In our day and age, there has been no other historical document put under more scrutiny than the Bible; there has been no other known document in existence that has been more studied, more criticized than sacred Scripture. And yet — in my opinion, along with many others — it is still standing. And it will continue to stand until the end of time (Isaiah 40:8).
Back in 2012, Justin Taylor interviewed Daniel B. Wallace on the New Testament manuscripts. The interview was very informative and eye-opening, mostly because in one section it shows the vast amount of manuscripts we have of the New Testament compared to other ancient literary texts. Wallace goes as far to say that “NT scholars face an embarrassment of riches compared to the data the classical Greek and Latin scholars have to contend with.”
The argument from skeptics has always been that the Bible is unreliable–as Christians, we need to rebut that erroneous objection. As we will see, that is simply untrue. The Bible is, by far, the most reliable document that man has ever encountered–by a great margin.
Comparing the New Testament to Other Documents
The New Testament, according to Wallace in regards to only Greek manuscripts, “has … over 5800 have been catalogued.” That is absolutely astounding. The ardent skeptic can not argue with that.
If you compare that number with the likes of Livy (59 B.C. – A.D. 17), Tacitus (A.D. 56 – 120), and Herodotus (B.C. 484 – 425), you’ll see there is literally no comparison. There is no contest.
Still object? Take a gander at the number of manuscripts we have for Livy, Tacitus, and Herodotus:
- Livy – 27 (oldest is from the 4th century)
- Tacitus – 3 (oldest from 9th century)
- Herodotus – 75 (oldest from 1st A.D.)
Compare those numbers with the approximately 5,800 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament and it’s not even close — at all. Again, as Wallace said, we have an “embarrassment of riches” here in manuscripts.
Professors teach about these people with so much confidence and reliability, yet, when the topic of the New Testament comes up, people start hurling objections. The biggest objection is, “It was written by men!”
Skeptics who instinctively hurl this age-old, nonsense objection either don’t know about the overwhelming evidence or are blatantly ignoring the fact that we have much more reason to believe everything the New Testament says is true than we do about Livy, Tacitus, Herodotus, and others.
At the Ever Loving Truth Conference in 2016, Voddie Baucham gave a sermon and he said this:
I choose to believe the Bible because it is a reliable collection of historical documents written down by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses. They reported supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies and claimed that their writing are divine rather than human in origin.
I’d venture to say, as a Christian, the argument about the manuscripts and things of that nature isn’t really about the reliability — it’s about what would happen if they were reliable (which they are). People don’t like the claims the Bible makes. If the Bible is true, that means what God says about you is true–and that doesn’t sound good to you.
Let’s talk about the objection stated above.
NEW TESTAMENT: WRITTEN BY MEN OR WRITTEN BY GOD?
Pardon my attempt at humor, but my answer is the God’s-honest truth: the Bible was written by men and by God. Allow me to explain.
The Bible was written by men, yes. But these men — 40 of them — were all inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, the third Person of the Trinity. Ultimately, God wrote the book. The Author of the Bible is God.
Of course, I say that to say this: if the Bible was written solely by men, it would in fact be unreliable. We wouldn’t have anything to stake our faith on because our Scripture wouldn’t be accurate.
But that’s not the reality. The reality is that the Holy Spirit helped these men write what God wanted them write. And these men weren’t put under any trance and wrote this stuff down like robots; no, these men’s personalities and styles of writing are all over Scripture.
I personally think that should make us marvel more at God for using the style and personalities of these men to write it. God the Holy Spirit is the reason the Bible is infallible — without error.
The Bible has a majestic divinity to it, because it is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). There is no other book like it. It is divine.
The late Charles Spurgeon, nicknamed “The Prince of Preachers,” had this to say about the Bible:
There is an infinite majesty about every line of Scripture, but especially about that part of Scripture in which the Lord reveals Himself and His glorious plan of saving grace in the person of His dear Son Jesus Christ.
Spurgeon says “there is an infinite majesty about every line of Scripture.” Spurgeon sees the breath of Almighty God all over the pages of Scripture–and it takes the grace of God to see that.
We Have Reason to Believe Scripture is Reliable
Let me just say it in the simplest way I know how: every page of sacred Scripture — from Genesis to Revelation — is 100% reliable. No errors, no contradictions–no nothing.
If, for instance, someone says the Bible isn’t reliable, then we should have a couple things to say:
1. If the Bible — which we have established has around 5,800 Greek manuscripts in existence — isn’t reliable, then the information we have about Livy, Tacitus, or Herodotus isn’t reliable. Treat those other guys the same way you do with the Bible.
2. The person who says the Bible isn’t reliable either (1) hasn’t studied how vast a collection of manuscripts (and how accurate those manuscripts are!) we have of it or (2) simply has their own assumptions of the Bible and doesn’t really care about truth.
I think there’s very good reason to believe Scripture is totally reliable, without error, and absolutely divine. It is God’s gift of grace to all of us.
Soli Deo Gloria
This post was originally a post from one of my college writing classes. I made a blog and it was centered on apologetics.
Cover photo courtesy of Joseph Redfield at pexels.com