts on archaeology and Bible truth, through their many books and through their extensive travels, including tours of the Holy Land and ministry in churches big and small in several nations, and the USA in particular.

Barbara has been a loving and devoted ‘help meet’ to Clifford, wisely recommended to be his wife by Clifford’s first wife, Avis, as she faced her own imminent death in the mid 1980’s. Barbara, with a missionary nursing background in Ecuador, has always had a heart to serve the Lord. She laboured tirelessly and patiently, keeping pace with her husband’s insatiable desire to get the word out to people.

Barbara was at one time Dean of Students at the Bible College of Victoria, has written, spoken and traveled the world, engaging in archaeology and publishing alongside her husband. In recent years she has been actively involved with Australia’s New Life Christian Newspaper, where she has Edited, researched, written, typed for Clifford, and met the deadlines of a regular print publication.

Barbara is loved by all. She displayed such gentle patience and willingness to serve that she shines as a glowing example of one who gave her life for others and for God’s Kingdom. She was never afraid to learn and take on new challenges, and Clifford’s creativity prompted plenty of those.

FOLLOWING ARE NOTES FROM THE FUNERAL SERVICE June 9, 2010.

Tribute to Barbara Wilson
Barbara Joan Wilson, April 25, 1937 – June 3, 2010
Having just returned from the memorial service for Barbara Wilson at the church where she and Clifford attended for the past seven years, Canterbury Gardens Community Church (Brethren assembly) in Kilsyth, my heart is filled with renewed respect and wonder for the lovely woman of God we were privileged to know.
My rambling thoughts snatch from various memories and tributes given by family and friends those bits that seemed to stand out to my attention.
Note that Barbara was born on Anzac Day (a day when Aussies remember the wartime sacrifice of men and women soldiers).
Pa Baddeley, Barbara’s dad, was a man of God who raised his two daughters, Barbara being the eldest, in a remarkable way. Both girls received a good measure of confidence, resourcefulness, grace and faith, qualities which Barbara displayed through almost 74 years of Christian witness and a life of service. In later years, as a widower living in the care of his successful daughter Barbara as she made her enormous investment in the daily life of the Bible College of Victoria (BCV) in Lilydale, Pa Baddeley encouraged other parents in their raising of godly children. His own credentials were clearly evident in the maturity and stability of his daughters.
Raised in Geelong, west of Melbourne, Barbara proved herself to be a woman of intelligence with high academic capacities and a clear and incisive mind and quick wit. Academic accolades followed her from her school days, through her nursing training and even in a counselling course she completed past her half century. She was often dux of her class and won scholarships and honours for her high achievements.
Yet Barbara did not take her personal talents as gifts to be used for personal aggrandizement or financial and material comfort. Instead she embraced a life of service to others, seeking to minister the love of God and truth of the gospel, rather than pander to her own earthly comforts.
That commitment to serve saw her training for missionary service and heading to Quito Ecuador, where she headed up two hospital facilities for the HCJB radio ministry. Preparation also included learning Spanish.
I should pause to note that one of Barbara’s lecturers at Melbourne Bible Institute, as she prepared for ministry, was a Dr Clifford Wilson. Clifford and his wife, Avis, held Barbara in high regard, recognising her natural talents and her heart to serve the Lord.
For a dozen years Barbara poured herself into the indigenous patients of the high Andes Mountains, using her resourcefulness, dedication, intelligence and care for others on a daily basis. All who knew her respected her and life-long friendships followed those well spent years.
Rigours of the altitude took a toll on Barbara’s spine and she had to return to Melbourne for surgery. Her doctor advised that she could not return to the high altitude environment, closing the door on her successful ministry there. However, on the very same day Barbara was given that unhappy advice she was asked by the then head of Melbourne Bible Institute to take on a position as Dean of Women Students. Thus began twenty years of investment into the lives of men and women who felt God’s call upon their lives.
Barbara Baddeley became Dean of Students, and functioned in many practical roles, including lecturer. MBI became BCV and Barbara had her own residence on the campus, where she cared for her aging father, Pa Baddeley, after her mother passed away. People who reflect on those years recognise that Barbara was the energetic lifeblood of BCV is so many ways. It is hard for some to imagine how BCV could have functioned without the ever present and highly effective input of Barbara.
During those years in academia Barbara extended her connection with the Wilson household. Clifford Wilson continued to lecture at the college. Barbara and Avis built upon their friendship. And Clifford and Avis’ son, Dr David Wilson, himself an academic, became a professional colleague, as he headed up another Christian college.
When Avis faced imminent death from her battle with cancer she spoke with Clifford and suggested that Barbara would make an excellent wife for Clifford after Avis’ passing. Avis knew very well how her husband needed a very capable ‘help meet’ to enable him to achieve the many things his own talents suited him to.
After Avis passed away, Clifford spoke with Barbara about Avis’ suggestion. Barbara recoiled from the thought, saying “I have never thought of you like that.” To Barbara, Clifford was the revered academic, archaeologist and man of God who she had been privileged to learn from and work with. Approaching the end of her sixth decade she may well have given up any thought of being a married woman.
Some time later, however, Barbara contacted Clifford and advised him that she had caught a sense for what it would be to have her head on his shoulder. She believed the Lord was directing her to become Clifford’s wife. And so her whole life direction took yet another major turn.
Dr David Wilson officiated at his father’s wedding, joining Clifford and Barbara as husband and wife. He jokingly tells that he married his father. David’s earliest memory of Barbara was when he was eight years old. She would wrestle with him on her visits to the family home. Even way back then, David recalls, he thought of her as a remarkably gracious woman.


