Can You Trust the Bible?
by Donna Wasson 1/09/2012 / Christian Apologetics
The Bible has been the most controversial, maligned, misunderstood, lied about works of literature in all of history. Venerated by some, burned en masse by others, it remains the bestselling book of all time. These facts notwithstanding, are we able to trust what the Bible says? How? After all, it was written by men, changed over the centuries and full of allegorical fairytales, isn't it?
Allow me to introduce you to what is also called, The Word of God. What I will tell you is verifiable and true and you just might be amazed and even a little disconcerted, that what you've probably been told about the Bible is, well, hogwash.
What is the Bible all about? It is the comprehensive explanation of God's cosmic love and plan for humanity. It was written over a period of 1600 years by 40 different authors who lived on 3 different continents using 3 different languages! And the most remarkable thing about it is that the story told is absolutely cohesive and consistent! The themes and historical accounts do not contradict each other. Think about that
The USA has been in existence for 236 years. Consider the amazing changes in society, attitudes, technology, transportation and education since the time of George Washington. Back then, there was no electricity, no automobiles, no telephones, no refrigeration or even indoor bathrooms. How radically the world has changed in that relatively short amount of time!
Now, contrast that with the 1600 years it took to complete the Bible. Think of the advancement of civilization that occurred during that time, and yet, the Bible's message is harmonious and even applicable to our lives in this day and age! Incredible.
The authors were from different eras, cultures, races and levels of education. There were doctors, tax collectors, sheepherders, farmers, fishermen and even kings. These men lived their lives in Asia, Africa and what is now Europe and they spoke in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and the common man's language of the New Testament, Greek.
It includes parables, poetry, and eye witness accounts of events, visions, laws, genealogy, history, and prophecies, some of which are still to be fulfilled. And, again, the overarching theme is completely harmonious! Have you ever heard of such a thing??
But is it accurate? I hear the following statement all the time: "You can't trust the Bible because it was written by man. And because it's so old, there is no way it hasn't been changed and rewritten to say what the church wants it to say." *sigh*
Of course it was written by man. Who else would have written it? A duck? Does that mean I shouldn't believe the Pythagorean Theorem because it was written by men? Should we throw away our math books because a man came up with it?! Silly argument, isn't it?
Yes, men wrote it, but they did so under the inspiration of God's Holy Spirit, who put into their hearts and minds what to say. They didn't just sit down and make stuff up, especially since at the time, some of the authors were imprisoned and in chains for what they were writing. Why would they put their lives on the line just to make up some story?
And since it was written over such a long period of time, in differing locations, by men of vastly different education and occupations, who had never met each other, how in the heck could they pen something that was in such agreement with what the other writers said, if they were not directed by God? Answer? They couldn't.
2 Timothy 3:16 states, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
Well, you say, it's been rewritten and changed hundreds of times since then. OK, let's look at that. Historians tell us that before the printing press was invented, there were men who were highly educated and well respected, called scribes. The scribes were responsible for copying the original text of writings from parchment word for word. They had to be 100% accurate or they would likely be executed by the kings of the time.
Archeologists have copies of books and royal decrees, written by scribes, dating all the way back to ancient Egypt and the time of the early Pharaohs, some 3000-4500 + years ago. They have multiple copies of the same manuscript, so they know the writings were consistent.
The Bible was preserved down through the ages in the same way. In the time of Jesus, the Old Testament was present in the Jewish temples for the priests to read to the people. Jesus himself publically read from the scrolls on at least one occasion. The copies of the Old Testament were known to be consistent. No one even questioned it.
The New Testament was preserved like this as well. The original writings of the apostles and the letters of Paul were copied by scribes for the early church so each congregation would have exactly the same texts. In later years, this task was taken over by monks who dedicated their lives to making exact copies, all the way up until the printing press was invented.
We know that the Bible we read today is a faithful translation of the original texts because of the fantastic discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, in 1947. These parchments, rolled up in clay jars, were found by a group of boys who were exploring some of the many caves in the cliffs overlooking the Dead Sea. At that time, the oldest Hebrew copies of the Old Testament dated from around the 9th and 10th centuries AD.
These scrolls, some of which were in fragments, some intact, were at least 1000 years older and the astounding thing about them were the words of the ancient scrolls were nearly identical to the later copies! We can be confident that what we read in the Bible today has not been rewritten or changed in any appreciable way over the centuries.
Most modern Biblical scholars agree that the most accurate translation of the Bible we have now is the King James Version. Many people complain that it is difficult to understand because we don't speak Elizabethan English today, but you must be very careful here. Many of the 'translations' or paraphrases available do, indeed, distort and change the original intent of the scriptures. You are safest sticking with the King James. It's not that difficult to read at all and you quickly get used to the 'thee's and 'thou's.
There are over 5000 manuscripts of the New Testament which are complete or nearly complete! The earliest copy dates back to approximately 150 AD, which is only 120 years after the crucifixion of Jesus and within 50-60 years of death of the last surviving apostle, John. I challenge you to find a 1st century copy of any other writing that was preserved within this time frame.
Let me give you an example of how rare this is. There are only 10 manuscripts of The Gallic Wars by Julius Caesar. TEN! The earliest dates back to 900-1000 years AFTER the death of Julius Caesar! Why does no one question or debate the truthfulness of these writings?
You know why so many people have come to the conclusion that the Bible cannot be trusted? It's because they are content and lazy enough to buy into the lies and distortions they are told, and we all know if a lie is repeated often enough, people will accept it as truth. I mean, hey, if Oprah questions it or my Uncle Bob says it's a bunch of hooey, why shouldn't I believe them?
The Bible, the Word of God, is THE most important book ever written. It contains truth. It is life giving. It nourishes your spirit and guides you to the only path of forgiveness of your sins, reconciliation to your Creator and eternal life.
Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father BUT BY ME." (John 14:6) That's it.
Since you are more informed about this awesome book we call the Bible, why don't you find a good 'ol King James Version and give it a try? Read the first 4 books of the New Testament, called the Gospels. Let them introduce you to the wonderful Jesus Christ, the one who loved YOU enough to die and pay the penalty for your sins so you can be with Him forever in heaven. Ask God to open your heart to what you are reading so you can understand and get to know the single most influential, world changing individual who ever lived.
The Bible. The Word of God. The truth. Don't miss it!
Donna Wasson is all of the following: Married. Mom. Hospice RN. Avid reader. Animal lover. Needing to spread the Gospel while there is still time.