How Do We Know The Bible Is True
The best-selling book in history remains one of the most controversial. Revered by Christians as God’s holy Word, the Bible spans centuries of history, contains a variety of literary styles and culminates in the person of Jesus Christ. But how do we know the Bible is true? Isn’t it just a collection of stories and myths? Even if it contains some history, is there any way we can trust it completely?
Earley: How True Is The Bible
By Special to The Harlan Enterprise
Every three or four years there is a new archeological find that people say will prove the Bible is wrong. People will come up to me and ask, Are you worried that this will cause problems to continue to believe in the truth of the Bible? I always answer, No. I have been answering No for decades because every discovery has proven to be a forgery, not what they thought it was, and often actually turns out to prove the truth of scripture one more time. The threat to the Bible always goes away with a lot less fanfare than when it became the news of the day!!! In contrast, there are dozens of major archeological finds every year that support what is written in scripture. We rarely hear about any of these.
It used to be that the skeptics would declare that these prophecies of a coming Messiah were written after Jesus was born, and that the book of Isaiah was written in parts and wasnt finished until decades after Jesus had died. Then the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered and amongst them the Great Isaiah Scroll was found. It was an intact version of the entire book of Isaiah and scholars agree it was from 125 BC or even earlier. It is by far the oldest scroll from the Bible ever discovered, and it is in great condition.
To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, see www.lagrangepres.org.
What Does The Bible Claim
Although archaeology has verified many biblical accounts, the Bible does not claim to be a history book. The apostle Paul wrote that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God .
The Greek word theopneustos literally means God-breathed, indicating that all Scripture is literally the Word of God! Although God has used human beings to convey His words , those words still originate from Him.
The term Scripture includes what we call the Old Testamentwhich is what was available when Paul wrote 2 Timothy 3:16and also what we call the New Testamentwhich was assembled later and includes Pauls epistles and other books. In other words, the whole Bible is the Word of God.
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Knowlege And The Bible
Sometimes Christians quote the Bible to prove the Bible. Most skeptics are rightly cautious of this approach.
Quoting the Bible to prove the Bible is viewed as being circular reasoning or illogical. After all, quoting the Bible to prove the Bible assumes the Bible is true, which is really the point of contention or discussion.
But if the Bible can be shown to be a reliable document, accurately recorded and transmitted through history, from God to us, then we can build a strong case that the Bible is indeed true.
Who Wrote The Bible: The New Testament
Wikimedia CommonsA depiction of Jesus delivering the Sermon on the Mount.
Finally, the question of who wrote the Bible turns to the texts dealing with Jesus and beyond.
In the second century B.C. with the Greeks still in power, Jerusalem was run by fully Hellenized kings who considered it their mission to erase Jewish identity with full assimilation.
To that end, King Antiochus Epiphanes had a Greek gymnasium built across the street from the Second Temple and made it a legal requirement for Jerusalems men to visit it at least once. The thought of stripping nude in a public place blew the minds of Jerusalems faithful Jews, and they rose in bloody revolt to stop it.
In time, Hellenistic rule fell apart in the area and was replaced by the Romans. It was during this time, early in the first century A.D., that one of the Jews from Nazareth inspired a new religion, one that saw itself as a continuation of Jewish tradition, but with scriptures of its own:
Wikimedia CommonsPaul the Apostle
While the writings attributed to John actually do show some congruity between who wrote the Bible according to tradition and who wrote the Bible according to historical evidence, the question of Biblical authorship remains thorny, complex, and contested.
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The Image Of God: Different Races
The fact that there are different races shows that God is real. If we happened by chance everyone would be the same. The fact that there are African-American people, Spanish people, Caucasian people, Chinese people, and more has a Unique Creator written all over it.
Acts 17:26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.
Writing And Reading History
The meaning of the term “history” is itself dependent on social and historical context. Paula McNutt, for instance, notes that the Old Testament narratives “do not record ‘history’ in the sense that history is understood in the twentieth century. …The past, for biblical writers as well as for twentieth-century readers of the Bible, has meaning only when it is considered in light of the present, and perhaps an idealized future.”
Even from the earliest times, students of religious texts had an awareness that parts of the scriptures could not be interpreted as a strictly consistent sequence of events. The Talmud cites a dictum ascribed to the third-century teacher Abba Arika that “there is no chronological order in the Torah”. Examples were often presented and discussed in later Jewish exegesis with, according to Abraham Joshua Heschel , an ongoing discourse between those who would follow the views of Rabbi Ishmael that “the Torah speaks in human language”, compared to the more mystical approach of Rabbi Akiva that any such deviations should signpost some deeper order or purpose, to be divined.
