IS THE BIBLE REAL AND RELIABLE?
1. MOST MANUSCRIPTS
The New Testament has been preserved in more manuscripts than any other ancient literary work. That’s over 5,800 complete or fragmented Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin manuscripts, and 9,300 manuscripts in various other ancient languages, including Syriac, Slavic, Gothic, Ethiopian, Coptic, and Armenian. The oldest manuscripts date back to around 125 AD.
The authority of the manuscripts of the Old Testament is confirmed by about 17,000 manuscripts. This number is impressive for researchers and historians. The second place of ancient writings is occupied by Homer’s “Iliad”, with only about 1,900 manuscripts. (more: Bible Manuscripts)
People and events are considered historical on the basis of a few mentions in archaeological discoveries, chronicles, paintings, manuscripts, etc. Since we do not deny the existence of other ancient figures such as Alexander the Great, the more the number of authentic manuscripts proves that the Bible is reliable historically.
|Artwork||Number of ancient copies owned|
|Natural History of Pliny II||7|
|Works of Plato||7|
|Works of Demosthenes||200|
|Annals of Tacitus||20|
|Artwork||Approximate interval between the year of writing and the oldest copies|
|Natural History of Pliny II||740 years|
|History Herodotus||1350 years|
|Works of Plato||1300 years|
|Works of Demosthenes||1400 years|
|Gallic WarCaesar||950 years|
|History of Rome Livy||1000 years|
|Annals Tacitus||1000 years|
|History of Thucytides||1300|
|Ancient History of Israel Josephus||400-500|
|New Testament (all)||325|
|Gospels||125 – 225 (part dependent)|
2. COHERENCE OF THE TEXT OF THE MANUSCRIPTS
Is the Bible True? Sources say that in the Bible there is as much as 99.5% coherence of manuscript texts, which is also unique in the world and in ancient literary works.
Bible scholars, historians, linguists and specialists in all fields of science have been critically assessing the reliability of individual manuscripts for many centuries. Their verification consists in examining each manuscript in different ways and cataloging them into more and less reliable ones. Manuscripts are cataloged according to language, date of creation, latitude of creation and others. This is how codes are made.
The Bible that we see in circulation today is the result of hundreds of years of work by many researchers from various fields who exclude doubts and inaccuracies of individual manuscripts – filtering from them the most accurate copy of the first texts.
3. COMPLETE VERIFICATION OF THE BIBLE CANON
Common to most Christian denominations (Protestantism, Catholicism, Orthodoxy) the canon of the Bible is a set of 66 books (39 Old Testament and 27 New Testament)*Catholicism and Orthodoxy added additional books to this canon. Books and manuscripts related to biblical events have undergone a lot of historical, linguistic and scientific analysis to exclude books and parts of books not considered inspired (apocrypha).
Is the Bible Reliable as a Divinely Inspired Book? Yes, because it contains only undisputed, well-documented books and chapters that are consistent in the overall content and presentation of God.
The earliest catalog of the New Testament was written around 170 CE. (Muratorian Fragment). The canon of the Christian Scriptures, on the other hand, was finally established in the fourth century C.E. Initially, different churches recognized various additional writings as inspired and had disputes over some books.
Interestingly, the writings of the Apostle Paul are already quoted as inspired in the Epistles of Peter (II Pet. 3:15-16) and mentioned and quoted in later early church letters and apocrypha (e.g. Polycarp’s letters to the Philippians).
4. HISTORY AND CONTINUITY OF JEWISH CULTURE
Jewish culture, the ancient (and somewhat modern) State of Israel, its law, tradition, etc. are based on the foundation of the books of the Old Testament. The first five books of the bible The Torah is the holy book of Judaism. The Pentateuch remains the basis of religious and civil Jewish religious law.
The Bible gives a concrete and practically the only explanation of the origin of this culture and its law, starting from Abraham, exodus from Egypt, receiving the law by Moses, entering the Promised Land, to the history of kings David, Solomon and the conquest of Israel, Babylonian captivity and restoration to Jerusalem . It tells about the history of its kings, the history of the construction of the Jerusalem Temple and many other historical events. The consistency of the Bible with Judaic tradition is further proof that the Bible is true.
