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If it is possible that God has spoken through the Holy Bible and that it is part of the world’s history that it speaks of, then the answers to our questions is far more than an academic exercise. If the Holy Bible is authentically God’s Word to people then going back to these ancient and not so ancient times can truly help us to see more clearly who we were created as, who we are and who we can be.
Therefore for those who say that the Bible is full of corruptions and so it is not reliable is the question that is that statement true? This article will speak about why we choose to believe the Bible. It is because the Bible is a reliable collection of historical documents written down by trustworthy eye witnesses during the lifetime of other trustworthy eye witnesses. They reported to us supernatural events that took place in fulfilment of specific prophecies and claimed that their writings were from God’s rather than from human origin.
You might have certain questions about what certain parts of the Bible says but they will not be answered here, as this article is concerned with what the Bible is.
You might say that circular thinking will be used because the Bible will be used to defend the Bible and so this article should not be written. The Bible is not going to be defended but the facts will be allowed to speak for themselves. Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, “The Word of God is like a lion. You do not have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose and the lion will defend itself.”
I choose to believe the Bible because it is a reliable collection of historical documents.
The Bible is a unit but it is comprised of 66 different books. These books were written on three different continents: Asia (a number of the Old Testament books e.g. Ezekiel and Daniel were written in Babylon, Obadiah in Edom and Joshua, 1 & 2 Samuel, some Psalms, Isaiah and Malachi in Israel), Africa (e.g. The first five books of the Bible (called the Pentateuch) were written by Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai which is in the country of Egypt and on the continent of Africa) and Europe (e.g. 1 & 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians and Philemon). It was written in three different languages: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek and by over 40 authors many of whom had never met one another because the Bible was written over a period of about 1,500 years and yet there is a unity in it. So we have a reliable collection of historical documents. They are historical because the Bible is filled with names, dates and places most of which can be traced elsewhere. The Bible is all about history, in fact there are thousands of archaeological sites (https://www.presentpasts.info/articles/10.5334/pp.17/) relating directly to the historical accuracy of the Bible. Not one of them have been able to refute the Bible and they only confirm Bible. A British Museum tour will show that there are many archaeological discoveries that support and agree with the Bible. If there were any one of those thousands of archaeological sites that refuted the historical accuracy of the Bible then we would have heard about it. Luke was a physician and a historian. His goal was precision and truth and not myth, fairy tale or legend.
An example of fact is 2Timothy 4:14 “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm.” This man and his profession is named so that he can be accurately known. This is a feature of the Bible. We have names, places and people who are verifiable so that you can determine whether the historical events took place as they were reported to have happened in the Bible. That is why Peter said in 2 Peter 1:16 “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” In other words they did not follow myths, fairy tales, legends nor made up ideas when they wrote the Bible.
Written down by trustworthy eye witnesses during the lifetime of the trustworthy eyewitnesses.
Not only do we have a reliable collection of historical documents but they were written down by trustworthy eye witnesses or written down during the lifetime of the trustworthy eyewitnesses. Again Peter in 2 Peter 1:16 “We were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” In other words, we saw it happen. John adds his witness to that in 1John 1:1-3 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life– the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us. That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (Italics are mine). So here we have corroborating eye witnesses.
We also have trustworthy eyewitnesses who have written the Scriptures during the lifetime of the original trustworthy eyewitnesses. 1Corinthians 15:6 “After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep (i.e. died).” So at the time of 1 Corinthians being written there were over 300 witnesses of Christ still alive at time. Some might say that the witnesses of eye witnesses are not necessarily reliable. Luke says in his opening statement: Luke 1:1-4 “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account (meaning in consecutive order), most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.” From the start of Luke we find out why he wrote his Gospel. Though he was probably not an eyewitness of Jesus, he sought out others who had been with Jesus in order to produce an accurate record of His life and service. Why does Luke say “in consecutive order”? This is part of his being a historian. Luke does not say “that you might believe God by blind faith” but he does say in v4 “that you may know the certainty (i.e. exact truth) of those things in which you were instructed.” Luke indicates that the writers of the Bible practiced care about how they presented the text. His investigation was considered and accurate and not careless and impulsive. Also and by definition faith is not the suspension of critical thought and reason. This is confirmed by Mark 12:30 “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” Faith is so that we know that these historical happenings were recorded for us and for our blessing.
