Skeptical about the Bible?
Okay, first let me emphatically say that those of you who claim to be knowledgeable regarding the historicity of the bible, the origin of Christianity, Jesus Christ, faith in Christ, etc. yet continually knock the one true faith need to take a seat and re-think your position. I am setting aside some time to show you where you are wrong regarding the Bible and whether or not it is Truth. If it is truth, which I will clearly show it is, you attitude towards many aspects of the Christian faith must change (e.g. Jesus Christ). Stop filling this forum with opinions while bashing something you know very little (probably being quite generous here) about.
There are three main manuscript tests scholars and archaeologists use to determine if a manuscript is accurate. You have a bibliographic test, eyewitness test, and an external test. It is very clear that the Bible has stronger bibliographic support than any other classical literature – including Homer and Aristotle. We have more than 14,000 manuscripts and fragments of the Old Testament of three main types: First, approximately 10,000 from the Cairo Geniza find of 1897, dating back as far as AD 800, second, about 190 from the Dead Sea Scrolls find of 1947-1955, the oldest dating back to 200-250 BC, and finally, at least 4,300 assorted of copies. The short time between the original Old Testament manuscripts (completed around 400 BC) and the first extensive copies (about 250 BC) – compiled with more than 14,000 copies that have been discovered – ensures the trustworthiness of the Old Testament text.
The same is true of the New Testament text. The abundance of textual witnesses is amazing. We possess over 5,300 manuscripts or portions of the (Greek) New Testament – almost 800 copied before AD 100. The time between the original composition and our earliest copies is an unbelievably short 60 or so years. The overwhelming bibliographic reliability of the Bible is clearly evident.
The eyewitness document test, sometimes referred to as the internal test, focuses on the eyewitness credentials of the authors. The Old and New Testament authors were eyewitnesses of – or interviewed eyewitnesses of – the majority of the events they described. Moses participated in and was an eyewitness of the remarkable events of the Egyptian captivity, the Exodus, the forty years in the desert, and Israel’s final encampment before entering the Promise Land. These events chronicled in the first 5 books of the Old Testament. The New Testament writers had the same eyewitness authenticity. Luke, who wrote the books of Luke and Acts, says that he gathered eyewitness testimony and “carefully investigated everything” (Luke 1:1-3). Peter reminded his readers that the disciples “were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ majesty” and “did not follow cleverly invented stories” (2 Peter 1:16). Truly, the Bible affirms the eyewitness credibility of its writers.
The external evidence test looks outside the texts themselves to ascertain the historical reliability of the historical events, geographical locations, and cultural consistency of the biblical texts. Unlike writings from other world religions which make no historical references or which fabricate histories, the Bible refers to historical events and assumes its historical accuracy. The Bible is not only the inspired Word of God, it is also a history book – and the historical assertions it makes have been proven time and time again.
Many of the events, people, places, and customs in the New Testament are confirmed by secular historians who were almost contemporaries with New Testament writers. Secular historians like the Jewish Josephus (before AD 100), the Roman Tacitus (around AD 120), the Roman Suetonius (AD 110), and the Roman Governor Secundus (AD 100-110) make direct reference to Jesus or affirm one or more historical New Testament references. Early church leaders such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, Julius Africanus, and Clement of Rome – all writing before AD 250 – shed light on the New Testament historical accuracy. Even skeptical historians agree that the New Testament is a remarkable historical document. Hence, it is very clear that there is strong external evidence to support the Bible’s manuscript reliability.
For years critics dismissed the Book of Daniel, partly because there was no evidence that a king named Belshazzar ruled in Babylon during that time period. However, later archaeological research confirmed that the reigning monarch, Nabonidus, appointed Belshazzar as his co-regent while he was away from Babylon.
One of the most well-known New Testament examples concerns the book of Luke and Acts. A biblical skeptic, Sir William Ramsay, trained as an archaeologist and then set out to disprove the historical reliability of this portion of the New Testament. However, through his painstaking Mediterranean trips, he became converted as – one after another – of the historical statements of Luke proved to be accurate. Archaeological evidence also confirms the accuracy and trustworthiness of the Bible.
PROPHECY OR PREDICTIVE ABILITY
The Bible records predictions of events that could not be known or predicted by chance or common sense. Critics will argue that the prophecies were actually written after the events and that editors had merely dressed up the biblical text to look like they contained predictions made before the events. Nothing could be further from the truth! The many predictions of Christ’s birth, life and death were indisputably rendered more than a century before they occurred as proven by the dead sea scrolls of Isaiah and other prophetic books as well as by the Septuagint translation, all sating from earlier than 100 BC.
Old Testament prophecies concerning the Phoenician city of Tyre were fulfilled in ancient times, including prophecies that the city would be opposed by many nations (Ezek. 26:3); its walls would be destroyed and towers broken down (26:4); and its stones, timbers, debris would be thrown into the water (26:12). Similar prophecies were fulfilled concerning Sidon (Ezek. 28:23, Isa. 23, Jer. 27:3-6) and Babylon (Jer. 50:13, 39, 51:26, 58, 42-43). Since Christ is the culminating theme of the Old Testament and the Living Word of the New Testament, it should be no surprise that prophecies regarding Him outnumber any others. Many of these prophecies would have been impossible for Jesus to deliberately conspire to fulfill. – such as his descent from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Gen. 12:3, 17:19), His birth in Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2), His crucifixion with criminals (Isa 53:12), the piercing of his hands and feet at the crucifixion (Ps. 22:16), the soldiers’ gambling for His clothes (Ps 22:18), the piercing of His side and the fact His bones were not broken at His death (Zech. 12:10), and His burial among the rich (Isa. 53:9), and so many more. Jesus also predicted His own death and resurrection (john 2:19-22). Predictive prophecy is a principle of Bible reliability that often reached even the hard headed skeptics!
This concerns the statistical probability that any or all of the Bible’s very specific, detailed prophecies could have been fulfilled through chance, good guessing, or deliberate deceit. When you look at some of the improbable prophecies of the Old and New Testament, it seems incredible that the skeptics – knowing the authenticity and historicity of the texts – could reject the statistical verdict: the Bible is the Word of God, and Jesus is the Son of God, just as scripture predicted many times and in many ways.
The Bible was written over a span of 1500 years by forty different human authors in 3 different languages, on hundreds of different subjects. And yet there is one consistent, noncontradictory theme that runs through it all; God’s redemption of mankind. Clearly, statistical probability is a powerful indicator of the trustworthiness of scripture.
I am hoping that the skeptics that took the time to read this synopsis on the integrity of the Bible, did so with an open mind. It is only when you are open that you can receive! May the Lord show himself and yourself to you!