Believers around the world often find themselves faced with unsuspecting challenges as they go about telling the lost of the good news of a savior who died to save us from our sins. One of those challenges being that many do not believe in the authenticity of the biblical scriptures.
Some believe that it's a book of fictitious fairy tales from a group of men who were good story tellers, others believe that these men had good intentions by writing stories that everyone can learn moral values from, but they do not consider it valuable past these thoughts.
Others yet, see it as a dangerous book that teaches men to “hate” other people. To shun or disregard those who find that being true to themselves is in opposition of all the “shall nots” in the biblical passages. They not only believe it should be banned but burned.
It can be even more difficult when you are left tongue tied and unable to give an answer on the credibility of the scriptures to be historical and factual events. What is even more dangerous, is if through the questioning of an unbeliever, one starts to doubt in his or her own faith.
For these reasons, we are going to look at the Authenticity of the passages and why millions before us believed them to be true.
1 Peter 3:15: But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
While all Christ followers believe that the words of the Bible were inspired by one author, it was not hand written by one author, but it is a collection of manuscripts written by many different authors from all walks of life. From those who were peasants, shepherds and farmers; to those who were politicians and tax collectors. Some were even written from jail cells and in exile.
The Bible was written in three different languages, Koine or Common Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. From what I could find, Moses penned the first words of the Pentateuch in about 1400 BC.
These manuscripts deal with everything that people today try to find within the views and ideas of other men, from creation to topics such as sex, marriage, bringing up children, murder, forgiveness, lying, damaging one's property, and many other things that deal with morality and civil interactions.
According to several sources, there are a few tests that are used to evaluate the authenticity of historical documents. They are as follows:
1. What type of document is it? Meaning, is it a will, deed, diary, personal letter, or in this case a historical record of past events.
2. Who wrote it? Was it an eyewitness account, a personal experience, or was it something that was told to the person who wrote it? In 2 Peter 1:16, Peter claims that they were eyewitnesses to the events in which they were writing about.
It is also important to note that AD, which stand for anno domini, did not start after the crucifixion of Christ. It actually started in 525CE (common era, which is how they used to separate centuries. Now we would say 525AD) by a monk named Dionysius Exiguus. As most historians, who have used many different ancient texts to arrive at their conclusion, have put the death of Christ around 28AD to 33AD. (Note that BC used to be BCE, meaning: before common era) This will be of importance when looking at the dates of the following historical manuscripts.
The new testament was written and compiled between 35AD and 95AD. So when these documents started circulating, there were others who had also witnessed these events who were still alive, and yet, no one refuted them. The new testament writers even named individuals and said to go ask them if it is true or not, ask them what they witnessed.
Remember, Christ had a huge following, both of those who believed he was the prophesied Messiah and those who did not. But even the religious leaders witnessed him heal people.
3. Is there any collaboration to the eye witnesses outside of the source we are looking at, aka. the Bible that back up the written accounts? Greek, Roman, and Jewish historians confirm the events, places, and the people written of in the Bible.
One of the famous Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus wrote that there was a man named Jesus whom the Roman government condemned to die, and that he was crucified outside of the city of Jerusalem. He also records that his followers had claimed that he had risen from the dead. Josephus had also affirmed who the leaders of the church were at that time and the events that took place after the crucifixion of Christ.
4. Is there physical evidence of the scriptures? The answer is a clear yes. Archaeological evidence has been stockpiling for decades in favor of the authenticity of the Christian scriptures. The good news is that not one find that has been unearthed has ever refuted the biblical texts.
5. Next we look at the chain of custody of the documents from the original writer. How well were the transcripts translated and do we have any older manuscripts to confirm the accuracy of the translation of a translation of a translation that we have today?
Let's look at the old testament, which was preserved by and came from the Jewish people. Historically, they were so meticulous about their history, that if there was one little error in a manuscript, they would burn the whole manuscript.
Those who wrote the history for the Jews were called Scribes. They took their duty very seriously. They seen themselves as having a responsibility before God, whom they revered so much that before they wrote his name, they would wash both their writing instrument and themselves.
They could only write the texts on hide from a clean animal, and their ink had to be a special formula and in black color only. Each word had to be read out loud as it was written. Their manuscripts were reviewed every thirty days for errors by being compared to their master text.