The fourteen years of marriage gave Barbara ample opportunity to use her administrative skills, public speaking, analytical thinking, abilities to write, ability to learn new things, public relations skills, and her caring, faith, Bible knowledge and patience, as the pair travelled the world, researched, wrote, taught, preached, shared and cared.
Despite her back troubles and operation after Ecuador and an earlier bout with breast cancer, Barbara kept good health. However, she saw that her own comforts were secondary to her calling in life, and so she may well have borne more discomfort than people realised, since she was not given to complaining or demanding her own wellbeing.
When evidence emerged that secondary cancer was present in her body Barbara pressed on at full speed, undaunted and willing to leave things in God’s hands.

The overwhelming commentary on Barbara’s life and contribution is that she was a woman of immense grace, able to be gracious in all circumstances, unafraid, untroubled, willing to trust God, and completely unselfish in her generosity to others and willingness to go the second and third mile, way beyond the normal call of duty.
People tended to naturally revere her and to always feel that time spent with Barbara enriched them. People felt that it was their privilege to know her and to be appreciated by her. She had a way of pouring grace onto others and letting them feel appreciated and blessed.
She was always willing to trust God, including for the ongoing financial challenges that characterised her married life. She and Clifford often needed God to come through for this or that, and each time He did. Barbara’s quiet confidence in God always shone through.

Barbara’s sister, Heather, writes …
To me she was my big sister, I one I looked up to. She was always that example of what a Christian should be, walking the walk and talking the talk, never condemning, not always condoning, but always available to talk to, give advice (even if I didn’t like it) and then love me through whatever it was at the time.
[Clifford notes that Barbara mentored younger sister Heather in the Christian faith. Heather may have been Barbara’s first disciple.]
In everything she did there is one word that describes her – SELFLESS!
Her love and obedience were to her Lord. All she did was to bring glory to Him first and to help others without a song and dance. This is a significant quality of her whole life’s achievements.
From being head prefect at High School in Geelong, to nursing, top nurse overall, winning the Dr McPhee prize for excellence at Geelong Hospital where she trained, doing midwifery at Melbourne Women’s Hospital and receiving a gold medal for achievement there, then two years of study at MBI in preparation for her time in Quito, Ecuador as a missionary nurse, having to learn Spanish in Costa Rica before getting to Quito, returning to BCV but this time not as a student but as a lecturer and Dean of Students.
Then her looking after dad after mum passed away. Then marrying Cliff. We celebrate the life of one who we loved deeply.
“Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord.” Matthew 25:21.
One card that we received says… “Our loved one touched many hearts and lives and although it is hard to imagine the world without her it is easy to imagine heaven rejoicing because she is there.”
Thank you God for giving us Barb til you took her home.
Gracious in death as she was in life.

Barbara’s Friend, Flo Sinclair, wife of Ian Sinclair, pastor of the church where Barbara & Clifford have attended for the past 7 years or so, shared these lovely reflections …

Tribute to Barbara Wilson by Flo Sinclair
Cliff, thank you for the opportunity to share a few words about my friendship with Barb.  When Ian came home and said you wanted me to do this I was at first dismayed as I wondered how I could do justice to such a task – of course, I can’t, so I will just say what is on my heart.
I first remember meeting Barb at BCV about 20 years ago and was a bit in awe of her – her sharp intellect, her obvious knowledge of the Scripture, her many abilities.  Then about 7 years ago when Cliff & Barb began attending this church we got to know them a little better.  We tried to support them when Barb was diagnosed with cancer and then undergoing treatment.  Just before Barb knew she had secondary cancer we had a lovely conversation about friendship with its many facets and I confessed I had been in awe of her somewhat.  In her very Barb-way she quickly discounted that and said how precious she found our friendship which I found very humbling.
Everyone has heard the expression “God only knows!” often spoken with sarcasm or frustration and probably the person saying it doesn’t know who they are talking about. Ringing in my ears whenever I think of the time when Barb knew she had a battle on her hands with her health is her expression “The Lord Knows”.  She said this often and with such confidence and Fran and I talked about it one day as she had noticed it too as I’m sure many others did.  I got to thinking about this over the last few months and realised how well she knew and loved and trusted her God.  She had such knowledge of Him from her study of His Word, but it was much more than this – it was putting faith to this knowledge that gave her such confidence that no matter what, God was who He said He was and nothing could change that.  As a nurse herself she knew better than most what was ahead of her if God chose not to heal her on this earth and she had total acceptance of that.  Her only care was for Cliff – she really hated to think of him having to cope without her.
About six weeks ago I had a lovely half hour with her one morning at Epworth when I was there for tests.  I would often poke my head in the door and just say “feel like a chat?” and she would nod and invite me in.  Some days we would talk and talk and others I would just sit and she would hold my hand and we would pray together.  When I told her how much I admired her strength of character and faith in God she started saying how far short she was of God’s standard and how she felt she let Him down.  So I said “Barb, of course you have let Him down at times, but remember He will never let you down because He can’t”.  With tears she thanked me for reminding her of this. As if she didn’t already know this fact, but it just goes to show that at times of weakness we need each other. I then started to laugh.  She looked a bit puzzled and I said “Oh Barb, I feel like I’m taking ice to an Eskimo!”  she knew what I meant and had a good chuckle too.
My last visit to Barb was last Wednesday in the late afternoon.  Cliff had asked me to come in and I was glad I did.  He left the room and I had 20 minutes of precious time on my own with her.  I held her hand and she would squeeze my hand when she wanted to tell me she knew what I was saying. After praying with her and thanking her for her love and friendship I said I should go but she just held my hand tighter so I stayed.  I didn’t talk anymore, I had said goodbye, so just let the peace of the Lord’s presence in that room wash over us. Heaven felt very near. As I looked at her face I thought of how beautiful she looked – and I could only think it was the beauty of holiness – her quiet steadfast confidence in our God and her great love for Him was what created such beauty. I thought of how, though she was a very strong woman in character, she also had that “gentle and quiet spirit” that is so precious to God.  I thought of how her dealing with her long battle with cancer was the best sermon she could have preached.  I thought of how I would miss her wise and gentle counsel and felt that for many people our lives would be the poorer for her going.  But I can only say thank you to God for allowing me this friendship with such a special lady and I look forward to seeing her again in Heaven.

