4. Didn't it need to be copied
over and over by hand and wouldn't that lead to many errors?
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Back when the Bible began to be written, the Israelites were the
zealous guardians of those early texts. They carefully preserved
the original scrolls and made numerous copies of them.
When the law code was first given them through Moses it stated that
each new king over them was to make his own copy of the law:
(Deuteronomy 17:18) "And it must
occur that when he takes his seat on the throne of his kingdom, he
must write in a book for himself a copy of this law from that which
is in the charge of the priests, the Levites."
Many Israelites loved to read the Scriptures, so copying them was
done with extreme care by highly trained scribes. Skilled copyists
were in great demand and Jehovah saw to it that they were highly
compensated for that work.
(Ezra 7:6) "...Ezra
himself went up from Babylon; and he was a skilled copyist in the
law of Moses, which Jehovah the God of Israel had given, so that the
king granted him, according to the hand of Jehovah his God upon him,
all his request."
The Masoretes, who copied the Hebrew Scriptures between the sixth
and tenth centuries of our common era, even counted the letters as
they went to avoid making errors. This meticulous copying helped to
ensure both its accuracy and its survival when enemies attempted to
In 168 B.C.E., for example, The Syrian ruler, Antiochus IV tried to
destroy all the copies he could find throughout Palestine. A Jewish
history tells us "Any scrolls of the law which they found they tore
up and burnt." According to The Jewish Encyclopedia "The
officers charged with carrying out these commands did so with great
vigor... The possession of a sacred book... was punished with
death." But they didn't get them all.. Some copies survived, both
among the Jews in Palestine and those living in other lands.
The Christian Greek Scriptures, or the part of the Bible called by
most people, The New Testament, was also copied and widely
distributed and that fact had much to do with its survival as well.
Soon after those Greek speaking Jewish writers finished their work,
copies of their inspired letters, prophecies, and historical
accounts proliferated. John, for example wrote his Gospel account in
or near Ephesus. Yet, a fragment of a copy of it, made less than 50
years after he wrote it, was found hundreds of miles away in Egypt.
That would indicate that Christians in distant lands had copies of
what were recently inspired texts. And these were now included
in what was accepted as Bible Canon, thereby bringing on a new surge
For example, on February 23, of the year 303 C.E. The Roman Emperor,
Diocletian, seeking to eliminate Christianity, is said to have
watched his soldiers break down the doors of a church and burn its
sacred writings. The next day he proclaimed that throughout the
Roman Empire all copies of the Bible be publicly burned. Some copies
survived that burning, were reproduced, and large sections of two
copies made not long after Diocletian's persecution survive to this
day, one in Rome and the other in London's British Library.
As you may know the opposition didn't stop there. History has
documented well how the Catholic Church attempted to keep the Bible
from the common people by translating it into Latin, a dead
language. This of course was a contributing factor to the Protestant
Reformation when many courageous men like William Tyndale risked
being horribly burned at the stake to bring the Bible to the people
in their modern tongue.
The thing to realize about all this is
that, although no original Bible manuscripts have yet been
found, of the thousands of hand-written copies that have
survived to our day, some are very old. To quote
Frederick Kenyon. "The interval...between the dates of the
earliest composition 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." He also stated: "It
cannot be too strongly asserted that in substance the text of
the Bible is certain... This can be said of no other ancient
book in the world."
That party game we spoke of really isn't a fair comparison. If you
were to ask the first one in line (instead of the last) what message was handed
down it would probably be pretty accurate. The interesting part of this is that,
when it comes to Bible copies, there is very little difference between the
oldest and the most recent. It is only reasonable that it should be that way.
Wouldn't an all wise and powerful God, who lovingly took the time to inspire so
many men to write down his thoughts, also care for copies of those thoughts down
through the ages?
5. With translation into
other languages wouldn't something have been lost in the
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The plethora of translations on today's market
does give people
another reason to argue against
the Bible's accuracy. While these are not all equally
accurate the need for translation was an important part of Jehovah's purpose to make his book
available to people of every tribe and nation and tongue
throughout the entire earth.
