Why We Can Trust the Truth of the Bible Part 1
And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah, and others, one of the prophets.” Luke 9:27-28
When Jesus asked the disciples what people were saying about Him, the basic response was that He was perceived as a prophet. That means that the crowds of Jesus’ day were experiencing Him as someone who spoke and taught with an authority that comes from God.
What if that question was asked today?
I think that we would hear different answers. One way that crowds today see Jesus is as
a myth made up by the Church. The Bible is a well-intentioned, but mythical account. In fact, many people object, we can’t really even know if what we now have is what was written back then.
But is that true?
Many who object to the truth of the Bible are unaware that we have evidence from outside the Bible for Jesus’ existence. The ancient Roman historians Tacitus and Suetonius, both writing around 100AD, include references to the existence of a man named Jesus who lived in first century Palestine. The Jewish historian, Josephus, tells us that Jesus was known for mighty works and miracles, that Pilate had Him crucified, and that His followers continued after His crucifixion.
So even without the Bible, we can know the basics of Jesus’ life, which are completely in line with the accounts that we have in the New Testament gospels themselves.
But, some would ask, how do we know we have what was actually originally written? Didn’t the Church add things to the account over time?
This brings us into the realm of what is known as textual criticism. A basic premise of textual criticism is that the more copies you have of a document, and the shorter the span of time between our earliest copies and when it was written, the more trustworthy they are.
No serious scholar would dispute the authenticity of works by authors like Tacitus. Tacitus wrote around 100AD, and the earliest copy we have is from about 1100AD, a span of 1000 years when things could have been changed. Further, we have only twenty copies of his work. But, again, no serious scholar would dispute the authenticity of his work.
But when it comes to the New Testament, people get nervous about its authenticity. The books of the New Testament were written between 40-100AD, and we have partial manuscripts from as early as 130AD and full manuscripts from around 350AD, leaving at most about 300 years for changes to appear. Not only is the time span between writing and copies short, but the number of copies we have is overwhelming. We have over five thousand Greek manuscripts, ten thousand Latin manuscripts, and over fifteen thousand citations from extrabiblical writers in the first 300 years of the Church’s existence. No other ancient document comes close to the short time span and overwhelming documentation!
In other words, we have every reason to believe that what we have is what was written!
So why is it that no serious scholar would dispute the authenticity of Tacitus, but call the New Testament gospels into question?
Maybe it is because the Jesus we meet in the Bible isn’t always comfortable to deal with! He makes claims for Himself that make claims over us. He doesn’t just point people to a nice way to live, but has the boldness to claim to be the unique giver of eternal life to those who follow Him!
But just because it isn’t comfortable, we can’t then just dismiss the Bible as a made up document. Like it or not, we have every reason to believe that the Bible we read is just what the authors wrote.
This is a very interesting article. I would love to hear more. What did he really teach and believe? How was his form of "Christianity" different from what we have today?
That's what is so great about the Bible, Jesus' own words are in it. What He really taught and believed is there for you to examine for yourself. It's an incredibly interesting thing that the Bible is actually so simple a child can understand it, yet at the same time it is so deep the highest degreed individuals have been debating different text for as long as it has existed.
Another amazing thing about the Bible is that God proves it true over and over again. One of the problems is that people do not actually apply it to their life. For instance the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace and that he gives us a piece that passes all understanding. I have found this to be absolutely true even though I am a stroke victim and just lost a son last month. When my son went home to be with the Lord at the age of 23, I felt like I had a hole in my heart. So I prayed and told the Lord just that. In minutes I didn't feel like I had a hole in my heart any longer there was a heaviness but the feeling of a whole being there was no longer there.
But in order to get this piece that passes all understanding we have to put Philippians 4:8 in Proverbs 3 5 and 6 into action. Those two verses also will help prevent people from having a lot of mental issues that are very prevalent today. Such as anxiety attacks. Which is something else I've had in my life back in 1986 but God's word and prayer he'll be completely of those anxiety attacks. God is not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind. I had spent 10 days a night straight without sleep all the while praying and reading God's word and verse by verse God showed me what my problem was where it was coming from and then how to get rid of it. The final coming from Proverbs 3:5 and 6 putting my total trust in God and not myself. God's word is very powerful it brings not only healing but it leads us to salvation. Once we accept what it says that being that we were born sinners and that we were in need of a savior. Then it tells us God showed his love towards us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. God gave himself for us shedding His Holy blood so that our sins could be forgiven. Did he give us eternal life and he also gives us a much better life while we are on this Earth.
