Summary: The editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine discusses the reliability, relevance and veracity of the Bible.
There are over 6,000 manuscript copies of the Greek New Testament. In comparison, Homer’s Iliad, the greatest of all Greek classical works, has only 650 manuscripts. Euripides’ tragedies, the next greatest collection of Greek works, has only 330 manuscripts. All other works of Greek literature have even far less than these. This is testimony that the Bible is truly miraculous!
With this many copies of the New Testament books, one would expect to find lots of differences among these copies. Of course, there are some, but very few differences are significant. Most of these differences are either grammatical or literary preferences. The message of the New Testament or any other important theological matter is not changed. The resurrection of Christ, the Virgin Birth, and loving your neighbor as yourself remain the same.
Interestingly, the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were found in 1956, further confirm the accuracy of the Bible.
Based upon this information, do I believe that the ancient documents that make up the Bible are reliable? By all means, Yes! There is not another collection of books in the world like it. Both in its accuracy and in the way it was brought together; the Bible is truly miraculous!
Is the Bible historically reliable?
I could go on and on about the archeological finds that have confirmed the Bible, such as Jericho or Hezekiah’s tunnel. Or I could go on and on about debunking many history channel specials and the theories that arise from them. (By the way, do not trust everything the history channel says, most of it is not history. Jesus didn’t have a girlfriend!)
Instead of doing any of this, I will say to you what I have heard scholar after scholar say, the Bible is historically accurate, in so much as it has accomplished its theological intention. In other words, the Bible may have a great deal of history in it, but its intention is not to record history. Its intention is to record how God has interacted with the world, so that people may turn from what the world has to offer and believe in Him.
I had it said to me once, if all the Bibles in the world were burned, would you still believe? My answer to this is, "Yes!" I believe the Christian faith would look very different, but many people would still believe that there is a God who created the world, sent His son to die and be resurrected on behalf of you and me, so that we may believe in Him and be saved, and in being saved help to make this world a better place.
The Bible merely points to God; it is not God. We are not to worship the Bible, we are to worship God. God is far above the Bible, He transcends the Bible. God is far above all things. He is not limited to the Bible, for He existed far before it ever came to be.
The Bible carries God’s message as it was passed down to His people throughout generations. We are to receive this message; the message is what changes people, not the text alone.
This reminds me of the beginning of the Gospel of John. John’s Gospel begins by saying, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God" (John 1:1--2 ESV). John’s Gospel goes on to say that the "Word" became flesh and dwelt among us, it then points to the "Word" being Jesus. John uses a Greek word "Logos" to describe Jesus. In our English Bibles the word "Logos" is translated simply as "Word," but it could just as easily be translated as "Statement," or "Message." Jesus is the "Message" of God. As a person, Jesus encompassed all that God’s "Message" was. It was a "Message" of love, forgiveness, compassion, and above all things, knowing God and doing His will. Jesus was all that God had testified about in His Scriptures in a man. He was the "Message" of the Scriptures, He was Love and in being Love, He was God.