Many skeptics who raise objections to the Bible its veracity

In past eras as well as today we do find lots of people who talk a lot about ancient philosophers and public figures. They are often very convinced that those people lived and did all those things which are written about them in just a few books. Some figures where there is a lot more written about, though they do not seem to believe they existed, because they are figures about whom is written in the Bible.

While the Bible is the best-selling, most widely distributed Book of books of all time, there are also many sceptics who raise objections to its veracity. With most historical accounts, we tend to accept them without question, unless they seem highly improbable. Then additional evidence is usually expected.

It looks like we can say that the Bible is one of the books where there is most controversy over it. Lots of people love to argue about the historicity and credibility of those writings. There is a lot of controversy over what constitutes sufficient evidence for some extraordinary events recorded in those writings. Ultimately, if the Bible is truly of divine origin, as it claims (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20-21), the best evidence would seem most likely to arise from that same source. But it is just that Source in which many do not want to believe or to give their trust.

We believe the Bible or Holy Scriptures to be the infallible Word of God, and can accept that those who do not believe in God would doubt the credibility of its words.

Redaction criticism of the Bible claims that subsequent editors (redactors) changed the text of Scripture. If such alleged changes were substantial, it would seriously damage the credibility of Scripture. Substantial changes in content would undermine the credibility of the Old Testament and particularly its apologetic value. How could one be sure that the prophecies were not tampered with later to make them fit what had actually happened?
Some evangelicals have attempted to accommodate redactional models by proposing an “inspired redactor.” In this way, they hope both to explain the evidence for redaction while maintaining the inspiration of the Scriptures. Tampering with the words endangers the credibility of the Book of books.

Waltke and some other evangelical scholars along with more critical redactors insist that “inspired redactors” made substantial changes and that the content of biblical writers underwent continual changes until it reached its final form.

We are convinced that the Bible serves as the most inclusive of all the avenues of special revelation, for it encompasses the record of many aspects of the other avenues. Though we are aware that it can well be that Jehovah God undoubtedly gave other visions, dreams, and prophetic messages that were not recorded in the Bible, we know no details of them but also are aware that certain people claim to have had visions or say they had contact with God. Problem with many who say there is no God and therefore Christ did not exist, come from their misinformation or wrong believe the Jesus would be God or that God would be Jesus.  They should know that Jesus is not God and that he is a historical figure, a man of flesh and blood, about whom there is more written about him than many other historical figures of whom they have no doubts about their existence.

Too, all that we know about the life of Christ appears in the Bible, though, of course, not all that he did or said was recorded in the Scriptures (John 21:25). But the Bible is not simply the record of these other revelations from God; it also contains additional truth not revealed, for example, through the prophets or even during the earthly life of Christ. So the Bible, then, is both the record of aspects of special revelation and revelation itself.

Fideists with their philosophical view extolling theological faith by making it the ultimate criterion of truth and minimizing the power of reason to know religious truths, insist that the Scripture and the revelation it contains is self-authenticating, that is, autopistic. The infallibility of the Bible according to them must be presupposed and can be because the Scripture says it is inspired and the Spirit accredits it. Empiricists, whose theory states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience, on the other hand, stress the intrinsic credibility of the revelation of the Bible as being worthy of belief, that is, axiopistic. The Bible’s claim to authority is not in itself proof of its authority; rather there exist factual, historical evidence that constitutes the Bible’s credentials and validate the truth of its message.

People should know that God did reveal Himself in historical acts which were factual or can scientically proven whilst some can be called miraculous events, because we at the moment can not understand how they could be possible. Facts are essential to the encounter.

The doctrine of inspiration is not something theologians have forced on the Bible. Rather it is a teaching of the Bible itself, a conclusion derived from the data contained in it. Though the big problem with the doctrines is that man created their own doctrine, which brought a lot of confusion as well as contradiction with the words in the Scriptures. And, whatever one may think of the Bible, it, like any other witness, has the right to testify on its own behalf. Some take exception to the validity of such evidence on the grounds that it is self-testimony and therefore may not be true. Granted, self-testimony may or may not be true, but it needs to be heard.

The books presented in the Bible stand far and above all other works of antiquity due to the abundance and quality of the manuscripts available for comparison. Scholars use a science known as textual criticism, which is

“the technique of restoring texts as nearly as possible to their original form.”

The more copies that are available for a document, the higher the confidence in the reliability of that text.

