|Series Theme: Can I Believe the Bible|
Title: 4. Why we can trust the Bible
A series that explains what the Bible is and why we can trust it.
We hope that as you read you will come to see that any intelligent person has good cause to trust and believe the Bible as we have it today.
In the first part of this page we will repeat a little, for the sake of clarity, what you will find on the "What is the Bible?" page in this series
How did it come to be written?
Subsequently scribes obviously wrote down things that were happening and these were formed into the historical books.
key writers were king David and king Solomon, and then a variety of
The letters came to be written as the travelling church leaders communicated with friends and with churches they had been to.
The Revelation was written by the apostle John recording a vision he had received.
Full of mistakes?
So why is that? To answer that we have to consider the Old and New Testaments separately.
A Reliable Old Testament?
When copying, only the experts could copy and the utmost care had to be taken and if there was the slightest mistake the manuscript had to be destroyed completely.
Similarly when being used, if the manuscript became disfigured it had to be destroyed so there was absolutely no possibility of a false record being conveyed. The integrity of the Old Testament documents was the highest possible.
A Reliable New Testament?
It is estimated that we have over 24,000 (!) manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament that date from before AD350.
When you compare this with other ancient writings which scholars accept, it is staggering because for the best of ancient classical writings there are rarely more than 20 copies, more often only 7 or 8.
When we compare all these New Testament manuscripts we find an amazing uniformity.
Apart from the actual New Testament writings, there are also many other fragments of documents by early Christian writers, so many that one scholar wrote that the quotations of the New Testament scriptures quoted in the works of early Christian writers "are so extensive that the New Testament could virtually be reconstructed from them without the use of the actual New Testament manuscripts".
Why were these particular writings included?
Up until then they had been happy to use the collection of what we now call the Old Testament writings, having been passed down for many, many centuries. With the break up of the nation in AD70 it was felt a formalised list of the books be decided upon.
The leaders and scholars only included a book in the canon if:
Similarly the New Testament canon was acknowledged in the fourth century AD, in order to counter heresies and spurious writings.
the early church the above rules applied, as well as requiring that
the key leaders (the apostles) in the first century had agreed and approved
any writing (and there were many) that did not seem to be touched by
the inspiration of God, or was in any way questionable, was excluded
from the canon.
What we have today is therefore, a remarkably accurate representation of the original writings of the Scriptures and where there is doubt over words, that is made obvious.
If we have questions about the Scriptures, they need not be over the reliability of the documentation!
Why so many Bibles?
We've said that the Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek and therefore, for our use today, it has to be translated into English.
an ancient language two thousand years old is not always easy, and so
different translators may use different English words to try to convey
the same meaning.
Scholars of the Bible may learn the original languages and read it in the original. For most of us however, we don't need to go to those lengths. Although there are a number of different translations that came out last century the meaning is basically the same.
may be in older English, some with formal language, some with informal
as the translators have sought to provide easy reading for different
levels of literacy. Some
versions are paraphrases which are free renderings that don't seek to
convey the exact words, but merely the sense of the sentence to give
a feel of the overall meaning.
The New International Version is one of the most commonly used modern versions today and one of the newest paraphrase versions is the called "The Message".
So what have we covered?
In other words, what we have in the Bible is almost exactly as it was originally written, and we can trust it!
What we have to do next is see what it says and consider can we trust what it is saying to us as we live at the beginning of the twenty first century.