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The Reliability of the Bible

The Reliability of the Bible. Tuesday, June 26, 2007. How do we know the Bible is true?. The Bible is most widely read book in all of history. The Bible claims to be written by God. Historical evidence supports the Bible. Archaeological evidence supports the Bible.

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The Reliability of the Bible

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  1. The Reliability of the Bible Tuesday, June 26, 2007

  2. How do we know the Bible is true? • The Bible is most widely read book in all of history. • The Bible claims to be written by God. • Historical evidence supports the Bible. • Archaeological evidence supports the Bible. • Fulfilled prophecies validate the Bible.

  3. The Canon of Scripture • The word “canon” applied to Scripture refers to the list of books officially accepted as the Bible • One thing to keep in mind is that the church did not create the canon or books included in what we call Scripture. The books of the Old and New Testament had an authority that was recognized, not bestowed.

  4. Old Testament Canon The Questions • How did the books that are in the Bible get there? • How do we know that the right books are in the Bible? • What about the Apocrypha?

  5. Old Testament Canon • You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you. (Deuteronomy 4:2) • Scripture came from the writings of prophets of God, under the insight of God, whose authority was tested by the accuracy of their words

  6. Old Testament Canon • The OT canon ended around ~435 B.C. with Malachi as the last of the prophetic books and Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther as the last of the historic books, which detail the return of the Israelites from exile • The canonical books of the OT were always written by or during the time of a prophet of God; however, after the return there were no more prophets

  7. Old Testament Canon Other Sources • The other historical writings of the time: • Affirm the body of text that is considered as scripture • Affirm that there were no prophets of God to speak to the people or write down the inspired words of God • Throughout history, these 39 books were the ones accepted by the Jewish people as Scripture (not just a historical account or legendary collection of stories)

  8. Old Testament Canon Other Sources • From Josephus, a reputed 1st-century historian. His list of the Canon (22 books) is the same as our 39 books • “We do not possess myriads of inconsistent books conflicting with each other. Our [inspired] books, those which are justly accredited, are but two and twenty, and contain the record of all time.” • “…from Artaxerxes to our own time, the complete history has been written, but it has not been deemed worthy of equal credit with the earlier records, because of the failure of the exact succession of prophets” (95 AD)

  9. Old Testament Canon Other Sources • From Josephus (cont.) • “…for although such long ages have now passed, no one has ventured either to add or to remove or to alter a syllable, and it is an instinct with every Jew from the day of his birth to regard them as the decrees of God; to abide by them and if need be cheerfully die for them.” • From the Apocrypha: • Maccabees 14:41 – there were no “trustworthy prophets” No matter where we look in Jewish literature, it is generally agreed that there was no more scripture after 435 BC; the canon of Scripturethen is the same as our Old Testament.

  10. Preservation of the Manuscripts Josh McDowell – Beyond Belief to Convictions (2002) • How do we know that what we have is Scripture, if there are no original manuscripts (autographs) in existence today? • How could the bible have been copied accurately in an era when scribes had to hand-copy every letter of the manuscripts?

  11. Preservation of the Manuscripts Josh McDowell – Beyond Belief to Convictions (2002) • Meticulous Scribes • The Jewish scribes were people who feared God and had a great reverence for his Word. • The Masoretes were a group of people who were chosen to preserve the Old Testament text for centuries. They kept strict guidelines for copying manuscripts. • The scroll must be written on the skin of a clean animal. Each skin must contain a specified number of columns, equal throughout the entire book. • The column breadth must consist of exactly thirty letters; space of a thread must appear between every consonant; breadth of nine consonants had to be inserted between each section. • A space of three lines had to appear between each book.

  12. Preservation of the Manuscripts Josh McDowell – Beyond Belief to Convictions (2002) • Meticulous Scribes (cont.) • Nothing – not even the shortest word – could be copied from memory; it had to be copied letter by letter. • The scribe must count the number of times each letter of the alphabet occurred in each book and compare it to the original. • If a manuscript was found to contain even one mistake, it was discarded.

  13. Preservation of the Manuscripts Josh McDowell – Beyond Belief to Convictions (2002) • Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (evidence of amazing accuracy in preservation) • “Until recently…we had no way of knowing just how amazing the preservation of the Old Testament has been. Before 1947, the oldest complete Hebrew manuscript dated to A.D. 900. But with the discovery of the 223 manuscripts in caves on the west side of the Dead Sea, we now have manuscripts that have been dated by paleographers at around 125 B.C. These Dead Sea Scrolls, as they are called, are a thousand years older than any previously known manuscripts…. (cont.)”

  14. Preservation of the Manuscripts Josh McDowell – Beyond Belief to Convictions (2002) • Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (evidence of amazing accuracy in preservation)” • “…Once the Dead Sea Scrolls were translated and compared with modern versions, The Hebrew Bible proved to be identical, word for word, in more than 95 percent of the text. (The variation of 5 percent consisted mainly of spelling variations…) • “…the greatest manuscript discovery of all time revealed that a thousand years of copying the Old Testament produced only excruciatingly minor variations, none of which altered the clear meaning of the text or brought the manuscript’s fundamental integrity into question.”