Modern professional historians, familiar with the phenomenon of on-going historical revisionism, allow new findings and ideas into their interpretations of “what happened”, and scholars versed in the study of texts see all narrators as potentially unreliableand all accountsespecially edited accountsas potentially historically incomplete, biased by times and circumstances.
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Development Of The Christian Canons
Development of the Old Testament canonDevelopment of the New Testament canonSt. Jerome in his StudyJeromeLatinVulgate
The Old Testament canon entered into Christian use in the Greek Septuagint translations and original books, and their differing lists of texts. In addition to the Septuagint, Christianity subsequently added various writings that would become the New Testament. Somewhat different lists of accepted works continued to develop in antiquity. In the 4th century a series of synods produced a list of texts equal to the 39, 46, 51, or 54-book canon of the Old Testament and to the 27-book canon of the New Testament that would be subsequently used to today, most notably the Synod of Hippo in 393 CE. Also c. 400, Jerome produced a definitive Latin edition of the Bible , the canon of which, at the insistence of the Pope, was in accord with the earlier Synods. With the benefit of hindsight, it can be said that this process effectively set the New Testament canon, although there are examples of other canonical lists in use after this time.
The New Testament writers assumed the inspiration of the Old Testament, probably earliest stated in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God”.
Some denominations have additional canonical holy scriptures beyond the Bible, including the standard works of the Latter Day Saints movement and Divine Principle in the Unification Church.
Ethiopian Orthodox canon
The Bible Is Unique And Unified
The Bible is unique among all the books in the world, and its message is unified throughout all 66 books. It was written by over 40 different writers, including shepherds, kings, priests, scholars, fishermen, and prophets, over a span of 1,500 years. However, the Bible remains unified in its message even though it displays a wide variety of genres and its authors wrote for a variety of purposes and exhibited a broad range of emotions.
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The Universe Is Expanding
Astronomers presently observe the expansion of the universe, but ancient Biblical authors also described this phenomenon. Five separate authors in eleven different verses use a peculiar phrase to describe Gods creation of the universe:
It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with My hands and I ordained all their host.
“Who alone stretches out the heavens and tramples down the waves of the sea”
“It is He who made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom and by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens.”
Fulfilled Prophecy Helps Us Know The Bible Is True
There is perhaps no more compelling evidence that the Bible is the true Word of God than fulfilled prophecy. When you consider how difficult it can be to predict what will happen tomorrow, let alone centuries from now, it becomes apparent that of all biblical content, prophecy would be the most likely category to contain false statements. And yet despite the fact that a large percentage of the Bible is prophecy, not a single prophetic statement has been proven wrongand while many statements have a future fulfillment, a large number of detailed prophecies have already been fulfilled.
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Is The Bible A True Story
Despite feverish searching with Scripture in one hand and cutting-edge technology in the other, evidence backing the Bible remains elusive. But there are some surprising anomalies
Beauty and biblical evidence both lie in the eye of the beholder, it seems. No evidence of the events described in the Book of Genesis has ever been found. No city walls have been found at Jericho, from the appropriate era, that could have been toppled by Joshua or otherwise. The stone palace uncovered at the foot of Temple Mount in Jerusalem could attest that King David had been there or it might belong to another era entirely, depending who you ask.
Archaeologists always hope that advances in technology will shed fresh light on at least part of this ancient mystery: Did the Bible really happen? So far, what discoveries there are, tend to indicate that at the least, the timelines are off.
A paucity of evidence
Eighteen years ago, on October 29, 1999, Haaretz published an article by Tel Aviv University’s Zeev Herzog, whose message was spelled out in the very headline: The Bible: No evidence on the ground.
“Jehovah, the God of Israel, had a wife and the early Israelite religion adopted monotheism only towards the end of the period of the kingdom, not at Mount Sinai, Herzog also wrote.
Bible in one hand, pick in the other
There is, in fact, no evidence to substantiate Exodus.
No sign of Joshua
Part II: Hazor
Examples Of Old Testament Contradictions
The contradictions start in the opening chapters of the Bible, where inconsistent creation stories are told. Genesis chapter 1 says the first man and woman were made at the same time, and after the animals. But Genesis chapter 2 gives a different order of creation: man, then the animals, and then woman.
