And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved–so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But God’s wrath has come upon them at last! 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16
Something I hear a lot from unbelievers is how can you trust the Bible. After all it is just a bunch of stories made up by men most likely so they could gain some upper hand or power. So why do I believe the Bible is the Word of God and that the Gospel that Paul preached is indeed from God and not man?
As a child I would have said that it was because my grandmother, parents and the pastor of the church said so. That is enough for a child. As I grew older because I said so was no longer enough. I wanted answers. Torn between my love of science and religion I was slowly leaning toward science. Science, so I thought, was based solely on facts while religion was based on feelings. Turns out I was wrong about both. Too often science is based on ones worldview and not the facts. In many cases the facts get twisted or ignored in order to prove someone’s beliefs. Too many scientists are shouted down because they do not toe the party line. Too many academics are denies tenure or are fired because they choose to question current theories. When did it become a crime to question any theory? I was taught that is how breakthroughs happened.
It also turned out the religion, at least the Christian one, was based on facts. Also, there is something special about the Bible. Jewish and Christian scripture is the best preserved and most accurately transcribed writing that have ever been produced. As we find older and older manuscripts we find that the accuracy of the coping is amazing. Yes there are coping errors and sometimes something gets added but we have enough manuscript evidence to weed out these errors and get back to the original text.
When it comes to scripture we have an embarrassment of riches. Here is a breakdown of the manuscripts copies of the New Testament by writing style and language: Unical manuscripts (all-capital Greek letters from 3rd century) – 306, Minuscule (a more cursive Greek style from about 800 AD) – 2,856, Early Church lectionaries (contains New Testament in order it was to be read) – 2,403, total Greek copies = 5,664. Latin vulgate manuscripts 8,000 to 10,000, Ethiopic, Slavic and Armenian 8,000, all totaled there are about 24,000 complete copies of the New Testament in existence, dating from the third century on.
Scholars Norman Geisler and William Nix have concluded that not only has the New Testament survived in more manuscripts than any other book from antiquity, but has survived in a purer form that any other great book, a form that is 99.5 percent pure.
How does this compare to other ancient writings? The Roman historian Tacitus’ “Annals of Imperial Rome” was written in 116 AD. The first six books exist in one manuscript copy in 850 AD. Books eleven to sixteen are in another copy dated about the eleventh century. Books seven to ten are lost.
The first century Jewish historian Josephus’ “The Jewish War” survives in nine Greek copies dating from the tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries. The runner up the New Testament is Homer’s “Iliad” with 650 Greek manuscripts existing, however the “Iliad” was written in 800 BC and the oldest copy comes to us from the second and third century AD. Yet every one of these is considered authentic and unadulterated.
But even all that is not what makes me believe. The one thing that caused me to believe is the resurrection of Jesus. This is the most attested to event in ancient time. We have more eyewitness accounts closer to the event than anything else in ancient history. It is the empty tomb that makes all the difference. That is why I believe the Gospel is not of man but of God.
During the week I will continue our study of Thessalonians but over the next few months I will be posting weekends on my blog about the resurrection. I need to finish the series on evolution so I can turn my attention to what is the most important event in history.
Have a blessed day,