Can we trust what we read in the Bible ? Are the stories in the Bible fictions - like “Lord of the Rings” ? Or are the stories in the Bible legends – like the Trojan war ? Or are the stories in the Bible history – like World War II ?
Stories, stories and more stories • There are 3 kinds of stories • Fictional tales, or “fictions” • Legendary tales, or “legends” • Historical accounts, or “history”
Fiction, Legend and History • Fictions: stories completely invented by men
Fiction, Legend and History • Legends: stories that started as historicalfacts but were made more beautifullater (grander) with exaggerations
Fiction, Legend and History • History: truthful accounts about the past preserved with great accuracy for posterity (usually to teach future generation a lesson) Nanjing Massacre Holocaust
Honest questions about the Bible • So, is the Bible a book of fiction ? • Stories in the Bible are made up by people ?? • Or is the Bible a book of legends ? • Example: Jesus was real, but he was just a wise man. After Jesus died, his followers made him granderby saying that Jesus was the Son of God ?? • Or is the Bible a book of history? • Jesus was real and He was really the Son of God • Jesus really died and resurrected (and those that saw this freaked out completely) • And if it is a historical book and what it said is true, are you ready to face the consequences ?
Are stories in the Bible pure fiction ? • How can you tell that a story (like “Lord of the Rings”) is a fiction ? • There are no records for the people, places and events mentioned • For example: you can’t find “Middle Earth” • How can you tell that a story is not fiction: • You can verify many people, places, and events in the story • Are there any evidence that shows the Bible is not a book of fiction ?
Evidences that show a story is historical Historical writings Pictures Archeological sites Ancient artifacts
Biblical places verified by archaeology Capernaum Nazareth Rolling-stone tombs Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-15)
Biblical People verified by Archaeology TIBERIEUM (PON)TIUS PILATUS (PRAEF)ECTUS IUDA(EAE) Proconsul Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:6-12)
Biblical People mentioned by Historians • Jewish Historian Josephus (100 AD) on James: • So Albinus assembled the Sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name wasJames, and some others…. he delivered them to be stoned • Jewish Historian Josephus (100 AD) on Jesus: • Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man…He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles…. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross…
Biblical Events confirmed by Historians • Taking census in one’s own city: • Luke 2:3 -And all went to be registered, each to hisown city. • Confirm by an edict from C.Vibius Maximus, Prefect of Egypt dated around 104 A.D.: • The enrollment by household being at hand, it is necessary to notify all who for any cause soever are outside their nomes (administrative divisions of Egypt) to return to their domestic hearths, that they may also accomplish the customary dispensation of enrollment and continue steadfastly in the husbandry that belongs to them.”
More Biblical Events confirmed • Jews expelled from Rome under Claudius: • Acts 18:2: “There he became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla. They had been expelled from Italy as a result ofClaudiusCaesar's order to deport all Jews from Rome. • Roman historianSuetonius (100 AD) wrote: • As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus (= Christ?), he [Claudius] expelled them from Rome. • These are the only two historical records on the expulsion of Jews from Rome by Claudius !!!
More confirmed people, places & events • People: • Lysanius, Nicodemus, Mary, Martha, Lazarus (burial boxes), Pilate, Sergius Paulus, Erastus (treasurer of Corinth), Gallio (governor of Corinth)… • Places: • Nazereth, Capernaum, Derbe, Lystra, etc (every city mentioned in Acts confirmed)… • Events: • Census in Jesus time, Expulsion of Jews under Claudius, Crucifixion, Jesus’ resurrection (by numerous testimonies)…
So is the Bible a book of fiction ? • Manypeople, places, and events have been verified • Bible reads like a history book ! • One of the Gospel’s writer (Luke) told us that he was writing history: • it seemed good to me also, following all things accurately from the very first, to write to you in order, so that you might know the certainty of those things in which you have been instructed • The Bible is not a fiction !
Are the stories of the Bible legends ? • We have just established that the accounts in the Bible are not fictions • Stories from the ancient times can come down to us distorted (exaggerated): legends • The Iliad tells about a great battle for the city Troy • The city of Troy did exist, the Trojans did exist • But the invincibility ofAchilles who can’t be wounded by swords and arrows is a legend • Are stories of the Bible legends ? • Is Jesus really the Son of God ??? • Did Jesus really resurrect (came back to life) ???
How does history become legend ? • Historical accounts (stories) are passed down through history by: • Writings • Oral accounts (songs and poems sung from memory): Iliad (Troy) • Troubadours (traveling musicians) sang heroic tales to make a living • Oral stories(usually)get more “impressive”over time: history becomes legend
How to prevent history becoming a legend • Write the historical account down before it becomes corrupted with fictional material ! • We can trust the stories on Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and other historical figures because: • Their stories were written down before (much) fictional material were introduced • It takes over 200 years after the historical event to develop legendary material • So when was the New Testament written ? • Was it soon or long after Jesus’ death ???