Particularly would translation become
necessary prior to the coming of the Messiah whom the Jews had
long awaited; the one through whom all the nations would be
blessed. By the start of the 2nd century BCE
the deadline was
coming on apace. The Hebrew scriptures would have to be
translated into a universal language
could be understood by the
vast majority of mankind.
Such a language did indeed exist at
that time, but it wasn't something that just happened to be.
World Powers had to be manipulated over many centuries for a
universal language to be in place just when it would be needed
for Jehovah's purpose to be carried out.
Just how that all played out over
the previous 400 years is an amazing story that is
told through the prophet Daniel. From here you may
read on for the somewhat involved gist of that story
or click here for the
Removing and Setting
In 607 BCE Jehovah used Babylon to
execute judgment on unfaithful Jerusalem. The city
along with its temple was leveled, with survivors being
exiled to Babylon for a period of 70 years, all of which had
been foretold through his prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah. Prior to that final
onslaught Babylon had already taken into exile the young nobles
of the city, including Daniel and his three companions who
became known by their Babylonian names of Shadrach, Meshach, and
Abednego. Shortly after getting to Babylon an issue arose about
the Babylonian diet. Seems they ate everything that was
forbidden to the Jews.
They managed, however, through one of their guards to
arrange for a special vegetarian diet and it was soon observed
that these four Jewish lads were thriving while the Babylonian
youths were sickly. This led to their being included among the
"wise-men" of Babylon", which had its perks until the group as a
whole got on the wrong side of King Nebuchadnezzar and were
all about to lose their heads.
The big issue was a dream of the king's that
he couldn't remember anything about except that it scared the
daylights out of him. He called in his wise men to tell him
what the dream was and what it meant. When it became obvious
that they were all a bunch of fakes their heads were to start
rolling. You'll find that whole story in the second chapter of
When Daniel got wind of it he realized that
this could be curtains for him and his buddies, so they got
together and decided that Daniel was to give it a go.
Before requesting an audience with the king, he prayed to
Jehovah for help. Then, in a night vision, he was given the
dream and its interpretation. One of the things he said in
praising Jehovah for that vision is key to understanding what
all this has to do with our discussion.
2:20-22) . . .“Let the name of God become blessed from time
indefinite even to time indefinite, for wisdom and
mightiness—for they belong to him. 21 And
is changing times and seasons,
removing kings and setting up kings,
wisdom to the wise ones and knowledge to those knowing
discernment. 22 He is revealing the deep
things and the concealed things, knowing what is in the
darkness; and with him the light does dwell.
Then he went in to the king to tell
the dream, but first he explained the source of his great
. . .“The secret that the king himself is asking, the wise men,
the conjurers, the magic-practicing priests and the
astrologers themselves are unable to show to the king. 28 However,
there exists a
God in the heavens who is a Revealer of secrets,
and he has made known to King
Neb·u·chad·nez′zar what is to occur in the final part of the
days.. . .
Then he went on telling Nebuchadnezzar about
his dream. Apparently King Neb had seen a huge fearsome statue looming
over his bed. It was made up of a variety of metals with the
head being gold, chest and arms of silver, midsection of copper,
legs of iron, and feet of iron mixed with clay. Together the
statue represented a succession of world powers, with each
section standing for a succeeding power. The head of gold was
his own Babylonian dynasty, to be followed by the Medo-Persian,
the Greek, the Roman, down to the feet of iron mixed with clay,
the Anglo-American world power.
This is a fascinating study for yet another
day, but, for the purpose of this discussion we'll just go down
to the midsection. Some years after that dream of
Nebuchadnezzar's, when the seventy-year exile of the Jews was
nearing its end and the Babylonians had established a name for
never freeing an exile, it became time for Jehovah to remove
that kingdom and set up another.