But various, including some learned people, will say that the Bible has been changed so many times, that what we have now is not reliable at all. The argument is that the Bible that we have now is not the same as was written back then. Therefore we have the multiple translation argument and secondly we have the amended version argument.
The multiple translation argument is a favourite argument of university professors etc. The Bible had been translated so many times that what we have now is no longer reliable or even resembles what we had earlier. It does not matter how times that the Bible has been translated unless they have been translations from previous translations. For example if the English Standard Bible translators went to back to the new King James version who went back to the New American Standard Bible who went back to the King James Version who went back to the Geneva Bible, then their argument would stand. But a Bible translation is not made that way. Translators go back to the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek manuscripts and not to the previous translation. This means that the professors who make this argument to young impressionable students are either ignorant or evil or both. From the way that translations are done a person must be ignorant to make such an argument. Or such persons know better and are evil and so seek to overthrow the faith of some and particularly impressionable young people.
The Bible has been amended so that what we have now is not what originally written. This is because of a misunderstanding or a conspiracy theory about the Nicea Council of 325 AD, called by Emperor Constantine, which produced the Nicene Creed. The big debate was whether Jesus Christ was God or a special created being. At the end of the debate the vote was over 300 for Jesus Christ being God and two against. Many Bible verses teach that Jesus is God e.g. John 1:1-2; Philippians 2:6-7; Hebrews 1:8. However there is the conspiracy theory, also in the book called “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown, that says that Constantine “upgraded Jesus’ status” and so had to “rewrite the history books … and embellished those gospels that made Him godlike.”
However if you wanted to change the Bible then there would have to be three levels of conspiracy.
Level number 1. They would have to change the manuscripts. For the New Testament itself there are over 5,800 manuscripts or parts of manuscripts. That might not sound like a lot to you but compare them with some other writings, for example, concerning Julius Caesar’s Gallic wars. “Around 12 manuscripts are essential for determining the wording of Caesar’s account. The oldest manuscript is from the ninth century—a full 900 years removed from the actual events. The list extends to manuscripts from the 12th century. Cicero’s speeches have an even older pedigree. They have about 15 manuscripts ranging from AD 400 to 800. Sallust’s account has around 20 manuscripts from the 10th and 11th centuries. Plutarch’s Lives is also mostly divided across six key manuscripts that range from the 10th and 11th centuries. Suetonius’s manuscript is dated AD 820. Classics scholars build much of our understanding of Caesar around these sources, even though their manuscript traditions contain significant gaps of time.” (https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/sources-for-caesar-and-jesus-compared/) The New Testament has been preserved in more manuscripts than any other ancient work, having over 5,800 complete or fragmented Greek manuscripts. We do not have the originals but we can get earlier than AD 120 with some of the copies that we have. With Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars the earliest copy that we can find is 900 years after the originals but no one disbelieves that. When it comes to Aristotle’s Metaphysics the earliest document that we can find was written 1,400 years after the original.
But when it comes to the New Testament the more conservative tradition say that the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) were written in the 60s AD or perhaps 80s AD and John letters in the 90s AD. So they were written between about 30 to about 55 years after the events they describe and also by the power of the Holy Spirit (2Peter 1:20-21). Contemporaries of Jesus Christ and so eyewitnesses of those events were still alive when the Gospels were written. We can find documents that were written decades after the original. So if the Bible was to be consistently changed people, probably monks, would have to find many of the over 5,800 manuscripts, change all of them, not show their amending inkwork, put them all back to where they had stolen them from without the owners finding out and to never tell anybody what they did.
