The Bible - Is it True?
Most Christians accept the Bible to be a true and historically accurate description of the creation of the world, the creation of humans, the formation of the Jewish people (also known as Israelites) and their activities in the Holy Land, and the formation of the early Christian church based on the words of Jesus Christ and His apostles. Christians also believe the Bible contains all necessary information for forming a relationship with God and assuring a place in Heaven with Him after death.
But is it true?
This study will present several key points in answering that question.
1. Archeological Finds:
The Bible primarily speaks of life in what is termed as the "Holy Land".
This is typically understood to be the land area in the Middle East that encompasses modern day Israel, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, as well as parts of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the Sinai Peninsula.
Within this area, archeologist have been able to locate the remains of many cities, towns, garrisons, wells and geographic formations, such as mountains, hills and rivers, mentioned in the Bible.
In many cases, the actual location corresponds remarkably well with the description noted in the Bible.
Many Bible Atlases exist which take the Biblical description of these sites and match them to the current archeological finds.
2. The Number of Copies:
There are more copies of the New Testament (slightly less than 25,000) as opposed to writings of other ancient historians and literary icons, such as Plato (7 copies), Aristotle (49 copies) or Homer's Iliad (643 copies). (1)
If these works can be accepted by contemporary historians as fact, even from the small number of manuscript copies available, then by the same logic, acceptance of the New Testament can be derived, even more so, by the existence of the large number of manuscript copies.
3. The Age of the Copies:
In the case of Gospel (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and Paul's letters in the New Testament, there is less than 200 years difference between the events written about and the oldest know manuscript copy.
As a comparison, the time difference between the writings of Flavius Josephus, a First Century Roman historian of Jewish origins, is over 1,000 years between the events and the oldest known manuscript.
Using the logic forced on us by modern day historians, it is virtually impossible to consider a document with an event to manuscript time frame of over 1,000 years to be more accurate then a document with an event to manuscript time frame of less than 200 years.
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4. Discrepancies Between Manuscripts:
In the manuscript copies of the Bible in existence, the number of differences in the actual text is minimal.
In most of the instances, the only differences are in spelling, not meaning.
In other words, it is like the English spelling of tyre and the American English spelling of tire.
Both words describe a round device on which a vehicle rolls, but the spelling is very different.
5. Is there "scientific" proof of anything historical?
There are no mathematical equations that can prove that, for instance, the thirteen colonies in America, demanded their independence from the King of England in 1775.
There is, though, a historical document, called the "Declaration of Independence" that states it. This is good evidence, but none the less, does not prove scientifically that the Continental Congress ever made such a request of the King of England, or that the King of England even existed at that time.
The words of Sir Frederic G. Kenyon, in his book "The Bible and Archeology", sums it up very well.
"The interval, then, between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established." (2)
(1) Jimmy Williams, "Are the Biblical Documents Reliable" (Probe Ministries, 1995) (972) 480-0240
(2) Sir Fredric Kenyon, The Bible and Archaeology (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1940), 288ff.
"Is the Bible Historically Accurate?" (Christian Advice.net, 2001)
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