Ian Sinclair has graciously supplied the following notes from his leading of the Thanksgiving Service..

Thanksgiving Service for Barbara Wilson
(9th June 2010, 1.30pm at CGCC)
Introduction & Welcome
Ladies & Gentlemen (and children), I think it is time we made a start. On behalf of Cliff and his family, and Barbara’s sister, Heather and her husband Allen, and members of the Baddeley family, I want to welcome you this afternoon and thank you for attending this Thanksgiving Service for Barbara Wilson – a lovely, courageous, godly and uncomplaining lady who lost her long battle with cancer last Thursday evening.
Flo and I have had the privilege of knowing Barbara for the last 7 years since Cliff & Barb started attending our church in 2003. So if Barb’s life could be viewed as a 24 hour day, then we have only got to know her during her last 2 hours and 18 minutes. Now there are many people here today who have known Barb in different ways for much, much longer than we have, and some will be presenting tributes to her during the service.
It is important at this stage, on behalf of Cliff, to sincerely thank the Pastoral Care team at our church, as well as those who have been able to help Cliff with transport over the many months Barbara was unwell. They know who they are – your kindness has been much appreciated.
In a letter Cliff composed last weekend, he said that Barbara “was a brilliant person, dux of her school, gold medallist as a nurse”, Dean of students and later Dean of Studies at the Melbourne Bible Institute (which became the Bible College of Victoria), and, of course, a wonderful wife and companion for the last 14 years.  Many here today would heartily agree with these comments. Indeed, she has been a blessing, an example and an encouragement to many people over the years. She will be greatly missed. But, throughout her life, Barbara served and worshipped God, and I am certain that she would not want this service to just focus on her, but on her Lord and Saviour – that He will be honoured and glorified. We can take comfort in knowing that, even now, Barbara is in God’s presence, and that her time of pain and suffering has passed forever!
Before we sing our opening hymn, which, by the way, was sung at Cliff and Barb’s wedding in 1996, Don McKelvie will lead us in prayer. Thank you Don.

Prayer : Don McKelvie

Hymn: “I have decided to follow Jesus” – stand and sing

Bible Readings: The Bible Readings listed in the Order of Service will be read by Cliff’s older daughter, Elaine, together with a few extra comments by her daughter, Michelle. The second reading will be by Cliff’s younger daughter, Lynette. And the third, from Romans chapter 8, will be read by Lynette’s daughter, Marney.
Could all these ladies please come to the stage together, and take your turn at the microphone. Thank you.

Eulogy: Dr Ted Woods
In 1992 I was privileged to attend an evening course at BCV on Old Testament studies. The lecturer was Dr Ted Woods. I remember him as a very animated person who, at regular intervals during the lectures, when he made a telling point, would add: “I preached a good sermon on this once!” I got the impression that a book of Ted’s good sermons would, at some stage, be available at Koorong Book store. But today, Cliff has asked for Ted, not to preach one of his good sermons, but to present Barbara’s eulogy which I’m sure he will do very well as Ted & Barb served on staff together at BCV for many years. Thank you Ted.

Hymn: “It is well with my soul’
The second hymn we are about to sing was chosen especially in light of the difficult circumstances Barbara and Cliff have faced in recent times. Despite the billowing seas, the many trials and sense of helplessness – because of their Christian faith and their trust in God’s promises, they could say with total confidence, “It is well, it is well with my soul.” Let us now stand and sing this great hymn together.

Tributes: Tributes to Barbara will now be given by the following people:
1.    Barbara’s sister, Heather Lloyd
2.    Barbara’s Cousin, Ernest Wass (pronounced ‘Voss’)
3.    A lovely lady who I know very well, Flo Sinclair
4.    Cliff’s son, Dr David Wilson
So firstly, Heather….

