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Is the Bible Reliable?
Many people today question or dismiss Christianity because they challenge the reliability of the book upon which it is based, the Bible.
Prove the Bible bogus and Christianity crashes and burns.
It seems, however, that most critics who vigorously attack the Bible know diddly about the Book. So what is the Bible all about, anyway?
Check this out.
By Grace Kemp
(Grace Kemp is a writer and Bible teacher with a passion for clear Bible teaching. She spends 12 hours a day in her home office studying the Word and preparing in-depth teaching documents. Her home library contains 1,500 Christian-commentary books, many out of print. A retired nurse, she is a member and Bible teacher at Good Shepherd Methodist Church in West Palm Beach, Florida.)
1. Bible Basics
1. The Bible consists of 66 books.
2. The Bible was written by 40 different authors.
3. The Bible was written over 1,500 years spanning 40 generations.
4. The Bible was written in three languages—Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.
5. The Bible's authors represent the gamut of occupations—doctor, prophet, farmer, fisherman, king, philosopher, scribe, tax collector, tentmaker, statesman, shepherd, scholar, etc.
6. The Bible covers a plethora of topics—creation, history, biographies, morals, prophecy, money, genealogies, relationships, law, eschatology (future events), Heaven, Hell, punishment, sin, nutrition, suffering, God, man, salvation, the spirit world, and more.
2. The Bible is miraculous in many ways because of its...
1. Human diversity.
Different authors, locations, languages, generations, audiences, writer occupations, styles, subject matter.
2. Divine Unity
Same Messiah: Jesus Christ.
Message: Redemption of man.
Means: Atonement through the blood sacrifice.
Motive: Reconciliation of man to God.
3. Manuscripts
1. More than 24,000 handwritten copies of portions of the original manuscripts still exist.
2. By contrast. there are only 643 copies of Homer's Iliad (900 BC) available.
3. One fragment of Scripture dates back to within 25 years of the original writing.
4. There is a gap of 500 years between the oldest copy of the Iliad and the original.
5. There is more evidence for the reliability of the New Testament manuscripts than any 10 pieces of classical literature combined.
6. The Biblical manuscripts we have today are in far better shape than Shakespeare's plays of the 17th century.
7. Without printing presses prior to 1450 AD, manuscripts were copied by hand. Jewish scribes were fanatically meticulous in copying and preserving the "oracles of God."
8. The Biblical manuscripts have miraculously survived banning, burning, criticism, cynicism, scrutiny, skepticism, vicious external and internal attacks.
9. Accuracy:
a) No recently-found manuscripts contradict earlier ones.
b) The "Isaiah Scroll", among the Dead Sea Scrolls found in a cave in 1947, predates the previous earliest Isaiah manuscript by 1,000 years, yet is exactly the same.
4. Canon means a standard or code of laws established by a church council
1. Is it authoritative ("thus saith the Lord")?
2. Are its prophecies accurately fulfilled?
3. Is the manuscript authentic or fake?
4. Is it dynamic? Does it impress you as a true word of God?
5. Is accepted as God's Word and used as such by God's people?
Adoption of the 27 New Testament books into the Canon took place at the Synod of Hippo in North Africa in 393 AD. This was a meeting of Roman Catholic bishops in church council. Before the Synod, the 39 books of the Old Testament was accepted as God's word.
5. Apocrypha—means "hidden books"
1. Fourteen religious and historical books of uncertain origin and authorship. They are rejected by most authorities. They primarily date from the first or second century B.C.
2. Seven of these books have been accepted into the Canon by the Roman Catholic church.
6. Pseudepigrapha—means false writings
1. These are documents falsely claimed to be authored by the apostles.
2. They are inaccurate historically and geographically, etc.
3. Their teachings contradict scripture.
4. They have been rejected by scholars from earliest times.
7. Does the Bible itself claim to be inspired by God?
1. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Timothy 3:16)
2. "Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God" (Romans 3:2)
3. "Not...the word of men but...actually...the Word of God" (1 Thessalonians 2:13)
4. "Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (1 Peter 1:21)
5. "The revelation came...by the Holy Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:13)
6. "God spoke...through the prophets" (Hebrews 1:1)
(Throughout the Bible, the expression "thus saith the Lord" appears thousands of times.)
