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Bible Bootcamp

Part 2

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Part Seven

Part Eight

By Jesse Horton/Cowboys of the Cross

For almost 2,000 years now, the authority of the Bible has been relatively unquestioned.  The content has been accepted as true and reliable, even by those who did not follow Christ.  However, during the past 200 years or so there has been shift, due in part to the formation of the scientific method, criticism from “higher-thinking” and literary scholars, and various scientific and archeological hypotheses.  Coupled with a culture that has become biased against anything considered supernatural, many people have begun to question the legitimacy of the word of God we call the Bible.  In my next two submissions, I will attempt to show you why I agree that the Bible is exactly what Christians have believed it to be in the past: a God-breathed, historically accurate document, beneficial for instruction, rebuke, and a source of life for those who embrace it wholly.  I believe in the very near future it will be critically important for Christians to understand this for themselves as many false “gospels” will be presented to and accepted by uneducated (in a theological sense) masses.  Here are the first three of seven reasons I believe the Bible to be a reliable source of hope for we who trust in Christ:

1. Integrity of Transmission – How can a copy of a copy of a copy over thousands of years be the same as the original?

 a. The Bible has sold billions of copies all around in the world in different languages and different versions and translations and is the best-selling book of all time.  With the modern invention of the printing press, this is an understandable feat, but what about the first 3,000+ years of its existence?  In these early days, the Bible was copied by scribes in the Hebrew language.  A scribe would copy a text by aligning the characters in columns and rows, just as the original text was.  Every so often, they would count down so many rows and over so many columns to compare the characters; if they did not match, the document was destroyed and the scribe would start over.

Until the Dead Sea scrolls were found (1947-1956) 13 miles east of Jerusalem we had no “ancient” documents with which to compare our more recent documents.  Suddenly we had a manuscript that included all Old Testament books but one that was over 1,000 years older than any manuscript we currently had.  In comparing Isaiah 53 (which has PROFOUND prophecy regarding Jesus) which has 166 words, there were only 17 words in question (10.2%); 10 words had different spellings but were the same word; 4 words only differed in regards to style, and 3 words were variations of the word for “light”.  So in reality there is only a 2.4% significant variation in the entire chapter over 1,000 years.  The Bible was accurately transcribed; you can trust that the document you hold in your hand today is a translation based on the original document with stunning accuracy.

 b. Another tool we use to determine the authenticity of a document is a copy’s proximity to the original manuscript; the longer the span of time between the origination of the document and the first copies, the lower the degree of authenticity.  Also, a high number of copies (not to be confused with translations) of the original manuscript increases the authenticity value.

Plato’s writings originated in 300 BC.  The first copies came about in 900 AD (1,200 years later) and there are only 7 copies.

Aristotle’s writings originated in 300 BC.  The first copies came about in 1100 AD (1,400 years later) and there are only a few copies in existence.

Homer’s writings originated in 900 BC.  The first copies came about in 400 BC (500 years later), but there are several copies in existence.

No one refutes the authenticity of the documents of these men, but the New Testament which originated from 30 AD – 100 AD and has copies dating as early as 125 AD (only 25 years later) is often refuted, even though we have 24,643 agreeing copies of these manuscripts.  Trust in the authenticity of the writings of Plato, Aristotle & Homer, but not in the New Testament manuscripts is the height of illogical reasoning.

2. Archeology – Is the Bible historically accurate, or are the stories made up or embellished?

 a. Prior to the late 19th century, one of the arguments against the historicity of the Bible was the record of the Hittite civilization in Moses’ writings, though there was no other literary or archeological evidence of any such group of people.  But during this time more than 10,000 clay tablets were discovered that recorded over 1,200 years of Hittite civilization.

 b. The ten commandments Moses recorded were said to be linguistically too far ahead of its time to have been written by Moses.  That is until the discovery of a literary work called The Black Stele, which pre-dates Moses by 300 years.

 c. Solomon’s splendor has long been sought after by archeologists.  Liberals insisted that if Solomon’s wealth was described literally and accurately in the Bible there would be abundant evidence of such things.  Archeologists silenced critics by finding thousands of horse stalls in Megiddo where Solomon’s stables were.

 d. Luke is credited as the historian of the gospel writers (the facts ma’am…just the facts).  Sir William Ramsey was a British archeologist who set out to discount Luke’s gospel.  Ramsey spent 14 years in Israel trying to derail Luke’s historical account only to say in the end that Luke’s gospel is “unsurpassed in its trustworthiness.”

There are over 25,000 sites, people, and places that are recorded and verified by archeology in the Old Testament alone.  Dr. Nelson Glueck, an authority on Israeli archeology says, “No archeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference.  Scores of archeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements.”

3. Continuity in spite of origin – The Bible’s unity of concept, continuity of topic and structure, and brutal honesty indicate divine authorship.

 a. There are 40 different contributors in the canonized Christian Bible with varying social, economic, and educational backgrounds that had varying occupations up to king and prophet over a span of 1,500 years; yet, the central theme is Jesus Christ.

 b. The heroes of the Christian faith are not your typical squeaky-clean heroes.

 b.i. Moses was a murder and had a stutter.

 b.ii. Joseph was a bragger.

 b.iii. David was an adulterer and a murderer.

 b.iv. Solomon partook in every self-fulfilling, sinful thing you can imagine.

 b.v. Paul was a believer in works-righteousness and a zealous murderer and persecutor of Christians.

The Bible has been meticulously and accurately copied since the first documents were written, is archeologically and historically accurate, and is so coherent and unified in subject matter despite being authored by 40 very different people – insisting that there must be a single, supernatural author.  I want you to understand the Bible is accurate and authentic despite its age, and despite the objection of liberal scholars it withstands scrutiny.

This has been a discussion of the physical and literary authenticity of the Bible.  In part 2 we will discuss its spiritual authenticity.  It’s not just a historically accurate document, it’s also a document given to us by the God of the universe to teach us how to know him and spend eternity with him.

The research noted in this analysis is largely the initial work of pastor Chip Ingram of Venture Christian Church in Los Gatos, California.  I have merely verified his research and rearranged it in an order I feel is more conducive to the thought process.

Why we believe the Bible is trustworthy

Part Nine