By Barrett Vanlandingham
The Bible is the most reliable history book ever written. There is plenty of support from ancient writings outside of the Bible and from archaeological digs that have proven names and places that skeptics thought did not exist. Still, some critics doubt the accuracy of the Bible, while embracing other ancient writings that are much more scarce and even have more problems with their content.
There are 24,633 ancient manuscripts (handwritten copies) of the New Testament in Greek (5,309) and many other languages (19,324).
Julius Caesar and Plato have only 10 and 7 surviving copies, respectively, of their works. There are 643 ancient copies of the mythical poetry “Homer’s Iliad.”
The oldest New Testament manuscript is a portion of the Gospel of John dating back to 125 A.D. That’s likely only 25 years after John penned the original! This lessens the chance of any textual corruption. That’s a far cry better than the 1,000 to 1,300 years separating the copies of the other mentioned writings from their originals.
The New Testament has an extremely small percentage of textual problems. For instance, only one-half of one-percent of its words are even in doubt for any reason. For instance, some words are thought to have been misspelled in some copies versus others. Also, there are a few sentences that appear in some manuscripts that do not in others. It is important to note that none of the differences in content changes the Bible’s meaning, because the Christian doctrine found in the Bible is backed up in multiple other passages.
The consistent message of the Bible from cover to cover is a great source of confidence for Christians today. In fact, if we were to turn back time 2,000 years, first century Christians would likely be heard saying the same thing. After all, they believed the Bible enough to undergo severe persecution or even die for it.
Many doubters have tried to prove the Bible unreliable. But in the end, many have wound up converting themselves to Christianity. Josh McDowell’s “Evidence That Demands a Verdict” is a great resource for proving the Bible’s reliability, as is Brad Harrub’s book “Convicted,” or “The Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel. Or if you prefer the Internet, here are a couple of places to start: 1) www.s8int.com 2) www.apologeticspress.org
Our culture as a whole frequently changes its mind on a variety of moral and social issues. But Christians can be comforted in the fact that the message of the Bible does not change. In the end, it is God’s word in comparison to our obedience that will determine where we spend eternity. Thanks be to God for his amazing grace that shows us the way. Have a blessed week!
Reach Barrett Vanlandingham at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ at (918) 478-2222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.