The Best Free Book About God Answers Many Questions About God

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Best Free Book About God "Merely a Book?" Part 1 Chapter 1


The Bible, Jesus & Religion



The Lie: The Bible is full of myths and you can’t trust our modern translations.


People in our modern society are diligently searching for truth and purpose in life.  Some study philosophy, others look to psychology; some join religious systems while still others turn to drugs.  This universal quest follows an endless number of avenues, but it is surprising how few people ever seriously consider the Bible itself as a possible road to truth. Instead, the Bible rests prominently displayed on book shelves and coffee tables as some powerless ancient relic while inferior writings become dog-eared and tattered from use.

        This unfortunate condition exists partially because so few people understand just how unique the Bible is when compared to all other literature – both ancient and modern.  For example: The Bible was the very first book to be put into a codex (leaf page) form. 1 and it was also the first major book printed2 (on Gutenberg’s printing press). Since that time, the Bible has had more copies printed, and has been read by more people than any other book in history3 (in fact, its circulation has been greater than the next five books combined - Three of which are Bible related).4 And, not only was the Bible the first major book printed, it was also the first major book to be translated.  This first translation was from the Hebrew language into the Greek language and is known as “The Greek Septuagint.”5 And, from the time of the Septuagint, the Bible has since been translated into over 1200 different languages6 – no other book even approaches this remarkable statistic.  Moreover, the Bible has influenced more books to be written, more songs, more music, more poems, more essays, more commentaries and more literature in general, than any other book by far.

UPDATE: As of the year 2010, according to the “Wycliffe Bible Translators” the Bible has now been translated into more than 4700 languages! And, although there are periodically certain popular books that have greater sales numbers in a given month or months; there is still no book that approaches the consistent long-term dominance in circulation that the Bible maintains. There have literally been BILLIONS of Bibles sold and circulated! 

        Consider also the content of the Bible and the manner in which it was compiled:  It was written on three different continents over a 1500 year period that ended almost 2000 years ago.  More than 40 different authors were involved in its composition during a span of some 60 generations and, what is exceptionally unique, is that these authors came from diverse walks of life.  For example: David was a king, Peter was a fisherman, Luke was a doctor and historian, Matthew was a tax collector, Paul was a rabbi, Amos was a Sheppard, Joshua was a general, and the list goes on and on.  Some were at peace, some were at war; some were happy, some were depressed; some enjoyed prosperity while others were subjected to poverty; some enjoyed freedom while others wrote from within prison walls; and, what is absolutely amazing, is that in spite of all these differences, we find a certain harmony within one unfolding story throughout the entire Bible.7

        Whereas, in other religious and philosophical writings, we find men voicing their OWN views and opinions on particular subjects concerning man, the Bible is the only book wherein we find people writing “THUS SAITH THE LORD”, or making similar pronouncements more than 2000 times.

        The Bible talks about unknown future events more confidently than, and in as much detail, as other books tell about past and present events.  Even though many of  its authors had absolutely no way of being influenced by another’s writings due to diversities of time, distance, and background, we still find them describing the same future events, agreeing completely on controversial issues, and saying “ Thus saith the Lord” over and over again.7

        In spite of such overwhelming credentials, isn’t it amazing that most high school and college students would rather die than be caught reading a Bible on campus by their peers.  This widespread fear of humiliation and rejection is the sad result of one of the most diabolical schemes to conceal the truth that has ever been foisted upon humanity.


Fact or Fiction?


        Throughout history, men have tried to discredit the Bible with a barrage of criticism that no other book would have been able to endure.  The Bible has been labeled as myth and legend by numerous scholars through past centuries and by many modern day scholars who have taught these views in our universities.  One famous critic was the French Philosopher, Voltaire, who made the claim that within one hundred years from his lifetime, the Bible (along with Christianity) would regress into a state of extinction.8 It is interesting to note that fifty years after Voltaire’s death, the Geneva Bible Society was using his home and printing press to produce numerous copies of that indestructible book.9

        Our universities and even some of our theological seminaries have endeavored to demonstrate the “unreliability” of certain books, names, dates, places, and recorded events in the Bible.  However, by the time the “higher critics” finished dissecting the Bible, there was not much left that could be considered true and reliable.  Moreover, these skeptical arguments have been presented in such a scholarly fashion, that many Christian students have suffered a loss of confidence in the Scriptures.

        However, in recent years, the science of archaeology has reconfirmed the historical accuracy of the Bible.  And, as a result, the same critical arguments that at one time appeared to be so factual, have been crumbling one right after the other.  Because of this, many grey-haired professors have been forced to abandon theories which they have taught throughout their entire careers.  Some of these critical theories, and the evidence that refutes them, will be discussed in the following pages.  The selected theories comprise only a small portion of the many ideas that have been conceived by various scholars of the past two centuries; however, they will sufficiently serve to demonstrate the widespread folly of Biblical “higher criticism”.


“Wholly” Moses


        The “higher critics” often differ in their concepts regarding the manner in which the Bible was compiled; but, they all seem to come to the same conclusion – that it contains many inaccuracies and myths.  For example:  One of the most famous critical examinations of the Bible is known as “The Documentary Hypothesis.”  One of the major points in “The Documentary Hypothesis”, states that Moses could not have been the author of the Pentateuch or Torah (The first five books of the Bible).

