Oct 252012
 

bible-scroll-logo_thumbLast week I said how the bible was ‘God’s book’ and how by reading it we can get to know God’s opinions on a wide variety of subjects and also discover His will for our lives. But how can we be sure we can trust it, especially with life’s biggest decisions? How accurate and trustworthy is the bible we hold in our hands?

We can be confident in the bible because of the various tests it is subjected to, alongside all other ancient manuscripts.

Test 1 – How many manuscript copies are there?

Important ancient texts are copied many times. The more copies there are, the more confident we can be that they are almost identical to the original. The bible (especially the New Testament) has an unprecedented amount of copies, which have been found in numerous occasions at different times and in different languages. These can all be compared with each other.

We can see in the table below a comparison between some of the other ancient manuscripts and the New Testament. The results speak for themselves

Author

When Written

Earliest Copy

Time Span

No. of Copies

Homer (Iliad)

900 BC

400 BC

500 years

643

Ceasar (The Gallic Wars)

100 – 44 BC

900 AD

1,000 years

10

Plato (Tetralogies)

427 – 347 BC

900 AD

1,200 years

7

Aristotle

384 – 322 BC

1,100 AD

1,400 years

49

Herodotus (History)

480 – 425 BC

900 AD

1,300 years

8

Euripedes

480 – 406 BC

1,100 AD

1,500 years

9

New Testament

50 – 90 A.D.

130 AD

30 years

24,000

 

You must also bear in mind the meticulous detail the Jewish scribes went to in copying these manuscripts. They would check and double check, counting the words and letters forwards as well as backwards. If even the smallest error was found the whole thing would be destroyed and they would start again.

You will also note in the table above the short time span between when the original was written and the earliest copy discovered. This too is very important.

Test 2 – The Internal test

What does the bible claim about itself? Many of the books are historical documents of actual events. The books are also written by eye-witnesses who witnessed the amazing events themselves. Have a look at these verses; John 19:35, 1 John1:1-3, 2 Peter 1:16, Acts 2:22 and 1 Peter 5:1

Even though the bible is a collection of different books, many of the authors quote or refer to the other books within the canon of scripture. In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter refers to Paul’s writings as ‘scripture’ and one of my favourite verses is 2 Timothy 3:16 which is a bold quote indeed.

Test 3 – The external test

What Does Outside Evidence Say About the Bible?

Because the Bible is a collection of documents written within history, it contains references to history which can be verified by archaeology. It is interesting that before the 20th century, many critics of the Bible discredited it, due to lack of evidence for certain biblical claims. Yet, in the 20th century, many archaeological discoveries have shown that indeed the bible was correct after all. Archaeology cannot prove the Bible, but every new find gives more weight to the historical accuracy of the Bible.

The first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus made specific references to John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and James in his ‘Antiquities of the Jews’. In this work, Josephus gives us many background details about the Herods, the Sadducees and Pharisees, the high priests like Annas and Caiaphas, and the Roman emperors mentioned in the gospels and Acts. There are many other mentions besides his that are ‘outside’ the Christian faith.

Many people have tried to discredit the bible over the centuries but it has stood the test of time, even scholars who have set out to disprove the bible and cast doubt on it simply do not have enough evidence. They desperately want it to fail, because if it does, they don’t have to face up to the truth about what it says. We can be confident that we have God’s word. He won’t let the truth die, he has a vested interest in all mankind knowing the truth so that we can be set-free and get to know Him as He first intended. He wants us to read the ‘makers instructions’ and not be so proud that we can work it out for ourselves.

Until next time – keep reading!!

“The more you read the Bible; and the more you meditate on it, the more you will be astonished with it.” (C.H Spurgeon)

 “Leave not off reading the Bible till you find your hearts warmed… Let it not only inform you, but inflame you.” (Thomas Watson)

 October 25, 2012  Posted by at 11:41 pm Bible  Add comments

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