How Do We Know The Bible Is Accurate?
We know this several ways. First, we must consider the time gap
Christ's death, burial, and resurrection and the writing of the
Testament. Most scholars date the Gospel books (Matthew, Mark,
John) around 50-70 AD. Jesus died between 30 and 33 AD. This
leaves a time
gap of only 20- 40 years from the death of Christ to the first
books about His life.
This is important because it means that it was within the
those who had seen Him on earth, and that means that they could
verified or contradicted the stories about Christ since they would
known whether it had happened or not. In addition, since there
witnesses at the time that the Gospels were put together, there
enough time for legendary passages to appear in the text.
Next, we must examine the letters of Paul, which are almost
accepted as having been written before the Gospels were. Paul was
converted a mere two years after Christ's death, according to most
scholars--this puts him writing letters as early as 32-35 AD Most
say the latest he started writing was in the 40s or 50s.
In addition, 1 Corinthians 15 quotes one of the earliest church
ever. Paul writes:
"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance:
Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was
that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he
more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of
still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to
then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also,
one abnormally born." (1 Cor. 15:3-8).
It is universally accepted that the passages about Christ's
burial, and resurrection are one of the first church creeds ever
Strobel, p 34-35). These creeds were written between 2-5 years
Christ's death. In historical documents, that's a blink of an eye.
example, the two earliest biographies of Alexander the Great were
more than four hundred years after Alexander's death in 323
are considered to be generally trustworthy. The shorter the time
between an event and when it is recorded, the less likely that it
fall prey to human error and legend. Therefore, the fact that the
creeds were written within the first 5 years or so of the Church's
existence is very important.
Secondly, we have vast numbers of copies of the New Testament.
also important because no original copy of the New Testament
That means that all we have is copies of it. So how do we know
copies are accurate?
First, you can cross-check the various documents to see how
differ. If you do this, between the various Greek, Latin, Syriac,
Coptic translations (of which there are 5,664 Greek manuscripts,
8,000-10,000 Latin Vulgate manuscripts, and 8,000 Ethiopic,
Armenian manuscripts, for a total of around 24,000--there are only
manuscripts of Homer's "Iliad" the book with the second most
manuscripts behind the New Testament) then there are amazing
consistencies. It's so amazing that Norman Geisler and William Nix
"The New Testament, then, has not only survived in more
any other book from antiquity, but it has survived in a purer form
any other great book--a form that is 99.5 percent pure." (See
& Nix, 367). It also must be noted that the variants (or
discrepancies) between the texts are usually matters of word order
doesn't matter in Greek, since it is an inflected language) and
and that no key doctrine is in jeopardy of having been corrupted.
Secondly, you can find the Bible quoted in many sources outside
the New Testament. In fact, if every single New Testament
destroyed, the entire Bible could be reproduced from commentaries
by various theologians throughout the first millenium AD. This
even more manuscripts to test differences in.
For further information:
Norman Geisler and William Nix, A General
to the Bible
Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands A Verdict
Lee Strobel, The Case For Christ