That story is well-known because it involves
the now clichéd handwriting on the wall. It's found in Chapter 5
of Daniel and you may want to read all about it some time. As for
the writing on the wall, here's how Daniel interpreted it:
is the interpretation of the word: ME′NE, God has numbered [the days
of] your kingdom and has finished it. 27 “TE′KEL,
you have been weighed in the balances and have been found deficient.
kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.'”
29 At that time Bel·shaz′zar commanded, and they
clothed Daniel with purple, with a necklace of gold about his neck;
and they heralded concerning him that he was to become the third
ruler in the kingdom. 30 In that very night
Bel·shaz′zar the Chal·de′an king was killed 31 and
Da·ri′us the Mede himself received the kingdom, being about
sixty-two years old."
Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Great of Persia became the liberators
of the Jews. End of story? Not by a long shot. Daniel had also
foreseen and explained the next world power; that of Alexander the
Great. Here's how that one played out.
Another vision, this one to Daniel himself and recorded in Chapter 8
of his book, was of a "hairy he-goat" taking on a "two horned ram."
Here's the description:
". . .And as regards the he-goat, there was a
conspicuous horn between its eyes.
6 And it kept coming all the way to the ram
possessing the two horns, which I had seen standing before the
watercourse; and it came running toward it in its powerful rage."
Well, long story
short, the goat whipped the ram, breaking its two horns, and then
something strange happened. Soon after the goat became powerful that
"conspicuous horn" broke and four sprouted up in its place. Here
explanation of all this as told to Daniel by the angel, Gabriel.
ram that you saw possessing the two horns
[stands for] the kings of Me′di·a and Persia.
21 And the hairy he-goat stands for the
king of Greece; and as for
horn that was between its eyes, it stands for the
22 And that one having been broken,
so that there were four that finally stood up
instead of it, there are four kingdoms from [his] nation
that will stand up, but not with his power."
So there you have it; the stage is set. The first
king of the
Grecian (or Macedonian) Empire was Alexander the Great, who, shortly
after conquering and colonizing much of the then known world and
turning Greek into a universal language, died of Malaria in his mid
thirties. His kingdom was divided between four of his generals and
became the four Hellenic Kingdoms, one of which spawned the British
Empire which, during and after World War I, allied itself with the USA
thereby blending into the Anglo-American world power; the feet of
iron mixed with clay.
By the start of the second century BCE seventy Greek Speaking Jews
in Alexandria, Egypt, had completed the first Greek translation of
the Hebrew Scriptures. This is what was used by the first century
Christians and quoted throughout
the Christian Greek Scriptures,
commonly called the New Testament.
nutshell version of all that.
As prophesied through Daniel Jehovah manipulated
successive world powers. First he had Nebuchadnezzar's
Babylonian empire conquer Jerusalem in 607 BCE to start
a projected 70 year exile of his people in Babylon. Next
he arranged for Cyrus the Great of Persian to conquer
Babylon to free his people in time for them to be back
in their homeland by 537 BCE. The Persians went
down to defeat by a young up-and-comer called Alexander
the Great, who dealt two crushing defeats to the Persian
army on the way to conquering and colonizing much of the
then known world.
All of this was prophesied beforehand and then
maneuvered by Jehovah so that a universal language would
be available into which the Hebrew Scriptures could be
translated prior to the arrival of the foretold messiah.
You might say that Alexander’s
greatest mark on history was his spreading of the Greek
language and culture far and wide. Because of that the
writing of the latter portion of the Bible [the 'New
Testament'] in the first century of our common era was
done in Greek rather than Hebrew, thereby making it
easily understood everywhere Christians went as they
flourished and spread the good news of the kingdom and
God's newly anointed king, Jesus Christ.
Go back and read the details
you can now see that the Bible's having been translated
is not a valid reason for rejecting it as God's inspired
word, but was in fact a vital part of Jehovah's original purpose
to make the good news available to every man, woman and
child on earth.
What is the truth about God?