The Bible is a book like no other. When we refer to the Bible as a book, I think we do it a great disservice. The “book” we call the Bible is actually a library of 66 ancient manuscripts written by 40 different authors over a period of about 1,500 years.
Despite what some believe and the Catholic Church claims, the church didn’t make the Bible; she merely recognized, through a long and arduous process, which of the ancient manuscripts had sufficient evidence to be included in this single-bound library of ancient, preserved writings.
We refer to the process used as the canon, which simply means the rule of measurement. Stringent tests were used to determine which of the ancient writings met the requirements of canonicity and which did not.
And let’s not forget that long before the church weighed in on the New Testament, the Hebrew people had already compiled and accepted the manuscripts of the Old Testament.
Critics of the Bible often claim that we are shooting in the dark when we claim the accuracy of these ancient books. Liberal theological scholars want to late-date the manuscripts and claim that we have no evidence for the accuracy of the New Testament because “the earliest manuscripts were lost, and the closest they claim we can get to them is from writings that existed in the fourth century.
They fail to mention the fragment evidence, the writings of early church fathers and the vast number of manuscripts available to check the accuracy of our modern translations against. The evidence is clear: there are no major doctrinal abnormalities in any of the documents.
In fact, as far as the study of ancient literature goes, the evidence we have for the manuscripts contained in our Bible far outweigh the evidence for other ancient works that no one questions for accuracy.
F.F. Bruce served as president of the Society for Old Testament Studies, and also as president of the Society for New Testament Studies. He is one of a handful of scholars thus recognized by his peers in both Old and New Testament studies.
He wrote, “The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater than the evidence for many writings of classical authors, the authenticity of which no one dreams of questioning… If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond doubt.”
Sir Frederic Kenyon, one of the foremost experts on ancient manuscripts and their authority wrote, “The interval between the dates of original composition (of the New Testament) and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed.
“Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established.”
These are just two representative views from scholars who actually studied these manuscripts. They are not the views of modern academics whom many times approach the writings from a predisposed position that what is recorded therein could not possibly be true.
Those who have determined that the Bible is untrustworthy let me issue you a challenge: try reading it for yourself. Don’t accept what is posted on the internet, because, while this may come as a shock to many, the information found there often is not very accurate.
In fact, I have visited many sites that discount the Bible presenting information that even liberal scholars abandoned as far back at the early 1970s. Yet, these bogus sites present the material as either new information or firmly accepted truths.
The issues raised in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures are too important to rest on second hand information that you gleaned from those who write about the Bible, without having read the Bible for yourself.
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. For more information, visit the Gateway Web site at www.gatewaycommunity.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.