Some examples of collections that either contain very old or very large collections of Hebrew and/or Greek Bible manuscripts are at:
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA;
Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK;
Center for the Tebtunis Papyri, University of California, Berkeley, California, USA;
Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, Eire;
Coptic Museum, Cairo, Egypt;
Department of Papyri, Austrian National Library, Vienna, Austria;
Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princetown University Library, Princetown, New Jersey, USA;
Institute for Papyrology, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany;
John Rylands Library, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.
Laurentian Medici Library, Florence, Italy;
University of Cambridge Library, Cambridge, UK;
Manuscript Department, National Library of France, Paris, France;
National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg, Russia;
Papyrology Collection, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA;
Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA;
Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA;
The British Library, London, UK;
The Jordan Museum, Amman, Jordan;
The Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel;
The Vatican Apostolic Library, Vatican City, Italy;
University Museum and Library, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, USA;
Level number 2. Jesus said go and make disciples of every people group (e.g. Matthew 28:19) who would speak different languages. So that in the first few centuries we have the Bible translated into the Syriac, Coptic and Latin languages. So now not only would these people have to find, change and return over 5,800 Greek manuscripts, but they would have to go to the other countries and find all those translations of the Greek manuscripts and change those to match the lies that they told in another language. Then put all those back to where they were stolen from without the owners knowing.
Level number 3. The early fathers had the habit of writing commentaries on the NT. So much so that Bruce Metzgar (a Biblical scholar, Bible translator, textual critic, who is widely considered one of the most influential New Testament scholars of the 20th century) said “In addition to that, even if we lost all the Greek manuscripts and the early translations, we could still reproduce the contents of the New Testament from the multiplicity of quotations in commentaries, sermons, letters, and so forth of the early church fathers.” (http://ho-logos.blogspot.co.uk/2009/02/canon-textual-criticism-and-more-with.html) “so much so that if all we had all the quotations and citations of the New Testament we could reproduce over 95% of the New Testament just from their writings.” So now these people would have to find all of the writings of all the early church fathers, in their different countries, and carefully change those to match the lies that they wrote in the Greek manuscripts. Then return them and never tell anybody what they did and never ever get caught. Do you really believe that such a three layered conspiracy would actually happen?
Some say that we do not have any of the originals which is supposed to shake people’s faith. If the original copy of the Bible was kept somewhere who knows but some people might have tried to get hold of these original manuscripts to change them and then say that this is God’s truth. Or they could be held in a safe but unviewable place for their preservation. Then a corrupted version could be displayed as “the truth” and so deceive many in the world. The fact that there are no original manuscripts of the Bible but thousands of accurate copies is actually a far better safeguard for the authenticity of the Bible. For if a manuscript was challenged then there would be others to compare it with and so confirm the truth. There has been found a very low percentage of difference between the manuscripts and then they do not concern major teaching points but only minor textual differences.
So we have a reliable collection of historical documents written down by trustworthy eye witnesses during the lifetimes of the trustworthy eye witnesses.
If the sources for Caesar are good enough for people to study and believe, then we should believe what the best sources say about the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today the Bible is widespread as it has been translated into 2,018 languages, with countless more partial translations and audio translations (for unwritten languages). In comparison, Shakespeare, considered by many to be the master writer of the English language has only been translated in to 50 languages. So there is a far greater number of translations of the Bible which shows its effectiveness and popularity. (www.meandertravel.com)
They report to us supernatural events.
The apostle Peter wrote about the mount of Transfiguration, “For He (Lord Jesus Christ v16) received from God the Father honour and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain” (2 Peter 1:17-18). This, and other events, are not super human but super natural events. These super natural events are things that no person could be great enough to make. When the woman with an issue of blood twelve years was healed instantly (Matthew 9:20-22) we are not talking about psychosomatic healings. The man with the withered hand was healed instantly (Mark 3:1-5). A man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech (Mark 7:32-37) and a man who was blind from birth (John 9:1) were healed instantly. The Bible is talking about God’s power.