For the New Testament, 5,856 complete or fragmented Greek manuscripts and an additional 18,130 manuscripts in other languages have been cataloged. In contrast with other ancient books, New Testament scholar Dan Wallace states,

NT scholars face an embarrassment of riches compared to the data the classical Greek and Latin scholars have to contend with. The average classical author’s literary remains number no more than twenty copies.
We have more than 1,000 times the manuscript data for the NT than we do for the average Greco-Roman author. Not only this, but the extant manuscripts of the average classical author are no earlier than 500 years after the time he wrote. For the NT, we are waiting mere decades for surviving copies. The very best classical author in terms of extant copies is Homer: manuscripts of Homer number less than 2,400, compared to the NT manuscripts that are approximately ten times that amount.

We all do know the “telephone game”, starting by one phrase giving it from one person to another in the circle, coming back to the person who gave the initial original sentence. Most often the original sentence has become something totally different, but not so with the Bible.

Greg Koukl writes

The phrase,

“The Bible’s been translated and recopied so many times…” 

introduces one of the most frequent canards tossed at Christians quoting the Bible.

Many people wonder if we can know for certain that the New Testament has been handed down accurately. To this Koukl answers positively:

“Yes, we can.”

He further remarks

Communication is never perfect; people make mistakes. Errors are compounded with each successive generation, just like the message in the telephone game. By the time 2000 years pass, it’s anyone’s guess what the original said.

It’s easy to state the problem, and some may think merely raising the objection makes the argument itself compelling. Yet offering evidence on its behalf is a bit more difficult.

Scholars estimate that textual criticism has been able to restore the New Testament text to 99.5% similarity with the originals. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946-56 added confidence about the reliability of the manuscripts as well. Prior to their discovery, the oldest manuscript copies for the Old Testament were from the 9th century CE.

Since the Dead Sea Scrolls are from the 1st-3rd centuries BCE, they provided an opportunity for comparison and, ultimately, increased confidence in the reliability of the text.

Until a few years ago all Old Testament editions were translated from what is based on the Masorete Jewish scholars their texts from between CE 500 and 950. Until the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947, the oldest Hebrew text of the Old Testament was the Masoretic Aleppo Codex written by Solomon ben Buya’a, corrected, punctuated, and furnished with a Masoretic apparatus by Aaron ben Moses ben Asher about 930. (Originally containing the entire Hebrew Bible in about 380 folios, of which 294 are extant.)

Scholars were anxious to see how the Dead Sea documents would match up with the Masoretic Text. If a significant amount of differences were found, we could conclude that our Old Testament Text had not been well-preserved. Critics, along with religious groups such as Muslims and Mormons, often make the claim that the present-day Old Testament has been corrupted and is not well-preserved. According to these religious groups, this would explain the contradictions between the Old Testament and their religious teachings.

Many scholars examined the Dead Sea Scrolls and after years of careful study, they only could conclude that the scrolls give substantial confirmation that our Old Testament has been accurately preserved. The scrolls were found to be almost identical with the Masoretic text. Hebrew Scholar Millar Burrows writes,

“It is a matter of wonder that through something like one thousand years the text underwent so little alteration.”

The more copies there are, the easier it is to make meaningful comparisons. A few years ago again some other very old manuscripts were found. They also provided valuable evidence that the Old Testament had been accurately and carefully preserved.

Concerning the faithgroup of followers of the Nazarene Jew Jeshua ben Josef also known as Ben ha-Elohim Jeshua (Jesus the son of God), there have been many lay writings documenting the events around that group The Way. Many stories that go around and were notated could have been confirmed but even more could be contradicted if not really happened or when not true. The multitude of eyewitnesses was able to confirm or deny the accounts being circulated, such as the empty tomb and the appearances of Jesus, and as such we would have been able to find their views. But all view that survived brought similar stories like the ones we can find written down by the apostles.

Scholars have been able to trace the text in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 back to an earlier oral creed that dates to just a few years after the impalement of that Jewish man who was also considered or spoken of as the King of the Jews. This extremely early record includes the Bible’s central message that the Nazarene master teacher who was also said to be the Christ who was put to death, but after been put in a grave resurrected, on the third day, appeared to the disciples, and then appeared to many other eyewitnesses, including a group of 500 people at one time and was written about much earlier than the book of the Bible in which it is recorded. That this material is traditional and earlier than Paul is evident from numerous considerations, such as the usage of the technical terms “delivered” and “received” (which indicate the imparting of oral tradition), the parallelism and somewhat stylized content, the proper names of Peter and James, the non-Pauline words, and the possibility of an Aramaic original. Further pointers to the presence of traditional material include the Aramaic name Cephas (see the parallel in Luke 24:34), the threefold usage of “and that” (similar to Aramaic and Mishnaic Hebrew means of narration), and the two references to the fulfilment of the Scriptures.

