The Bible, can we take it at it’s word? Can a Christian look at the message of the Bible and still believe? The evidence justifies our faith and the evidence is overwhelming.
How many of you have ever worked for, been with or have a friend that has lied to you on multiple occasions? We’ve all known someone like this at one point in our lives. There are “exaggerations” that people do, a car is better than it is, the fish was larger than a whale and so forth. No, I’m not talking about exaggerations, I’m talking about lies. What happens when a person tells you a lie over and over again? I’ll tell you what happens; you begin to doubt their word. Even if the person is telling you the truth, you check it out for yourself because their word has been tainted.
People are one thing, but what about God. Does God lie? Any Christian worth their weight in salt would instantly say “absolutely not! God never lies.” We say this because of what the Bible says “God doesn’t lie” (Numbers 23:19).
But what if the Bible is in error? What if the whole thing is just another book of antiquity? If the Bible is faulty, then the information within its numerous pages is suspect. If it’s suspect, then what we know about God, Jesus, Heaven, Hell and all the rest is in flux and we can’t trust it, much like the liars we’ve all come to know.
Where do we get our information about God and everything else; the Bible, of course, and the Bible is under more attack these days than ever before. There are individuals who have written books about the contradictions of the Bible. Lectures have touched upon the “fact” that how the Bible was put together was anything but inspired. Many see parts of the Bible as accurate, but there might be some instances within its pages where the translation may have been “messed up” throughout the ages. Even God-fearing Christians use other materials to “fill in the gaps” where the Bible doesn’t speak. Yes, the Bible is just another book, something to have on the shelf, but nothing to take seriously because It’s in error.
Nothing could be further than the truth,
We are going to take a look at the Bible and see what went into its creation. This may seem like we are really going back to the basics but we are coming up on hard times in this world and if we can’t trust God’s Will for us found within the pages of this book, then, within our minds, our faith is based on sand. Let’s begin with how the Bible came into existence.
How the Bible was put together
The Old Testament
The Old Testament was seen as canonized very early and the final canonization occurring around 250 A.D. by the vast majority of Hebrew scholars. There was some debate over the “hidden books” (the Apocrypha), but by 250, most scholars discounted the books as good historical documents, but not of the same caliber as the Old Testament.
The New Testament
1For the New Testament, the process of the recognition and collection began in the first centuries of the Christian church. Very early on, some of the New Testament books were being recognized. Paul considered Luke’s writings to be as authoritative as the Old Testament (1 Timothy 5:18; see also Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7). Peter recognized Paul’s writings as Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16). Some of the books of the New Testament were being circulated among the churches (Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27). Clement of Rome mentioned at least eight New Testament books (A.D. 95). Ignatius of Antioch acknowledged about seven books (A.D. 115). Polycarp, a disciple of John the apostle, acknowledged 15 books (A.D. 108). Later, Irenaeus mentioned 21 books (A.D. 185). Hippolytus recognized 22 books (A.D. 170-235). The New Testament books receiving the most controversy were Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 John, and 3 John.
The first “canon” was the Muratorian Canon, which was compiled in AD 170. The Muratorian Canon included all of the New Testament books except Hebrews, James, and 3 John. In AD 363, the Council of Laodicea stated that only the Old Testament (along with one book of the Apocrypha) and 26 books of the New Testament (everything but Revelation) were canonical and to be read in the churches. The Council of Hippo (AD 393) and the Council of Carthage (AD 397) also affirmed the same 27 books as authoritative.
The councils followed something similar to the following principles to determine whether a New Testament book was truly inspired by the Holy Spirit: 1) Was the author an apostle or have a close connection with an apostle? 2) Is the book being accepted by the body of Christ at large? 3) Did the book contain consistency of doctrine and orthodox teaching? 4) Did the book bear evidence of high moral and spiritual values that would reflect a work of the Holy Spirit?
How was the Bible copied?
This is the spot where a skeptic, either the Christian or non-believer, would stand up and shout “I knew it, the Bible was copied! That’s why I don’t trust it, humans copied it and that’s why it has errors!” Well, it was copied, but it would help to understand the coping process to put that to rest.
