A study of DNA from modern Lebanon found that its population is descended from the ancient Canaanites. Which is proof that the Canaanites survived Joshua’s invasion–as the Bible said they did.
But, somehow, the news media had the impression that the Bible taught that the Canaanites were wiped out! So headlines crowed that the Bible had been proven wrong!
Never mind Joshua 1:27-36.
Interestingly, the study focused on the inhabitants of the Lebanese city of Sidon, a place where the Bible explicitly says the Canaanites survived (Joshua 1:31).
I came across one of those articles on the findings, with the claim that it refuted what the Bible said, and marveled at the Biblical ignorance. But David Klinghoffer compiled the headlines and discussed the howlers. A very few of the publications later made corrections, but not many.
Here is the original article on the DNA study: “Continuity and Admixture in the Last Five Millennia of Levantine History from Ancient Canaanite and Present-Day Lebanese Genome Sequences,” American Journal of Human Genetics).
Here are the headlines, as compiled by Mr. Klinghoffer. From them you can notice the breathless tone of excitement that the Bible has been disproven:
- “Study disproves the Bible’s suggestion that the ancient Canaanites were wiped out” (The Telegraph)
- “Bible says Canaanites were wiped out by Israelites but scientists just found their descendants living in Lebanon” (The Independent)
- “Bronze Age DNA disproves the Bible’s claim that the Canaanites were wiped out: Study says their genes live on in modern-day Lebanese people” (Daily Mail)
- “Scientists Find Evidence That Ancient Canaanites Survive Today: Was The Bible Wrong?” (Tech Times)
- “New DNA study casts doubt on Bible claim” (Mother Nature Network)
- “The Bible was WRONG: Civilisation God ordered to be KILLED still live and kicking” (Express)
- “Genetic evidence suggests the Canaanites weren’t destroyed after all” (Ars Technica)
- “Canaanites Weren’t Annihilated by Ancient Israelites After All” (Newser)
- “Study disproves the Bible’s claim that the ancient Canaanites were wiped out” (Click Lancashire)
- “Canaanites survived Biblical ‘slaughter’, ancient DNA shows”(ABC Online)
- “DNA vs the Bible: Israelites did not wipe out the Canaanites” (Cosmos)
- “The Bible got it wrong: Ancient Canaanites survived and their DNA lives in modern-day Lebanese” (Pulse Headlines)
The Telegraph and Science later issued rather half-hearted corrections.
Also read Tyler O’Neil, Canaanite Gene Study Actually Proves the Bible’s Right, but Don’t Tell the Media, who relates the howler to other recent examples of Biblical illiteracy among the media. Such as saying the Book of Romans calls for the execution of gays. And Proverbs being “the most Republican book of the Bible.”
Painting: “Joshua Passing the River Jordan with the Ark of the Covenant” by Benjamin West (U.S.A., 1800) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons