The Bible

by Matt Slick

  1. General info on the Bible
    1. The Bible consists of 66 books: 39 in the OT and 27 in the NT. The Bible took about 1600 years to write. It was written in 3 languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, & Greek) by about 40 authors and is internally consistent throughout.
  2. Reliability of the Bible
    1. The Bible is 98% textually pure. Through all the copying of the Biblical manuscripts of the entire Bible, only 2% has any question about it. Nothing in all of the ancient writings of the entire world approaches the accuracy of the biblical documents.
    2. The 2 percent that is in question does not affect doctrine. The areas of interest are called variants and they consist mainly in variations of wording and spelling.
    3. The NT has over 5000 supporting Greek manuscripts existing today with another 20,000 manuscripts in other languages. Some of the manuscript evidence dates to within 100 years of the original writing. There is less than a 2% textual variation in the NT manuscripts.
    4. Some of the supporting manuscripts of the NT are:
      1. John Rylands MS written around 130 A.D., the oldest existing fragment of the gospel of John.
      2. Bodmer Papyrus II (150-200 A.D.)
      3. Chester Beatty Papyri (200 A.D.) contains major portions of the NT.
      4. Codex Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.) contains nearly all the Bible.
      5. Codex Sinaiticus (350 A.D.) contains almost all the NT and over half of the OT.
  3. When were the gospels written?
    1. None of the gospels mention the death of Peter and Paul (60-62 A.D.ish), nor the Neronic persecution (64 A.D.), nor the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 A.D. -- that Jesus prophesied would occur in Matthew 24 and Luke 21.  Why would the book of Acts not contain the super-significant events of the death of Peter and Paul and the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple since it is a history of the early Christian Church, persecution, and also included Peter and Paul's accounts and travels?  The logical conclusion is that it was written before these events.  Furthermore, Luke was written before Acts and most scholars agree that Matthew and Mark were written before Luke.
      1. Why would the book of Acts not contain the super-significant events of the death of Peter and Paul (60AD?) and the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple (70AD) since Acts  is a history of the early Christian Church and included Peter and Paul's accounts and travels?  Logically, this would infer it was written prior to these dates.
    2. This is significant because Jesus had prophesied its destruction when He said, "As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down" (Luke 21:6, see also Matt. 24:1; Mark 13:1).  If they were written after the 70 A.D., destruction don't you think they would have included the event?
    3. Matthew:  The various dates most widely held as possible writing dates of the Gospel are between A.D. 40 - 140.  But Ignatius died around 115 A.D. and he quoted Matthew.  Therefore Matthew had to be written before he died.  Nevertheless, it is generally believed that Matthew was written before A.D. 70 and as early as A.D. 50.
    4. Mark:  Mark (the disciple of Peter received his information from Peter) is said to be the earliest gospel with an authorship of between A.D. 55 to A.D. 70.
    5. Luke:  Luke was written before the book of Acts and Acts does not mention "Nero's persecution of the Christians in A.D. 64 or the deaths of the apostle James (Gal. 1:19, A.D. 62), Paul (A.D. 64), and Peter (A.D. 65)." Therefore, we can conclude that Luke was written before A.D. 62.
    6. John:  The John Rylands papyrus fragment 52 of John's gospel dated in the year 125-135 contains portions of John 18, verses 31-33,37-38.  This fragment was found in Egypt.  It is the last of the gospels and appears to have been written in the 80s to 90s.
      1. An important note is the lack of mention of the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 A.D.  But this is understandable since John was not focusing on historical events and was most probably written 20 or so years after the destruction of the Temple.  John focused on the theological aspect of the person of Christ and listed His miracles and words that affirmed Christ's deity.
    7. Book of Acts
      1. Similarly, the book of Acts which was written after the gospel of Luke by Luke himself.  Acts is a history of the Christian church right after Jesus' ascension.  Acts also fails to mention the incredibly significant events of 70 A.D. which would have been extremely relevant and prophetically important yet it is not mentioned in Acts.  Why?  Because it was written pre 70 AD.
      2. Acts does not include the accounts of "Nero's persecution of the Christians in A.D. 64 or the deaths of the apostle James (Gal. 1:19, A.D. 62), Paul (A.D. 64), and Peter (A.D. 65)," and we have further evidence that it was written very early and not long after Jesus' ascension into heaven.
      3. "At the earliest, Acts cannot have been written prior to the latest firm chronological marker recorded in the book: Festus' appointment as procurator (Acts 24:27), which, on the basis of independent sources, appears to have occurred between A.D. 55 and 59."3
      4. "It is increasingly admitted that the Logia [Q] was very early, before 50 A.D., and Mark likewise if Luke wrote the Acts while Paul was still alive.  Luke's Gospel comes before the Acts (Acts 1:1).  The date of Acts is still in dispute, but the early date (about A.D. 63) is gaining support constantly."4
      5. If what is said of Acts is true, this would mean that Luke was written at least before A.D. 63 and possibly before 55 - 59 since Acts is the second in the series of writings by Luke.  This means that the gospel of Luke was written within 30 years of Jesus' death.