Please edit your "piece" and use the correct spelling for "peace" that Jesus gives us all.
Why does it bother you so much that "piece" was used instead of "peace". This is not a college term paper. As long as, I can tell what the writer meant, it does not bother me at all. It takes away from what he wrote when a person criticises what someone writes. I know it bothers you a lot and you can't help it but please stop ruining what is written by criticism. You bother me more than the author.
Amen! Love your comment! Gods is so good. Thank you for sharing with us!
Matt. 23:34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you PROPHETS, and wise men, and SCRIBES: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city
Luke 11:49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them PROPHETS and APOSTLES and some of them they shall slay and persecute:
The letters from SCRIBES were intended to be READ and CIRCULATED. The Last Will and Testament was for HEIRS and no one should tamper with the Last Will of their mother to cheat the HEIRS.
Josephus is one of your sources for existence of Jesus? He's was considered a traitor by his peers and historians now say that as a historian, Josephus shares the faults of most ancient writers: his analyses are superficial, his chronology faulty, his facts exaggerated, his speeches contrived.
It doesn't matter whether he was an ethical person (a traitor) or whether he exaggerated his facts, because we're not looking to him for his testimony about Jesus, the point is only that he mentioned Jesus. Jesus was a significant enough person that Josephus heard about him, and whether he got his facts straight or not, Josephus mentioned him. It's just one more record from the time period acknowledging Jesus' existence.
To add to my previous comment about Josephus. A lengthier passage about Jesus, known as the “Testimonium Flavianum,” which describes a man “who did surprising deeds” and was condemned to be crucified by Pilate. Mykytiuk agrees with most scholars that Christian scribes modified portions of the passage. Poor choice in picking Josephus as a reliable source.
Very well done article. Thank you for brevity and clarity.
Do you have something on Penal Substitution? verses Christus Victor or the Moral ---- view? not sure of the complete title of the second one
Umm. . . In what we know as the 'old testament', the Torah, God himself states I will never give my glory to another, beside, below or above me. He must have stated this so many times and yet this 'Jesus' comes along and states he is to be given the same Glory as God the 'father.' Somebody coat tailed the God of Israel to make this their own version and who could this be? Is it not obvious that this is the work of Satan? But you must do your own work to allow the real God to make this known to you.
When He said (I will not give my glory to another), He was talking about not giving His glory to false gods. Jesus was never a false God. From the beginning God the Father was the designer of everything that was created, Jesus was the builder of the Father's design. In John 1 verses 1-5 of the New Testament it says; 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
Impossible, because the letter "J" did not come into existence until about five hundred years ago. No one has ever been named Jesus in Israel.
Jesus is actual a mis-transliteration of Joshua.
The letters involved have to do with Hebrew and Greek alphabets not getting along with each other, and the Hebrew having this thing where vowels didn't even exist.
So, yeah... it should be Joshua, but there's already an old testament prophet named Joshua... so no Christian wants to change the name.
I recall hearing a modern-day rabi refer to Joshua-bin-Joseph ... i.e. Joshua son of Joseph... and that person was a bit of a rabble-rouser, as I recall :)
Thank you for this and I agree there are relatively good reasons to accept the Bible as accounts of events from the opinions of the people at that time, yet, there are still many questions. Which Bible, eastern, western, Vulgate & it's descendants translated by people who did not understand the original language properly, then political forces and other religions/traditions changing the words causing confusion? Then there are the changes of meanings of words that modern versions are starting to catch up on. Why is the Bible mentioning and quoting from other books that are not in the Bible? Why do we have stories such as the woman caught in adultery that are not in the oldest manuscripts, why do we see changes in the older manuscripts were the scribes seem to be arguing? The differences in LXX and masoretic,, texts? What do you think is the best interpretation for what we call the Bible for Modern English speakers? Sincere thanks.
Yes, exactly. Even Bibles from the 1800s are different than now with verses being added now to certain political faction ideals. People are practicing Bible worship instead of acknowledging that HUMANS, especially leaders, can be corrupt and HAVE changed the Bible to suit their needs.
