Can We Rely on the Bible as the Word of God?
In the last article we discovered that the Bible is unique based on its continuity. This article is the second in a series exploring some of the ways the Bible is not only unique, but also how we can rely on it for its accuracy and trust that it is indeed God’s Holy and Divine Word!
In this article we will discuss how the Bible is unique in its survival! One way in which the accuracy of any historical writing is based on how close you can get to the source. If you have multiple copies of a Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, for example, and there are discrepancies, usually the oldest copy is more accurate. We have more copies of the New Testament much closer to when it was originally written than any other book of antiquity. Look at the table below.
This information comes from Josh McDowell’s book Evidence that Demands a Verdict. The column labeled difference represents the number of years the earliest copy is removed from the original. Look at Homer’s Iliad. It was first told around 800 BC, and the earliest surviving copy comes from around 400 BC. There is 400 years between the time when Homer first told this story and the earliest surviving copy. That’s pretty good. This time difference beats any of the other ancient works listed in the table, except for the bible. The New Testament was written between 50 and 100 AD, and we have surviving fragments from as early as 114 AD. That’s a difference of less than 50 years from when the New Testament was written. By the year 200 we have copies of entire books of the New Testament, and we have copies of most of the New Testament dating back to 250 AD. There are copies of the complete New Testament dating back to 325 AD. That means with 225 years of the New Testament being written we have surviving copies. If we cannot rely on the fact that the New Testament has survived intact and is the same as when it was first written, then we must throw out these other works as well.
None of this proves that the New Testament is inspired by God, but if we could prove it, there would be no room for faith. The thought I want to leave you with is that the Christian faith is not blind or unreasonable. Our faith is primarily based on what we read in the Bible, (Romans 10:17) and is also supported by strong evidence.
Thank you for reading. I hope to explore this topic further in future articles.
Philip Permenter, Evangelist