Devotion: Ian Sinclair
In 1 Thess.4:13 we read these words:
“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.”
Let us for a few moments consider what this verse means, because on an occasion such as this it is important that we know. The Apostle Paul was writing to Christians who believed that the Lord Jesus would come again before they died. But some had already died, and others were beginning to doubt their faith. Paul, however, reassures them that, because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, those who die as Christians will live again. To emphasize this he even uses the unusual language of saying that those who had died have only “fallen asleep”. They, because of their faith, will be raised to life – a life that will be eternal, and wonderful, free from pain and sickness and trouble of any kind, a life forever in God’s presence.
But Paul then adds that they should not “grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.” And it is this part of the verse I want to focus on today.
Paul does not say that Christians were not to grieve. He says they were not to grieve “like the rest of men”. Now there is an important difference. It would be wrong, totally wrong, to say that because we believe in God and  the certainty of the after-life, that we should not grieve for our loved ones who have died. After all, we are human, and God wants us to be honest with Him. We can, and we should express our grief about what has happened, and why it has happened in this case to a lady who, it seems, still had much to offer. Many of us today, particularly those closest to Barbara, are hurting, feeling sad, feeling empty, because she is no longer with us. And we are left to carry on without her.
Well, if that’s how you are feeling, be assured, you are not alone. The shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35, to me is one of the most precious. It simply says “Jesus wept”. At the graveside of his friend Lazarus, Jesus openly expressed His grief. We read that He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. At this moment, He was identifying with our humanity and the emotions that we experience.
Feelings of sadness and disappointment at such a time of loss are legitimate. They should not be denied or suppressed. But how do we make sense of them? The answer to the tormenting question “why?”  is contained within the sovereignty of God, and that in a world marred by sin, mankind’s mortality is always evident. God does not promise to shield Christians from all harm or disease, but He does promise to be with us at all times, and to give us His grace – grace to sustain us – grace that will be sufficient for our need. Yet, like everyone else, Christians do suffer pain and disappointment and, in the end, we all die physically.
Using a sporting analogy, in this life, most of us probably think we’re like marathon runners pacing ourselves over a 100 year journey, but quite obviously, this isn’t always the case. Some will only run, as it were, a middle distance race, and, as they look back, then they’ll realize that that was the length of the race they had entered. The psalmist writes in Psalm 139 “all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” God knows the length of our race, but we don’t. For Barbara I calculated the length of her race was 26,702 days. That was the number of her days. That was her race. And she ran it well – with great courage and with dignity.
But what about how we run our race? Each of us needs to be a good steward of the time we have on earth, however long that might be, and be ready, at any moment, to break the finishing tape when we, too, will be called to meet our Creator.
So, then, what are we to do? Shrug our shoulders and fatalistically accept our lot? Not at all!  Paul finishes the verse on a very positive note. He says that we should not grieve as other men who have no hope. Yes, we are to grieve because we’re  human. And we are to mourn with those who mourn. But Paul reminds us that, even though we mourn, we have hope. The word ‘hope’ in this sense is not just wishful thinking, or crossing your fingers and toes, hoping that something might happen. The Christian hope is the joyful anticipation of something that will happen and is about to happen. It is absolutely certain, and we are excited at the prospect of it happening!
How do we know this? If we can trust anything in the Bible, we can trust this promise because they are the words of the Lord Jesus Himself. He said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.”
Barbara believed this promise, and she is already enjoying the reality of her new existence. The author C.S.Lewis described our present existence as merely the ‘shadowlands’ – they are just like a shadow. The reality, the ultimate reality, is the life to come when we leave behind the shadows of this life, and come into the full sunshine of eternal life – with God forever – and that will be far, far better than the struggles and trials we now encounter. In another one of Paul’s letters he says: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Barbara has already received a rich welcome into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And she has heard from His lips: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant….come, enter into the joy of Thy Lord.”

Let us pray together
“God, our loving heavenly Father, we confess that we have mixed feelings at this very moment. We have feelings of sadness and loss because Barbara is no longer with us. And we miss her. We ask in Your mercy, that you will comfort those who are grieving. For Cliff, and for Heather, and for members of the extended family, we ask Your special blessing. Give them the strength to continue, we pray. For them life will be different and, at times, difficult. Be to them (as You have promised in Your Word) “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.”
And yet, in another sense, there are feelings of relief in knowing that Barbara’s suffering is now over. No more pain, no more illness, no more trips to the hospital. Indeed, no more of the limitations that we still face. She is absent from her earthly body, yet gloriously alive in Your presence. For this certain and wonderful promise we give thanks to You, O God.
Now may the love of God the Father, who loves us with a love that will never let us go, and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, so clearly demonstrated in that while we were still sinners He died for us, and the abiding comfort and presence of the Holy Spirit be with us all, this day and forever. Amen.”
Announcements
In a minute we will sing our closing hymn which appropriately focuses on the great God that Barbara trusted and served, but before we do that there are just a few announcements.
1.    During the singing of the hymn, six of Cliff’s grandchildren will be the pallbearers. Please wait until all the family has left the main hall before following them out.
2.    If you have not done so already, please sign the Memorial Book on the table in the foyer as a record of your attendance today.
3.    As mentioned on the back page of the order of service, everyone is invited to stay for afternoon tea which will be served in the room behind you.
4.    Even though the weather is a bit bleak, for those who are intending to come to Lilydale Memorial Park for the committal, please be in your car and ready to leave by 3.20. I will make a further announcement about this at 3.15. It is very important that we leave on time.
So to the closing hymn…..Let us stand and sing…..
Closing Hymn: “How Great Thou Art”

Noah’s Ark Models

Noah’s Ark has fascinated generations and recent recreations have shown today’s generations how real and practical the world’s most famous ship proves to be.

