The Authenticity and Reliability of the Bible

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Authenticity and Reliability of the Bible

Material for this presentation is primarily derived from Meekness and Truth Ministries. The NUS Navigators is grateful for their generous sharing of presentation resources with us in our ministry.

What some

Bible have said….

critics of the

“There is no history written at the time Jesus Christ is said to have lived, that speaks of the existence of such a person, even as a man.”
Thomas Paine, Age of Reason, p. 234

“Historically it is quite doubtful whether Christ ever existed at all, and if he did we do not know anything about him.”
Bertrand Russell, Why I am not a Christian, p.16

When people question the authenticity and reliability of the Bible, what are they really asking about?

Is the Bible Reliable?
Possible Questions Behind the Question...

How do you know if Bible we have today is the same as the original? (Issue of accuracy of translation and copying) Assuming that the translation/copying is accurate, how do we know if the writers did not make up the stories? How do we know that the Bible is not just a myth that was embellished over time?



To discover whether the Bible is reliable, you need
• •



Manuscripts Archaeology Prophecy Statistics
(M.A.P.S. was developed by Hank Hanegraaff)

How do you know if Bible we have today is the same as the original? (Issue of accuracy of translation and copying)
Manuscript Evidence Three Tests:  Bibliographical  External evidence  Internal evidence

Bibliographical Test
It examines how well the texts are transmitted to us.
2. 3.

The number of copies of the original The time gap between the original and the existing copies The degree of accuracy of the copies

The Number of Copies
• •


There are: 5,686 hand written Greek N.T. manuscripts 10,000 Latin Vulgate Close to 25,000 manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament exist today

Taken from Norman Geisler, Unshakable Foundations, p. 257

The Time Interval
The N.T. has earlier manuscripts closer to the time of original composition. For example:  John Ryland fragment (117-138 A.D.) - one generation

 Bodmer Papyrus (150-200 A.D. ) - whole books
 Chester Beatty Papyri (250 A.D.) - most of the N.T.  Codex Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.) - nearly all the Bible

Comparing Ancient Manuscripts
Gap in Yrs Homer Illiad 800 BC 400 BC 400 Herodotus History 480-425 BC 900 AD 1350 Thucydides History 460-400 BC 900 AD 1300 Plato 400 BC 900 AD 1300 Demosthenes 300 BC 1100 AD 1400 Julius Caesar Gallic Wars 100-44 BC 900 AD 1000 Livy Hist of Rome 59 BC-17 AD 4th C (partial) 400 10th C (almost complete) 1000 Tacitus Annals 100 AD 1100 AD 1000 Pliny Nat History 61-113 AD 850 AD 750 N.Testament 50-100 AD 130 AD (fragments) 50 200 AD (books) 100 250 AD (most of NT) 150 325 AD (complete NT) 225 Josh McDowell, New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, p. 38 Author Book Date Earliest Copy No. of Copies 643 8 8 7 200 10 1 partial 19 20 7 5686

Degree of Accuracy
Even with 25 thousand NT manuscripts, they are so close that we are virtually certain of 97% - 98% of the New Testament.

For the remaining 2-3%, almost ½ are 1 and 2 word variants for spelling, adding “the”, etc. None of these affect doctrine.
For details:

Degree of Accuracy
“If Comparative trivialities such as changes of order, the insertion or omission of the the article with proper names, and the like are set aside, the words in our opinion still subject to doubt can hardly amount to more than a thousandth part of the New Testament.”
B.F. Westcott and F.J.A. Hort, The New Testament in the Original Greek, Vol. 1, p.2

Degree of Accuracy
A. T. Robertson suggests that the real concern of Textual Criticism is of a “thousandth part of the entire text.”
A. T. Robertons, An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, 1925, p. 22

External Evidence Test
 

Do other historical material confirm or deny the internal testimony of the New Testament? The test asks: What other sources are there, apart from the documents under analysis, that substantiate its accuracy, reliability and authenticity

Extra-Biblical Christian Sources
Quotations from early Church Fathers concerning the New Testament
Writer Justin Martyr Irenaeus Clement (Alex) Origen Tertullian Hippolytus Eusebius Grand Totals Gospels Acts Pauline General Revelation Totals 268 10 43 6 3 330 1,038 194 499 23 65 1,819 1,107 44 1,127 207 11 2,406 9,231 349 7,778 399 165 17,992 3,822 502 2,609 120 205 7,258 734 42 387 27 188 1,378 3,258 211 1,592 88 27 5,176 19,368 1,352 14,035 870 664 36,289

