Is Holy Bible the Word of God?

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Is Holy Bible the Word of God? Are Bible documents reliable historical records?

 

Christians consider the Holy Bible as the "Word of God." Believers in the historic orthodox Christian faith believe that the Bible is "inspired" by God, and believe that the original manuscripts of the Bible are without error ("inerrant" or "infallible.") But they also accept the view that the Bible has come to us from human writers whose unique personalities and literary styles are evident. Christians also acknowledge that the Bible of today, while extremely faithful to the original texts, is subject to slight variances. 

The manuscripts of the Holy Bible were written by 40 different authors beginning around 1410 BC over a span of 1,500 years and the last Book of revelation was written around 95 AD. Christians believe that Book of Revelation is the seal of the prophets. It means after God has manifested Himself and spoke to mankind through his begotten Son Jesus Christ, He would no longer employ the agency of prophets or angels to bring the gospel to mankind. 

In 2 Timothy 3:16 it says: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" So it is the words from God and not of men.

In 2 Peter 1:20, 21 is another important statement about the Bible: "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." Here again the divine origin of the Scripture is emphasized.

Paul claimed prophetic authority: "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." (1 Corinthians 14:37)

Most significance of all, is Christ's view of the Scripture. What did he say of it? How did he use it? What was Lord Jesus' attitude towards the Old Testament? He stated emphatically. " For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." (Matthew 5:18) When Satan tempted Jesus, he quoted Scripture as final authority often introducing the statement with the phrase, "It is written" (Matthew 4). He spoke of himself and of events surrounding his life as fulfilments of the prophecy in the scripture (Matthew 26: 54, 56)

26:54

But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

26:56

But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

Prophet Isaiah tied prophecy to unmask false prophets for failure of their predictive prophecy. (Isaiah 41:22-23)

41:22

Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come.

41:23

Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.

Jesus refers to the predictive prophecies about himself. Fulfilment of prophecies regarding Jesus is one of the most exicitng Bible studies in history. After his resurrection, he walked with 2 disciples onthe road to Emmaus. Listening to their story about his own death and burial, he responded: (Luke 24:25-27)

24:25

Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:

24:26

Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

24:27

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Isaiah 53 is the most outstanding example of the predictive prophecy about Jesus Christ. The contengencies could not be rigged inadvance in an attempt to produce fulfilment. They involve his life, his rejection in ministry, his death, his burial and his reactions to unjust judicial proceedings.

53:1

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?

53:2

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

53:3

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

53:4

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

53:5

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

53:6

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

53:7

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

53:8

He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

53:9

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

53:10

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

53:11

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

53:12

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

 

In 1947, the world learned about what has been called the greatest archaeological discovery of the century. In caves, in the valley of the Dead Sea, ancient jars were discovered containing the now famous Dead Sea Scrolls. From these scrolls, it is evident that a group of Jews lived in a place called Qumran from about 150 B.C. to 70 A.D. The find included the complete book of Isaiah, and fragments of almost every book in the Old Testament. In addition, there is a fragmented copy containing much of Isaiah 38-66. The significance of this find, for those who doubt about the accuracy of the Old Testament text, can be easily seen. By comparing the Qumran manuscript of Isaiah 38-66 with the one we had, scholars found that the "text is extremely close to our Massoretic text... This is typical of the whole manuscript." They have been reliably carbon-dating from 250 BC to 68 AD.

The Dead Sea Scrolls also contain what many scholars believe are fragments of New Testament books, including Mark, Acts, Romans, 1 Timothy, 2 Peter, and James. The fragments are small enough that some skeptics (who perhaps hope not to find the Bible reliable) are unwilling to accept them. But the importance of the discovery is that it adds to already existing evidence that the New Testament was written in the first century.  

In addition to the Dead Sea Scrolls, there are other manuscripts of the Old Testament that date before Christ. Yet it is the remarkably extensive discovery in the Dead Sea Scrolls that confirms that the modern day Old Testament has been unchanged since at least before the time of Christ.

The Dead Sea discovery verifies that today we are in the possession of the Old Testament that Jesus read and used. And Jesus himself testified as to the correct books of the Old Testament and to their accuracy. (Here are just a few of many examples: Matthew 5:17-18, 12:40, 13:14-15, 19:3-9, 23:35, Luke 16:31, 24:44, John 5:46-47, 10:35.) Jesus' testimony is an important substantiation that the Old Testament was consistently preserved up to his time. Absent any contrary evidence, the belief that the Old Testament has been reliably preserved is warranted.