Until 1948, the oldest manuscripts of the old testament was from around 895AD.
In about 70AD, the Jews were attacked by the Romans who were dead set on destroying not only the Jews but everything about their culture. They burned their temple and everything they could find of their history. The Jews took their historical texts and hid them in earthenware vessels inside of the caves.
Then in 1947 a shepherd boy discovered scrolls inside of a cave West of the Dead Sea, also known as Qumran. These writings became well known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. When these writings, aka master texts, were compared to the scriptures we have today, they were a 99.9% accuracy. This is amazing when you think about how many copies have been made since these were hidden in the cave.
The few inaccuracies found such as in 1 Samuel 1:24, when Samuel had been weaned and his mother, Hannah had brought an offering to be sacrificed. In most biblical copies, it says that she brought 3 bulls, but in the Jewish Septuagint and the Dead sea scrolls, it says that she brought one three year old bull. All of these errors are seen as small and irrelevant, because they do not change the message.
So how about the new testament? In ancient writings, the number of copies is significant. Part of the preservation of texts from the ancient times were to have several copies.
Example: There are seven copies of Plato's Republic and Caesar had 10 copies of his writings. Then there is Homer's Iliad, which has 643 manuscripts. Out of the 15,000 lines of texts in Homer's Iliad, there are 750 that are in controversy over discrepancies.
Now we look at the new testament which has over 6,000 historical copies and over 24,000 modern copies. Out of the 20,000 lines of the new testament, there are only about 40 lines to be in any form of dispute. Out of those 40 lines that are in dispute, there is none associated to the actual doctrine of who Christ is, the fulfillment of prophecies, or prophecies given. This makes the new testament 99.9% accurate. Which is amazing for a text of its age that has been copied several times, over several decades.
6. We can also look at the events prophesied in the old testament. Some of these prophecies were hundreds of years before they happened. We can then read how these prophecies came to pass with 100% accuracy in the new testament. Christ also fulfilled perfectly all of the prophecies concerning the Jewish coming Messiah in the old testament. Most mathematicians say that the probability of Christ having fulfilled every prophecy is
impossible. The chances of winning the jackpot on a lottery ticket is much greater.
Luke 8:17: There is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be made known and brought to light.
As I have stated before, there has been a mountain of physical evidence confirming the Bible as a perfect record of historical facts. And while Archaeological evidence does not prove the authority behind the Bible, it does confirm hundreds of statements that were made, which gives more credibility to the authors of the scriptures. It would take a mountain of books to list all finds, but I will go through a dozen here with you.
1. Pilate Inscription: In an Italian sponsored dig in Caesarea, archaeologists uncovered a stone that had a Latin inscription on it that read, “Pontius Pilatus... Prefect of Judea”. He was mentioned as one of the rulers in scripture that Yeshua was taken to before his crucifixion.
2. Caiaphas' Ossuary: This was one of 12 ossuaries or bone boxes discovered in South Jerusalem in 1980. On one box was the inscription, “Joseph, son of Caiaphas”. Caiaphas was a high priest who presided over the arrest of Christ and was involved in his crucifixion.
This fits perfectly when we look at what the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus had written. He said that Joseph Caiaphas was the high priest at the time of Jesus. He served as a high priest from 18-36AD. (Jewish Antiquities 18:35-95) This was not uncommon in that time to write the name of the person and then the last name as being the family to whom they belonged to.
3. Joshua's Altar at MT Ebal: In the 1980s, an Israeli archaeologist named Adam Zertal from the University of Haifa discovered a large pile of stone with a series of walls bulging out from the edges of the pile. Other finds at the site such as thousands of potsherds dated the site to around the time of the exodus and Pharaoh Ramesses II.
After more than a year excavating the site and removing the stone pile, a large rectangular structure was found that had a ramp leading up to the sacrificial altar. He was stunned when a member of his team showed him a drawing of the bronze from the Temple in Jerusalem that was recorded in the Jewish Mishnah.
Zertal was known as a secularist and an agnostic but his find made him a believer in the historical accuracy of the Bible.