2Jewish scribes were held in high esteem because of the seriousness of copying God’s Word. Jewish tradition demanded a precise method of preparing themselves, preparing the materials, and the copying process; failure to adhere to God’s standard of copying without error had serious consequences. The copying of any error was considered a sin. In recognition of this, a process was developed and codified in the Hebrew Talmud. The following is just a sample of the regulations.
* There was a specific way to prepare and dedicate the manuscript material so that it would be pure to receive God’s Word.
* There was special and dedicated black ink for copying Scripture.
* Each word was read alone and aloud from an authentic copy before it was written.
* When the word GOD was encountered, the scribe’s pen had to be wiped clean. When YHWY was encountered, the scribe had to wash his body before he could write it.
* Each letter and word had a certain distance from each other and could not touch.
* Each letter and word was counted.
* Each column of text could only permit 48-60 lines.
* Each page could only permit a certain number of letters and words.
* Each page was rigorously checked (in addition to counting, finding the beginning, mid-point, and ending letter, etc.)
* Any mistake on a page, the page was condemned.
* 3 mistakes on one page condemned the whole manuscript.
As you can see, the process was a lot more extensive than our standards of today. The Bible was not copied like the game of “Telephone” where the message gets more twisted through each person. The same process.
In its original form, Hebrew was a language of consonants. There were no written vowels. Vowel sounds were spoken, but they were not written down. As the result, a verse would be written like this:
ll scrptr s nsprd by Gd nd prftbl fr tchng, fr rprf, fr crrctn, fr trnng n rghtsnss.
[Translated: All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. (2 Tim 3:16)]
For centuries, a group of Jewish scribes, the Masoretes passed the proper vowel pronunciation orally, from generation to generation, as carefully as they maintained the written record. Around 700 AD, they developed a set of vowel points, tiny markings above and below the Hebrew characters, to show how each word should be pronounced.
Many of the Jewish regulations were designed to catch copying errors at the level of the scribe; safeguards were put into place to catch errors that may have been missed by the scribe and erroneously authenticated. According to Jewish tradition:
“Before his death, Moses wrote 13 Torah Scrolls. Twelve of these were distributed to each of the 12 Tribes. The 13th was placed in the Ark of the Covenant (with the Tablets). If anyone would come and attempt to rewrite or falsify the Torah, the one in the Ark would “testify” against him. (likewise, if he had access to the scroll in the Ark and tried to falsify it, the distributed copies would “testify” against him.)” Midrash (Devarim Rabba 9:4).
Note: The Midrash, developed between the 2nd and 11th centuries, was an in depth rabbinical study of the interpretation of the Old Testament writings (analogous to a Bible Commentary).
After the ark disappeared, the authentic proof text was kept in Temple of Jerusalem. Upon destruction of the temple in 70 AD, Jewish scribes developed a system to periodically and globally check and eliminate scribal errors. The lack of errors of these scribal copies attest to the phenomenal integrity and tradition of preserving God’s Word. This process still exists today. How do you handle the Word?
Over the past century and a half, the field of Archeology has exploded. Because of this, many locations and events stated in the Bible that were once seen as fiction have been verified by independent sources and cultures across the globe.
- 3A Common Flood Story. Not just the Hebrews (Gen. 6–8), but Mesopotamians, Egyptians, and Greeks all report a flood in primordial times. A Sumerian king list from c. 2100 BC divides itself into two categories: those kings who ruled before a great flood and those who ruled after it. One of the earliest examples of Sumero-Akkadian-Babylonian literature, the Gilgamesh Epic, describes a great flood sent as punishment by the gods, with humanity saved only when the pious Utnapishtim (AKA, “the Mesopotamian Noah”) builds a ship and saves the animal world thereon. A later Greek counterpart, the story of Deucalion and Phyrra, tells of a couple who survived a great flood sent by an angry Zeus. Taking refuge atop Mount Parnassus (AKA, “the Greek Ararat”), they supposedly repopulated the earth by heaving stones behind them that sprang into human beings.
- The Code of Hammurabi. This seven-foot black diorite stele, discovered at Susa and presently located in the Louvre museum, contains 282 engraved laws of Babylonian King Hammurabi (fl. 1750 BC). The common basis for this law code is the lex talionis (“the law of the tooth”), showing that there was a common Semitic law of retribution in the ancient Near East, which is clearly reflected in the Pentateuch. Exodus 21:23–25, for example, reads: “But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot…” (niv).