When was the New Testament written • Gospel of Matthew: Magdalene papyrus - fragment (dated around 150 A.D)– we know for sure Matthew’s gospel existed around 150 A.D. Bible scholars believe that the Gospel of Matthew is written before 80 A.D. (most like around 60 A.D.) Chester Beatty papyrus P45 - fragment (dated 200-250 A.D.)
When was the New Testament written • Gospel of Mark: Qumran cave 7 (7q5 may be Mark 6:52-53) – (dated around 50 A.D. !) Bible scholars believe that the Gospel of Mark is written before 70 A.D. (most like around 50 A.D.) Codex Vaticanus: c. 350 A.D.
When was the New Testament written • Gospel of Luke: Codex Vaticanus: c. 350 A.D. Codex Sinaiticus: c. 350 A.D. Bible scholars believe that the Gospel of Luke was written before 80 A.D. (most like around 60 A.D.)
When was the New Testament written • Gospel of John: Rylands papyrus: dated around 125 A.D. Bible scholars believe that the Gospel of John was written before 90 A.D. (most like around 70 A.D.) Brodmer papyrus: dated around 200 A.D.
Dating the Gospel of Luke • We can get clues on when Luke’s gospel was written from Acts • Gospel of Luke and Acts: • Luke said in Acts that Acts was written after the Gospel of Luke • Acts ends with Paul under house arrest • Paul was executed by Nero in 62 A.D. • Luke would surely have told us about Paul’s execution • Acts probably written before 62 A.D. • Gospel of Luke probably written before 60 A.D.
Testimonies on the Authorship of the gospels Bishop Irenaeus (120-203 AD) wrote: "Matthew published his Gospel among the Hebrews in their own language, while Peter and Paul were preaching and founding the church in Rome. After their departure Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, also transmitted to us in writing those things which Peter had preached; and Luke, the attendant of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel which Paul had declared. Afterwards John, the disciple of the Lord, who also reclined on his bosom, published his Gospel, while staying at Ephesus in Asia." The gospels arefirst hand information
What do all these evidence tell us ? • Gospels were written 30-50 yearsafter Jesus’ deathby people who knew Jesus very well • 30-50 years is too shortto form legendary stories in the gospels • An even stronger reason: • The gospels were in circulation within a single generation of people – people who witnessed Jesus’ miracles were still alive when these gospels were written; this include hostile witnesses • If the gospels contained any lies or inaccuracies, the hostile witnesses will surely speak out !!! • So: Gospels contain accurate information !
The Bible: Then and Now • OK, so the original gospelswasvery accurate • But we do NOT have the original copy of the New Testament !!! • The text of the Bible that we have today may or may notbe the same as the original text – it depends on how accurate the original text is passed down • So how was the Bible passed down to us ?
Passing on the New Testament • The New Testament (accounts of Jesus’ life) was written on papyrus • (Printing was not invented until 1455 A.D.) • Papyrus scrolls worn by use • When worn, the content is copied by hand onto a new scroll
How careful was the Bible copied ? • The copiers of the Bible text use special care to make sure the text was accurately copied ! • They count the number of words in each chapter and check if the count in the copy was correct • They countthe number of letters on each line and check if the count in the copy was correct • A large number of copies of the New Testament have survived through history and we can use these copies to verify accuracy
Evidence of careful copying • Before the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls, the earliest copy of the Book of Isaiah was from around 980 A.D. • In 1947, a Dead Sea scroll was discovered that contained the entire book of Isaiah dated around 250 B.C.(over 1000 years earlier) • The contents are virtually identical – except for a few minorcopy errors
Testimonial to New Testament’s Accuracy • Norman L. Geisler & William E. Nix said: • The New Testament has not only survived in more manuscripts than any other book from antiquity, but the New Testament has also survived in apurer form than any other book - a form that is 99.5% pure • In other words: • Scholars conclude that 99.5% of the New Testament that we read today is exactly the same as the original copy that was written almost 2000 years ago !!!