        Such a contention is contrary to the belief of most Christians and Jews because, according to tradition, the Pentateuch (or Torah) was written by Moses and was completed around 1400 B. C.  However, the hypothesis claims that the Pentateuch was compiled by various authors over a four hundred year period which allegedly didn’t even begin until about 800 B. C..  It also claims that Moses could not have been one of these authors because writing was virtually unknown during this time; therefore, according to the Documentary Hypothesis, this long period from the actual time of Moses (1400 B.C.) until the alleged completion of the Pentateuch, (400 B.C.) would give birth to many inaccuracies and legends about the early history of Israel.

        Unfortunately, for the “higher critics,” archaeology has proven that, not only was writing in existence during the time of Moses, but that sophisticated systems of writing existed even long before the time of Abraham (2000 B.C.).  In fact, archaeologists agree that Egypt and Babylonia had many schools, teachers, poets, and even libraries centuries before Abraham was born.10  Excavations at Ugarit and Ras Shamra (north of Canaan near the Syrian coast) have also revealed more evidence of an advanced literary culture in Canaan which existed prior to the time of Moses.  This culture had a dictionary that was used by Scribes and which listed words in four different languages (Ugaritic, Babylonian, Sumerian, and Hurrian).11

        At the site of ancient Elba, archaeologists have unearthed more than 17,000 tablets which date all the way back to 2200 B.C.  The Elba tablets reveal a sophisticated form of literature including an elaborate code of laws, religious ceremonies, judicial proceedings, and even many of the same names and cities that are found in the book of Genesis.12  There are numerous other discoveries which confirm the fact that writing was in existence long before Moses, and, in the light of such evidence, one would have to agree that Moses was certainly more than qualified to be the author of the Pentateuch since he was raised as an Egyptian prince and educated by the finest teachers available.


Conquering Kings


A specific part of the Pentateuch that has also endured extreme criticism is found in the fourteenth chapter of Genesis, which describes the military campaigns of four Mesopotamian kings during the time of Abraham.  Many scholars had declared this chapter to be a fictional account for a number of various reasons.  Even the famous archaeologist, William F, Albright, at one time considered this chapter to be the by-product of borrowed legends until he personally made certain discoveries that caused him to reverse his claims. 

        For example:  He and other critics (including “The Documentary Hypothesis”) claimed that the route of travel taken by the four kings would have been impossible because there were no cities or developed areas along that route.  However, we now have proof (because of the excavations of Nelson Glueck and William F. Albright) that there were several important cities along this route.13

        Another point of criticism stated that such extensive travel was non-existent during that time period.  However, clay tablets, which were discovered at Mari, stated that the King of Ugarit was planning to visit the King of Mari – a distance farther than that described in Genesis 14.14 A Babylonian tablet was also discovered that contained a rental agreement for a wagon, in which the owner stipulated that the wagon was not to be driven as far as the Mediterranean coast.15 This tablet dates back to about the same time period of Genesis 14.  Now, the question is:  Why would someone make such a stipulation in a contract if such distances were not commonly traveled?

        There are several other arguments against Genesis 14 that could be mentioned; however, these arguments have likewise crumbled beneath the archaeologist’s spade.  Therefore, the fourteenth chapter of Genesis is now considered to be historical by those who once declared it to be legend.


Sodom & Gomorrah


        The book of Genesis also contains a remarkable story about two flourishing cities called Sodom and Gomorrah, which became so corrupt and degenerate, that God had to destroy them in order to put an end to their evil.  Many critics have considered this account to be total myth from start to finish.  They maintained that it was merely a fictitious scare tactic with no real historical basis.  This claim was made, partially due to the fact that the cities described in the Bible were large flourishing cities, yet there had been no real evidence that these cities had ever existed.

        However, shortly after the turn of the century, an amazing discovery was made at the southern end of the Jordan valley where the Jordan River empties into the Dead Sea.  The area south of the Dead Sea is called “The Vale of Sidden” in the Bible and was where Sodom and Gomorrah, along with three other cities were supposed to have been located.  After a great deal of exploration in this area, the mysterious “legendary” cities were finally discovered.  The amazing thing is that the cities were not found on the southern shore of the Dead Sea.  Instead, the cities were discovered under the Dead Sea.16

        Geologists estimate that at approximately 2000 B.C., a great earthquake and volcanic eruption caused the cities to literally sink into the Dead Sea.17 This area, which was once densely populated, very suddenly became uninhabited and desolate for thousands of years.  There is evidence, throughout the entire region, of an ancient catastrophic holocaust which coincides with the Biblical record of God’s judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah.

UPDATE: Since the time of this discovery, the waters of the Dead Sea have receded to a degree that has enabled further research and it is now believed that this particular location is not the location of Sodom and Gomorrah. However, in recent years, there have been other discoveries that verify the existence of these once flourishing cities (in the same general area) and corroborating evidence of the manner in which the Bible says they were destroyed. There are links to free websites at the end of this book for further research on these findings.


The Conquest


        Another area of Scripture that has suffered a great amount of criticism is that which deals with the Hebrew conquest of Canaan.

        According to the Bible, the Israelites were delivered by God from Egyptian captivity and were then led by Moses on a journey to the land which God had promised to give them.  The Jews were led to the doorstep of this land, but failed to acquire it because they had lost confidence in God’s ability to keep His promise concerning the Land.  Because of their unbelief, the Israelites were made to wander throughout the desert wilderness for forty years before they were given another opportunity to acquire this land.  In order to claim the Promised Land, the Jews had to conquer the people of Canaan who, like those residents of Sodom and Gomorrah, had degenerated into a perverse society.

