6. The Bible - Biblical Proof
(1) The Bible is true.
(2) The Bible says God exists.
(3) Therefore, God exists.
Is the Bible trustworthy? Is the Bible reliable? Or is it just legend written by primitive shepherds? Some might say that ancient shepherds wrote the Bible. I reply, “Yes, it was written by a shepherd, a Good Shepherd, who is looking for you, His lost sheep.
a. The Bible is Reliable
The Bible contains 66 books written by around 39 different authors over 1,600 years (between approximately 1700 B.C. and 100 A.D.) in three different languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The authors of these books include shepherds, prophets, kings, priests, poets, students, musicians, philosophers, fishermen, a tent maker, and a doctor. It is full of poetry, proverbs, letters, laws, histories, prophecies, philosophy, and stories.
Throughout the Bible there is remarkable unity. Despite being written by many different men and in many different time periods, the entire Bible has one theme, our salvation through Jesus Christ.
The Bible was inspired by God and written down by men. “All Scripture is God-breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16). We do not read the Bible in the same way that we read other books. When people read the Iliad or Shakespeare they read those books as literature. But the Bible is God’s word to you. Before you can grasp the Bible, you have to choose to believe it. If you are not willing to kneel when you read the Bible, you will never fully understand it.
The Bible was faithfully transmitted.
We do not have the original manuscripts of the Bible, however scribes carefully transcribed the original writings. These copies were carefully made and are very accurate. The scribes who copied the Bible considered it to be God’s word and they were meticulous as they copied each letter. Their method of copying is so precise that the New Testament is 99.5% accurate.
There are almost 6,000 copies of the New Testament in the Greek language and 21,000 copies in other languages including Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic. Among all these copies, there is less then .5% variation (half of 1%). Most variations can be accounted for by a slight spelling variation, or word repetition or omission. These variations can be easily corrected by comparing the vast number of manuscripts that we have available.
Manuscript Evidence for the New Testament is Overwhelming.
Based on manuscript evidence, the New Testament has been faithfully transmitted to us far more accurately then the writings of any other ancient writer. For example, Plato died in 347 B.C., but the earliest manuscript of Plato that has survived is from A.D. 900. There is a 1,200 year gap between the time of Plato and the approximate date of his earliest surviving manuscript. Unfortunately, only seven copies of his manuscripts are known to be in existence. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) studied at the feet of Plato and tutored Alexander the Great. His earliest surviving manuscript is from A.D. 1100, one thousand years after he wrote. We have a mere 49 copies of his writings. Homer wrote the Iliad around 900 B.C. His earliest manuscript is from 400 B.C., five hundred years after he wrote. We have 643 known copies of his writings.
In contrast, the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament are dated to around 130 A.D., less then one hundred years after the Apostles penned the originals. There is one fragment of the book of John that might date to the late First Century or early Second Century.
We have seven copies of Plato’s writings and over 5,600 copies of the New Testament. Yet, few scholars question Plato’s existence or doubt the validity of his writings. There is far more evidence for the New Testament and the life of Jesus then there is for any other historical figure from his time period. If one rejects the evidence for the manuscripts about the words of Jesus, then one must equally reject the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and Homer because there is far more evidence for the reliable transfer of the New Testament then there is for any other ancient manuscript.
It is likely that the entire New Testament was written during the First Century. If Jesus was crucified in A.D. 30, every book of the New Testament was written within seventy years of his death. When Paul talks about the reality of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:4) he is writing only twenty years after the event took place. In contrast, the earliest bibliography that is available about the life of Buddha was written over six hundred years after Buddha’s death. When the New Testament was being written, there were still people alive who remembered the events of his life, death, and resurrection. The Bible is not legends passed down over centuries; it is living history recorded by participants in the events.