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)
But how then shall the scriptures be
fulfilled, that thus it must be?
But all this was done, that the scriptures of
the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and
Prophet Isaiah tied prophecy
to unmask false prophets for failure of their predictive prophecy. (Isaiah
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
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
Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of
heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
Ought not Christ to have suffered these
things, and to enter into his glory?
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets,
he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning
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.
Who hath believed our report? and to whom is
the arm of the LORD revealed?
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
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.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and
carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God,
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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:-
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
That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he
what death he should die.
Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and
said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?
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!