- The Nuzi Tablets. The some 20,000 cuneiform clay tablets discovered at the ruins of Nuzi, east of the Tigris River and datable to c. 1500 BC, reveal institutions, practices, and customs remarkably congruent to those found in Genesis. These tablets include treaties, marriage arrangements, rules regarding inheritance, adoption, and the like.
- The Existence of Hittites. Genesis 23 reports that Abraham buried Sarah in the Cave of Machpelah, which he purchased from Ephron the Hittite. Second Samuel 11 tells of David’s adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. A century ago the Hittites were unknown outside of the Old Testament, and critics claimed that they were a figment of biblical imagination. In 1906, however, archaeologists digging east of Ankara, Turkey, discovered the ruins of Hattusas, the ancient Hittite capital at what is today called Boghazkoy, as well as its vast collection of Hittite historical records, which showed an empire flourishing in the mid-second millennium BC. This critical challenge, among many others, was immediately proved worthless — a pattern that would often be repeated in the decades to come.
- The Merneptah Stele. A seven-foot slab engraved with hieroglyphics, also called the Israel Stele, boasts of the Egyptian pharaoh’s conquest of Libyans and peoples in Palestine, including the Israelites: “Israel — his seed is not.” This is the earliest reference to Israel in nonbiblical sources and demonstrates that, as of c. 1230 BC, the Hebrews were already living in the Promised Land.
- Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. In addition to Jericho, places such as Haran, Hazor, Dan, Megiddo, Shechem, Samaria, Shiloh, Gezer, Gibeah, Beth Shemesh, Beth Shean, Beersheba, Lachish, and many other urban sites have been excavated, quite apart from such larger and obvious locations as Jerusalem or Babylon. Such geographical markers are extremely significant in demonstrating that fact, not fantasy, is intended in the Old Testament historical narratives; otherwise, the specificity regarding these urban sites would have been replaced by “Once upon a time” narratives with only hazy geographical parameters, if any.
- Israel’s enemies in the Hebrew Bible likewise are not contrived but solidly historical. Among the most dangerous of these were the Philistines, the people after whom Palestine itself would be named. Their earliest depiction is on the Temple of Rameses III at Thebes, c. 1150 BC, as “peoples of the sea” who invaded the Delta area and later the coastal plain of Canaan. The Pentapolis (five cities) they established — namely Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gaza, Gath, and Ekron — have all been excavated, at least in part, and some remain cities to this day. Such precise urban evidence measures favorably when compared with the geographical sites claimed in the holy books of other religious systems, which often have no basis whatever in reality.
- Shishak’s Invasion of Judah. First Kings 14 and 2 Chronicles 12 tell of Pharaoh Shishak’s conquest of Judah in the fifth year of the reign of King Rehoboam, the brainless son of Solomon, and how Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem was robbed of its treasures on that occasion. This victory is also commemorated in hieroglyphic wall carvings on the Temple of Amon at Thebes.
- The Moabite Stone. Second Kings 3 reports that Mesha, the king of Moab, rebelled against the king of Israel following the death of Ahab. A three-foot stone slab, also called the Mesha Stele, confirms the revolt by claiming triumph over Ahab’s family, c. 850 BC, and that Israel had “perished forever.”
- Obelisk of Shalmaneser III. In 2 Kings 9–10, Jehu is mentioned as King of Israel (841–814 BC). That the growing power of Assyria was already encroaching on the northern kings prior to their ultimate conquest in 722 BC is demonstrated by a six-and-a-half-foot black obelisk discovered in the ruins of the palace at Nimrud in 1846. On it, Jehu is shown kneeling before Shalmaneser III and offering tribute to the Assyrian king, the only relief we have to date of a Hebrew monarch.
- Burial Plaque of King Uzziah. Down in Judah, King Uzziah ruled from 792 to 740 BC, a contemporary of Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah. Like Solomon, he began well and ended badly. In 2 Chronicles 26 his sin is recorded, which resulted in his being struck with leprosy later in life. When Uzziah died, he was interred in a “field of burial that belonged to the kings.” His stone burial plaque has been discovered on the Mount of Olives, and it reads: “Here, the bones of Uzziah, King of Judah, were brought. Do not open.”
- Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. King Hezekiah of Judah ruled from 721 to 686 BC. Fearing a siege by the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, Hezekiah preserved Jerusalem’s water supply by cutting a tunnel through 1,750 feet of solid rock from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam inside the city walls (2 Kings 20; 2 Chron. 32). At the Siloam end of the tunnel, an inscription, presently in the archaeological museum at Istanbul, Turkey, celebrates this remarkable accomplishment. The tunnel is probably the only biblical site that has not changed its appearance in 2,700 years.
- The Sennacherib Prism. After having conquered the 10 northern tribes of Israel, the Assyrians moved southward to do the same to Judah (2 Kings 18–19). The prophet Isaiah, however, told Hezekiah that God would protect Judah and Jerusalem against Sennacherib (2 Chron. 32; Isa. 36–37). Assyrian records virtually confirm this. The cuneiform on a hexagonal, 15-inch baked clay prism found at the Assyrian capital of Nineveh describes Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah in 701 BC in which it claims that the Assyrian king shut Hezekiah inside Jerusalem “like a caged bird.” Like the biblical record, however, it does not state that he conquered Jerusalem, which the prism certainly would have done had this been the case. The Assyrians, in fact, bypassed Jerusalem on their way to Egypt, and the city would not fall until the time of Nebuchadnezzar and the Neo-Babylonians in 586 BC. Sennacherib himself returned to Nineveh where his own sons murdered him.
Many cite the Bible as being inaccurate with allocations that what it says within its pages are scientifically impossible. Listed below is the science of the Bible, of which were stated within it’s pages first and either discovered, or rediscovered later.
- 4Only in recent years has science discovered that everything we see is composed of invisible atoms. Here, Scripture tells us that the “things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”
- Medical science has only recently discovered that blood-clotting in a newborn reaches its peak on the eighth day, then drops. The Bible consistently says that a baby must be circumcised on the eighth day.
- At a time when it was believed that the earth sat on a large animal or a giant (1500 B.C.), the Bible spoke of the earth’s free float in space: “He…hangs the earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7).
- The prophet Isaiah also tells us that the earth is round: “It is he that sits upon the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22). This is not a reference to a flat disk, as some skeptic maintain, but to a sphere. Secular man discovered this 2,400 years later. At a time when science believed that the earth was flat, is was the Scriptures that inspired Christopher Columbus to sail around the world (see Proverbs 3:6 footnote).
- God told Job in 1500 B.C.: “Can you send lightnings, that they may go, and say to you, Here we are?” (Job 38:35). The Bible here is making what appears to be a scientifically ludicrous statement—that light can be sent, and then manifest itself in speech. But did you know that radio waves travel at the speed of light? This is why you can have instantaneous wireless communication with someone on the other side of the earth. Science didn’t discover this until 1864 when “British scientist James Clerk Maxwell suggested that electricity and light waves were two forms of the same thing” (Modern Century Illustrated Encyclopedia).
- Job 38:19 asks, “Where is the way where light dwells?” Modern man has only recently discovered that light (electromagnetic radiation) has a “way,” traveling at 186,000 miles per second.
- Science has discovered that stars emit radio waves, which are received on earth as a high pitch. God mentioned this in Job 38:7: “When the morning stars sang together…”
- “Most cosmologists (scientists who study the structures and evolution of the universe) agree that the Genesis account of creation, in imagining an initial void, may be uncannily close to the truth” (Time, Dec. 1976).
- Solomon described a “cycle” of air currents two thousand years before scientists “discovered” them. “The wind goes toward the south, and turns about unto the north; it whirls about continually, and the wind returns again according to his circuits” (Ecclesiastes 1:6).
- Science expresses the universe in five terms: time, space, matter, power, and motion. Genesis 1:1,2 revealed such truths to the Hebrews in 1450 B.C.: “In the beginning [time] God created [power] the heaven [space] and the earth [matter] . . . And the Spirit of God moved [motion] upon the face of the waters.” The first thing God tells man is that He controls of all aspects of the universe.
- The great biological truth concerning the importance of blood in our body’s mechanism has been fully comprehended only in recent years. Up until 120 years ago, sick people were “bled,” and many died because of the practice. If you lose your blood, you lose your life. Yet Leviticus 17:11, written 3,000 years ago, declared that blood is the source of life: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.”
