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Why Believe What the Bible Says?. Exploring the Reliability of the Bible. Trusting the Bible. Use the same standards of evidence for the Bible as are used for other ancient literature. Three Types of Evidence.

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why believe what the bible says

Why Believe What the Bible Says?

Exploring the Reliability of the Bible

trusting the bible
Trusting the Bible
  • Use the same standards of evidence for the Bible as are used for other ancient literature.
three types of evidence
Three Types of Evidence
  • Bibliographical evidence – number of manuscripts and time interval between the originals and the existing copies
  • External evidence – whether other historical material confirms or denies what is in the Bible
  • Internal evidence – whether the Bible is credible and to what extent
bibliographic evidence new testament stats
Bibliographic Evidence:New Testament Stats
  • Two types of bibliographic evidence
    • Number of manuscripts
    • Time interval between the original and the earliest existing copies
bibliographic evidence new testament stats7
Bibliographic Evidence:New Testament Stats
  • Number of New Testament Manuscripts
    • Over 5,500 partial or complete manuscript portion of the N.T. in Greek alone
    • Over 10,000 Latin Vulgate manuscripts (early 5th century)
    • Over 9,300 other early manuscripts
    • Close to 25,000 early manuscripts of partial or complete New Testament
bibliographic evidence new testament stats8
Bibliographic Evidence:New Testament Stats
  • Number of other ancient manuscripts:
    • Homer’s Iliad = 643
    • Plato = 7
    • Herodotus’ History = 8
    • Thucydides’ History = 8
    • Demosthenes = 200
    • Caesar’s Gallic Wars = 10
    • Livy’s History of Rome = 20 (1 partial)
    • Tacitus’ Annals = 20
bibliographic evidence new testament stats9
Bibliographic Evidence:New Testament Stats
  • Time interval between the writing of the original N.T. and the existing copies
    • The New Testament was written between A.D. 50 and A.D. 100
    • The oldest extant fragment of the New Testament (a portion of the Gospel of John) is from A.D. 130
    • Portions of the N.T. exist from the mid-2nd century through the early 3rd century
bibliographic evidence new testament stats10
Bibliographic Evidence:New Testament Stats
  • Complete New Testament from A.D. 325, a difference of 275 years from when the writing of the N.T. began, and only 225 years from when it was completed
bibliographic evidence new testament stats11
Bibliographic Evidence:New Testament Stats
  • Compare the time interval in the N.T. manuscripts to the time gap in other ancient manuscripts:

