Defending the Bible
In the previous lessons you learned that the Bible has been transmitted to us reliably and that there are thousands of supporting copies of the original documents which are approximately 98.5% textually pure. You also have learned that you need to ask critics to prove what they are saying and to demonstrate problems with the Bible. Then, you are to look at the context and apply basic logic to the issue. Nevertheless, challenges are often made to the Bible and it is good for you to have some ready answers. Therefore, let's look at some basic objections with responses.
1. Wasn't the Bible copied so many times that it can't be trusted?
This is a common
misconception. Some people think that the Bible was written in one
language, translated to another language, then translated into yet
another and so on until it was finally translated into English (or
whatever contemporary language it is being read in). The complaint is
that since it was rewritten so many times in different languages
throughout history, it must have become corrupted . The "telephone"
analogy is often used as an illustration. It goes like this. One person
tells another person a sentence who then tells another person, who tells
yet another, and so on and so on until the last person hears a sentence
that has little or nothing to do with the original one. The only
problem with this analogy is that it doesn't fit the Bible at all.
2. Wasn't the New Testament written hundreds of years after Christ?
Though some say that the New Testament was
written 100-300 years after Christ died, the truth is that it was written
before the close of the first century by those who either knew Christ
personally, had encountered him, or were under the direction of those who
were His disciples.
Paul the Apostle was a convert to Christianity. The book of Acts speaks of his conversion in Acts 9. Since Acts was written before 70 A.D. and Paul wrote the Pauline Epistles and we know that Paul died in 64 A.D., the Pauline Epistles were all written before that date. Furthermore, in 1 Cor. 15:3-4 is an early creed of the Christian church where Paul mentions that Jesus had died and risen. "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures," (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Notice that he says he received this information. From whom did he receive it? Most probably the apostles since he had a lot of interaction with them. This means that Paul received the gospel account from the eyewitnesses. They were, of course contemporaries and since they all died before the turn of the century. Therefore, their writings were completed within the lifetime of the apostles of Jesus.
It is not known for sure who wrote the book of Hebrews. Authorship has been proposed for Paul, Barnabas (Acts 4:36), Apollos (Acts 18:24), etc. The only geographical area mentioned is Italy (Heb. 13:24). The latest possible date for the writing of Hebrews is A.D. 95 but could have been written as early as A.D. 67. The book of Hebrews speaks of the sacrifice by the High Priest in the present tense (Heb. 5:1-3; Heb. 7:27) possibly signifying that the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 A.D. had not yet happened.
This epistles claims to have been written by James, "James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad, greetings," (James 1:1). The question is, "Which James?" Is it James, the son of Zebedee (Matt. 10:2-3); James, the son of Alphaeus (Matt. 10:2-3), or the most commonly and accepted James who was the brother of Jesus? "Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56And His sisters, are they not all with us?" (Matt. 13:55). Notice the context of the verses suggests immediate family since it mentions Jesus' Mother, brothers, and sisters. It is probable that James didn't believe in Jesus as the Messiah until Jesus appeared to him after His resurrection as is mentioned in 1 Cor. 15:7, "then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles." James was martyred by the order of the high priest Ananus after the death of the "procurator Festus in A.D. 61 (Josephus, Ant. 20. 9)." Therefore, the epistle of James was written before A.D. 61.1
1 and 2 Peter
Both epistles clearly state that they were authored by Peter, an eyewitness of Jesus' life and post resurrection appearances. Though there has been some who have doubted the authorship of these two epistles, the clear opening statements of each epistle tell us Peter was the author. "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus...", (1 Pet. 1:1) and "Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours..." (2 Pet. 2:1). It certainly seems most logical that Peter is indeed the author of the letters that bear his name. Peter died at Rome during Nero's persecution of Christians around 64 AD so the epistles were obviously written before that time.