Taken from Josh McDowell, New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, p. 43

External Evidence Test
“Indeed so extensive are these citations that if all other sources for our knowledge of the text of the New Testament were destroyed, they would be sufficient alone for the reconstruction of practically the entire New Testament.”
Bruce Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, p. 86

Extra-Biblical Secular Sources
       

Writer Date Cornellius Tacitus 112 Lucian 2nd C Flavius Josephus 66 Suetonius 120 Pliny 112 Thallus 52 Philegon 1st C Mara Bar-Serapion 73

Subject Death of Jesus at the hands of Pilate The new cult of Christianity Life/Death of Jesus Christ-The reason for Jews expulsion from Rome Christians bound not to sin - Jesus Histories-Darkness at Christ‟s death (eclipse) Darkness (Eclipse) Calamities brought by deaths of Socrates, Pythagorus and Jesus

Roman Source: Josephus
Josephus says, “At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good and (he) was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly He was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.”
As cited in Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, p. 85 (Arabic text, 10th Century)

The Significance of Josephus
The significance of this passage by Josephus:
    


Makes reference to Jesus‟ claim to be the Christ Speak of His miracles Points out that people perceived Jesus‟ teachings as the truth Indicates the historicity of Pilate and the event of the cross Records the claim by His disciples that Jesus was resurrected Documents that Jesus had many converts

Jewish Source: The Talmud
“On the eve of Passover Yeshua was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, „he is going to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.‟ But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover.”
The Talmud, Sanhedrin, 43a (cf. John 11:8, 16)

The Significance of the Talmud
The significance of Jewish writings about Jesus:
 


Confirms the historicity of Jesus‟ life. Confirms His death by the method of crucifixion (The Jewish method of execution would have been stoning) Indicates that Jesus did do miraculous things but attributed his power to the devil (similar to Mark 3:22; Matthew 9:34; 12:24) Indicated that Jesus gathered many converts from the Jewish community

Story of Jesus from secular writers - Summary
“Jesus lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar. He lived a virtuous life. He was a wonder worker. He had a brother named James. He claimed to be the Messiah. He was crucified under Pontius Pilate. An eclipse and an earthquake occurred when he died. He was crucified on the eve of the Jewish Passover. His disciples believed that he rose from the dead. His disciples were willing to die for their belief. Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome. His disciples denied the Roman gods and worshiped Jesus as God.”
Taken from Dr. Norman Geisler‟s PowerPoint lecture “Twelve Points that Prove Christianity is True” (Order the CD at

Accuracy Established
Conclusion from bibliographical and external evidence test

“The interval then between the dates of the original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established.”
Sir Frederic Kenyon, The Bible and Archaeology, p. 288

New Testament Documents have been

Reliably translated/copied and can be regarded as Authentic

Assuming that the translation/copying is accurate, how do we know if the writers did not make up the stories?

Manuscript Evidence
Three Tests: Bibliographical External evidence Internal evidence

Internal Evidence Test

Is written record believable? To what extent?
Are the authors telling the truth?

Criteria for Establishing Credibility
Internal Evidence Test
David Hume’s criteria for testing the credibility of witnesses:


3. 4.

Do the witnesses contradict each other? Are there a sufficient number of witnesses? Were the witnesses truthful? Were they non-prejudicial?

David Hume, Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding, p. 120

Internal Evidence Test 1
The witnesses did not contradict each other.
To be sure, there are minor discrepancies:  One account (Matt. 28:5) mentions only one angel at the tomb.  John says there were two angels at the tomb (John 20:12). But they both testified that JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD.

Resolving Discrepancies
Matthew (27:5): Judas "hanged himself.“ Acts (1:18): "... falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out." Resolution: “Sometime after hanging himself, his body was discovered, the rope cut, and the body fell on sharp rocks and burst open.” Dr. Norman Geisler

Internal Evidence Test 2
There was a sufficient number of witnesses.

There are nine different people who wrote the N.T., all of whom were eye witnesses or contemporary to the events they recorded. Six of them are most important to establishing Jesus‟ claim of miracles (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, and 1 Corinthians).  All of these books bear witness to the miracle of the Resurrection.  In 1 Cor. 15, Paul mentions there were 500 people who saw Jesus after the Resurrection.

Internal Evidence Test 3
The witnesses were truthful.

Most of them even died for what they taught about Christ (2 Timothy 4:6-8; 2 Peter 1:14).