Author & Book Written Copies Time Gap

Homer’s Iliad 800 B.C. c. 400 B.C. 400 years

Plato 400 B.C. c. A.D. 900 1,300 years

Herodotus’ History 480-425 B.C. c. A.D. 900 1,350 years

Thucydides’ History 460-400 B.C. c. A.D. 900 1,300 years

Demosthenes 300 B.C. c. A.D. 1100 1,400 years

Tacitus’ Annals 100 A.D. c. A.D. 1100 1,000 years

bibliographic evidence old testament stats
Bibliographic Evidence:Old Testament Stats
  • Many fewer Old Testament manuscripts than New Testament manuscripts
  • Bibliographic evidence concerning the Old Testament relies on the accuracy and consistency of the manuscripts over time.
  • With the recent discovery of the Dead Sea Scroll, there are still over 10,000 Old Testament manuscripts.
bibliographic evidence old testament stats13
Bibliographic Evidence:Old Testament Stats
  • Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the earliest complete extant O.T. manuscript was from A.D. 900, a time gap of 1,300 years (the O.T. was completed c. 400 B.C.).
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls contain O.T. manuscripts that increase the bibliographic reliability of the Old Testament.
bibliographic evidence copying manuscripts
Bibliographic Evidence:Copying Manuscripts
  • Intricate Talmudic system for transcribing synagogue scrolls.
  • According to Samuel Davidson, there were 17 criteria scribes followed for transcribing an Old Testament Scroll.
  • Of these 17, 12 had to do with the actual transcribing process.
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Bibliographic Evidence:Copying Manuscripts
  • Every skin must contain a certain number of columns, equal throughout the entire codex.
  • The length of each column must not extend over less than 48 or more than 60 lines; and the breadth must consist of thirty letters.
  • The whole copy must be first-lined; and if three words be written without a line, it is worthless.
  • The ink should be black, neither red, green, nor any other colour, and be prepared according to a definite recipe.
bibliographic evidence copying manuscripts16
Bibliographic Evidence:Copying Manuscripts
  • An authentic copy must be the exemplar, from which the transcriber ought not in the least deviate.
  • No word or letter, not even a yod, must be written from memory, the scribe not having looked at the codex before him.
  • Between every consonant the space of a hair or thread must intervene.
  • Between every new parashah, or section, the breadth of nine consonants
bibliographic evidence copying manuscripts17
Bibliographic Evidence:Copying Manuscripts
  • Between every book, three lines [must intervene].
  • The fifth book of Moses must terminate exactly with a line; but the rest need not do so.
  • The copyist must not begin to write the name of God with a pen newly dipped in ink,
  • And should a king address him while writing that name he must take no notice of him.
bibliographic evidence dead sea scrolls
Bibliographic Evidence:Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Found in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd boy
  • Found in 11 caves west of the Dead Sea, south of Jericho
bibliographic evidence dead sea scrolls20
Bibliographic Evidence:Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Copies of Old Testament texts (all the books except Esther) dating from more than a century before the birth of Christ
  • Before the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest Hebrew manuscripts from the OT were from 900 A.D, creating a 1,300 year gap.
  • In the Dead Sea Scrolls, there is a complete manuscript of Isaiah from 125 B.C., 1,000 years earlier than before.
bibliographic evidence dead sea scrolls21
Bibliographic Evidence:Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Accuracy of Dead Sea Scrolls
    • The manuscripts were identical to the modern Hebrew Bible in 95% of the text.
      • The 5% of variation consists of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling.
    • In Isaiah 53, only 17 letters are in question.
      • 10 are only a matter of spelling
      • 4 more are minor stylistic changes
      • 3 letters are the word “light” which are added to v.11, and does not change the meaning greatly.
bibliographic evidence dead sea scrolls22
Bibliographic Evidence:Dead Sea Scrolls
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls shorten the time interval between the originals and the earliest extant copies.
  • They also provide more manuscripts of the books of the OT than previously were known.
bibliographic evidence old testament stats23
Bibliographic Evidence:Old Testament Stats
  • The Septuagint (LXX) – Greek translation of O.T., begun in 250 B.C.
    • Differs from Hebrew Bible in quality of translation and its arrangement
    • Popular among the New Testament writers and early Christians
    • The LXX is very close to the Masoretic text (A.D. 916) that was the earliest extant text before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls
external evidence new testament
External Evidence:New Testament
  • Early Christians outside of the Bible:
    • Papias (A.D. 130) quoted the apostle John as saying that Mark wrote down the teachings of Peter
    • Irenaeus (A.D. 180), a student of Polycarp (a disciple of John), wrote that even non-believers bore witness to the accuracy of the Gospels.
    • Clement of Rome (A.D. 95) uses Scripture as reliable and accurate source
external evidence new testament25
External Evidence:New Testament
  • Early Christians outside of the Bible (cont):
    • Ignatius (A.D. 70-110) knew all the apostles and was a disciple of Polycarp. He based his faith on the accuracy of the Bible.
    • Polycarp (A.D. 70-156) was a disciple of John.
external evidence new testament26
External Evidence:New Testament
  • Early non-Christian writers:
    • Tacitus, a first-century Roman historian, wrote about Christ’s death at the hands of Pontius Pilate and about a superstition thought to be the Resurrection.
    • Suetonius, chief secretary to Emperor Hadrian (reigned from A.D. 117-138) wrote about the persecution of Christians after the fire at Rome.
external evidence new testament27
External Evidence:New Testament
  • Early non-Christian writers:
    • Josephus (c. A.D. 37- c. A.D. 100), Pharisee of the priestly line and a Jewish historian working under Roman authority, confirmed the Protestant O.T. canon and wrote about the death of James, brother of Jesus, the ministry and death of John the Baptist, and about Jesus Himself.
external evidence new testament28
External Evidence:New Testament
  • Early non-Christian writers:
    • Pliny the Younger, a Roman author and administrator, wrote about Christian gatherings (c. A.D. 112).
    • Talmudic writings speak about Jesus’ death.
    • Lucian of Samosata, a 2nd century Greek writer, spoke of Christians’ worship of Jesus.
    • Mara Bar-Serapion, between late 1st and early 3rd centuries, wrote about the Jews’ killing of Jesus and their eventual dispersion.
external evidence new testament29
External Evidence:New Testament
  • Archaeological Evidence
    • Luke as a historian
