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Where Did The Bible Really Come From

The Old Testament Was Already Put Together By The Time Of Jesus

Did The Bible Really Come From God? – Part 1 – Pastor Billy Crone
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  • M.A., Christian Studies, Union University
  • B.A., English Literature, Wheaton College

Determining when the Bible was written poses challenges because it isn’t a single book. It’s a collection of 66 books written by more than 40 authors over more than 2,000 years.

So there are two ways to answer the question, “When was the Bible written?” The first is to identify the original dates for each of the Bible’s 66 books. The second, the focus here is to describe how and when all 66 books were collected in a single volume.

The Integrity Of The Manuscript Evidence

As with any ancient book transmitted through a number of handwrittenmanuscripts, the question naturally arises as to how confident can we be that wehave anything resembling the autograph. Let us nowlook at what evidences we have for the integrity of the New Testamentmanuscripts. Let us look at the number of manuscripts and how close they date to the autographs of the Bible as compared with other ancient writings of similar age.

  • Tacitus, the Roman historian, wrote his Annals of Imperial Rome in about A.D. 116. Only one manuscript of his work remains. It was copied about 850 A.D.
  • Josephus, a Jewish historian, wrote The Jewish War shortly after 70 A.D. There are nine manuscripts in Greek which date from 1000-1200 A.D. and one Latin translation from around 400 A.D.
  • Homer’s Iliad was written around 800 B.C. It was as important to ancient Greeks as the Bible was to the Hebrews. There are over 650 manuscripts remaining but they date from 200 to 300 A.D. which is over a thousand years after the Iliad was written.
  • The Old Testament autographs were written 1450 – 400 B. C.
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls date between 200 B.C. to 70 A. D and date within 300 years from when the last book of the Old Testament was written.
  • Two almost complete Greek LXX translations of the Old Testament date about 350 A. D.
  • The oldest complete Hebrew Old Testament dates about 950 A. D.
  • The New Testament autographs were written between 45-95 A. D.
  • 8,000 to 10,000 Latin Vulgate manuscripts.
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    Disputed Spurious And Downright Heretical

    Luther had issues with the book of James, which emphasized the role of “works” alongside faith, so he stuck James and Hebrews in the back of the Bible alongside Jude and Revelation, which he also thought were questionable. Combs says that in Luther’s original Bible, those four books don’t even appear in the table of contents.

    Eusebius was a Christian historian writing in the early 300s who provided one of the early lists of which books were considered legit and which were borderline bogus.

    Eusebius broke his list down into different categories: recognized, disputed, spurious and heretical. Among the “recognized” were the four gospels , Acts and Paul’s epistles. Under “disputed,” Eusebius included James and Jude the same books Luther didn’t like plus a few others that are now considered canon, like 2 Peter, 2 John and 3 John.

    When Eusebius turns to the “spurious” and “heretical” categories, we get a glimpse into just how many other texts were in circulation in the second and third century C.E. Have you ever heard of the Apocalypse of Peter, the Epistle of Barnabas or the Gospel of Thomas? Combs says that there were hundreds of texts similar to those found in the New Testament and Old Testament that didn’t make it into the canon.

    The Memoirs Of The Apostles Were Considered As Important To The Teaching Of The Church As The Writings Of The Prophets

    After Jesus Ascended to heaven, the church would gather to read Scripture together and pray. As the gospels, Pauls letters, and other NT books were written, the church would read those in gatherings as well. Justin Martyr, a Christian apologist, wrote about these gatherings in 150 A.D. By this early date, the memoirs of the apostles were considered as important to the teaching of the church as the writings of the prophets, according to a BibleStudyTools.com article, Who Decided What Went into the Bible?

    But over time, some churches didnt like reading Hebrews, and another church didnt like reading Revelation. There were even influencers who completely rejected the OT or tried to add new prophecies. Controversies like these pushed church leaders to question and settle which books were truly inspired by God. They used a set of guidelines to recognize which books belonged in the NT canon. Lifeways article, Establishing the New Testament Canon, talks about three guidelines:

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    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.

    The Argument That The Bible Has Changed Has To Go In The Garbage Instantly

    When local shepherds discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls in Israel in 1946, archaeologists began investigations and confirmed that these ancient scrolls of paper were Bible manuscripts.

    are documents of the OT that had been hidden in jars in the desert, where its dry, where theyre preserved, for two thousand years, Metaxas said. We dont have to guess whether the monks changed it or not, lets just read it. Its letter for letter the same as it is today.

    The argument that the Bible has changed has to go in the garbage, instantly. 100 years ago people could make arguments, but now we have archaeological evidence that keeps coming up. They had no evidence that 3,000 years ago there actually was a king in Israel named David now they have archaeological evidence, he said, referring to the discovery of King Davids palace in 2005.

    These manuscripts contain material now considered to be part of the Hebrew Bible. Every book is represented among the Dead Sea Scrolls, except the book of Esther. These are the oldest known copies of biblical works, according to The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library.

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    Can Canonical Works Contain Errors

    Did The Bible Really Come From God? – Part 3 – Pastor Billy Crone

    There are doctrinal and historical inconsistencies with a number of the Apocryphal books. E. J. Young notes:

    There are no marks in these books which would attest a divine origin. . . . both Judith and Tobit contain historical, chronological, and geographical errors. The books justify falsehood and deception and make salvation to depend upon works of merit. . . . Ecclesiasticus and the Wisdom of Solomon inculcate a morality based upon expediency. Wisdom teaches the creation of the world out of preexistent matter . Ecclesiasticus teaches that the giving of alms makes atonement for sin . In Baruch it is said that God hears the prayers of the dead , and in I Maccabees there are historical and geographical errors .