Two major efforts to create models are featured here. One by Johan Huibers in the Netherlands and another by Rod Walsh in Australia.

Another recreation of Noah’s ark was made for the Movie, Evan Almighty, starring Steve Carell and Morgan Freeman.

While the Evan Almighty model was made for the cameras, another large model of Noah’s Ark has been made for people to explore. It is located in Schagen, Netherlands.

The massive central door in the side of Noah’s Ark was opened to the first crowd of curious townsfolk to behold the wonder. Of course, it’s only a replica of the biblical Ark, built by Dutch creationist, Johan Huibers, as a testament to his faith in the literal truth of the Bible.

The ark is 150 cubits long, 30 cubits high and 20 cubits wide. That’s two-thirds the length of a football field and as high as a three-story house.

Life-size models of giraffes, elephants, lions, crocodiles, zebras, bison and other animals greet visitors as they arrive in the main hold.

A contractor by trade, Huibers built the ark of cedar and pine. Biblical Scholars debate exactly what the wood used by Noah would have been.

Huibers did the work mostly with his own hands, using modern tools and with occasional help from his son, Roy. Construction began in May 2005. On the uncovered top – deck not quite ready in time for the opening – will come a petting zoo, with baby lambs, chickens, goats and one camel.

Visitors on the first day were stunned. ‘It’s past comprehension’, said Mary Louise Starosciak, who happened to be bicycling by with her husband while on vacation when they saw the ark looming over the local landscape.

‘I knew the story of Noah, but I had no idea the boat would have been so big’. There is enough space near the keel for a 50-seat film theatre where kids can watch a video that tells the story of Noah and his ark. Huibers, a Christian man, said he hopes the project will renew interest in Christianity in the Netherlands, where church-going has fallen dramatically in the past 50 years.

“Now that I am old and gray…give me the time to tell this new generation (and their children too) about all your mighty miracles.” Psalm 71:18

ANOTHER NOAH’S ARK MODEL….

In Geelong, west of Melbourne, Australia, Rod Walsh has made several models of Noah’s Ark, on a more modest scale to the Dutch version. Rod has given much attention to detail and his models reveal the amazing capacity and effectiveness of the Biblical boat.

Rod Walsh has not only recreated the Biblical specifications for Noah’s Ark, but has also created a model interior, which is not specified in the historical records. By doing this he has been able to show the enormous storage capacity of the world’s first ship.

Rod and Nancy Walsh spearhead CMI-Australia’s dynamic traveling Ark Van ministry. Rod and Nancy spend many months of each year traveling to remote parts of Australia (and also overseas).

Rod is a model-builder and has painstakingly crafted five separate Noah’s Ark models to scale. Each one conforms to the general biblical principles most creationists adhere to.

According to Genesis 6:15, the Ark measured 300x50x30 cubits, which is about 140x23x14 metres. Its volume was 43,000 cubic metres. This is the same volume as 522 standard American railroad stock cars, each of which can hold 240 sheep in total. Part of Rod’s mission, when he felt prompted to build the ark models, was to help people understand how real the Ark was.

Further information about Rod Walsh and his models can be found at:
http://www.noahs-ark.net
http://creation.com/the-ark-van-ministy

There is no Biblical evidence that Noah had help from the animals in making the Ark. But the makers of Evan Almighty thought it was a cute idea to show how animals lent help to the ancient builder.

HEROD’S TEMPLE MODEL …

Another model maker has created a huge replica of Herod’s Temple, from the time of Jesus Christ.

To see pictures of that creative model making effort, go to: http://chrisfieldblog.com/archaeology/herods-temple-model

Sumerian King List

The Bible account of history should be confirmed by ancient historical documents. Corroboration of Bible history is found to some degree in the ancient Assyrian texts excavated from Nineveh, which hark back to ancient Sumerian myths and historical records.

Mythical Documents

Those ancient Assyrian texts, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh, Enuma Elish and Epic of Atrahasis do relate aspects of human history reflective of Biblical history. Those reflections are tainted, however, by the polytheistic mythology interpolated into the historical record, such that the documents are considered mythical, rather than historical. Nonetheless, spontaneous creation and a global flood are significant aspects of Biblical history which are clearly celebrated in the ancient Sumerian legends.

It is worth noting that the ancient Assyrian writings do not involve myths about evolution, millions of years, ice-ages, missing links, spontaneous generation, punctuated equilibrium, a big bang or life from outer space. Yet those myths do speak of divine creation, mankind under divine accountability and a global flood. It is logical that these myths involved such events because they were part of the true history within human consciousness.