Internal Evidence Test 4
The witnesses were non-prejudicial
Jesus not only appeared to believers; He also appeared to unbelievers like James. (John 7:5;1 Cor. 15:7) He appeared to the greatest unbeliever of the day—a Jewish Pharisee named Saul of Tarsus. (Acts 9:5)

Internal Evidence Test 4 (cont.)
The witnesses to the resurrection had nothing to gain personally.  They were persecuted and threatened with death for their stand. (cf. Acts 4, 5, 8)  The witnesses wrote things that didn‟t reflect favorably on themselves or their cause:  Disciples arguing about positions of honor in heaven; who would have a seat at Jesus right hand  Peter not eating with those who were uncircumcised  Women found the tomb empty first  Jesus calling Peter Satan

Did the Writers Use Primary Sources?
Luke 1:1-4 says,
“In as much as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word have handed down to us, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write [it] out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.”

Did the Writers Use Primary Sources?
2 Pet. 1:16 says, “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we make known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His Majesty.”

I John 1:3 says, “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

Did the Writers Use Primary Sources?
John 19: 35 says, “And he who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe.”

To discover whether the Bible is reliable, you need
• •



Manuscripts Archaeology Prophecy Statistics
(M.A.P.S. was developed by Hank Hanegraaff)

The Testimony of the Stones


No archaeological evidence has ever refuted the Bible. Thousands of archaeological finds support the Bible.
Dr. Norman Geisler

Archaeology (N.T.)
Archaeological Discoveries:

Pharaoh Shishak‟s attack on Israel (1 Ki 14:25-26) confirmed by the walls of the Temple of Amun

Archaeology (N.T.)
Archaeological Discoveries:

Moab‟s revolt against Israel (2 Ki 3:4-27) confirmed by the Mesha Inscription.

Archaeology (N.T.)
Archaeological Discoveries:

In the 19th C, the Bible was accused of being fictitious because no non-Biblical texts have been written about the Hittites. In 1906, digs at Hattushash proved that it was the capital city of the Hittites, silencing the sceptical scholars and archaeologists.

A Skeptic‟s Conclusion
Is the New Testament corroborated by archaeology?

“I began with a mind unfavorable to it (Acts), for the ingenuity and apparent completeness of the Tubingen theory had at one time quite convinced me. It did not lie then in my line of life to investigate the subject minutely; but more recently I found myself often brought in contact with the book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities, and society of Asia Minor. It was gradually borne in upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvelous truth.”
Sir Wm. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen, p. 8

“Pontius Pilate Prefect of Judea” 26-37 AD
(Discovered 1961)

Accuracy of Acts

Since the term is not found in the classical literature of the Greeks it was assumed that Luke was wrong to refer to such an office. HOWEVER... some 19 inscriptions have now been found that make use of this title; five of these are in reference to Thessalonica!

Another Skeptic‟s Conclusion
Archaeology (N.T.) “As a matter of fact, however, it may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or exact detail historical statements in the Bible.”
Nelson Glueck, Rivers in the Desert, p. 31

A Reporter‟s Conclusion
Archaeology (N.T.)

“In extraordinary ways, modern archeology has affirmed the historical core of the Old and New Testaments--corroborating key portions of the stories of Israel‟s patriarchs, the Exodus, the Davidic monarchy, the life and times of Jesus.”
Jeffrey Shelter, “Is the Bible True?”, US News and World Report, Oct. 25, 1999, p. 52

A Scientist‟s Declaration
“The grand old Book of God still stands; and this old earth, the more its leaves are turned over and pondered, the more it will sustain and illustrate the sacred Word.”
James Dana, Yale professor, President of the Geological Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science” quoted in The Bible: Fact or Fiction? by Dr Robert G. Witty, p 91

How do we know that the Bible is not just a myth that was embellished over time?

Conclusions of a Respected Archaeologist
Couldn‟t the stories about Jesus be a myth that was invented over a period of time?
“Rephrasing the question, I would answer that, in my opinion, every book of the New Testament was written by a baptized Jew between the forties and the eighties of the first century A.D. (very probably sometime between about 50 and 75 A.D.”
Wm. F. Albright, Toward a More Conservative View, Christianity Today, Jan., 1963, p. 359

Conclusions of a Respected Archaeologist
“We can say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80, two full generations before the date between 130-150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today.”
Albright, Recent Discoveries in the Bible Lands, p. 136

Liberal Dating
Couldn’t the stories about Jesus be a myth that was invented over a period of time?