        The Bible depicts some extremely violent battles that were waged against Canaan in which the Israelites destroyed city after city along with their inhabitants.  Many scholars once believed that this Biblical account was unreliable and unhistorical.  They claimed that the Hebrew infiltration into Canaan culture was a very gradual and nonviolent process that occurred over a long period of time.  They believed it was a slow osmosis of one culture blending in with the other and supported this position with some very intellectual arguments.  However, their arguments collapsed when city after city was excavated and found to have been conquered and destroyed exactly as described in the Bible.18




        One of the conquered cities was Jericho.  The Bible says that God caused the walls to “fall down flat” so that the Israelites could march straight ahead into the city in order to destroy it.  At one occupation level of the ancient site of Jericho, archaeologists found that the walls of the city had fallen completely outward.19 They also discovered that the city had been burned, but had not been looted (a detail which also coincides with the Biblical record).20 And, although there is still some controversy as to whether or not this occupation level fits into the correct Biblical time period, many competent archaeologists believe that it does.

        Shortly before the Israelites fought this “Battle of Jericho”, the Bible says that the waters of the Jordan River “rose up upon a heap” so that the Jews could march right through the river bed toward the city.  To some, this seemed like another fictitious account; however, it has since been discovered that a similar event has occurred at least three times in history in which upstream landslides have caused the river channel below to dry up for several hours.  The last time this occurred was in 1927.21

        This is not to insinuate that all of God’s miracles can be explained by natural phenomenon because they can’t!  God does not have to work within the laws of nature; however, sometimes he chooses to do so.  If the event described in the Bible was the result of a natural landslide, the timing of such an event would indeed be miraculous.

UPDATE: There are still controversies concerning the ancient ruins of Jericho and Biblical time frames. There will be links to free websites at the end of the book for further research and verification.  




        In the Biblical accounts of the Canaan conquest, mention is also made of a nation known as the Hittites.  These people are mentioned in other parts of the Old Testament as well and are depicted as being a strong and powerful nation.  Until recently, the Hittites were considered by some scholars to be an insignificant people, while others considered them to be legendary.  However, archaeology has proven that at several times in history, the Hittites were indeed a mighty nation.22 In fact; so much evidence has been made available, that a person can go to Harvard University and study the Hittite language.23


The Exile


        The Biblical record of the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon has also been labeled as “unhistorical” by many scholars.  The Bible states that Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, conquered and destroyed the cities of Judah, including Jerusalem.  It goes on to say that most of the surviving Jews were taken captive and placed in exile at Babylon.  The Bible also infers that many of the prisoners were treated with respect and that some were even educated and given certain prestigious duties while in captivity.  This exile is said to have lasted seventy years, after which time, the Jews were allowed to return to their homeland and rebuild Jerusalem.  Information pertaining to this exile is found in the books of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, II Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah.

        One of the most famous critics of the Jewish exile accounts was a man by the name of C. C. Torrey, who proclaimed that there never was any destruction or rebuilding of Jerusalem and that there never was any real exile.  Many scholars adhered to his arguments because they seemed to be factually supported.  However, Torrey’s analysis is no longer valid due to recent archaeological discoveries.

        Excavations of the cities of Judah have proven that they were indeed destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.  More than three hundred tablets, dating from 595 to 570 B.C., were discovered in Babylon.  These tablets prove that after the destruction of Judah, the surviving Jews were taken captive and placed in exile at Babylon.24 The tablets contained lists of rations which were paid to Jewish captives who were involved in many different occupations and trades.  Among those people mentioned in the ration lists is found the name of Jehoiachin, “King of Judah.”25 This supports the Biblical record which states that Jehoiachin was taken captive, and yet was still considered to be King of Judah, even while he was in captivity.

        The Bible suggests that special treatment was given to some of the captives including Jehoiachin and also to Daniel and his friends.  Such an idea seemed preposterous to many critics who claimed that the Babylonians extended no such courtesies to prisoners.  However, in spite of the critical contentions, evidence that supports the Biblical record is found within the same tablets that contain the previously mentioned ration lists.  Additional evidence was found when a building was excavated, upon which, were found some inscriptions that stated that the building was once used as a place of learning, where captive prisoners were taught the customs and knowledge of the Babylonian culture.26

        The Bible also states that the Jewish captives were released by Cyrus, King of Persia, after he conquered Babylon.  This was another point of argument for the skeptics who claimed that such an event never occurred.  Their arguments collapsed when a broken cylinder was discovered in Babylon.  This cylinder, known as the “Cyrus Cylinder,” contains inscriptions which state that Cyrus allowed captive people to return to their homelands to rebuild their cities and temples.27

        The cumulative accounts concerning the Jewish exile are supported by many extra-Biblical sources.  Only those who are biased or uninformed, continue to attack their historicity.



        Another part of the Bible that has undergone extreme criticism is the book of Daniel.  One of the reasons Daniel has been maligned by so many critics is because the book contains numerous prophecies about events that actually occurred long after it was supposed to have been written (600 B.C.).  The book of Daniel contains some specific, detailed prophecies about the empires of Egypt, Persia, Greece, and also a history of the Jews unto the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (170 B.C.).

        Because of these prophecies, critics have tried to “late date” the book of Daniel at a time shortly after 170 B.C. and, if it were academically possible, the critics would probably try to assign even a later date than this because the Book contains other prophecies that were not fulfilled until long after 170 B.C..  The skeptics are forced to overlook such prophecies as the rise and fall of the Roman Empire and several others, including some that are yet being fulfilled in our own generation.  The book of Daniel was written mostly in the Hebrew and Aramaic languages.  Those portions written in Hebrew were specifically intended for the Jews, while those portions written in Aramaic were specifically intended for the Babylonians.  However, there are three Greek words in the book which were considered by the critics to be evidence of their claim that the book of Daniel couldn’t have been written until after Babylon was conquered by Alexander the Great.

