The Bible – Can We Believe It?
Biblia (Greek for ‘books’) = Bible
Testament – covenant or will
Canon – “measuring rod” – books of the Bible accepted as Holy Inspired Word of God
Manuscript – copy of original
The Bible is historically & archaeologically accurate - “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference.” Nelson Glueck – Jewish archaeologist
Translation – back to earliest manuscripts and original languages
Paraphrase – re-wording of an existing translation
All major translations have teams of scholars that begin with original language manuscripts. See the preface in most Bibles for the methods used by these teams to assure accurate translations.
Pentateuch – (Torah) 1st five books of Old Testament – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
Septuagint – translation of OT from Hebrew into Greek ~250BC by Jewish scholars
Vulgate – translation of OT & NT into Latin ~400AD by Jerome
Apocrypha – ‘hidden’ books – there are OT & NT Apocrypha – books written outside of timeframe of accepted canonized books – OT Apocrypha accepted as canon by the Roman Catholic Church since Council of Trent in 1545AD.
Almost all early church writers (80AD to 400AD), although they state that the Apocrypha is useful for reference and reading, they deny the Holy inspiration and canonicity of the OT & NT Apocrypha – almost every book of the OT is referred to or quoted from by Jesus & the Apostles in the NT, but never from the Apocrypha.
No Apocryphal book written after Apostolic time has ever been accepted as canonical.
Original languages of the Bible – OT – Hebrew & Aramaic NT – Greek
Masoretic – protected OT Hebrew text by the Jewish Scribes (the Masoretes) earliest manuscripts date to
Scribal rules for copying manuscripts were detailed and minute to assure accurate copies of Scripture.
Dead Sea Scrolls – discovered in 1947 - date to ~200BC – parts or all of every OT book except the book of Esther are contained in the Dead Sea Scrolls & are virtually identical to 10th century AD Masoretic text
Earliest NT manuscripts – 4th century AD - over 5000 Greek manuscripts in existence today – over 25,000 Greek, Latin, and Syriac language manuscripts. The NT has more manuscript evidence than any other book in history.
Bible was written over a period of ~1500 years from Moses, ~1400BC, to the Apostle John ~90AD.
Over 40 different writers – most of who didn’t live at the same time, most of whom never even met each other
One Author Who can see beyond time – has written and preserved the Bible for over 3000 years – One message from Genesis to Revelation – harmony from Genesis to Revelation – the NT was a fulfillment of the OT – the NT neither negates nor contradicts anything in the OT. Without the OT, we can’t fully understand the NT. Without the NT, the OT remains incomplete.
Original writing materials – papyrus (reedy plant flattened, pressed together & dried), parchment (processed animal skins), vellum (processed calf skin)
Original forms – scroll (one long sheet of material wound around a handle), codex (individual sheets bound on one side like today’s books)
The OT canon was already set about 2 centuries before Christ – it was the same as we have today. This is evidenced by Jewish scholars Philo, before the time of Christ, and Josephus, after the time of Christ
In the writings of the early church fathers, we can follow the canon & the Gospel message of the NT from Apostolic times through to the manuscript evidence. (4th century AD, used for today’s translations) The canon and the Gospel message have always been the same as we have today.
Public reading of Scripture – Deuteronomy 31: 9-13 – Joshua 8: 32-35 – Nehemiah 8: 1-18 –
Luke 4: 16-21 -- I Timothy 4: 13 – I Thessalonians 5: 27 – Colossians 4: 16 Importance? Few copies of Scripture were available, much illiteracy, so, public reading of Scripture in synagogues & churches assured the integrity of the heard readings – a custom instituted by God Himself, followed from Moses to Jesus to the Apostles to the early church. We see evidence of this custom throughout the Bible, over a 2000 year period.
The written NT - Peter verifies that the letters of Paul were already carrying same weight as other Scripture (meaning the OT) (II Peter 3: 15-16)
Paul constantly refers to his written letters that were circulated between the early churches.
John witnessed these events, then he wrote down what he witnessed (John 21: 24)
Early on, we have evidence that witnessed events were committed to written text and handled with reverence.
The Message of the NT – from Jesus to the Apostles, we see the importance they placed on the accurate transmission of the Gospel message.
Jesus prays that future recipients “believe in Me through their (Apostles’) message” (John 17: 20-21).
Peter, in Jerusalem, at the formation of the first church, lays out specific foundational beliefs of Christianity, and they “accepted his message”. Luke writes down the account (Acts 2).
Paul, within two years of Christ’s resurrection, had received the foundational tenets of the Christian faith and is passing the message on to others – all corroborated by the evidence of eye witnesses! (I Corinthians 15: 1-11)
Paul also warns recipients of his letters against accepting any other message except the one preached by the Apostles. (II Corinthians 11: 4 & Galatians 1: 8-12)
Peter speaks of preaching with integrity the message that they received. He states that his message is nothing less than the fulfillment of the OT. He also states that this message is corroborated by eye witness accounts.
(I Peter 1: 10-12 & 25 – I Peter 1: 17-24 – II Peter 1: 16-21)
John says that the events that the Apostles witnessed and the message that the Apostles received is the same as what is being passed on to the recipients of his letter. (I John 1: 1-5)
Paul establishes the requirements for passing on and assuring the integrity of the message of the Gospel to the early church (Titus 1: 5-8)
The Bible is the very Word of God. It was authored by God, written down by men inspired by God’s Holy Spirit. (II Peter 1: 20-21)
“All Scripture is God-breathed” and useful for a variety of purposes. (II Timothy 3: 16-17)
“The Word of God is living and active.” It “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4: 12)
It is eternal. (John 1: 1)
His Word will either save, (John 8: 51) (I Peter 1: 23) or condemn (John 12: 48) every person.
His Word is truth. (John 17: 17)
It is the basis for our faith. (Romans 10: 17)
God’s word cleanses us. (Ephesians 5: 25-27)
It protects us, because it is the “sword of the Spirit.” (Ephesians 6: 17)
Jesus Christ IS the Word of God. (Revelation 19: 13)
Let the Word “dwell in you richly.” (Colossians 3: 16)