- All things were made by Him (see John 1:3), including dinosaurs. Why then did the dinosaur disappear? The answer may be in Job 40:15–24. In this passage, God speaks about a great creature called “behemoth.” Some commentators think this was a hippopotamus. However, the hippo’s tail isn’t like a large tree, but a small twig. Following are the characteristics of this huge animal: It was the largest of all the creatures God made; was plant-eating (herbivorous); had its strength in its hips and a tail like a large tree. It had very strong bones, lived among the trees, drank massive amounts of water, and was not disturbed by a raging river. He appears impervious to attack because his nose could pierce through snares, but Scripture says, “He that made him can make his sword to approach unto him.” In other words, God caused this, the largest of all the creatures He had made, to become extinct.
- Encyclopedia Britannica documents that in 1845, a young doctor in Vienna named Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis was horrified at the terrible death rate of women who gave birth in hospitals. As many as 30 percent died after giving birth. Semmelweis noted that doctors would examine the bodies of patients who died, then, without washing their hands, go straight to the next ward and examine expectant mothers. This was their normal practice, because the presence of microscopic diseases was unknown. Semmelweis insisted that doctors wash their hands before examinations, and the death rate immediately dropped to 2 percent. Look at the specific instructions God gave His people for when they encounter disease: “And when he that has an issue is cleansed of his issue; then he shall number to himself even days for his cleansing, and wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in running water, and shall be clean” (Leviticus 15:13). Until recent years, doctors washed their hands in a bowl of water, leaving invisible germs on their hands. However, the Bible says specifically to wash hands under “running water.”
- Luke 17:34–36 says the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will occur while some are asleep at night and others are working at daytime activities in the field. This is a clear indication of a revolving earth, with day and night at the same time.
- “During the devastating Black Death of the fourteenth century, patients who were sick or dead were kept in the same rooms as the rest of the family. People often wondered why the disease was affecting so many people at one time. They attributed these epidemics to ‘bad air’ or ‘evil spirits.’ However, careful attention to the medical commands of God as revealed in Leviticus would have saved untold millions of lives. Arturo Castiglione wrote about the overwhelming importance of this biblical medical law: ‘The laws against leprosyin Leviticus 13 may be regarded as the first model of sanitary legislation’ (A History of Medicine).” Grant R. Jeffery, The Signature of God With all these truths revealed in Scripture,how could a thinking person deny that the Bible is supernatural in origin? There is no other book in any of the world’s religions (Vedas, Bhagavad-Gita, Koran, Book of Mormon, etc.) that contains scientific truth. In fact, they contain statements that are clearly unscientific. Hank Hanegraaff said, “Faith in Christ is not some blind leap into a dark chasm, but a faith based on established evidence.”
With all of this evidence detailing the authenticity of the Bible, it is hard pressed for any skeptic to offer up a reason for you to not believe, much less for you or I to convince ourselves that the Bible is just another book. We are coming up on hard times and now, more than ever, we must have faith that what God says is truth, or as Hank Hanegraaff said, “”Faith in Christ is not some blind leap into a dark chasm, but a faith based on established evidence.”
How and when was the canon of the Bible put together?
GotQuestions.org. (2016). How and when was the canon of the Bible put together?. [online] Available at: http://www.gotquestions.org/canon-Bible.html [Accessed 2 Jun. 2016].
A closer look into Jewish scribal customs…
Helpmewithbiblestudy.org. (2016). A closer look into Jewish scribal customs… . [online] Available at: http://helpmewithbiblestudy.org/5Bible/TransALookJewishScribalCustoms.aspx [Accessed 2 Jun. 2016].
Biblical Archaeology: Factual Evidence to Support the Historicity of the Bible –
Christian Research Institute. Christian Research Institute. (2016). Biblical Archaeology: Factual Evidence to Support the Historicity of the Bible – Christian Research Institute. [online] Available at: http://www.equip.org/article/biblical-archaeology-factual-evidence-to-support-the-historicity-of-the-bible/ [Accessed 2 Jun. 2016].
The Evidence Bible com.
(2016). The Evidence Bible. [online] Available at: https://www.livingwaters.com/witnessingtool/scientificfactsintheBible.shtml [Accessed 2 Jun. 2016].