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Ann Naffziger Answers:
This is where a good study Bible or biblical commentary comes in handy. In the last century biblical scholars have been trying to parse out historical facts from the extensive literature included in the Bible. They have been studying the literary genres to give them more clues about what sections or books were never intended to be read as scientific data, for example, the creation stories in Genesis. In their study and archeological findings, scholars have found others sources that corroborate some historical facts, such as the Israelite monarchy before the Babylonian exile.
But this kind of background knowledge isn’t common to many readers of the Bible, so reading the introductory sections in The Catholic Study Bible, the New Oxford Annotated Bible, or the Harper Study Bible are excellent places to find guidance about what may or may not have been historically factual. These Bibles also include well-documented footnotes and cross-references, introductory material before each book of the Bible, essays on history, and maps and timelines. They will also honestly say what our “best guesses” are for now in terms of historical authenticity, until more evidence is found to support or challenge our existing theories.