        This argument, like scores of others, has been totally refuted by archaeology.  It has been established beyond doubt that Greece and Babylon were involved in extensive trade even before 600 B.C.28 As for the three Greek words, they were all names of musical instruments, one of which is known to have been used in Babylon, long before the time of Daniel.29 The presence of several Sumerian words within the book serves to verify its antiquity because this language was almost a dead language during the time of Daniel and shortly thereafter became virtually non-existent.30

        The critics have also attacked the book of Daniel by stating that it is historically inaccurate.  They have scoffed at the stories of Daniel in the lion’s den and have ridiculed the account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who allegedly were thrown into a “fiery furnace.”  These stories have become more credible since archaeologists unearthed a giant furnace in Babylon, along with some inscriptions which stated that the furnace was used for burning people who refused to worship the Babylonian gods.31 A large pit was also excavated which was at one time used for feeding people to wild animals.32

        Daniel also states that Belshazzar was King of Babylon during its conquest by Persia.  The skeptics considered this account to be proof that the book of Daniel was full of legends and myths because secular history had proven that a man named Nabonidus was King of Babylon during this time period.  In fact, the name of Belshazzar was not to be found anywhere in secular literature. 

        However, thanks again to archaeology, there have been several discoveries which have helped to clear up this apparent controversy.  Recent evidence confirms that there was indeed a man named Belshazzar during this time period and that he was the son of Nabonidus.  We have learned through ancient records that Nabonidus was away from Babylon during the Persian conquest and that Belshazzar was left behind to govern as king.  We also know that Belshazzar was killed that night just as it was recorded by Daniel.33

        In spite of a barrage of scholarly criticism, the book of Daniel has emerged as being historically accurate.


Jacob & Esau


        There have been many other archaeological discoveries that have helped to shed light on some questionable Bible passages, even though the discoveries did not directly pertain to the Biblical events or characters.  For example, the Bible records a story about a man named Isaac who was the father of twin sons called Jacob and Esau.  Esau was the first born of the two boys and grew up to be a strong and skillful hunter.  He was highly favored by his father while his brother Jacob was favored by his mother.

        One day, Esau returned from a long hunting trip and was extremely tired and hungry.  He was enticed by the aroma of some stew that Jacob had prepared but, when he asked his brother for a bowl of it, Jacob refused to give him any unless he was willing to sell his birthright in exchange for the food.  Esau was so hungry, that his birthright seemed less important than a hot meal, so he swore an oath to his brother and took the food in exchange for his inheritance.

        The Bible goes on to describe how Jacob later deceived his father, who was old and almost blind, by disguising himself to look and smell like Esau in order to receive the oral blessing which was supposed to be given to Esau.  And, even though Isaac soon realized that he had been deceived, he allowed the blessing to remain with Jacob.

        The historical validity of this Biblical account has been questioned by many sincere scholars.  The question has been asked, “If Isaac discovered the deception shortly after it occurred, then why didn’t he simply retract it?”  Everything was done verbally, so all he would have to do is reprove Jacob for his conduct and transfer the blessing back to Esau.

        This does seem like the logical solution in our modern day culture; but, archaeology has given deeper insight into the social and legal customs that prevailed during the time of Isaac.  For example, the Nuzi Tables contain some interesting accounts from which we have learned that an oral blessing was legally binding and irrevocable.34 The Nuzi Tablets also reinforce the Biblical account of Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of stew, because one tablet records a similar transaction between two brothers, only in this situation, one brother sold his inheritance for just one sheep.35


Coming Attractions


        In the light of recent discoveries such as the Nuzi Tablets, many Bible stories, that at one time seemed incredible, are now very credible indeed.  The great copper mines of King Solomon have been found, lost cities and nations have been reconstructed, dead languages have been resurrected and each new decade brings with it new discoveries which support the accuracy and reliability of the Holy Scriptures.  Altogether, more than twenty-five thousand sites that have some Old Testament connection have been found and have yet to be excavated.  Therefore, we can assume that those arguments that still may speak against the historicity of the Bible are standing on “shaky ground” and will eventually topple like so many before them.  And, as the Old Testament record is reinforced through archaeology, the many arguments against the New Testament record are likewise vanishing because the discoveries that have vindicated the historical accuracy of the New Testament are even more numerous than those which support the Old Testament.  This is because the New Testament era is not as far removed from us in time; therefore, the structures, records, etc., have not endured the same amount of natural deterioration.  Some of the many discoveries supporting the New Testament will be mentioned later in this chapter, but, first it is necessary to dispel another common assault against the accuracy of the Bible.


“Write” or Wrong


The Bible has been translated and re-copied numerous times by many people over a period of thousands of years.  Because of this, it is a common belief that our present day Bible has had many thoughts and words either added or subtracted since the time of original authorship.  The skeptics contend that the Scriptures have been distorted and changed so many times that they cannot be accepted as being reliable.

        However, it is interesting to note that few of these critics ever question our present day copies of Aristotle, Caesar, Plato and a host of other ancient writer’s works.  Students in our universities study the writings of men like Pliny, Herodotus, Sophocles, Tacitus and many others with little questioning their historical accuracy because some professors teach these early writings as if they were factual, unquestionable history.