5. CONSISTENCY WITH HISTORICAL EVENTS
There are many non-Christian ancient historical sources that relate to the person of Jesus Christ and the events of the Bible (historicity of Jesus). Famous authors and non-Christian sources who wrote about it in antiquity include: Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Tallus and Flegon, Mara Bar-Serapion, Jewish Talmud, Lucian of Samosata, Philosopher Celsus.
Every year, archeology more and more clearly confirms the authenticity and credibility of the Bible by finding the described places and refuting the allegations. For some time there has been much talk about finding Noah’s Ark as described in the Bible. (article about finding the Ark).
|Mari tablets||Over 20,000 cuneiform tablets dating from the time of Abraham explain many of the patriarchal traditions set forth in the book of Genesis.|
|Ebla tablets||Over 20,000 tablets, many of which contain laws similar to those found in Deuteronomy. The tablets mention five cities in Genesis 14 that were previously thought to be fictitious – Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Zoar.|
|Nuzi Tablets||They present in detail the customs prevailing in the 15th and 19th centuries BC, which coincide with the accounts of the patriarchs, such as the custom of replacing infertile wives as mothers by their servants.|
|Black stele||Provides evidence that writing and written laws existed three hundred years before the Mosaic Law.|
|Walls of Karnak Temple, Egypt||Contains a reference to Abraham dating back to the 10th century BC.|
|Code of Eshunna (c. 1950 BC) Code of Lipitishtar (c. 1860 B.C.) Code of Hammurabi (c. 1700 BC)||These findings prove that the legal code of the Pentateuch was not very advanced for the time period it dates from.|
|Ras Shamra Tablets||Contains information about Hebrew poetry.|
|Letters from Lachish||These describe Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of Judah and provide information to help better understand Jeremiah’s time period.|
|Seal of Gedaliah||Mentions the Gedaliah mentioned in 2 Kings 25:22.|
|Cyrus Cylinder||Affirms the authenticity of the biblical account of Cyrus’ decree that allowed the Jews to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem (see 2 Chronicles 36:23; Ezra 1:2-4) .|
|Moabite Stone||Contains information about Omri, the sixth king of Israel.|
|Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III||Shows the homage paid to the king of Assyria by Jehu, king of Israel.|
|Taylor’s Prism Stele||Contains Assyrian text depicting Sennacherib’s attack on Jerusalem in the time of Hezekiah, king of Israel.|
|Seal of Isaiah|
|Hezekiah’s Seal||Belonging to Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, king of Judah” – this is the sensational inscription on a recently found seal. The 8th century BC find is unique in that it is the first seal of any king of Judah or Israel to be found during regular scientific excavations at an archaeological site (in situ).|
|Prior allegations from critics||ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXPLANATIONS|
|Moses could not have written the Pentateuch because he lived in a pre-writing era.||Writing existed several hundred years before Moses.|
|Abraham’s hometown of Ur never existed.||Archaeologists have discovered the ruins of the city of Ur. On one of the columns there was an inscription “Abram”.|
|The city built on rock, “Petra”, never existed.||Archaeologists have discovered the ruins of this city.|
|The story of the capture of Jericho is a myth. The city never existed.||Archaeologists found the ruins of this city and excavated. The walls of Jericho were found to have collapsed exactly as described in the biblical account.|
|“Hittite” never existed.||Hundreds of descriptions and mentions of the remarkable Hittite civilization have been found. You can now even get a PhD in Hittite civilization from the University of Chicago.|
|Belshazzar was not the true king of Babylon; he is not mentioned in any chronicle.||Tablets discovered in the area of ancient Babylon describe the reign of Belshazzar as co-regent and son of Nabonidus.|
6. FULFILLED PROPHECIES
1. A descendant in the line of King David (Jeremiah 33:14-15)
2. Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:1)
3. Born of a Virgin (Isaiah 7:14)
4. Lived in Capernaum (in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali), (Isaiah 8:23-9:1)
5. The Great Wisdom of Jesus' Teachings (Isaiah 11:1-5)
6. Speaking in Parables (Psalms 78:1-2)
7. Reproach and Rejection by the Jews (Psalms 69:8-9)
8. Entering Jerusalem on a Donkey (Zechariah 9:9)
9. Betrayed by a Friend (Psalms 41:10)
10. Sold for Thirty Pieces of Silver (Zechariah 11:13-13)
11. Humble until death (Isaiah 53:7)
12. Abandonment by the Disciples (Psalms 69:21)
13. Mocking at the Crucifixion (Psalms 22:8-9)
14. Killed as a criminal (Isaiah 53, 12)
15. The Piercing of Hands and Feet (Psalms 22:17-18)
16. Parting the garments and casting lots for the garment (Psalms 22:19)
17. Gall and Vinegar to Drink (Psalms 69:22)
18. No Bone Broken (Psalms 34:21)
19. The Piercing of the Side (Zechariah 12:11)
20. Words spoken just before death (Psalms 22:1)
21. Eclipse of the Sun After Jesus' Death (Amos 8:9)
22. Buried with the Rich (Isaiah 53:9)
23. The Resurrection of Jesus (Psalms 16:9-11)
1. Prophecies about the fall of the city of Petra (formerly Sela) in the region of the ancient name of Seir (Edom) - (Jer. 49:16) (Ezek. 35:1-15) (Isa. 34:9-15) (Jer. 49 :18.)
