Re: The return of the Harold Hill Hoax

George Murphy (
Wed, 12 Aug 1998 09:43:20 -0400

Howard J. Van Till wrote:
> I received a request from a seminary professor as follows:
> "I am in the Old Testament department at ........ Seminary preparing for a
> series of Bible studies on Joshua that I will be presenting in churches and
> a conference this year. Yesterday I received a publication repeating the
> old article about Harold Hill supposedly working for NASA and discovering
> missing days that Joshua 10 and 2 Kings explains. I know people are going
> to be asking questions about that, since the story is so widely known.
> "If you know of anyone knowledgeable about the history of this story, or if
> you have any references you could give me, I would be very grateful."
> I recall some action of this legend on the ASA listserve some months ago.
> If anyone can provide me with information for this questioner I would
> appreciate it.

I'll leave it to others to trace the history. But there are two other aspects
which are important.
1. In my science-theology course at Trinity Seminary I introduce this story as
a mini-case study representing the type of things which pastors are likely to be
presented with by parishoners (as I have been) who have picked it up from one place or
another. Pastors need to be able to deal with it _on that level_. Simply tracking down
the history & showing that this particular "proof of the Bible" didn't happen doesn't
get at the root problems - naive ideas about the Bible and scientific illiteracy.
2. Concerning the last point, the story as I have seen it will immediately
raise the suspicions of anyone with any knowledge of celestial mechanics, before there
is investigation of its history.

George L. Murphy