What of the New testament in the Holy Bible? Again, based on evidence, the conviction comes that there is a text which does not differ in any substantial particular from the originals of the various books as they came from the hands of human writers. The great British scholar F.J.A. Hort said that apart from insignificant variations of grammar or spelling, not more than one thousandth part of the whole New Testament is affected by differences of reading. The New Testament was originally written in Greek. More than 4,000 manuscripts of the New testament or part of it, have survived to our time. The manuscripts were most commonly written on papyrus and parchments. 

While we do not have the original New Testament manuscripts ("autographs"), we do have over 25,000 ancient copies of New Testament manuscripts, or pieces thereof. Careful analysis by scholars can compare the various manuscripts and reproduce the originals with great precision. Only about 40 lines of text in the New Testament are in doubt, and these do not affect any Christian doctrine.

The New Testament is a reliable record of historical Jesus and His Apostles written by eye-witnesses and interviewers of eyewitnesses of Jesus. Many scholars are convinced that the entire New Testament was written between 40 and 70 AD. The possible exception to this are some of the writings of John, who lived to be a very old man, and may have been written as late as the 90's AD. 

In addition to the manuscript evidence itself, we have quotations from the New Testament from the early church fathers (from 97 AD to 325 AD). These quotations allow reconstructing all but eleven verses of the modern New Testament - even without any manuscripts themselves! 

Let us examine the evidence why the Holy Bible can be trusted. There are four important approaches to considering the evidence for the reliability of the Bible based on "MAPS":

1. Manuscript Evidence. The evidence supports the view that all of the New Testament was written by eye-witnesses or other contemporaries of Jesus, and that it has been reliably preserved. There are no abrogations or destruction of manuscripts by the Church fathers.

2. Archeological Evidence. Over 25,000 sites have been discovered that pertain to the Bible. As Nelson Glueck, renowned Jewish archeologist said, "It may be stated categorically that no archeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference." This is really an amazing testimony for the Bible.

3. Prophetic Evidence. Some 2000 biblical prophecies have already been fulfilled, including over 300 about Jesus-with no prophetic failures. The probability of just 16 predictions being fulfilled without an error is 1 in 10 to the 45th power. For 2000 predictions to be correct without a failure is an inconceivable probability number. There is nothing at all like this in any other holy book.

4. Statistical Evidence. The Bible contains 66 books, written by 40 different writers, over 1500 years, on 3 different continents, in 3 different languages, on thousands of different subjects-with no errors or contradictions. (Norman Geisler in his book written with Abdul Saleeb discusses this, and emphasizes that from his 40 years of studying the Bible he has concluded that every so-called error or contradiction is a red herring.) Yet there is one beautiful central theme in the Bible: God's redemption of mankind from sin won for the whole world by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, regarding the Bible, there are multiple reliable witnesses, many of whom did not know each other, whose stories can be corroborated. 

The evidence for the early existence of the New Testament writings is clear. F.F. Bruce observes that only nine or ten good manuscripts was written some 900 years after Caesar's time. The History of Thucydides (ca. 460-400 B.C.) is known to us from 8 manuscripts, the earliest belonging to around 900 A.D. and few papyrus scraps that belong to about the begining of Christian era. The same is true of the History of Herodotus (ca. 480-425 B.C.). No classical scholar would listen to an argument that the authenticity of Herodotus or Thucydides is in doubt because the earliest manuscripts of their work which are of any use, are more than 1,300 years later than the originals. By contrast there are 2 excellent manuscripts of the New Testament from the 4th century. Fragments of papyrus copies of books of the New Testament date from 100 to 200 years earlier. Perhaps, the earliest piece of data we have, is a fragment of a papyrus codex containing John 18:31-33 & 37 dated around 130 A.D. The said passage of the Scripture is quoted from King James Version for easy reference:-

18:31

Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:

18:32

That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.

18:33

Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?

18:37

Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Thus far, there is no conclusive scientific evidence nor archeological findings to discredit the reliability of the Holy Bible. It remains as one of the oldest scientific, historical and religious book of the century! 

 

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