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    The Church Fathers Bear Witness To Even Earlier New Testament Manuscripts

    The earliest manuscripts we have of major portions of the New Testament are p 45, p 46, p66, and p 75, and they date from 175-250 A. D. The early church fathers bear witness to even earlier New Testament manuscripts by quoting from all but one of the New Testament books. They are also in the position to authenticate those books, written by the apostles or their close associates, from later books such as the gospel of Thomas that claimed to have been written by the apostles, but were not.

  • Clement wrote an epistle to the Corinthian Church around 97 A.D. He reminded them to heed the epistle that Paul had written to them years before. Recall that Clement had labored with Paul . He quoted from the following New Testament books: Luke, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Titus, 1 and 2 Peter, Hebrews, and James.
  • The apostolic fathers Ignatius , Polycarp , and Papias cite verses from every New Testament book except 2 and 3 John. They thereby authenticated nearly the entire New Testament.Both Ignatius and Polycarp were disciples of the apostle John.
  • Justin Martyr, , cited verses from the following 13 books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, 2 Thessalonians, Hebrews, 1 and 2 Peter, and Revelation.
  • Irenaeus, , wrote a five volume work Against Heresies in which,
  • He quoted from every book of the New Testament but 3 John.
  • He quoted from the New Testament books over 1,200 times.
  • Importance Of The Subject

    In the United States, the Bible is often hailed as a divinely inspired book. Television and radio carry religious programs praising the Bible as the holy and infallible word of God. Religious groups also distribute vast amounts of books, magazines, tapes, pamphlets, and other items. The materials promote the idea that, as televangelist Pat Robertson has said, The Bible . . . is a workable guidebook for politics, business, families and all the affairs of mankind.

    The Bible is also extolled by many politicians. For instance, President Ronald Reagan signed into law an Act of Congress proclaiming 1983 to be the Year of the Bible. The law described the Bible as the Word of God and said there is a national need to study and apply its teachings.

    Thousands of other religious and political leaders throughout the U.S. promote the Bible. In most communities, an opposing view is rarely, if ever, heard.

    The massive and incessant promotion of the Bible significantly influences the beliefs of millions. A Gallup poll showed that over 30% of Americans believe that the Bible is the word of God and its teachings should be taken literally. Gallup identified an additional 25% of Americans who consider the Bible as inspired by God, but think some verses should be interpreted symbolically rather than literally.

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    The New Testament Began With The Apostles

    In John 14:26, Jesus promised his disciples that they would be empowered by the Holy Spirit to remember his words and teachings:

    But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

    Jesus also promised further revelation from the Holy Spirit when he told his disciples, When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you .

    In these verses the disciples are promised amazing gifts to enable them to write Scripture: the Holy Spirit would teach them all things, would cause them to remember all that Jesus had said, and would guide them into all the truth.

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    What Was The Language Of The Old Testament

    Ancient Hebrew was the tongue of the ancient Israelites and the language in which most of the Old Testament was penned. Isaiah 19:18 calls it the language of Canaan, while other verses label it Judean and language of the Jews .

    Ancient Hebrew is a Semitic language that dates back past 1500 B.C. Its alphabet consists of 22 characters, all consonants , and is written from right to left.

    While Hebrew remained the sacred tongue of the Jews, its use as a common spoken language declined after the Jews return from exile . Despite a revival of the language during the Maccabean era, it was eventually all but replaced in everyday usage by Aramaic. Modern Hebrew can trace its ancestry to Biblical Hebrew, but has incorporated many other influences as well.

    Was The New Testament Written In Hebrew

    Where Did The Bible Really Come from?

    Many people assume that the New Testament was written in Hebrew as well, but by the time the gospels were being written, many Jews didnt even speak Hebrew anymore. Rome had conquered Greece, and the influence of Greek culture had saturated the empire. Whats interesting about Biblical Greek is that it didnt use a high-class or complicated style it was written in koine , a language that could be understood by almost anyone, educated or not.

    Its amazing to see how the Word of God has traveled through languages and cultures. It began in the language of his chosen people, adopted the language of the Roman world, and now exists in over 2,000 different languages. Far from being a static, one-language text, the Bible actually embraces translation and cross-language accessibility by its very nature. Whether you read the Bible in its original languages or in one of thousands of modern tongues, its a blessing to be able to read Gods word today just as it was read thousands of years ago.

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    Do Americans Trust The Bibles On Their Bookshelves

    Over the past few years, researchers and statisticians have been telling us that Americans feelings about the Bible arecomplicated.

    Barna Groups 2017 State of the Biblereport gave Christians a reason to feel more hopeful about the spiritual state of their neighbors. They found that 87% of American households own at least one Bible. But Lifeway released a 2016 report about how Americans think about that Bible sitting on their bookshelf. Their report said that only 47% of Americans described the Bible as completely accurate.

    Pew confirmed in its 2018 report that many Americans are unsure about the trustworthiness of their Bibles. The Pew report revealed that while 80% of Americans believe in God, only 56% believe God as described in the Bible.

    It seems as though even if people are curious enough to buy a Bible , they still might not believe it. Hopefully understanding where the Bible comes from helps. Here are some snapshots throughout history about how the Bible came to be.