CAN YOU REALLY TRUST THE BIBLE?


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It is understandable why many wonder about this.

  1. Wasn't it written by men thousands of years ago?

  2. How could it be considered the word of God if it was was written by men?

  3. How could it possibly contain anything even close to its original message?

  4. Didn't it need to be copied over and over by hand and wouldn't that lead to many errors?

  5. And what about all the translation that has been done? Wouldn't something had to have been lost in the process?

We'll address these points one at a time.

 

1. Wasn't it written by men thousands of years ago?

 

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Short Answer: Yes it was.

The word, Bible, comes from the Greek word, biblia, meaning a collection of books, and this particular collection contains sixty-six books in all; written by more than 40 different men over a period of some 1600 years from 1513 B.C.E.* to 98 C.E.*  And yet they are now presented as one complete book that many consider to be "The Word of God."  I can't blame anyone for being skeptical about that.  How could there be any harmony in the works of writers living centuries apart from one another in different parts of the world? Just try sitting 5 men down at the same table and tell them to write different chapters to a book without looking at each other's work. There is no way it would make any sense when it was put together.
But Guess What: The Bible Does make sense!
Considering its origin, the inner harmony found throughout its pages is nothing short of miraculous.

But, how could it be considered the word of God if it was was written by men?

*Footnote: CHRISTENDOM counts time from what is supposed to be the year of Jesus’ birth, anno Domini, A.D., “in the year of (our) Lord, i.e., Jesus Christ.” Dates before that year are designated B.C., “before Christ.” Moslems count time from the year Mohammed fled Mecca, A.H., which was A.D. 622. The Jews count time from the beginning of creation, anno mundi, A.M., “in the year of the world.” (Webster) To avoid implied recognition of Jesus as Lord or Christ some, particularly among the Jews, avoid the abbreviations B.C. and A.D. and instead use B.C.E., “before the the common era,” and C.E., “the common era,” which Webster’s New International Dictionary says equals the Christian era, or vulgar era.

 

 

 

2. How could it be considered the word of God if it was was written by men? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Bible itself answers that question this way: "Men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit."  2 Peter 1:21  In other words, God used men as secretaries to write down his thoughts, as several of its writers clearly state. Here are just a few examples:

  • Paul, who wrote 13 of the 27 books comprising "the new testament," said at 2 Timothy. 3:16, 17: “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.”

  • John, who wrote 5 of the 27 said at Revelation 1:1, "A revelation by Jesus Christ, which God gave him, to show his slaves the things that must shortly take place. And he sent forth his angel and presented it in signs through him to his slave John."

  • King David, who wrote many of the Psalms  is quoted at 2 Sam. 23:2 as saying: “The spirit of Jehovah it was that spoke by me, and his word was upon my tongue.”

  • Isaiah said at Isaiah 22:15: “This is what the Sovereign Lord, Jehovah of armies, has said.”

  • Actually, it should not take much to convince any reasoning person that the Bible is an inspired work. All one has to do is look into its pages and find scriptures like:

    • Isa. 40:22: “There is One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth.” This was written around 2700 years ago.  Who knew that the earth was round at that time? Only its creator! As recently as 500 years ago, in the days of Columbus, men were still worried about sailing off the end of what was then thought to be a flat earth. 

    • Job 26:7: "He is stretching out the north over the empty place, hanging the earth upon nothing."  [circa 1473 BCE] Again, who knew this 3400 years ago? Only the one who hung it there!
    • (Isaiah 40:26) “Raise YOUR eyes high up and see. Who has created these things? It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number, all of whom he calls even by name. Due to the abundance of dynamic energy, he also being vigorous in power, not one of them is missing. [circa 732 BCE]

    Modern day science has three theories for the origin of the universe, the most popular being "The Big Bang Theory," in which a big ball of matter is thought to have exploded to form all of those heavenly bodies Isaiah referred to. They offer no clue as to where the original matter came from. They now know that stars are balls of dynamic energy, and that energy can be converted into matter, but how did Isaiah know that? What he said here, some 2700 years ago explains how the energy was supplied to create the matter. Scientists who reject the Bible's inspiration still don't have a clue.

    But how could it possibly contain anything even close to its original message?

     

    3. How could it possibly contain anything even close to its original message? 

     

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    Good question.

    We've all played that party game where people line up and the first person whispers a message into the ear of the one next to him, which then is passed along from ear to ear down to the end of the line, coming out nothing like the original message.
    So, even if the Bible started out as the Word of God, wouldn't its message have been corrupted on its way down to our day?

    To have survived untarnished down to this day would be nothing short of miraculous. It was recorded on perishable material --paper made of papyrus reeds and parchment made of animal skin-- in languages few people speak today. Add to that the fact that powerful men, from emperors to religious leaders have tried their best to eradicate it.

    So, how did it survive to become mankind's best known book?

    Didn't it need to be copied over and over by hand and wouldn't that lead to many errors?

     

    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 destroy it.

     

    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 of opposition.

     

    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 Sir 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?

    So, as it turns out, one of the very reasons people don't accept the Bible becomes an explanation for its accuracy.  Jehovah was well aware when he set out to inspire men to write the Bible that this book would meet with unimaginable opposition from its enemies. Having multiple handwritten copies produced as they were, with great precision, was part of his way of seeing to it that some would survive. And survive they did.

    But what about all the translating that has been done?
    Wouldn't something had to have been lost n the process?

     

     

     

    5. With translation into other languages wouldn't something have been lost in the process?

     

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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 that 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 nutshell version.

    Removing and Setting Up Kings.

    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 Daniel.

    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.

    Here's what he said:

    (Daniel 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 he is changing times and seasons, removing kings and setting up kings, giving 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 him about the dream, but first he explained the source of his great wisdom: 

    (Daniel 2:27-28) . . .“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:

    (Daniel 5:26-31) 26 “'This 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. 28 “PE′RES, your 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:

    (Daniel 8:5-6) ". . .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 is the explanation of all this as told to Daniel by the angel, Gabriel.

    (Daniel 8:20-22) 20 “The 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 the great horn that was between its eyes, it stands for the first king. 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.

    Here's the 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

    Hopefully, 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.

    NEXT SUBJECT: What is the truth about God?