Non-Mythical History

What we should expect to find and what would be valuable in support of the Bible is a non-mythical historical document which attests to creation and the flood, and therefore supports the Bible narrative. We should expect to find a document which is not tainted with mythology, but which reflects from ancient times an independent affirmation of what the Bible declares is to be our human history.

The Sumerian King List is such a text.

The King List

An historical record of kings has survived from the Sumerian age, speaking from antiquity and tracing human history from the very beginning though to the time of Hammurabi of Babylon. This record offers a window into the ancient past which lends historical support to the Bible record.

The list appears to have developed through history, with successive kingdoms taking charge of continuing the record from earliest times. Sixteen copies of the list have been identified, but not all are in good condition. Some later versions display the process of later kingdoms adding themselves and their kings to the continuing genealogy.

As one kingdom conquered the dominant kingdom of the day it then added its lineage of kings as an extension of the historical record. Then when that kingdom was overthrown the conquerors maintained the record and added their own names in succession, until they, in turn, were overthrown.

There is no reason to doubt the validity of the list, except for some omissions and disparity among the records. Many of the names and places have been confirmed by archaeology. The list attests to its own accuracy by giving specific detail, such as one king whose reign was detailed down to include the three months and three and a half days, as well as the total of years. Another person is detailed as having ruled for forty days. Yet another person is identified as the older brother of his predecessor and also son of the predecessor’s father, Sargon.

Corroboration

The Sumerian King List is an independent corroboration of the Biblical record of divine creation followed by a global flood just a handful of generations after the original creation.

Yet it stands independent from the Biblical record. Where the Bible record follows one of the family lineages from Noah’s three sons, the King List follows a different line. Where the Bible record focuses on a family lineage the King List records successive kings, who are from various families.

The King List, then, cannot be argued as some kind of religious source for the Bible record. The two stand independent from each other, yet they support each other in several significant facts.

The King List is a secular document. It is not maintained as part of religious worship, nor does it set out to deify the Kings or invoke particular religious sentiment, as the Epic of Gilgamesh was made to do. This is significant, because it stands as a secular, non-mythical, historical account of ancient times, yet with remarkable corroboration of the Biblical historical record included in its content.

Creation

The Sumerian King List totally ignores any notion of evolution through vast ages, and speaks from a divinely initiated beginning, as does the Bible. Its opening words are, “After kingship had descended from heaven, Eridu became the seat of kingship.”

Just as the Sumerian and Assyrian mythologies and epics speak of a divinely motivated creation, albeit with grotesque, polytheistic artefacts included, this ancient Sumerian historical record attests to the same reality. Spontaneous creation was not only a fact in the distorted mythical legends, but also in the historical records, just as it is a fact of the Bible record.

The Flood

This King List also attests to a unique flood event very early in the earth’s history. The Bible describes a flood which occurred in Noah’s day. Noah was the tenth person in the historical lineage from the creation of Adam.

The King List speaks of a unique flood event after the eighth generation from the beginning.

“Total: Five Cities, eight kings, reigned 241,200 years. The FLOOD then swept over.”

No other natural or astrological event is referred to in the entire list. The only such event is this reference to “the flood”. All other floods were ignored. No other natural or astrological event was worth reference, but this one flood event was enshrined in the record. Such significance given to the flood attests to it fitting the Bible account of Noah’s global flood.

In the light of this historical record, the mythological references to a global flood which destroyed almost all of mankind, as in the Epic of Gilgamesh, give even more resoundingly credibility to the Bible account.

Kings in Mind

The King List is exactly that: a list of kings. The King List identifies eight kings before the global flood. The Bible records ten generations before the global flood. It is logical that both the King List and the Bible account came from the same information carried on Noah’s Ark. So, why the discrepancy?

The Bible record identifies ten family generations, but only eight patriarchs. Neither Enoch nor Lamech outlived their father, so there were only eight “kings”, or heads of the family line, before the Flood. Thus, even in this detail, the King List corroborates the Bible account.

Mythical Life-spans

Scholars refer to the Sumerian King List as a “mixture of fact and fantasy“. One of the principal reasons for the ‘fantasy’ charge is the unbelievable life spans attributed to the earlier members of the list. The earliest kings were recorded as living for tens of thousands of years.

This problem has been successfully tackled, at least in part, by John Walton, writing in the Fall 1991 issue of Biblical Archaeologist. Walton attributes the problem to an error made along the way, probably when one kingdom took new possession of the list by overthrowing the previously dominant kingdom. The error would have related to the Sumerian numerical use of base 60 in its calculations. In simplified terms this would mean that the numbers were blown out by a factor of 60 times.

Walton was able to rework the ages of the eight persons listed prior to the flood and found that they came very close to the ages ascribed to the eight people between Adam and Noah in the Bible.

Walton’s work brings the King List into greater correlation with the Bible record, but also reveals that the Sumerian document supports the Biblical history of people who lived for close to 1,000 years. He also removes the mythical quality from the list and brings it back into the realm of factual history.

Observations

The Sumerian King List brings the following relevant observations to our understanding of ancient times.

Genealogical records were kept from the earliest of time. Moses was able to provide acurate and detailed information about events which occurred thousands of years before he was born, in the same way successive generations of kings were able to refer back to the Sumerian list.