        This being true, why then is the Bible so often considered to be inaccurate while other early writings are considered to be historical?  The answer is twofold:  This blatant discrimination exists primarily because the Bible contains much that is classified as being supernatural and is therefore automatically labeled as “myth” because of preconceived ideas about supernatural events and not on the basis of fact.  (The supernatural will be dealt with in chapter three).  The second reason for this disparity in judgment between the Bible and other ancient literature is this:  Seldom does anyone make an honest and equal comparison between the Bible and other classical literature by applying the same methods of testing to both.  In the preceding pages, the historical accuracy of the Bible was established on the basis of archaeology and physical evidence only; however, there are other factors which have to be considered when trying to determine the accuracy of ancient literature.  Some of those methods will be examined in the following pages and the majority of this examination will involve a comparison between the New Testament and other ancient literature; however, the Old Testament will also be briefly considered.

        Critics often claim that Christians can’t really trust their Bible because they don’t have any of the original documents.  But, what they fail to realize, is that there aren’t any original documents from any of the previously mentioned ancient philosophers, historians, etc.... This is because ancient writings were hand-written on materials that were perishable, such as Papyrus, which was the most common of the many different materials that were used.  As a document became old, excessively worn, or increasingly popular, copies were made by hand on new materials.  These copies are known as manuscripts and it is very difficult to recover many of them because of the ideal conditions that were necessary to retard their deterioration.  Therefore, since we don’t have the original documents of any of these early writings, their accuracy must be determined by examining the existing manuscripts.


The Manuscripts


        In his book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell cites the three basic tests used for determining the historical reliability of any ancient piece of literature.  These tests were taken from the book, Introduction in Research in English Literary History, by C. Sanders.  They are known as the Bibliographical Test, The Internal Evidence Test, and The External Evidence Test.36

        The Bibliographical Test is the first test to be considered and it involves an examination of any existing hand written manuscript copies and their methods of transmission.  It takes into consideration the number of existing manuscripts, the time span between the oldest manuscript and the original document, and it considers any discrepancies within the manuscripts when compared to each other.  When the Bibliographical Test is applied equally to the Bible and other ancient works, the results become quite astounding.

        For example, Plato wrote his tetrologies between 427 and 347 B. C. and there are only seven existing manuscripts from which to determine the reliability of these works.  The oldest of these seven extant manuscripts dates back to around 900 A.D., which leaves a time span of twelve hundred years between the original work and our oldest copies.37 How can one be certain that the 900 A.D. hand written copy contains the same words, thoughts, etc… that the original work contained?  After all, there is a period of twelve hundred years in which many changes could have occurred.

        Caesar’s Gallic War was composed around 50 B.C., and there are only ten manuscripts from which we derive our information and teaching concerning Caesar’s Gallic War.  Moreover, the oldest of these ten manuscripts was still written nine hundred years after the original.38

        The histories of Pliny, Thucydides, Herodotus, and others are likewise considered to be accurate by many.  Pliny wrote between 61-113 A.D. and yet there are only seven manuscripts of his writings and a time span of seven hundred fifty years exists between the oldest and the original.39 Thucydides wrote from 460-400 B.C. and only eight manuscripts have been recovered – the oldest being 1300 years removed from the original.40 And, as for Herodotus, there are also only eight manuscripts and a time span of thirteen hundred years that exists between the oldest and the original.41

        From the writings of Aristotle, there are no more than five manuscripts of any single work with a gap of fourteen hundred years between the original and the copy.42 The examples could go on and on – citing similar statics for all the great classical writers.

        It is traditionally believed that the New Testament was written between 45 and 85 A.D., with the book of John being the last book to be completed.  However a famous professor by the name of Ferdinand Christian Bauer, formulated some convincing arguments in which he claimed that the Gospel of John was not written until the end of the second century (obviously by someone other than John, the disciple of Jesus).  The critics used this “fact” to undermine the reliability of the New Testament.

        However, a manuscript was found in Egypt that caused many of these scholars to alter their views.  This manuscript is known as the “John Ryland Manuscript” and it is located in the John Ryland Library of Manchester England.  It is a portion of the Gospel of John and it dates back to 130 A.D. – less than fifty years from the time of original authorship.43 And, since it was found in Egypt (a considerable distance from Ephesus) it has been concluded that the Gospel had to have been written before the end of the first century.

        The “Bodmer Papyrus II” Manuscripts date back to within one hundred years of the original authorship and contain almost the entire book of John.44

        The “Chester Beatty Papyri” contain major portions of the entire New Testament and date back to within one hundred fifty years of original authorship.45

        The “Codex Sinaiticas” Manuscripts contain all of the New Testament with the exception of a few verses and were written about two hundred years after the original authorship of the New Testament.46

        These represent only a few examples.  Altogether there are more than thirteen thousand hand written manuscripts of the New Testament with the oldest dating back to within fifty years of the original authorship.47 There is no other ancient work of literature that even comes close to approaching these statistics.

UPDATE: There are now more than 24,000 extant manuscripts of the New Testament. Of these there are more than 5600 Greek manuscripts available.

“The Iliad” by Homer, has the second most impressive manuscript record and altogether there are six hundred forty-three extant manuscripts of the Iliad.48 This number is quite superior when compared to other classical works; however, it is extremely inferior to the New Testament record of more than thirteen thousand.

        The Iliad, like the Bible, was considered to be a sacred work; therefore, extreme care would have been taken by those who re-copied this ancient work.  This explains why the textual purity of “The Iliad” is also superior to other classical works.