Comparing Bible/Ancient History: Alexander Jesus (30AD) Earliest surviving copies: Codex Vaticanus Codex Sinaitus Gospels written 400 400 BC 0 800 1200 Plutarch (60 AD) Earliest surviving copy of Plutarch Alexander the Great (323BC) If you can believe the facts about Alexander, you can believe the facts about Jesus
Comparing Bible/Ancient History: Caesar Jesus (30AD) Earliest surviving copies: Codex Vaticanus Codex Sinaitus Gospels written 400 400 BC 0 800 1200 Suetonius (100 AD) Earliest surviving copy of Suetonius Julius Caesar(44 BC) If you can believe the facts about Julius Caesar, you can believe the facts on Jesus
More on the reliability of the gospels • A number of characteristics of the gospels make them more reliable: • They report the uglier side of the story – Example: Peter denied Jesus three times If you want to start a new “made-up” religion, would you portrait an important figure as a wimp ??? • They include weaker (truthful) testimonies – Example: Women’s testimonywere worthless in the ancient Jewish society – and yet, the first people that discovered the empty tomb were allwomen !!! If you want to start a new “made-up” religion, you want men to discover the empty tomb.
Can you believe the Bible ? • The Bible contains super-natural events (miracles) • Can an intelligent person believe in miracles • The Bible says that Jesus died and resurrected (came back to life !!!) • Have you seen any person die and come back to life ? • It’s sure hard to believe, isn’t it ? • You would freak out if someone did… • So did we see anyone freak out after seeing Jesus ???– You bet, many !
Evidence that Jesus’ disciples freaked out • Before Jesus’ resurrection: • Peter denied Jesus 3 times (to save his neck) • Peter went back to his old job (fisherman) -John 21:3: “Simon Peter said to them, I am going out to fish.” • After Jesus’ resurrection: • Peterpreached the Gospel in Pontus, and Galatia, and Cappadocia, and Betania, and Italy, and Asia, and was afterwards crucified by Nero in Rome with his head downward, as he had himself desired to suffer in that manner.
Faith testimony to Jesus’ resurrection • The disciples of Jesus did not only preach that Jesus had resurrected, they also testified to what they preached – with their own life • Hippolytus of Rome (c. 200 AD) wrote “Catholic Encyclopedia” in which he mentioned the life of many disciples of Jesus • Andrew preached to the Scythians [modern day Georgia] and Thracians [modern day Bulgaria], and was crucified, suspended on an olive tree, at Patrae, a town of Achaia [Greece]; and there too he was buried.
Yet more faith testimonies to Jesus • According to Hippolytus: • Bartholomew, preached to the Indians, to whom he also gave the Gospel according to Matthew, and was crucified with his head downward, and was buried in Allanum • And James the son of Alphaeus, when preaching in Jerusalem, was stoned to death by the Jews, and was buried there beside the temple. • James, brother of John, when preaching in Judea, was cut off with the sword by Herod the tetrarch, and was buried there. • The list of disciples dying for their faith goes on and on…
Faith testimonies by early Christians • The Roman Governor Pliny (100 AD) seeks out Christians (for execution) this way: • I interrogated these as to whether they were Christians; those who confessed I interrogated a second and a third time, threatening them with punishment; those who persisted I ordered executed.... (So, just deny Jesus and you go free !) • Many Christians died for their faith under Nero • an immense multitude was convicted…they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt
Testimony from a former unbeliever • Luke – a travel companion of Paul – wrote about Paul’s own testimony: • Paul said that he persecuted Christians at first • Paul said in Acts that Jesus appeared to him • Immediately, Paul preached that Jesus has resurrected • Paul even died for his faith: he was executed by Nero in 62 A.D. for being a Christian • Why the change in Paul’s belief ? • When Paul saw God (Jesus), he had no choice but to believe !
Testimony from another former unbeliever • James was one of Jesus’ brothers • Jesus’ brothers did not believeJesus was the Son of God: • John 7:5: “For His brothers did not believe in Him” • According to the Jewish historian Josephus, James died for preaching the gospel: • They brought before them the brother of Jesus…whose name was James, …delivered them to be stoned... • What cause James to believe in Jesus ? • 1 Corinthian 15:8: “Afterward He (Jesus) was seen by James” – James saw the resurrected Jesus !!!
What can we learn from these testimonies? • The disciples of Jesus started the Christian faith and many of them died for this faith • Nobody dies for a lie that he made up himself • All these early Christians had to do to save their own life was the deny Christianity • If Jesus’ resurrection was a lie, these disciples would never have die for it • Some former unbelievers died preaching the gospels of Jesus • Why would any of them rather die than deny Jesus ?
Matthew 10:32:Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Jesus’ disciples, many early Christians, James and Paul rather choose to lose their life on earth than to lose their soul in heaven !!!
Summary • The New Testament is a historical document, not fiction and not legend • Jesus’ resurrection is real and is supported by many convincing personal testimonial evidence: • Jesus’ disciples died for this faith • Paul and James – 2 former unbelievers – died • Thousands of early Christians died for this faith • The disciples would not die for a lie that they made up! • Jesus’ resurrection proved that He was the Son of God • Are you ready to accept the consequences ?