And those events took place in fulfilment of specific prophecies.
The Bible is not general Nostradamus work where most academics argue that Nostradamus’s predictions are characteristically vague, meaning that they could be applied to virtually anything, and are useless for determining whether their author had any real prophetic powers. These are specific prophecies that Jesus fulfilled in his life and on the cross (see http://wallingtongospelhall.org/fulfilled-bible-ot-prophecies-about-jesus-christs-earthly-life-and-sufferings/). These mentioned specific prophecies were written mainly between about 1450 – 400 before Jesus Christ was born. It was written by people who never once saw a crucifixion in their lives because crucifixion had not yet been invented. So that is why Peter said in 2Peter 1:19 “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed”, or “made more sure”, i.e. by the fulfilment of specific prophecies.
And claimed that their writings were from God’s rather than from human origin.
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2Peter 1:20-21). They claim that no prophecy came from their own private interpretation of a matter but they wrote as they were moved, or “borne along”, by the Holy Spirit to give God’s Word. That is why these prophecies were fulfilled hundreds and sometimes thousands of years afterwards. Also it is why they used phrases like “Thus saith the Lord” (e.g. 1Samuel 10:18; Isaiah 28:16) and “the Lord said to/commanded Moses saying” (e.g. Exodus 6:1; Numbers 3:51). They said that these are God’s words and not men’s words.
However some people object to the Bible being the Word of God because men wrote the Bible. Men put pen to paper and you cannot trust things that are written by men. In school when a teacher corrects children for wrongly using a specific formula wrongly, do the children reply, “You can’t mark me wrong like that because the formula came from a maths book which a man wrote and so that means that it is fallible.” Just because man put pen to paper it does not mean that they cannot trust what is written. The question that should be asked is: “Is what is written reliable?” Is it internally consistent? Is it corroborated? What is corroboration? An example is a book in which are used three languages e.g. Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, written in three continents e.g. Asia, Africa and Europe by over 40 authors most of whom have never met each other and yet they wrote over a period of some 1,500 years one singularly woven together story. That is an example of corroboration.
Yet some say that as I am a man of science, unless you can prove the Bible to me scientifically I just cannot believe it. What do such people want as a scientific method? Do they not realise that scientific methods are not used about historical events? To use a scientific method something has to be: observable, measurable and repeatable. You cannot use the scientific method to prove that William the Conqueror won the battle of Hastings in 1066 and reigned in Britain. The reason why is because the battle and his reign are not observable, measurable or repeatable. You do not use the scientific method concerning history but you do use the evidentiary method as there is in a courtroom. The question is, “Are there any eye witnesses here?” It has been previously shown that we have got some of those. Do the eye witnesses tell the same story? Yes and for instance Jesus Christ was dead on the Friday and rose again on the Sunday. They prophesied that something was going to happen and it happened exactly according to the prophesy. The Bible is more than a nice collection of moral principles. It is more than a great number of articles. It is God’s inspired book. The prophets who wrote the Bible related what they saw and heard in human language, but their message came directly from God. We have no external evidence that would argue against its claim to be the Word of God. So the real and intelligent thing to do is to believe what it says.
I choose to believe the Bible because it is a reliable collection of historical documents written down by trustworthy eye witnesses during the lifetime of other trustworthy eyewitnesses. They reported to us supernatural events that took place in fulfilment of specific prophecies and claimed that their writings were from God’s rather than from human origin.
I have taken the Biblical verses in their context and shown that the Bible answers the relevant questions. 2Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2Peter 1:3, “As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.” 2Peter 1:20-21, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
You might say, “I cannot believe” but the real question is, “Who can you not believe? Fallible and earthly man or the infallible and everlasting God?