        “The Iliad” has approximately fifteen thousand six hundred lines within its pages.  There are some seven hundred sixty-four of these lines that are considered to be questionable, or in which the true meaning is in doubt.49 (This statistic is based upon an evaluation and comparison of existing manuscripts).  Therefore, “The Iliad” has only a five percent textual corruption, which is superior when compared to other ancient literature.

        The New Testament contains approximately twenty thousand lines.  Of these, there are only forty lines or about four hundred words that are in doubt.50 This computes to only one half of one percent textual corruption, which is a phenomenal achievement in ancient literature.  And, out of these four hundred words that are questionable, not one of them affects the meaning of any major doctrine of the Christian faith.

        Some critics have made assertions that the New Testament is full of thousands of discrepancies.  What they don’t tell people is that they are taking into consideration such things as; changes in spelling to a more contemporary form, and other insignificant grammatical changes.  Plus, if a minor error is found in the same sentence of eight thousand manuscripts, then these critics calculate eight thousand discrepancies in the New Testament record.  Statistics like these are not only erroneous; they are blatantly deceitful because, in reality, the New Testament record is 99.5% textually pure.51     

        Bible verses were frequently quoted by the early church writers and many manuscripts have been discovered that contain various quotations and references to the Bible.  These extra-Biblical quotations are so numerous, that almost the entire New Testament can be reconstructed from just the quotations. 

        According to Sir David Dalrymple, if all the Bibles and all the manuscripts in the entire world were destroyed, there would be enough extra-Biblical quotations written within two hundred years of the time of Christ to reproduce all but eleven verses of the whole New Testament.52

        Sir Frederick Kenyon, one of the greatest authorities in New Testament criticism, has stated, “The number of manuscripts of the New Testament, of early translations from it, and of quotations from it in the oldest writers of the church, is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or the other of these ancient authorities.  This can be said of no other ancient book in the world.”[1]

        There is no confusion about what the New Testament writers meant to say.  Any confusion that exists among various denominations within the Orthodox Christian structure is a result of human nature because some people cherish certain Bible passages while they willfully ignore others.  Some interject thoughts and ideas that were never even considered by the original authors, while others incorporate man-made ceremonies, rituals and rules that were never mentioned within the New Testament.

        All Christians are not in complete doctrinal agreement with each other; however, they do agree upon the few basic essentials of the Christian faith.  It is these basic essential doctrines that the various cults try to pervert.  Because of this, one can be sure that not all people who claim to be Christians are really Christians.  Many are involved in cultic systems that blatantly distort and pervert the Scriptures through various clever methods.  These cults lead the uninformed person into a system that professes to be Christian, but in reality is the antithesis of Christianity.  (Some of these cults will be briefly mentioned later in this book).

        The existence of different versions of the Bible has also confused people about its reliability.  For example, there is the King James Version, the Revised Standard Version, the New American Standard Version, the New English Version and several others.  However, these versions all convey the same stories, ideas, lessons, etc., that are found within the Greek and Latin manuscripts.  The choice of certain words may differ among them, yet they are usually synonymous.  There are only some very minor deviations between the different versions and none of them affect any essential doctrine.  (There is one exception that will be mentioned in dealing with the cults later in this book).  The King James Version, for example, contains a lot of antiquated yet very poetic words within its pages while the New American Standard version uses more contemporary English.  Both versions attempt to get the same message across to their readers, even though different words are used. 

        It should now be evident that the accuracy of the New Testament record is supported by a wealth of manuscript evidence.  An unbiased application of the Bibliographical Test places the New Testament in a superior class of its own.  However, the other two tests must now be considered before making an overall evaluation.


Internal Evidence


        The Internal Evidence Test is an in-depth analysis of the actual content of literature.  Its main premise is that the content of a document must be considered to be reliable unless there is absolute, irrevocable proof to the contrary.  In other words, any difficulties, and apparent discrepancies, or any problem texts within a document must be carefully examined and cannot be deemed “unreliable” without positive substantiating proof for such a claim.  The benefit of the doubt must be given to the document itself.53

        The New Testament records many miracles that were performed by Christ before multitudes of witnesses.  (The possibility of miracles will be addressed in a later chapter).  Many modern critics automatically determine these passages to be pure myth because of their preconceived ideas about supernatural occurrences and not because of infallible proof to support their claims.  The miracles of the New Testament differ greatly from those found in Greek mythology and other legends because they center on an actual man of history, at actual places in history, during a specific time in history, and before many real witnesses in history.  Because of this, some feeble attempts have been made by various critics to even discredit certain names, places, and dates that are recorded in Scripture.  However, these attempts have resulted in failure due to the many vindicating achievements of modern archaeology.

        Some people have even asserted that the deeds and teachings of Christ can’t be trusted because His disciples were the ones who wrote about them and not Christ Himself.  The Bible claims that the writings of the disciples were divinely inspired by God, Who enabled the disciples to accurately recall the events and teachings that are recorded in the New Testament.  But, even if this Biblical claim is completely discounted, the critics are faced with the fact that many other classical works were not written down by their noted authors.  This includes works of Homer, Augustus Caesar, Charlemagne, and others.54

        The greatest internal support for the accuracy of the New Testaments rests in the fact that the disciples wrote as eye witnesses and then publicly submitted their testimonies before other eye witnesses of the same era.  It would not have been very wise to alter historical facts because such alterations would have been easily detected by those who were familiar with the New Testament period.