The above prophecy regarding Petra has been fulfilled. A new trade route was selected in favor of Palmyra. Petra's trade dies. Also in 363, a powerful earthquake destroyed many buildings as well as the city's water supply system.
2. On the Fall of Babylon (Isaiah 13:17-22)
God foretold its fall and also foretold that it would never be rebuilt. The prophecy spells out exactly who will wreak havoc. For many centuries, the prophecy seemed unfulfilled. Until night fell, the Medes and Persians entered the city and Babylon fell. Babylon, the mightiest city in the world, the capital of the nation that enslaved God's people, was forgotten. As the Prophet said, "It will never be rebuilt."
3. Fall of Tyre
(Ezekiel 28) (Ezekiel 26:3-19)
In 586 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar attacked and destroyed Tire as prophesied. But the people fled to a nearby island with their belongings and treasures. For 240 years, the city of Tire lay in ruins, and the inhabitants of the island still lived. Finally, Alexander the Great sent his army to Tyre, but found it in ruins, and he could not get to the island because the locals fortified it with an extensive water barrier. However, he did not give up. He devised a plan: he decided to build a wall leading from the mainland to the island. Building materials were taken from the ruins of the city of Tyre. The army threw the whole city into the sea. They even scraped off the sand until only bare rock remained. So the prophecy was fulfilled, and the city of Tire was flat and bare as a top of a rock, and "great waters" covered it.
4. Sometime before 500 BC, the prophet Daniel announced that Israel's long-awaited Messiah* would begin his public ministry 483 years after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem (Dan. 9:25-26). Furthermore, he prophesied that the Messiah would be "destroyed", killed, and that this event would occur before the second destruction of Jerusalem. There is abundant evidence that these prophecies were fully fulfilled in the life (and crucifixion) of Jesus Christ. The decree to rebuild Jerusalem was issued by the Persian king Artaxerxes to the Hebrew priest Ezra in 458 BC. 483 years later, Jesus Christ began his public ministry in Galilee. (It should be noted here that due to the calendar changes, most historians date the beginning of Christ's ministry to 26 A.D. Also, there is a one-year gap between 1 B.C. and 1 A.D.) The Crucifixion of Jesus It happened only a few years later, four decades later, in AD 70. Jerusalem has been destroyed.
5. The prophet Isaiah prophesied that a conqueror named Cyrus would destroy the seemingly impregnable Babylon and conquer Egypt and most of the then known world. Isaiah said that the same man would allow the exiled Jews to return freely to their land without paying ransom (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1 and 45:13). Isaiah recorded this prophecy 150 years before Cyrus was born, 180 years before Cyrus did these things (Cyrus actually did all of them), and 80 years before the expulsion of the Jews.
6. Joshua prophesied that Jericho would be rebuilt by one man. He also said that this man's eldest son would die when construction began, and his younger son would die when it was completed (Joshua 6:26). Some five centuries later, his prophecy was fulfilled in the life and history of the Chiela Bethel family (1 Kings 16:33-34).