Concerning the date of this creed, critical scholars generally agree that it has a very early origin. J. Jeremias terms it

“the earliest tradition of all.” {Jeremias, 30}

U. Wilckens declares that it

“indubitably goes back to the oldest phase of all in the history of primitive Christianity.” {U. Wilckens, Resurrection (Edinburgh: St. Andrew, 1977)}

In fact, many scholars date Paul’s receiving of this creed from two to eight years after the impalement itself, or from about 32-33 CE. Most of those who comment on the issue hold that Paul most likely received this material during his visit in Jerusalem with Peter and James, who are included in the list of appearances (1 Cor 15:5, 7; Gal 1:18-19).9

There are at least four indications that the content of this gospel creed (if not the actual words themselves) is actually apostolic in nature.

(1) As we just said, Paul recorded very early material which recounts the appearances of Jesus to the disciples (vv 4-7). Further, he probably received the list directly from a couple of them.

(2) Paul himself is the eyewitness and apostolic source behind the appearance recorded in 15:8.

(3) Paul asserts that the apostles as a whole were themselves currently teaching the same message concerning Jesus’ appearances (1 Cor 15:11, 14, 15).

(4) Paul specifically checked the nature of the gospel (which included the resurrection, 1 Cor 15:1-4) with the apostolic leadership and found that the content of his teaching was accurate (Gal 1:11-2:1-10). {For the possible meaning of [historesai] in Gal 1:18 and its importance in ascertaining the inquiring nature of Paul’s visit to Peter in Jerusalem, see the intriguing study by W. R. Farmer, “Peter and Paul, and the Tradition Concerning ‘The Lord’s Supper’ in 1 Cor 11:23-25,” in the Criswell Theological Review, 2 (1987), esp. 122-30. For the Petrine and apostolic nature of this confession, see 135-38.}

These are strong reasons to conclude that this creedal data is authoritative and apostolic.

Accordingly, this creedal statement is an invaluable report of the original eyewitnesses’ experiences. As German historian H. von Campenhausen contends concerning this pre-Pauline material,

“This account meets all the demands of historical reliability that could possibly be made of such a text.” {H. von Campenhausen, “The Events of Easter and the Empty Tomb,” Tradition and Life in the Early Church (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968) 44, as cited by Ladd, 105.}

A. M. Hunter likewise repeats the same assessment. {Hunter, 100.} C. H. Dodd adds the point that anyone who would assert the unlikely claim that Paul was mistaken regarding the apostolic nature of the gospel message must bear the burden of proof.

The first part of the Messianic Writings may be considered as a tale of Jesus his itineraries, preachings and miracles. The four complete gospels (from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are all based on accounts of eyewitnesses. In “Can We Trust the Gospels?, “New Testament scholar Peter Williams states,

It is rarely appreciated that for us to have four Gospels about Jesus is remarkable….Jesus has more extended text about him, in generally closer proximity to his life, than his contemporary Tiberius, the most famous person in the then-known world.

Williams also cites numerous pieces of evidence that the gospels bear the marks of genuine eyewitness testimony. Their detailed knowledge of the people and places they describe would have been nearly impossible to discover by someone not living in that time and place. This evidence sets the gospels apart from the books in the pseudepigrapha which are not included in the Biblical Canon, such as the Gospel of Thomas, which gives us a good example of the lack of details that would be present if the gospels were simply made up centuries later.

Too many people do forget that many things told in the Bible can also be found, described in an other way or with other words, in other books by civilians, historians and novelists. As such we can find a number of facts, central to the Bible’s core, in ancient, non-Christian sources, such as Cornelius Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, Josephus, and others. Additional sources like the Jewish Talmud, Suetonius, Serapion, Thallus, Phlegon, Lucian, and the early church fathers are also of importance to get the right picture of what happened.

What strikes us is that many who object to the Bible have never fully read it and compared it to other historical works, otherwise they would speak differently.

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Preceding

A Book to trust #10 Archaeology confirming or denying claims of the Bible #1 Old Testament

A Book to trust #11 Archaeology confirming or denying claims of the Bible #2 New Testament

A Book to trust #16 Biblical archaeology vs Historical science or study #1 Flat or round earth

A Book to trust #17 Biblical archaeology vs Historical science or study #2 Relevance of Biblical record

A Book to trust #20 Available in many languages #3

A Book to trust #21 Biblical hermeneutics and Keys to truth

A Book to trust #22 Confirmed writings and Tampered books

A Book to trust #24 Sopherim, calligraphers and a message of love and hope

A Book to trust #25 Perils of unbelief

Trinitarians making their proof for existence of God look ridiculous #1

Trinitarians making their proof for existence of God look ridiculous #4

Trinitarians making their proof for existence of God look ridiculous #8

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