Can we trust the Bible?
“The quantity of New Testament material is almost embarrassing in comparison with other works of antiquity…Next to the New Testament, the greatest amount of manuscript testimony is of Homer’s Iliad, which was the bible of the ancient Greeks. There are fewer than 650 Greek manuscripts of it today. Some are quite fragmentary. They come down to us from the second and third century.” – Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
- Why is it that the accuracy of the New Testament, which has 5500 manuscripts, is questioned more than the accuracy of Plato’s text, which has 250 surviving manuscripts? One scholar said that if you include all the citations of the early Church Fathers quoting from the scriptures in sermons and writings the number of New Testament manuscripts is close to one million!
- In 1872 a young assistant at the British Museum, George Smith, working on 20.000 clay fragments from the library of Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria in the 7th century BC, at Nineveh, noticed references to ship resting on a mountaintop following a great flood. He succeeded in piecing together this gigantic jigsaw puzzle and thus stumbled across an Assyrian flood story. This story is part of a much longer epic (the Epic of Gilgamesh) fragments of which have been found at widely separated places in Mesopotamia and even, as recently as 1939, at Megiddo in Palestine. Evidently the story was well known over a wide area in ancient time.
- Probably no excavation ever carried out has been important as that carried on by Israeli institutions at the western and southern walls of the Temple Mountain in Jerusalem. The actual steps and entrances of Herod’s temple have been uncovered, as have the tiny shops and narrow streets where the merchants must have hawked their wares. The giant stone blocks from the top of the wall, which were thrown down into the streets by Titus’ troops in AD 70, were found where they fell. In a grave in another part of the city was found the remains of a Jew who had been crucified by the Romans, the first physical evidence of this form of execution ever found.
- The oldest Hebrew manuscript we had was from about the beginning of the tenth century (AD 900). How would we know that this represented the Hebrew text in use in the days of Christ? The answer finally came. In 1947 a complete manuscript of the Hebrew text of Isaiah was found. Paleographers date it about 125 BC so it is 1000 years older than the oldest copy of Isaiah known up to that time.
- a Bedouin shepherd boy was searching for a lost goat. He tossed a stone into a hole in a cliff on the West Side of the Dead Sea, about eight miles south of Jericho. To his surprise, he heard the sound of shattering pottery. Investigating, he discovered an amazing sight. On the floor of the cave were several large jars containing leather scrolls, wrapped in linen cloth. Because the jars were carefully sealed, the scrolls had been preserved in excellent condition for nearly 1900 years. (They were evidently placed there in AD 68).