Genesis chapter 1 lists six days of creation, whereas chapter 2 refers to the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. Genesis 1:2-3 claims that God created light and divided it from darkness on the first day but Genesis 1:14-19 tells us the sun, moon, and stars werent made until the fourth day.
Chapter 1 reports that the fruit trees were created before the man, while chapter 2 indicates they were made after him. Genesis 1:20 says the fowl were created out of the waters Genesis 2:19 alleges they were formed from the ground.
Contradictions are also seen in the biblical story of a worldwide flood. According to Genesis 6:19-22, God ordered Noah to bring of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort . . . into the ark. Nevertheless, Genesis 7:2-3 relates that the Lord ordered Noah to take into the ark the clean beasts and the birds by sevens, and only the unclean beasts by twos.
Genesis 8:4 reports that, as the waters of the flood receded, Noahs ark rested on the mountains of Ararat in the seventh month. The very next verse, however, says the mountaintops could not be seen until the tenth month.
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Morality Argument For Gods Existence
We know that God is real because there is a moral standard and if there is a moral standard, then there is a transcendent moral Truth Giver. The moral argument has a few variations in the way it is articulated. The kernel of the argument dates back only to Immanuel Kant , so it is one of the newer arguments in this post.
The simplest form of the argument is that since it is obvious that there is a perfect moral ideal then we should assume that that ideal had an origin, and the only rational origin for such an idea is God. Putting it into even more basic terms since there is a such thing as objective morality , then that objective moral standard must come from outside of our experience, from God.
People challenge this argument by challenging the presupposition that there is an objective moral standard, or to argue that God is not necessary that finite minds and the societies they make up are able to contemplate moral standards for the common good. Of course, this is undermined even by the word good. Where did the concept of good come from and how do we distinguish good from evil.
This is a particularly compelling argument, especially when we are confronted with unquestioned evil. Many, even among those who argue against the existence of God, would argue that Hitler was objectively evil. This admission of objective morality points to the God, the one who established those moral categories in our hearts.
Is The Bible True 3 Things You Need To Know
Is the Bible true literally true? At a talk I once attended by theologian Tim Hull, he made it simple. He said the Bible is like your town library. If you were to stand in the middle of your town library and say: is this library true? .. well suddenly the question sounds unclear, even pointless.
Of course the Bible is also a library, a collection of 66 individual books, written over many centuries and situations. We trust its author but sometimes question its contents. Some questions I have come across recently include:
- If Adam and Eve were the first family who did their children marry?
- Why do the Gospel accounts of Christs resurrection differ?
- Should women be silent in church?
- Are the numbers and time-periods in Revelation literally true?
Three facts will help us appreciate the splendid truths of the Bible:
1st There are different kinds of truth
Lets return to the library idea. In one corner of the library you may have books of history and yes they are true in that the kings and reigns they describe happened. But on another shelf there are books of poetry Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the young women . That is a kind of truth but different, poems are not literally true. Similarly in another room there may be books of Proverbs wisdom that helps us to navigate our world . Even a fool is thought wise if he remains silent, discerning if he holds his tongue! is a favourite of mine. Another kind of truth.
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Is The Bible Literally True No Of Course Not
Most people could care less whether it is or it isn’t. If you’re reading this, however, you probably care at least enough to read this.
To me, the Bible is important. It is for me the sacred story of the origins of my faith. In light of this, I could no more feel as if it were unimportant than a follower of Hinduism would feel the Bhagavad Gita is unimportant.
I do not believe, however, that the Bible is a Divinely-dictated book or a sacred text without error.
If you are a Biblical literalist, as some of you may be, what I’ve just said most likely bothers you greatly. You believe, not only that the Bible is Divinely-dictated and error-free, but you also believe that whatever it says must be taken as literally and factually true.
Furthermore, you feel, if the Bible is allowed to be a very human book, instead of a Divinely-dictated one…you would have to “throw the baby out with the bath water,” so to speak. That, if you questioned any of it, you’d undermine all of it and the end result would not be good either for you or the future of your faith. This also explains why you and other literalists may be among those who are concerned about the recent release of the Hollywood film Noah, starring Russell Crowe. Since the movie’s creators have taken liberty to create a movie not tied to a literal reading of the story of Noah, you regard that as objectionable, even a blatant disregard, and perhaps even disrespectful, of a literalist reading of the story.