4. Pool of Siloam: Found during an excavation for a sewer in 2004 by Ir David Foundation workers in an area known as the City of David. The excavation for the sewer was stopped and Archaeologists were immediately notified when steps leading downward were discovered. It was created by Hezekiah and was fed by the waters from the Gihon Springs.
This Pool is spoken of in two passages of scripture. One being when Christ had commanded the blind man to go wash in the pool in John 9.
5. The Nazareth House: In 2008, a skeptic named Rene Salm wrote a book that he claimed destroyed Christianity once and for all. He claimed that Yeshua could not have existed because there was no town of Nazareth in the first century. In 2009, an archaeological discovery was announced that they had found a small house in Nazareth that dated to the first century. The house was only approximately 900 Square feet, but it was large enough to provide evidence of the Bible's accuracy.
6. Cyrus Cylinder: In 1879, Hormuzd Rassam found a small clay cylinder that was about 9 inches long. It now sits in the British Museum of Natural History. This clay cylinder was commissioned by king Cyrus II of Persia. Cyrus was a Persian king who reigned from 559-530BC. He had conquered the Median Empire, then the Lydian Empire, and eventually the Neo-Babylonian Empire.
This cylinder contained an inscription about his victory over the Babylonians and his policy towards the nations he had captured. The texts read, “I had returned to the cities on the other side of the Tigres, the sanctuaries which have been in ruins for a long time, the images which used to live there in and established for them permanent sanctuaries.”
This policy that was often referred to as Cyrus' Bill of Rights affirms the biblical accounts of the ruler's deeds. In which Cyrus decreed that the Temple in Jerusalem would be rebuilt and that all of the exiled Israelites who wished to join in the adventure had his permission and blessings to do so. This can be read in Ezra chapter 1.
7. The Oxyrhynchus Papyri: At the turn of the 19th century, a group of manuscripts were discovered at a dig site in upper Egypt that date back to the time of ancient Rome. Among these were hand written letters to family members, copies of Homer's Iliad, and even manuscripts of the biblical texts.
Out of the new testament manuscripts, the ones written on papyrus are the oldest and most reliable. The discovery of these manuscripts make up 40% of the new testament written on papyrus. This is important because one of the biggest arguments among skeptics and unbelievers for the new testament is that we do not have the original manuscripts, we only have copies. And because of this, it is possible that the scriptures were changed from the time the scripture were originally written to the time our earliest copies were written, thus making the bible a corrupted version of what we read today. Therefore, they claim that we have no way of knowing what the Bible originally said.
Yet, every ancient scriptural discovery found, only validates what is written in the Bible. For the past 100 plus years they have been translating these papyrus' finds and publishing them in books. There are so many manuscripts that they have only translated about 1% of all they have found, which has been published in 83 volumes of books.
8. Hezekiah's Tunnel: In 2 Chronicles 32:30, we read, “It was Hezekiah who blocked the upper outlet of the Spring of Gihon and channeled it down to the west side of the City of David.” This tunnel that run from the Gihon Springs to the Siloam Pool, was found under Jerusalem in 1880 by a group of young people.
9. The Taylor Prism; In 1830, a man by the name of Robert Taylor uncovered a 15inch tall clay cylinder that had 500 lines of text written on it. These texts were put there by a man named Sennacherib, who was King of Assyria from 720BC-683BC. On this clay cylinder was written, “As to Hezekiah, the Jew, he did not submit to my yoke... I laid siege to 46 of his strong cities, walled forts, and countless small villages in their vicinity, and conquered them by means of well stamped earth ramps and battering rams.”
When you compare this ancient writing of what Sennacherib wrote of himself to the scripture in 2 Chronicles 32:1, “Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came and entered Judah, he encamped against the fortified cities.” Exactly like the king of Assyria claimed he did.
10. The David Inscription: For years, it was claimed by skeptics and unbelievers that David was a made up character of the Jewish imagination because nothing historical could be found of him. But in 1993, in Tel Dan, there was a man working named Abraham Byron, who discovered an ancient stone and on the stone was an inscription of an Israelite King from the house of David.