1, 2, 3 John
The writer of 1 John does not identify himself in the letter. The writer of 2 and 3 John refers to himself as "the elder," (2 John 1; 3 John 1). Regarding the first epistle, authorship can reasonably be determined to be that of John the Apostle. The opening of John is written from the perspective of someone who was there with Jesus (John 1:1-4). Also, "Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History, 3.39) says of Papias, a hearer of John, and a friend of Polycarp, 'He used testimonies from the First Epistle of John. Irenaeus, according to Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History, 5.8), often quoted this Epistle. So in his work Against Heresies (3.15; 5, 8) he quotes from John by name, 1 John 2:18...Clement of Alexandria (Miscellanies, 2.66, p. 464) refers to 1 Jn 5:16, as in John’s larger Epistle.'"2 "In the earliest canonical lists, dating from the end of the second century, 1 John already appears. Indeed, 1 John is quoted as authoritative by Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna [a disciple of John the apostle] before the middle of the second century. The attestation of 2 John is almost as good. There is no second-century reference to 3 John, but that is not surprising, since it deals with a specific, local issue."3 Furthermore, the style of the three epistles is very similar to that of the gospel of John. 1 John mentions the "word of life" (1 John 1:1) as does the gospel of John 1:1, etc. It appears that the epistles were written after the Gospel of John since the epistles seem to assume a knowledge of the gospel facts. Date of writing varies from A.D. 60 to the early 90's.4
Jude identifies himself as the brother of James (Jude 1). It is most likely that Jude, in true Christian humility, does not want to equate himself as the brother of Jesus as he is traditionally held to be and seems to be supported by scripture: "Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?" (Matt. 13:55).5 Instead, he mentions himself as a servant of Jesus, as James has also done. The date of writing seems to be anywhere from A.D. 68 to the early 90's. Remember that if Judas was a brother of Jesus, he was born around after Jesus which would mean the later the writing date, the older was Judas. There is no mention of the destruction of Jerusalem which could have been naturally included in the writing considering that Jude mentions judgments from God upon believers and unbelievers alike (Jude 5-12). Nevertheless, it appears that Jude may have quoted from James.
The author of the Book of
Revelation is John. "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which
God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly
take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His
bond-servant John," (Rev. 1:1). "Justin Martyr (Dialogue with Trypho, p.
308) (A.D.. 139–161) quotes from the Apocalypse, as John the
3. Isn't the Bible scientifically inaccurate?
The Bible is not a book about science, but when it does speak scientifically, it is accurate. In fact, it was far ahead of any other writing of its time. Please consider the following.
4. Since the New Testament writers were biased, can we trust their testimony?Yes, we can trust their testimony. Being biased about something does not mean that you cannot tell the truth. Take for example the case of a robbery of a small store. The robber shoots and the wounds two employees, escapes, but is later apprehended. At the trial the employees who have recovered from their injuries are brought in to testify. Both of these witnesses are biased in that they want to see the perpetrator properly punished. But, under oath their testimony is accepted as perfectly valid -- providing there aren't obvious problems. So, being biased does not automatically mean that the testimony they give is not true.
The New Testament writers were certainly biased, but their bias was towards honesty and truth, not deceit. Their intention was to accurately record and testify to the events that they had seen. Remember, the disciples were followers of Jesus who taught them to love, to be kind, faithful, and honest. And this wasn't all. Jesus warned against hypocrisy (Matt. 6:1, and against bearing false witness (Matt. 19:18). The whole life of Jesus was based on integrity, character, faithfulness, truthfulness, love, and sacrifice. This is what the disciples learned from Jesus and this is what they taught in their writings. So, if they learned anything from Jesus it was to live in truth for this is exactly what Jesus said, "Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth. 18"As Thou didst send Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19"And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth," (John 17:17-19).
Furthermore, the fact is that there were plenty of people around who could have discounted what the apostles had written if what they wrote was inaccurate. Yet, we find no evidence of any such thing in any writings of the time. Yes, the disciple were biased. But to what? To lying? To exaggerating? Or were they biased towards the truth of who Jesus is and what He had done?
Of course, just because eyewitnesses wrote about Jesus rising from the dead does not mean it actually happened. This is true, but why would the disciples lie about this? Why would they risk the lives, their families, their cultural ties, and even end up dying for it all if they knew it was all a lie developed out of their "bias"? It doesn't make sense. But what does make sense is that the disciples were telling the truth.
If you are interested in reading more detailed articles regarding the Bible, then please see the following links. They are quite helpful.
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