Genealogical records summarised history around significant personalities, in the same way the Bible accounts for history along one principal family lineage. The Sumerian King List records those who were “king” or head of the family or clan at the relevant time. On that basis we discover that Noah was the eighth in lineage from Adam, even though he was the tenth generation by birth order. Thus Peter records Noah as the “eighth person” in 2Peter 2:5

“And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” 2Peter 2:5

Expanding Record

These Sumerian records were passed down from generation to generation. Conquering kings took over the records in their own court, adding themselves to the grand list. The record grew in stages over time.

The King List record is therefore a true account of people that did live and victories that did occur. The record traces the kings of each dominant kingdom in a succession of kingdoms. We see that several kingdoms enjoy repeated dynasties as the dominant kingdom.

Those who perpetuated the ongoing genealogy understood the record to be fact and worthy of adding their inclusion.

Mathematics Mixed

As discussed earlier, the earliest age accounts were misunderstood at some point in the passing of the records, causing a blow-out of the figures, as per John Walton’s 1991 calculations.

John Walton’s assumptions result in the record of the ante-diluvium kings matching the Genesis record. The error most likely occurred when a new conquering kingdom updated the records, but without understanding the original Sumerian mathematical base.

Genesis Supported

The Sumerian King List is a sound attestation to several elements of the Genesis record.

It accounts for a divine element in the creation.

It accounts for a time of creation, with a beginning that did not need a preceding extended evolutionary history.

It accounts for the limited number of generations before the global flood.

It concurs with the long lives of the ante-diluvium generations.

It confirms the unique global flood incident, worthy of being recorded apart from all other flood or natural events, and thus matching the flood of Noah’s day.

It attests to the process of passing down historical records and “generations” as was done from Adam to Moses, in the compilation of the Genesis historical record.

It allows for misunderstanding in the passing down of the record, as conquering kings took possession of the record but may not have fully understood the basis on which it was maintained. This is different to the lineage record passed down to Moses, as that record was kept in the family, along with a supporting oral tradition. The Biblical detail is therefore factual and reliable.

It allows for the interpolation of spurious divinity into the record, as a conquering king made his self-appointed assertions of the basis of his authority, without denigrating the actual record itself. When King Meskiaggasher of Eanna conquered Kish he had his scribes add him to the list, but as a “son of Utu” (the sun god). This deistic insertion would have been an attempt to aggrandize and elevate himself, as was done in the deification of Egyptian Pharaohs and others.

The list confirms the real existence of Gilgamesh, and thus reveals the encroaching religious mythology which developed in some kingdoms over time. The Epic of Gilgamesh, a real person, presents a perverted mythological tale involving polytheistic deities who were imagined and interposed into human consciousness somewhere during the time of the Sumerian kings.

The emergence of polytheistic concepts represents a degeneration of human consciousness, rather than the forward movement of the evolution of religious thought.

The King List starts with reference to heaven, as per the Bible account, but degenerates into mythology as the centuries pass. The Bible account has maintained its integrity, being preserved by God from the deception and delusion which shrouded the minds of those influenced by the serpent ‘Satan’ character described in Genesis 2.

A Valuable Find

In light of the points mentioned above, the Sumerian King List proves to be a valuable document in support of several aspects of the Biblical record. I commend it for inclusion in discussions on the historicity of the Book of Genesis.

Ancient Writings Compared

Critics of the Bible usually object to its proclamation of a creator God to whom man is accountable. In fact, moral accountability is the over-riding message of the Bible, combined with a divine solution to man’s problem of moral failure.

Yet the Bible does exist as a surviving ancient document. It is the most remarkable document in all of human history, ancient and modern. To assess that fact let us compare the ancient text of the Bible with other ancient writings which are help up against it at times.

Before we look at specific ancient documents, consider this quote about the Bible from Professor William Foxwell Albright.

“It [the Bible] stands absolutely alone in ancient literature without a remote parallel even among the Greeks …  The Table of Nations remains an astonishingly accurate document …  (It) shows such remarkably ‘modern’ understanding of the ethnic and linguistic situation in the modern world, in spite of all its complexity, that scholars never fail to be impressed with the author’s knowledge of the subject.” (Recent Discoveries In Bible Lands, pp.70ff.)

Sumerian Mythology

Discovery of ancient texts in the ruins of Nineveh and at Ebla, among other sources as well, provide us with a range of ancient texts which echo back to the early Sumerian civilisation. Those texts give ancient accounts of events and provide a notion of their ancient view of the world.

The ancient accounts of creation and the flood, which are claimed to be the original sources from which the Bible accounts of those events were constructed, prove to be vastly inferior to the Bible. While some scholars blindly proclaim such texts as the ancient epic stories of Gilgamesh and Atrahasis as the mythological base from which the Bible’s mythological stories were developed, we have already seen in previous articles in my archaeology series, that they leave much to be desired. They are decidedly non-scientific and mythical. They describe a universe which is inconsistent with what people now revere in both science and religion. They have no prevailing presence in modern thought.

Note that the combined corpus of Assyrian mythology, celebrated as the seedbed for Moses’ writings in Genesis, has been lost to antiquity and irrelevance. It has not persisted as something of substance in today’s word, even though there are those who wish to hanker back to ancient religious thought.