      • Archaeology has confirmed the existence and location of the cities and countries mentioned in the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles.
      • Archaeology has also confirmed the rulers and their positions mentioned by Luke in his two books
        • Quirinius and his earlier governorship of Syria
        • Pontius Pilate’s title of governor
        • The politarchs of Thessalonica
        • Gallio’s proconsulship in Corinth
archaeological evidence new testament
Archaeological Evidence:New Testament
  • The Pavement (Gr. Gabbatha) – the court where Jesus was tried in Jerusalem
  • The Pool of Bethesda – mentioned only in the N.T. – was discovered in 1888.
  • The Nazareth Decree (found in 1878)
    • Stone in Nazareth with a decree from Emperor Claudius
    • Forbade that graves be disturbed nor that bodies be extracted or removed
    • May have been a reaction to the Christian doctrine of resurrection and the accusation of removing Jesus’ body
archaeological evidence new testament33
Archaeological Evidence:New Testament
  • Yohanan Ben Ha’galgol – a crucifixion victim
    • 7” nail driven through both his feet and into a wooden beam
    • Evidence that similar spikes had been put between the two bones of his lower arms
    • Legs had been crushed, as mentioned in the crucifixion account in John 19:31-32
archaeological evidence new testament34
Archaeological Evidence:New Testament
  • New Testament coins
    • The denarius, equal to one day’s wages for the average worker in Palestine
    • Silver shekels, like the kind paid to Judas Iscariot – measured 2/5 of an ounce
    • The “widow’s mite” from Mark 12 and Luke 21
      • “two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny”
      • First words translate the Greek “lepta,” the smallest Greek copper coin
      • Second word translates the Greek word “quadrans,” the smallest Roman coin
archaeological evidence new testament35
Archaeological Evidence:New Testament
  • For more details, look at The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict (Josh McDowell), pp.61-68
archaeological evidence old testament
Archaeological Evidence:Old Testament
  • Sodom and Gomorrah
    • Evidence suggests they were commerce centers
    • Evidence of brimstone on the sites, consistent with the Biblical account of their destruction
  • Jericho
    • Excavations of the city show that the ancient walls fell outward, consistent with the account in Joshua
archaeological evidence old testament37
Archaeological Evidence:Old Testament
  • Saul’s fortress at Gibeah
    • Slingshots found to be one of the primary weapons of the day, consistent with the account of David and Goliath
  • Excavations of Philistine temples
    • 1 Samuel says Saul’s armor was placed in the temple of Ashtaroth (a Canaanite goddess) while 1 Chronicles says that Saul’s head was put in the temple of Dagon (a Philistine god)
    • Excavations found two temples, one to Ashtaroth and one to Dagon, at the same site.
archaeological evidence old testament38
Archaeological Evidence:Old Testament
  • David’s capture of Jerusalem
    • Excavations have shown evidence of the Jerusalem water system which confirms the account of the attack from 1 Chronicles
  • Inscription from 9th century B.C. – oldest non-Biblical source that mentions David
    • Refers not only to David, but to the House of David, a dynasty of a great Israelite king
documentary evidence old testament
Documentary Evidence:Old Testament
  • Creation story in Genesis
    • Similar to other ancient Near East stories
    • Key differences:
      • Babylonian and Sumerian tales show mythological embellishment and distortion
        • Creation is the result of a conflict between finite gods; when one is defeated, the Tigris flows out of one of his eyes, the Euphrates from the other.
        • Humans are formed from the blood of an evil god mixed with clay
documentary evidence old testament40
Documentary Evidence:Old Testament
  • In ancient Near East literature, simple stories give rise to elaborate legends, not the other way around.
  • It is more likely, then, that the Biblical account is the accurate story and that the other legends sprung from it.
documentary evidence old testament41
Documentary Evidence:Old Testament
  • The Flood
    • Biblical narrative shows similar simplicity to the creation narrative
      • Gives the year of the flood
      • Gives practical dimensions for the ark and a practical time table for the length of the flood
      • Recounts Noah’s sins after the flood
documentary evidence old testament42
Documentary Evidence:Old Testament
  • The Flood (cont.)
    • Other accounts of the flood are more embellished and mythological
      • The length of rainfall doesn’t make sense for such a great flood: seven days in one story, only one day in another.
      • The Babylonian ship would not have survived, given its dimensions.
      • In non-biblical accounts, the hero is granted immortality.
documentary evidence old testament43
Documentary Evidence:Old Testament
  • Discovery of Elba
    • Previously unknown city
    • In a palace were found over 15,000 tablets from the time of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob)
    • Tablets provide background material for biblical place names, names of people, the paying of tribute, religious practices, and Hebrew words once thought to be “late.”
documentary evidence old testament44
Documentary Evidence:Old Testament
  • Nuzi Tablets reveal traditions consistent with:
    • Isaac’s binding oral blessing on Jacob (Gen. 27:33)
    • Esau’s selling of his birthright (Gen. 25)
    • Laban’s giving of his daughter(s) to Jacob after he joins the household
    • Laban’s pursuing of Jacob when he realizes his family idols were missing
documentary evidence old testament45
Documentary Evidence:Old Testament
  • Evidence of Semites rising to power in Egypt, similar to Joseph’s rise to power at the end of Genesis
  • Joseph’s Tomb
    • A tomb at Shechem (where the Bible says Joseph’s bones were placed) contained a body mummified in Egyptian fashion with a sword worn by Egyptian officials
documentary evidence old testament46
Documentary Evidence:Old Testament
  • Assyrian Invasion
    • 26,000 tablets found in the palace of Ashurbanipal, son of the Esarhaddon, who captured the northern kingdoms in 722 B.C.
    • Several of these tablets confirm the Bible’s accuracy.
    • Sennacherib’s account of the siege of Jerusalem
documentary evidence old testament47
Documentary Evidence:Old Testament
  • Babylonian Captivity
    • Records in Babylon’s hanging gardens mention Jehoiachin, his five sons, and their monthly ration and dwelling place.
    • Confirmation that Belshazzar was left in charge during the absence of Nabodonius
    • Cyrus Cylinder, a clay cylinder with Cyrus’ account of his Babylonian conquest
      • Allows displaced people to return to their homelands
concluding remarks
Concluding Remarks
  • Bibliographic evidence, archaeology, and other non-biblical documents do not prove that the Bible is the word of God.
  • It does provide evidence for the names, places, chronology, and practices the Bible mentions, confirming its historical accuracy.