        In their writings, the disciples often emphasized the fact that they were eye witnesses.  For example, in the first chapter of Luke, verses one through three; the New Testament reads; “inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eye witnesses and servants of the word have handed them down to us, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order most excellent Theophilus;”

        Another example is found in the first chapter of II Peter, verse sixteen which says; “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eye witnesses of His Majesty.”

        There are other similar verses recorded in Scripture including some in which the disciples not only claimed to be eye witnesses, but also stated that many of those of whom they were addressing were also eye witnesses.  For example:  In the second chapter of Acts, verse twenty two states this; “Men of Israel, listen to these words:  Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know…”

        Another such example is found in the twenty sixth chapter of Acts, verses 24-26, which states; “And while Paul was saying this in his defense.  Festus said in a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are out of your mind!  Your great learning is driving you mad!’  But Paul said, ‘I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I utter words of sober truth.  For the King knows about these matters and I speak to him also with confidence, since I am persuaded that none of these things escape his notice; for this has not been done in a corner’.”

        The disciples had to be accurate in their writings because there were many other followers of Christ who loved Him and knew His teachings.  These people would have never accepted any falsified account or distorted teachings about Jesus.

        The disciples also had to be accurate because there were those who despised Christianity and would have welcomed the opportunity to expose any deviation from the facts.  It would have been foolish for the apostles to open the door to their critical opponents by manipulating major facts of history; yet, in the past, the New Testament critics have even called into question, the names of governors, geographic locations and other important items that would have been common knowledge among the people of that era.


External Evidence


        The final test for determining the accuracy of a historical document is the External Evidence Test.  This test is basically an examination of any sources, apart from the document itself, that would either confirm or deny the accuracy of the document in question.  For example, the writings of other authors of the same era would be considered if their subject matter was about, or related to, the particular document.  Further considerations would also be given to any archaeological evidence that may substantiate or refute the reliability of the document.

        There were many writers who attested to the reliability and accuracy of the Scriptures.  Most of these writers were themselves Christians, yet their testimonies still have to be considered, especially since many of them chose to be killed by torture, or endure harsh persecution, rather than change their convictions.  However, there were also non-Christians whose writings attest to the accuracy of the Scriptures.  These would include such people as the famous historian, Flavius Josephus, and certain others who were actually antagonistic toward Christianity. 

        The historian, Eusebius, verifies this point in one of his writings when he says, “So firm is the ground upon which the Gospels rest, that the very heretics themselves bear witness to them, and starting from these, each one of them endeavors to establish his own particular doctrine.”*  In other words, the Gospels were so irrefutable, that those who sought to undermine the true Christian faith had to use those very same writings as a base from which to build their own false systems that distorted the spiritual teachings of the Gospels.

        Apart from the many extra-Biblical writings that exist, the confirmation of archaeology is probably the most valuable external verification of the New Testament.  As previously mentioned, there have been many discoveries that substantiate the authenticity of the New Testament.  During the past decades, numerous critical strongholds have been destroyed, along with the foolish logic that was used to defend them.

        For example, if the critics were unable to find any mention of particular Biblical names or places in secular literature, they would consider this to be substantial proof that such names and places never existed.  They seldom gave the Bible the “benefit of the doubt” (which is a requirement of the Internal Evidence Test).

        To cite an example, the New Testament mentions a place called the pool of Bethesda.  This was one of many places where Christ was to have performed an extraordinary miracle.  The Bible claims that this pool was located in Jerusalem and that it had five porticos.  There was no record of it anywhere else in secular literature, so the “Higher Critics” applied the “myth” label to this section of the New Testament.  This “myth” label had to be removed when archaeologists discovered this pool in Jerusalem and found that it had five porticos, just as the Bible stated.55

        The existence of Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor who sentenced Jesus to death was denied by the critics until archaeological proof of his existence was established.56 The tax census ordered by Augustus Caesar, as recorded in the Gospel of Luke, was said to have never occurred until irrefutable evidence was established from archaeology that it did indeed occur.57 The journeys of the Apostle Paul were questioned until the mentioned cities and places were excavated and indentified.58

        The critics have even gone so far as to question the accuracy of certain political titles that are recorded in the Gospel of Luke.  For instance, Luke refers to the Philippian rulers as being “Praetors.” The critics claimed that the town would have been governed by two “Duumvirs” instead.  However, even this trivial attempt to undermine the accuracy of the New Testament has been disproven through archaeology.59

        These represent only a small portion of the many critical stands that have been overturned.  They wouldn’t even be worth mentioning if it weren’t for the fact that they have been taught to many students in universities who believed in their validity.  What secular students aren’t taught is the fact that there is more evidence for the historical accuracy of the New Testament than any other ancient work.  Those who claim that the New Testament is not reliable, should, in all fairness, make the same claim of all other ancient literature.  Obviously, it is prejudice, not facts that cause people to reject the New Testament’s historicity.


The Old Still Shines


        The historical accuracy of the Old Testament has also been verified by application of the same three tests.  The internal and external evidence for the Old Testament has been well established through archaeology.  Several examples of Old Testament verification were cited in previous pages of this chapter.  However, on the surface, the bibliographical support for the Old Testament is not as impressive as that of the New Testament.    

        Up until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1948, the oldest Hebrew manuscript available was dated at about 900 A.D.  And since the Old Testament was completed around 400 B.C., this left a gap of thirteen hundred years between the completion date and the oldest manuscript copy. Plus, the quantity of Hebrew manuscripts is found to be no greater than other ancient works of that period.