I Corinthians Spring 55  Mark 45-60 AD  Matthew 40-60 AD  Luke 57-60 AD  Jude 61-62 AD  Acts 57-62 AD  John 40-65 AD John A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament, p. 352

A Historian Speaks
Roman Historian, A.N. Sherwin-White says, “For Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming… Any attempt to reject its basic historicity must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted.”
A. N. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament, p. 189

A Scholar‟s Observation
Williams Lane Craig says, “The tests show that even two generations is too short to allow legendary tendencies to wipe out the hard core of historical facts.”
William Lane Craig, The Son Rises, p. 101

To discover whether the Bible is reliable, you need
• •



Manuscripts Archaeology Prophecy Statistics
(M.A.P.S. was developed by Hank Hanegraaff)

Messianic Prophecy
J. Barton Payne in his Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecies (P. 665-670) lists 191 Prophecies that were literally fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ:


3. 4. 5. 6. 7.


Place of birth (Mic. 5:2) Time of birth (Dan. 9:25) Manner of birth (Is. 7:14) Sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12) Manner of death (Ps. 22:16) People‟s reactions (mocking, spitting, staring, etc.) (Ps. 22:7,8, 17) His side pierced (Zech. 12:10) Burial in a rich man‟s tomb (Is 53:9)

To discover whether the Bible is reliable, you need
• •



Manuscripts Archaeology Prophecy Statistics
(M.A.P.S. was developed by Hank Hanegraaff)

Statistical Probability
8 prophecies all being fulfilled in the life of Christ: 17 I X 10 48 Prophecies: I X 10 (more atoms than there are in the Universe)

Taken from Peter Stoner, Science Speaks

Statistical Probability Affirmed
H. Harold Hartzler, of the American Scientific Affiliation writes,
“The manuscript for Science Speaks has been carefully reviewed by a committee of the American Scientific Affiliation members and by the executive Council of the same group and has been found, in general, to be dependable and accurate in regard to the scientific material presented. The mathematical analysis included is based upon principles of probability which are thoroughly sound and Professor Stoner has applied these principles in a proper and convincing way.”
In Forward to Science Speaks by Peter Stoner

What about


Principles for Discovering Canonicity
Canonicity is determined by God and discovered by man Criteria:
Is the book authoritative - does it claim to be of God? 1. Is it prophetic- was it written by a servant of God? (2 Pet. 1:20-21; Heb. 1:1) 2. Is it authentic-does it tell the truth about God, man, etc.? (Acts 17:11)
Taken from Norman Geisler, From God to Us, p.67

Principles for Discovering Canonicity
4. Is the book dynamic-does it possess the lifetransforming power of God? (Heb. 4:12; 2 Tim. 3:1617) 5. Is this book received or accepted by the people of God for whom it was originally written - is it recognized as being from God?
Taken from Norman Geisler, From God to Us, p.67

What if skeptical people ask these questions?
Your responsibility is to give them a reasonable answer in meekness and truth.
But have reverence for Christ in your hearts, and honor him as Lord. Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, but do it with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15-16 Good News Translation)

In Forward to Science Speaks by Peter Stoner

Remember the Goal in Answering Their Questions!

Keep the Door Open to Share the Gospel!
Give them an answer:
“Now that I’ve given you some reasons for the reliability of the Bible, does this change your thinking about Jesus?”

For Those Who Are Still Not Convinced!
“Why don‟t you believe that the Bible is as reliable as as some of the historical books written around the same time period, like Josephus or Tacitus, or Homer‟s Iliad?”

“After all no one has heard of the Trojan Cow*, right? Why? Because we know from history that Homer wrote about a Trojan horse not a cow. But Homer wrote the Illiad about 800 B.C. and the earliest copy of the Illiad we have is 400 years later!”

* Concept adapted from Glenn McGorty (Mirror Model)

Our Response (cont.)
“So if we can know certain things from history,why is it that we can not know that certain things about the Bible are true?” “I‟m not asking why we can‟t know that everything about the Bible is true. But why can‟t we know that some of the basic historical events surrounding Jesus‟ life, that the Bible records, are, in fact, true?”

Remove Barriers
Your question: “Now if you did determine that what was said in the Bible about Jesus was true, and that He really is the only way to God, would you follow Him?”

“If not, why not?”
Remember Jesus himself said that some won’t believe “even if someone is raised from the dead?” (Luke 16:31)

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