  4. Massacre of the babies
    1. Bethlehem, as far as the Romans were concerned, was an insignificant and very small town located about five miles south of Jerusalem at around 2500 feet elevation.  It probably had a population of no more than 500 - 600 people. Micah 5:2 it says, "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah...."
    2. If there were as many as 600 people in Bethlehem, how many children would have been under the age of two? Ten, twenty, thirty?  Whatever the number, it would not have been hundreds.  It would have been relatively few.  Add to this the fact that Herod was known for committing horrendous crimes against people and you could see why this event in an insignificant village in the Jewish area might be ignored.
  5. Jews wandering in the desert
    1. It may be that the traditional site of Mt. Sinai is incorrect.  Gal. 4:25 says "Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children." Present theories dealing with Mt. Sinai's location have it in the Sinai Peninsula, yet the Bible says it was in Arabia.
  6. Darkness at Christ's death
    1. "Circa AD 52, Thallus wrote a history of the Eastern Mediterranean world from the Trojan War to his own time. This work itself has been lost and only fragments of it exist in the citations of others. One such scholar who knew and spoke of it was Julius Africanus, who wrote about AD 221...In speaking of Jesus crucifixion and the darkness that covered the land during this event, Africanus found a reference in the writings of Thallus that dealt with this cosmic report. Africanus asserts:  'On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.'"1
  7. Prophecies of the Bible
    1. Odds of Jesus filling the prophecies: 
      1. The odds of Jesus fulfilling 48 of the 61 major prophecies concerning Him are 1 in 10157; that is a one with 157 zeros behind it.  By comparison, the estimated number of electrons in the entire known universe is about 1079; that is a one with 79 zeros behind it.
    2. Virgin birth prophecy
      1. Isaiah 7:14, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."
      2. Note:  the Jews who translated the Septuagint (Greek Translation of the Hebrew Old Testament) translated Isaiah 7:14 as the word virgin, not young maiden.
      3. Matt. 1:18,25, "This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary...was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit... But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus."
    3. Born in Bethlehem
      1. Micah 5:2, "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."
      2. Matt. 2:1, "After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem."
    4. Preceded by a messenger
      1. Isaiah 40:3, "A voice of one calling: 'In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.'"
      2. Matt. 3:1-2, "In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.'"
    5. Side pierced
      1. Zech. 12:10, "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one mourns for an only son."
      2. John 19:34, "Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water."
    6. Crucifixion
      1. Psalm 22:16-18, "a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing."
      2. Luke 23:33, "When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals -- one on his right, the other on his left."
      3. John 19:33, "But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs."
      4. John 19:23-24, "When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes..they said to one another. "Let's decide by lot who will get it." This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, "They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing." So this is what the soldiers did."
  8. Scientific Accuracies in the Bible
    1. The spherical shape of the earth (Isaiah 40:22).
    2. The earth is suspended in nothing (Job. 26:7).
    3. The stars are innumerable (Gen. 15:5).
    4. The existence of valleys in the seas (2 Sam. 22:16).
    5. The existence of springs and fountains in the sea (Gen.7:11; 8:2; Prov. 8:28).
    6. The existence of water paths (ocean currents) in the seas (Psalm 8:8).
    7. The water cycle (Job. 26:8; 36:27-28; 37:16; 38:25-27; Ps. 135:7; Ecc. 1:6-7).
    8. The fact that all living things reproduce after their own kind (Gen. 1:21; 6:19).
    9. The nature of health, sanitation, and sickness (Gen.17:9-14; Lev. 12-14).
    10. The concept of entropy, that energy is running down (Psalm 102:26).


________________________
1. McDowell, Josh. A Ready Defense. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993, p. 80.
2. Walvoord, John F. and Zuck, Roy B. The Bible Knowledge Commentary. Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press Publications, Inc., 1983, 1985.
3. Mays, James Luther, Ph.D., Editor. Harpers Bible Commentary. New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc., 1988.
4. Robertson, A.T. A Harmony of the Gospels. New York: Harper & Row, 1950, pp. 255-256.
5. Douglas, J. D., Comfort, Philip W. & Mitchell, Donald, Editors. Who's Who in Christian History. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992.
6. Achtemeier, Paul J., Th.D. Harpers Bible Dictionary. San Francisco: Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc., 1985.
7. Douglas, J. D., Comfort, Philip W. & Mitchell, Donald, Editors. Who's Who in Christian History. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992.
8. McDowell, Josh. A Ready Defense. Nasvhille, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993, p. 80.
9. Robertson, A.T. A Harmony of the Gospels. New York: Harper & Row., 1950, pp. 255-256.

 

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