Is the Bible trustworthy? On the Validity of the Holy Scriptures
Though I was born in a Christian family, there was a season in my life when I questioned my faith and the validity of the Bible. I asked questions such as “Why should I consider the Bible trustworthy and not the Koran, the Book of Mormon, or some other religious literature?”
I believe it is ok to ask questions. I did not want to proclaim something that deep inside I did not believe. After some time of research & study, I concluded that the Bible is trustworthy. This blog reveals some things that validate for me the trustworthiness of the Bible.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)
- Unlike a lot of Holy Books like the Muslim Koran or the Book of Mormon, the Bible was written by multiple people…about 40 in fact.
- The Bible is unique because it was written over a span of 1500-2000 years. Moses likely recorded Genesis around 1400 BC, whereas John may have written the book of Revelation as late as 80-90 AD. – - David never met Paul, and Daniel never knew John or Peter. It’s incredible that the words that all these different people wrote were spread out over so much time, and yet they all talk of the same God, in the same ways, without contradicting one another!
AREAS OF EVIDENCE
1. The Great Number of manuscripts
- Historically speaking, a piece of writing was passed along on animal skins or papyrus, which was sort of like paper. What exists of those copies is referred to as manuscript evidence.
- Have you heard or read of Aristotle? He was a philosopher who lived and wrote stuff in the 300s B.C. However, we only have 49 manuscripts of his writings. The earliest of the 49 manuscripts was was copied 1,400 years after his death.
- Have you heard of Plato? There are 7 existing manuscript copies found of his writings, and a 1,200 years difference between when the original was written and the earliest surviving manuscript copied.
- Have you heard or read of Homer/Iliad? There are 643 existing manuscript copies, with a 500 year difference between when it was written and earliest surviving copy.
- NEW TESTAMENT/BIBLE We have over 24,000 ancient manuscript copies of the New Testament alone.
- The most ancient textual evidence we have is a portion of the Gospel of John, on ancient paper called papyrus, dated just after 100 AD. No other ancient document enjoys such compelling manuscript evidence. That means that manuscript was copied only 35-50 years (certainly less than 100 years) after the original letter was written.
- Most secular archeologists are frustrated that many new archeological “finds” of old manuscripts include additional New or Old Testament manuscripts, as if there were not enough.
- What’s ironic is that all the new manuscript copies that are found of the Bible, when translated, are identical to what we have today in the Bible.
- Have you heard of the Dead Sea scrolls? It is one of the most significant collections of 972 manuscript scrolls found between 1946 and 1956, and included the earliest known surviving manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible.
- 22% of the whole Dead Sea scrolls were copies of the Hebrew Bible (225 Biblical texts total)
- The scrolls included parts of EVERY book of Old Testament (except the book of Esther)
- After careful translation, there was no difference in those manuscripts, when compared with the Bible we hold in our hands today
- In addition to Biblical texts, the Dead Sea scrolls included other secular manuscripts that had references to Jesus, including descriptions like “the Messiah who was crucified for the sins of men,” and it referred to “the Prophet Isaiah” and his Messianic prophecy (Chapter 53) that identified the Messiah as one who will suffer for the sins of his people.
Attached is an image that compares the amount of manuscript evidence discovered of famous historical authors, and the New Testament. One has to be very creative to discredit the manuscript evidence, & its significance. No matter how much some try to silence the Bible, it will always be the Big Elephant in the room when historical writings are discussed, presented, & studied, while the Bible ignored.
When you have THAT overwhelming amount of manuscript evidence, the TEXT itself MUST be studied and weighed.
2. LOOKING AT THE TEXT: Fulfillment of Prophecy in scripture
Again, the Bible was written over a span of 1500-2000 years, by 40 different authors. Men prophesied (predicted) that something would come to past and, hundreds of years later, it would be fulfilled. In the Bible, over 2,000 such prophecies are fulfilled.
Here are a couple of examples:
• Prophet Micah (Micah 5:2) prophesied that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. It was fulfilled, and recorded by Luke (Luke 2:4-7).
• Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 53:12) prophesied that Jesus would be condemned with criminals. It was fulfilled and recorded by Luke (Luke 23:32-33).
• In Psalms (Psalm 22:16) it prophetically mentions hands and feet being pierced, which was written before crucifixion as a form of punishment had ever been invented. It was fulfilled by the crucifixion of Jesus and recorded by John (John 19:18).
• Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 53:9) prophesied of Jesus’ burial by a rich man, which was fulfilled and recorded in Luke 23:50-53.
Just Isaiah chapter 53 alone predicts 15 different things about the Messiah that come true in the life of Jesus.
3. LOOKING AT THE TEXT: Fulfillment of Prophecy in history
There have been many things prophesied/predicted in the Holy Bible, that have been fulfilled historically, after the canon of scripture was already closed. Here are just 2 small examples:
• Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 predict the destruction of Jerusalem. It happened in 70 AD, and is recorded by the Roman historian Josephus.
• Jeremiah predicts the re-instatement of Israel as a nation in Jeremiah chapter 31. This was thought to be a joke of a prediction until 1948, when Israel became a country again, after almost 2000 years of non-existence.
4. LOOKING AT THE TEXT: Accuracy of scripture
Throughout centuries, atheists have looked for ways to discredit scriptures. As soon as they would find something they thought they can use, after time and additional research, they would need to look for other arguments, for their past arguments were disproven by science or archeology. Here are a couple of examples where scriptures have been accurate:
* Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke and Acts, has been proven accurate by archaeology in regards to 32 references to countries, 54 cities, and 9 islands…that’s 95 different references, all of which have been supported by archaeology.
* There are 25,000 sites that show connection with the Old Testament that have been located in the lands of the Bible.
* There was a time in history when the world was believed to be flat. Atheists in that time mocked scriptures that spoke of earth as a sphere (Isaiah 40:22) He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. With time, evidence proved the scriptures to be true that the world is round.
* There was a time in history when some scientists believed they had counted the number of stars (or least were close), and again, atheists took that opportunity to mock scriptures that declare (Jer. 33:22) that the number of stars cannot be counted.
And as the stars of the sky cannot be counted and the sand on the seashore cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of my servant David and the Levites who minister before me.”
When the telescope was invented, that argument had to be quickly abandoned.
No other religious writing can lay claim to such facts about their sacred writings. As a matter of fact, most other religious writings have to have “modern day prophets” to change or adopt their holy scriptures. For example, Mormons just recently changed their language in their scriptures concerning Polygamy and black people (removing a ban on black priesthood ordination). http://www.npr.org/2013/03/17/174559275/mormons-change-references-to-blacks-polygamy. The Bible has not needed any changes.
The Bible we hold today is trustworthy & reliable. Read it for yourself! Even if you are not a believer in Christ, this is one of the most significant, influential, and historical writings every produced. Why not examine it for yourself?
Id like to encourage you to spend time daily reading the Holy Bible. I believe scripture reading should be the #1 priority for us, as Christians, above all other spiritual disciplines. Why so? When we read the Bible, it will lead us to prayer, fellowship, the local church, serving, loving our neighbor, etc. Don’t get me wrong; prayer is important. Notice though, Muslims, Buddhists, and Jewish priests spend way more time in “prayer” than many Christians; but that practice does not make men saved or anymore closer to God. When we read the Bible, we learn that they only way to the Father is through Jesus Christ, which then changes how and to whom we pray.