        However, in spite of these seemingly insignificant statistics, the Old Testament is still deemed superior to other ancient writings when the bibliographical test is applied.  This is because the bibliographical test not only considers the quantity and age of the manuscripts; it also examines the method of transmission.  There is a reason why there are so few manuscripts and this reason is discovered when one examines the unique manner in which the Old Testament documents were transcribed.


A Mind for Details


The ancient Hebrews had a deep reverence for God and the Holy Scriptures.  Because of their reverence, the Hebrew Scribes had to abide by many strict rules before they were allowed to copy an Old Testament document.  During the Talmudist period for example, (100 A.D.-500 A.D.) the Scribes had to abide by the following rules: First, the Scribe had to wash his entire body and then put on ceremonial clothing. He then was required to write on the skins of “clean” animals-specially prepared by a Jew, expressly for the Synagogue.  These skins were then fastened by strings that were likewise made from special “clean” animals.

Once the pages were made from the skins, each page was required to have the same number of columns throughout the entire book.  These columns had to be a specific length and the width had to be exactly thirty letters.

        The Scribe was required to use black ink, and he could not write a word or even a single letter from memory.  In other words, the Scribe couldn’t look at a sentence on the older document and then write that sentence from memory on the new copy.  He couldn’t even look at a word on the older document and then write that word from memory on the copy.  Instead, each single letter had to be written one at a time by a continuous process of comparison between the two documents.

        Exact spacing between each letter was also required and whenever the name of God had to be written, a special pen was used. If a king or any other prominent person walked into the room, the Scribe was not allowed to talk to, or even look at that person while transcribing the Old Testament.60

        The manuscripts were so precise, that once they were completed, they were given equal or greater authority than the older document.  This is because the older document would have been more likely to have blemishes from extensive handling and age. If any mistakes were made, any rules violated, or if a document became excessively worn, it was destroyed, buried, or given to schools to be used as a reader.61 It is because of this practice that there is not a great abundance of manuscripts today. 

        The next period in Jewish history was known as the Masoretic Period (500 A.D.-900 A.D.).  Like the Talmudists, the Masoretes also had strict guidelines that they followed when transcribing the Old Testament.  Among these was the practice of counting and numbering the verses, words and letters of each Old Testament book.  When this was done, they would then calculate and number the center word and the center letter of each of these same books.  In addition to this they would also count and record the number of times that each individual letter of their alphabet occurred within a book and then they would even count the total number of words within their entire Bible and number the center word. All the numbered letters and words had to come out exactly the same when the two documents were compared to each other or else the copy was destroyed and the process started all over again.62

        In spite of the exacting care that was taken by the Hebrew Scribes, there were still many critics who claimed that today’s Masoretic text was unreliable due to the many years of transcribing and the thirteen hundred year gap between the completion date and our oldest copy.  So, without any proof, scholars condemned the accuracy of the Old Testament while they accepted the accuracy of other ancient works with less supportive evidence.     

        However, in the year 1948, a sudden “hush” fell upon many critics when the thirteen hundred year gap was reduced to three hundred years with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  These Scrolls were found in a cave by a shepherd boy, about eight miles south of Jericho.  They had been sealed in jars and remained in good condition for almost two thousand years.

        These Scrolls contained various writings of the Qumran community including some Old Testament Scriptures.  Among these, was found a complete text of the book of Isaiah, dating back to 125 B.C. Therefore, a comparison was made between the Qumran text and the Masoretic text of 900 A.D., and the two texts were found to be almost identical, with only some minor variations in spelling and a few other trivial differences.63

        For example, the fifty third chapter of Isaiah contains one hundred sixty-six words, out of which, only seventeen letters were questionable.  Fourteen of these questionable letters constituted changes in only spelling or grammar.  The remaining three letters formed a word which means “light” and they were added to the eleventh verse of this chapter. Isn’t it absolutely incredible to think, that between 125 B.C. and 900 A.D. (a period of more than one thousand years) only three letters were added to this entire chapter of Isaiah?64



Willful Blindness


        The Dead Sea Scrolls have silenced many critics.  However, there are still those who maliciously attack the credibility of the Old Testament simply because they never opened their eyes to the truth.  History proves that it doesn’t matter how many discoveries are made, or how many arguments are overturned.  These critics will always find some excuse for rejecting the Bible.  However, this rejection usually stems from an underlying moral issue; or, is merely an outcrop of one’s self will, rather than originating out of a problem with the intellect because too many brilliant scholars, after seeing the wealth of evidence that exists, have embraced the Scriptures without sacrificing one iota of their intelligence.

        When all evidence is weighed, it becomes apparent that the Bible is not “Merely a Book”.  The Bible stands separate and above all other books.  Throughout history, men and governments have tried to eliminate this book from the face of the earth; yet, in spite of many worldwide campaigns to destroy it, the Bible has survived.  Millions of people have been persecuted, tortured and killed because of their love for this book.  The Bible has changed the lives of men and women throughout the world and has even transformed entire civilizations and cultures.  It is God’s message to humanity; yet, many people in our society, who claim to be searching for truth, will not give it one moment of serious consideration. (By Robert Linkey)

The Truth:


“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” (II Timothy 3:15)


“But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (II Peter 1:20,21)


“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)


“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)


“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”

[1] Kenyon, Frederic G., Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, (Harper and Brothers, New York, 1941) P. 23; as quoted by Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, (Campus Crusade for Christ, 1972) P. 45

* Against Heresies III, Quoted by Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands A Verdict, (Campus Crusade For Christ, 1972) P. 66

Proverb of the Week

Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23 NASB)

Psalm of the Week

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come?My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.The sun will not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever. (Psalm 121 NASB)

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