8. Biblical prophecies
1. Approximately a quarter of the Bible deals with prophecy.
2. Many prophecies were recorded hundreds of years prior to the event. For example, the prophet Micah proclaimed in Micah 5:2, "O Bethlehem, you are but a small Judean village, yet you will be the birthplace of my King who is alive from everlasting ages past!" This was written over 700 years before Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem!
3. Prophecies concerned
a) individuals
b) cities
c) nations
d) Israel
e) the Messiah
f) future events, etc.
4. Approximately three-quarters of the recorded prophecies have been precisely fulfilled.
5. One quarter remain to be fulfilled.
6. Israel
a) No other nation can document its history in such astonishing detail.
b) Scores of Bible prophecies predict its scattering among the nations (70 to 1948 AD), persecution, re-gathering in Israel (Israel declared statehood on May 14, 1948), and future glory (during the millennium).
7. Messiah
a) There are more than 300 Old Testament prophecies predicting a coming Messiah.
b) These predictions were recorded hundreds of years prior to the arrival of Jesus Christ.
c) while 40 other "Messiahs" claimed the title, only Jesus fulfilled all of the prophecies.
d) The probability of only 48 of the 300 prophecies being fulfilled by pure chance is mathematically impossible.
9. Archaeology
1. "Archaeology has confirmed the history of the Old Testament" (William Albright)
2. "Archaeology has unquestionably strengthened confidence in the reliability of the Scriptural record." (Millar Burrows, Yale)
3. "The evidence of archaeology has been to establish the authority of the Old Testament." (Sir Frederic Kenyon)
4. The famous Dead Sea Scrolls refer to the Old Testaments as "prophets".
5. Archaeology supports 85 very specific Bible events.
6. No archaeological discovery has disproved Scripture.
10. Science
Although written in pre-science times, scientific references are accurate.
1. Seaworthiness of Noah's Ark.
2. Sphericity of the earth (Isaiah 40:22).
3. Earth hanging on nothing (Job 26:7).
4. Innumerable stars (Genesis 15:5).
5. Mountains and valleys in the sea (2 Samuel 22:16).
6. Paths or currents in the sea (Psalms 8:8).
7. Hydrologic cycle (Job 26:8).
8. Life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11).
9. Rules of health and sanitation (Genesis 17:9).
10. Second law of thermodynamics—things tend toward randomness (Psalm 102:25-26).
11. History
1. Acclaimed Jewish historian Josephus, who lived in 100 AD and documented many first-century events, declared, "No one is so bold as to add, remove, or change anything in them (Old Testament). "We esteem those books to contain divine doctrines and would willingly die for them."
2. Historian Dr. Clark Pinnock states, "There exists no document from the ancient world so excellent a set of textual testimony and offering so superb an array of historical data...skepticism regarding the historical credentials of Christianity is based on an irrational anti-supernatural bias."
3. The Bible is supported by the testimony of ancient historians and bishops—Sophocles, Cicero, Virgil, Eusebius, Ignatius, Polycarp, Iraneus, Clement, et al.
12. What about the other so-called "Holy" books?
1. Islam's Qur'an (written 700 AD).
a) Mohammed questioned the source of his visions, originally attributing them to demons. Unlike the Bible, the Qur'an has only one author which increases the possibility of deception.
b) Basic Bible doctrines, such as the deity of Christ and that Christ is God's full and final revelation (Luke 24:44), are denied.
c) The Qur'an is without collaborating evidence, fulfilled prophecy, and evidences of authenticity such as miracles and eyewitnesses.
2. Hindu's Vedic Scriptures (written between 1400 BC and 500 AD).
a) Salvation through devotion to several gods and by works and knowledge.
b) Mystical ideas about man and the universe.
c) Magical formulas, condemned by the Bible as evil.
3. Buddhism's Three Scriptures ("baskets")
a) Many contradictory teachings.
b) Personal evaluation or critical thinking is discouraged.
c) Salvation through "enlightenment" and "looking within".
d) Buddhism's "baskets" are 11 times larger than the Bible.
4. Book of Mormon
a) The book is basically a novel without historical, archeological, geographical, prophetical, or scientific proof.
b) There are no original manuscripts available. "An angel took them home to Heaven."
c) There is no evidence that the language in which it claims to have been written, "Reformed Egyptian," ever existed.
d) The Mormons claim the book was written between 600 BC and 421 AD, yet the book contains extensive quotes from the King James Version of the Bible, which was published in 1611 AD.