7. An unnamed prophet of God (probably Shimea) said that a future king of Judah named Josiah would collect the bones of all the mystical priests of King Jeroboam ("priests of the high places") of Israel and burn them on the altar on the day of Jeroboam (1 Kings 13:2 and 2 Books Kings 23:15-18). This event took place about 300 years after it was foretold.
8. Prophecies about the Babylonian captivity, about the expulsion of the Israelites, about the plagues that will befall them for turning away from God.
God through the prophets has been warning Israel of this for centuries - from Moses to the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel and other prophets.
The Babylonian captivity or exile refers to the period in Israel's history when the Jewish people were held captive by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II. This is an important period in biblical history because the captivity/expulsion of the Jews and the return and rebirth were the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. God used Babylon as an instrument to judge Israel for idolatry and rebellion against God. This period (607-586 BC) actually consisted of several distinct periods when the Jews were taken captive by Babylon. With successive revolts against Babylonian rule, Nebuchadnezzar led his army against Judah until they besieged Jerusalem for over a year, killing many and destroying the Jewish temple, capturing thousands of Jews, and reducing Jerusalem to ruins.
The Jews will return to Jerusalem after 70 years of exile, as the Bible prophesied. This prophecy was fulfilled in 537 B.C. when the Israelites returned to Israel with permission from the Persian king Cyrus and began rebuilding the city and temple. The return led by Ezra led to the rebirth of the Jewish people and the rebuilding of the Temple.
9. The prophecy of the Lord Jesus about siege of the Jerusalem . Also about the great tribulation that will come before the generation living in His time passes away.
While Jesus was walking out of the temple, the disciples approached him to show him the buildings of the temple. But He said to them: Do you see all this? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down. (Mt 24:1, Mk 13:2, Lk 21:6).
The prophecies were soon fulfilled by the Romans.
7. A LIVING WORD
The Bible is the Living Word of God, it is not only the letter itself that speaks for it, but also the Holy Spirit. God’s promises in the Bible are fulfilled in the lives of believers. These are, for example, testimonies of healings after prayer and the laying on of hands, spiritual releases after their expulsion of evil spirits from tormented people, gifts of the Holy Spirit (e.g. the gift of tongues accompanying the baptism of the Holy Spirit), a sense of forgiveness of sins after repentance, God’s love and peace after conversion and many other. Believers have many testimonies when reading God’s Word provides answers to their specific life problems.
8. MANY AUTHORS, WITNESSES, TESTIMONIALS
- Differences in accounts of individual events do not undermine credibility, but confirm it. Reliable eyewitness accounts always vary in detail. *When the police ask witnesses about the events – a completely coincident version is very suspicious.
- When something is incomprehensible in one version of events, reading another one clears our doubts – brings the missing piece to the puzzle. (so-called unintended statements supporting the testimony.) Example: Matt. 26:68 makes no sense without the explanation from Luke 22:64 about the veil.
- The main biblical events that these authors and witnesses relate to are consistent.
- Multiple eyewitnesses and women’s testimonies (considered unreliable at the time) are illogical as far as conspiracy theory is concerned.
- Witnesses to biblical events (especially the Resurrection of Jesus) were persecuted for their testimony.
- Investigators solve many crime cases from years ago by the method of analyzing the consistency of testimonies. Thanks to this method, they are able to determine whether the testimony emphasizes or omit something. This allows detectives to tell who is lying and who is telling the truth. The same methods prove the truth of the Bible.
9. INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE BIBLE
1. The Bible is the greatest bestseller in the history of all literature. The total number of copies sold is over 5 billion units.
2. The New Testament is translated and available in at least 1,515 languages.
3. Mathematician Ivan Panin devoted 40 years of his life to studying the Bible in terms of mathematics. He showed that the Bible in its original languages is a very cleverly arranged product of a mathematical super-intellect beyond human capacity for clever construction. He provided the Nobel Foundation with 43,000 pages of his studies with an attached statement that this is proof that the Bible is the Word of God.
4. For many centuries, ordinary people did not have free access to the Bible (God’s Word) – they could only hear some passages in Latin in the church. Reformation in the church (in the 16th century) opened the door to vernacular translations. Previously, only a few had access to it, plus you had to know Latin (translation Vulgate). Many people who fought for the dissemination of the Bible and its translation paid for it with persecution and with their lives. (John Wycliff, Martin Luther, Jan Hus)