  15. What About the Apocrypha? Reasons for its Exclusion • From Wayne Grudem (New Testament Canon – Lecture) • The Jewish people did not consider them worthy to be scripture • It is recognized in the apocrypha that there were no prophets of God at the time • There was no dispute between Jesus and the Jews over the extent of the Old Testament Canon • All 295+ quotes of the writings of the Scriptures are from the Old Testament; not once is the Apocrypha quoted • Contains teachings inconsistent with the rest of scripture

  16. What is the Old Testament Apocrypha? • Apocrypha (from the Greek word απόκρυφα meaning "those having been hidden away") are texts or writings of uncertain authenticity or questionable authorship. • The Apocrypha is a collection of manuscripts, though not considered part of the canon of scripture of the Christian or any other bible, is included in the Catholic Bible. 1 and 2 Esdras Tobit Judith Rest of Esther Wisdom Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremy Song of the Three Children Story of Susanna The Idol Bel and the Dragon Prayer of Manasses 1 and 2 Maccabees

  17. What About the Apocrypha? Reasons for its Exclusion • From Unger’s Bible Dictionary • “They abound in historical and geographical inaccuracies and anachronisms.” • “They teach doctrines which are false and foster practices which are at variance with inspired Scripture.” • “They resort to literary types and display an artificiality of subject matter and styling out of keeping with inspired Scripture.” • “They lack the distinctive elements which give genuine Scripture their divine character such as prophetic power and poetic religious feeling.”

  18. What About the Apocrypha? How and when was the Apocrypha considered scripture? • In 404 AD, during the Roman Empire, the Pope had the scholar Jerome translate the Scripture into Latin • He insisted that the Apocrypha be included in the translation, but Jerome would not add it to the canon, so it was just included into the church writings • Then in 1546, at the Council of Trent, the Roman Catholic Church included the Apocrypha as Scripture as a part of the Anti-Reformation movement • It includes teaching that goes in line with the anti-reformation movement • a passage that describes a place which is now called purgatory • verses that imply salvation by works

  19. The Reliability of the ScriptureThe Authority of Scripture • It claims to be God’s Word. • “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16 - NIV) • We are convinced of the Bible’s claims to be the God’s Words as we read it. • The Holy Spirit works in our hearts as we read God’s word and convinces us of its power and authority. • The Bible has the power to change lives.

  20. The Inerrancy of Scripture • The meaning of inerrancy • The inerrancy of Scripture means that it does not affirm anything that is not true or contrary to fact. • Problems if we deny inerrancy • If we deny inerrancy, a serious moral problem confronts us: May we imitate God and intentionally lie in small matters also? • We begin to wonder if we can really trust God in anything He says. • We essentially make our own human minds the higher standard of truth than God’s Word itself • We must also say that the Bible is wrong not only in monor details but in some of its doctrines as well. A denial of inerrancy means that we say that the Bible’s teaching about the nature of Scripture and about the truthfulness and reliability of God’s words is also false. These are not minor details but are major doctrinal concerns in Scripture.

  21. The Reliability of the New Testament • The Resurrection of Christ • The truth of the resurrection of Christ is a foundation for the authority of the New Testament. It would not have been necessary to make such an unbelievable claim, which could have so easily discredited the entire NT canon. • Jesus could have said he would raise from the dead “spiritually” and no one could have disproved it, yet he did not. He said that he would raise from the dead bodily – easy to disprove • How do you know it is not true? • easy to prove it false

  22. New Testament Canon • Question: • Why were certain texts excluded from the New Testament Canon? • In 1945, in Upper Egypt, an Arab peasant accidentally discovered ancient texts known as the Nag Hammadi Library or the Gnostic writings. Fifty-two different papyrus texts, which can be dated to AD 40, were found there. Among them are the Gnostic Gospels, which can be dated between 2nd/early 3rdcenturies. • Elaine Paige, The Gnostic Gospels • claims that the early church leaders “suppressed” the Gnostic writings, which contains many diverse texts

  23. Gnostic Gospels dated around 2 century AD • GnosticGospel of Mary (recovered in 1896) • Gospel of Thomas (versions found in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt in 1898, and again in the Nag Hammadi Library) • Gospel of Truth (Nag Hammadi Library) • Gospel of Philip (Nag Hammadi Library) • Gospel of Judas (recovered via the antiquities black market in 1983, and then reconstructed in 2006)

  24. Reliability of the Bible • Compared to other historical texts that are widely accepted as trustworthy, the NT manuscripts are closer to the actual time in history and with more copies. • Accounts and characters in Scripture are verified by other historical texts • The Bible is written over a 1500 years and over 40 generations, yet is both consistent and coherent • It is relational as God-breathed words

  25. Another point • The NT canon, accepted and approved by the 3rd council of Carthage in 367 AD, is witness to its own divine origin and authority.

  26. Fourth • Council of Nicea • Compiled the writings of the NT canon, which had been previously recognized by the church (80-100 AD) as Scripture by the authority of God.

  27. Fifth • Basic characteristics that determine the authority and canonicity. • Written by an apostle or someone close to him • Orthodoxy – has to be consistent with everything else in the Bible • The writing (of an apostle or someone of close relation) has credibility as long as the writer lived in the time of the events • Universal agreement – in acceptance over time by groups which decided separately

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