I agree completely with your argument for the trustworthiness of the New Testament and the Gospels…..for instance, St. Matthew’s recounting of Jesus’ words to the Pharisees reaffirming that, from the very beginning, God intended to be marriage between one man and one woman.
Whether original documents exist or not, and whether there is one document or 10,000 documents, it makes no difference. Neither does it matter if Tacitus, Josephus, Pliny, Paul, Peter, or whoever wrote whatever. The only thing that matters is if what was written is true. A person writes you a check. The check states that you can go to the bank and cash it for a certain amount. The only thing that makes that check worth more than the ink and paper is it composed of is whether or not the money it says is available is actually in the bank. The check is only a "claim," nothing more, nothing less. When you call for that claim to be answered, then what it says is either proven or disproven. It is either there or it is not there. There is no, "Well, it is actually there you just can't see it, hear it, or touch it, but it's there alright because I believe it's there. When a person prays they either converse with God or they just talk to themselves. When a person asks God to heal someone in Jesus name, believing He will do it, then that person is either healed or not. So all the discussion about original documents and who confirmed what about something someone else supposedly wrote or said in really a moot point. The only thing that matters about any of it is whether or not what it is says is actually true or not and that is a question everyone has to answer for themselves.
I like your comment, but thought I'd add that money only works because people believe in it. It has no value outside of that belief.
Wow JR Holmes. It would appear what you said could pertain to ANY historically documented manifest. I find that a major fallacy for supporting your point.
It's simple: Tacitus, in his writings, didn't claim "in God's name" unreasonable and slanderous things about God and man like the wrath of God, the fear of God, Hell, Satan, demons, blood atonement, original sin, that his writing were God's word, a divine organization, slavery, oppression of women, and blind obedience to evil government. Did I miss anything?
Christ preached one message from the moment he returned from the wilderness to the moment he died. When he resurrected and returned to spend 40 days with the disciples he preached the same message. Christ preached the Kingdom of Heaven. Also known as the Kingdom of God. He did not preach religion, nor did he preach Christianity, he preached the kingdom and he said from this moment forward preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Go read for yourself, focus on the concepts and do not remove his words from context. He that have ears let him hear and he that has eyes let him see. The word gospel means good news. The four books of the Gospel is literally full of good news, but that is not what Christ preached. He never preached himself, he taught his students and disciples about himself but to the world he preached the Gospel of the kingdom of God. He brought the Kingdom of God to earth. The Kingdom is a country. He brought that back to us. There is so much more to this than you can wrap your head around. Every word spoken out of the mouth of God is true. If you read all his words an ask for revelation, his spirit will reveal it to you. Gods original intent on making man was for us to walk as Christ did. Adam failed in the garden and was removed from the kingdom. Every word in the Bible never contradicts. Literally from beginning to end. Don’t think of the garden of Eden as a physical place but rather a. Environment. Being in the presence of God. I can’t reveal it all, you must let the spirit of God reveal it to you. Mathew 23 is how Christ feels about religious people. The kingdom destroys religion, it tears down tradition. The word Christian is what pagans used to call people who believed in Christ. If Christ called us sons an daughter why cal yourself anything but what God called us.
I believe that I have put together the best argument which refutes/defeats the supernatural claims of evangelical Christianity. I would appreciate your input:
Modern day translation are altering words and changing the meaning. I believe this is to avoid errors that people had been preaching for hundred of years or to avoid confrontation.
One such example is in Genesis 9. Older versions definitely stated Noah awoke from his drunken stupor and knew what his youngest son had done to him. According to Hebrew customs some grandsons who were born in the grandparents house were considered not as grandsons but as sons by the grandfather. As in the case of Jacob he took Joseph 2 sons as his sons in place of Joseph who he thought was dead. In Noah case the Bible repeatedly mentioned Canaan before 600years old Noah drunken incident. Noah cursed Canaan not Ham. Yet modern versions not state Noah knew what his younger son had done..
People are taking God's Word and twisting it to avoid confrontation. Man is once again corrupting the truth of God as man has done since the beginning of creation. There are several places in the modern translations where authors are twisting God's truth to suit themselves. A day of reckoning awaits such folks who takes the truth of God's Word and turn it into a lie.