Codes and Histories

We saw in an earlier post on the Code of Hammurabi, that the legal prescriptions of King Hammurabi are limited and devoid of moral principal. They are a far cry from the pronouncements of our moral creator God, given to Moses on Mount Sinai, 500 years after Hammurabi’s work.

Hammurabi’s code is not enshrined in civil codes today. It is not an undergirding aspect of today’s legal systems. While its cruel prescriptions, such as maiming a thief, are picked up in such places as the Koran, there is no abiding regard for this text and its contribution to modern civilisation.

We also have ancient historical records, such as the Egyptian Book of the Dead. This text is essentially a religious funeral liturgy devoted to making the appropriate petitions to the polytheistic deities, so that the deceased will be allowed certain privileges and protections in the afterlife.

Copies of the text were carved on the sarcophagi, or placed inside it, so the dead would have access to the various petitions to make in the afterlife, to enable them to go forth each day. They were designated the Book of the Dead in an 1842 translation, and the name has persisted since.

The deities, prayers, concepts of afterlife and concerns expressed in the Egyptian book have faded from consciousness in today’s world. They do not describe things which today’s science or religious thought holds dear.

Similarly, the ancient Sumerian Kings List, with its reference to the flood very early in human history, is not a living document. It is regarded as a mixture of fact and fiction, worth being aware of, but of limited value today. It is just another list of names, bringing with it no moral value and little scientific merit. On this point, however, I believe that the Sumerian King List proves to be a valuable corroboration of the Bible history, and I will investigate that claim in a future post.

Greek Mythology and Philosophy

Greek writings from the centuries before Christ are, arguably, the most enduring ancient writings outside the Bible. Western thought has been greatly influenced by the rediscovery and re-promotion of these Greek texts in recent centuries.

Most western universities have courses in the Greek Classics. They are held by some to be essential reading in order to come to wisdom. Yet for all that, the Greek philosophers have not been able to develop a track-record of enduring impact and value. Most who study them gain little from the process and rarely become evangelists for their promotion.

World Thought

The Hindu Vedas and the writings of Confucius are other examples of ancient documents which have survived into today’s generation. Hindus revere their Vedic writings. Chinese culture owes much to the standards encouraged by Confucius. Buddhists refer to teachings attributed to their founder, Gautama Buddha. These writings were an oral tradition for a very long time and various schools of Buddhism give different weight to various aspects of the ancient texts.

While these various influences hold sway within their cultural or religious context, they are generally locked within that context. They have not gained currency in other fields of application.

Disposable Antiquity

It is to be noted that these various documents from antiquity have two significant qualities which differentiate them from the Bible. The first is that they are disposable. Many indeed have disappeared from the culture completely.

The ancient Assyrian clay tablets, referring back to even more ancient Sumerian myths, were buried for several millennia. Their message was not missed. Their contribution was not sought. They did not leave a void. They were easily disposed of. Even today, subsequent to their rediscovery and publication, they have little impact. Their greatest contribution seems to be in encouraging criticism of the Bible by those who wish to see them as a mythical source for what they call Biblical mythology.

Harmurabi’s Code and the Egyptian Book of the Dead are novel relics, but of no present impact. The religious texts of Buddhism and Hinduism have been abandoned by converts from those religions, without loss to those converts. Those individuals have been able to dispose of their ancient religious texts without thought. Similarly, students of Greek philosophy have disposed of their textbooks and essays, without any further regard for the supposed value of those studies.

Compare those examples with the Bible, which has been the most attacked book in history, yet has had by far the most outstanding impact of any book in all of human history. Rather than passing into oblivion, as several people have prophesied it would, it remains as loved and valued today as ever. The Bible is not a disposable book, despite its antiquity. It has an enduring relevance, which gives it as much value in each new generation as it held in olden-days times.

Impotent Impact

The second significant quality of these ancient texts is that they display limited impact. They have not endured, because they have not delivered value. In many cases they do not offer truth, but a cultural delusion which passed away with the culture of the era, such as the Greek mythology and Egyptian funerary rites of ancient Egyptian polytheism.

The religious writings also prove to be impotent. When devotees of Hinduism and Buddhism convert to Christianity, for example, they discover potency in their new faith which they did not find in their past beliefs.

Greek mythology and philosophy has now been studied by millions of western minds, yet it has not brought the impact to them that is so readily testified to by those who have believed in the Bible.

The Supreme Text

The Bible is the vastly superior ancient text, on all counts. It has endured while others have faded away and not been missed. It has impact, not only to the religious devotees, but in such fields as law, sciences, government, society, family life, health, education and personal transformation.

Jesus Christ prescribed the perfect test for people and related things, by telling us to check out the fruit which is produced.

“Wherefore by their fruits you will know them.” Mathew 7:20

The fruit of all these ancient documents amounts to so little, if anything, especially when compared with the fruit which the Holy Bible continues to prompt and generate in the lives of young and old, rich and poor, educated and illiterate, on every continent and in every country and culture, not only now, but continually through human history.

When ancient writings are compared, the Bible stands supreme. And this is not simply a religious claim by a Christian. This is the clear evidence for all who will dare to look.