11. The Moabite Stone: Found in 1868, its a black basalt stone that measures approximately three and a half feet tall and two feet wide. On that stone, Mesha, the king of Moab cut lines of text around 850BC. Mesha mentions that Omri was the king of Israel, who had oppressed Moab for many days, but then Mesha says that he saw his desire upon Omri's son and upon his house.” This confirms 1 Kings 16:21-28 that mentions Omri being the king of Israel and that after his death, his son Ahab took his place. And in 2 Kings 3:4-6, we read about how Mesha the king of Moab was a sheep breeder, and he regularly paid the king of Israel one hundred thousand lambs and the wool of one hundred thousand rams. But it happened that when the king of Israel, Ahab died, the king of the Moab rebelled against Israel.
This stone further list the Israelite tribe of Gad and the Israelite God YHWH. Another validation of the biblical accuracy.
12. The Hittite Text: Through the centuries, there have been skeptics who have claimed that many nations of the Bible never existed. One of those disputed nations was the nation of the Hittites. Then in 1906, Hugo Winckler was doing excavation in a Turkish city. There he found 10,000 clay tablets that documented the history of the Hittite nation. It was further discovered that the area where they found the tablets was the historical site of the Hittite capital.
GIANTS & SCIENCE
1 Timothy 4:1-2 : Now the Spirit expressly states that in later times some will abandon the faith to follow deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, influenced by the hypocrisy of liars, whose consciences are seared with a hot iron.
The evidence of a creator is all around us, even more so is the evidence that the scriptures have been preserved from the time they were written. There is so much out there that proves the accuracy of the passages, if people would take the time to look.
Many can research giants. Their origins are spoken of in Genesis 6 of biblical scripture, when the angelic beings came down and procreated with the human women. Scripture says that there were giants in the world before the flood and even after. We see a few battles where the Israelites had fought giants that were as tall as cedar trees.
Now when you look into the archaeology of these historical figures, you will find that there has been hundreds of stories by ancestors all over the the world. They have also uncovered bones of giants, along with large scale of weaponry.
These giants that have been unearthed are anywhere from 8 feet to nearly 20 feet! And that is just what they have found so far. Then there is the story of the modern day giant of Kandahar, which was killed by the US military in 2002 that was about 13 feet tall. Things we have not seen with our own eyes in decades, but the Bible spoke of their existence.
The Bible is correct on many science issues, such as:
1. Washing under running water to kill bacteria and germs; before we even knew they existed.
2. The life is in the blood, We know that the blood can show disease and it can give health. Take for instance, those who are anemic, regular blood transfusions save their lives.
3. The Bible speaks of quarantining the sick, so that disease doesn't spread.
4. Food Sanitation: The Bible gives a specific order of clean and unclean food. As we have learned more about the animals we consume through science, we now know that certain meats are more prone to make people sick. This is one reason why you could order a steak medium rare or rare at a restaurant, but you cannot order a pork chop the same way. The FDA requires that all pork is fully cooked.
We have also learned that part of this reasoning is that God had created the unclean animals to be trash compactors, and that they contain within their cells the chemicals to break down trash left by men, other animals, and dead decaying carcasses. This chemical that they have in their cells cannot be bred or cooked out of them and is a carcinogenic.
I should clarify that when scripture said that it was unclean, it meant that it could make you sick, it won't send you to the fiery pit. This and many other medical facts within the pages of the Bible show us what was miraculously revealed before science was advanced enough to tell us.
As we have seen, there is a lot of evidence that supports the scriptures as being accurate and uncorrupted. There are thousands of artifacts that have been discovered; every single ancient clay tablet or cylinder or papyrus that contains the words of scripture only validates its authenticity. Archaeology discoveries of every city, tribe, nation, and ruler has also been accurate.
When the ancient city of Sodom and Gomorrah were found, there was evidence of it being consumed by fire and brimstone, just as the scriptures had stated. Skeletons of giants and their weapons have been discovered, which are also spoken of in the scriptures. There is scientific evidence that was never known of until modern science was developed enough that we could see these things under a microscope, and we are still learning new things every day.
There were prophecies that were fulfilled and those that are in the moment, being fulfilled.
Once one has carefully done the research, examined the evidence against and for the scriptures, then believing the Bible to be inaccurate or fallible becomes a choice and not one made on a solid foundation of observing all the evidence.
In fact, the evidence of a creator is all around us, in every cell, and in every living creature.