Summary: The editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine discusses the reliability, relevance and veracity of the Bible.
Is the Bible reliable? Can the Bible be trusted? Is the Bible relevant?
There are people offering us answers from all directions, both from modern and ancient sources. We want to know if we can trust the sources we are being told to place our faith in.
There are essentially three questions we need to answer: (1) Are the ancient documents that make up the Bible dependable? (2) Are they historically accurate in their claims? (3) Is the Bible Relevant today? Does it have meaning to my life--here and now?
Without being too presumptuous, my answer to all three of these questions--as someone who has both scholastically studied the Bible and has lived the life and the faith it testifies to--is Yes! My aim tonight is to show you how I came to the answer of "Yes," after taking into account all I have learned and the faith struggles I have endured. Tonight I will show you why I still boldly affirm the answer of--Yes! Yes the Bible is reliable. Yes the Bible is historically accurate. And, yes the Bible is relevant.
Many people are under the impression that the Bible is one book written in Old King James English full of "Thees, Thous, and Woes," authored by gray-haired old men who wanted nothing but to tell other people what to do. When, in fact, there is nothing that could be further from the truth.
This reminds me of a video I saw. An interviewer was asking people on the street about the Bible and different Bible translations. One lady responded by saying, "If King James English was good enough for Jesus, it is good enough for me!" Well, King James English was not Jesus’ language, nor the language of the biblical authors.
The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. The Bible is not one book, but a collection of books--66 in total in what is commonly termed the "Protestant canon." Other Christian groups, such as the Orthodox and Catholic, have other books in addition to these 66 as well.
Each collection of books was chosen by different groups of people within the civilized world of the time, over a period of about 300-400 years. The collections were not chosen by one council, but by the agreement of many people over a long period of time. This agreement is testimony alone that God was at work among these people. Slowly, but surely.
One of the factors that distinguishes Christian Scripture from all other literature is the fact that it is all based upon reliable ancient sources. These ancient sources are housed all over the world from Washington, D.C. to Oxford, England to Berlin, Germany to Jerusalem, Israel. In this sense, study of the Bible is a worldwide project.
The Bible was written and edited by many different people over a period of 1,000-1,500 years. Some of its stories date back about 2000 years prior to the birth of Jesus, that is 4,000 years ago.
Unfortunately, we do not have the original manuscripts of any biblical book. But the copies of the biblical books we do have are testimony that it was copied incredibly accurately. The biblical books were copied all across the civilized world of the time in massive quantities.
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!)