Monday, June 30, 2014
The Bible: Genuine Article or Cunning Fraud?
The Bible has been seriously tampered with by person or persons with various agendas. Much of what was originally in it has been removed; conversely much that was not in it to begin with has been added long after the fact. This is the contention of modern skepticism and liberal academia. I find it difficult to believe that anyone still thinks there is any legitimacy to this opinion. And that is simply what the beginning assertion is: opinion. Worse than that: it is slanderous opinion in spite of, not because of, voluminous evidence to the contrary.
First of all, let’s consider the Old Testament. The finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Qumran caves should have been the deciding factor as to the legitimacy of the OT’s veracity. The Old Testament, with the exception of a copy of Esther, was found in part or in whole during this amazing find between the years 1947 to 1967. The age of the manuscripts range between the years 250 BC to 68 AD. For instance an intact scroll of Isaiah, dating to about 100 BC was found in one of the Qumran caves. When analyzed to see how drastically Isaiah had changed in 2100 years, what was the find? The manuscript agreed about 96% of the time with our modern copy of Isaiah. The same was found with every other manuscript within the caves. The differences were spelling errors and the like; trivial differences that all scholars agreed did not alter the context or meaning of the books in any significant way. In other words, the Old Testament we have today is the same as the Jews had 2100 years ago. It is no strain on credulity then to presume that the Jewish scribes, famous for the preservation methods regarding copying the Bible, kept the inspired books of the OT intact since their inception. Following general Biblical chronology, this wouldn’t even add another 2000 years to the age of the OT. Contrast this amazing longevity to the works of William Shakespeare. In 400 years since his works it is debated among scholars as to which manuscripts are in error, or how much error has accumulated in the interim.
The New Testament is under just as much of an assault, with claims made that books have been removed, tampered with, or written at a late date. John’s writings in particular have fallen under the microscope as being much later than the time of the Apostles (the latter portion of the first century AD). This continues in spite of the fact that fragments of John’s writings have been preserved from mid-second century AD. I don’t attest that these are original autographs, but early copies that adequately demonstrate that John’s letters were being circulated a mere 50 years or so after his demise. On top of this there is an excess of 24000 manuscripts for the New Testament, tens of thousands more copies than any other ancient writing in existence. The wealth of manuscripts is due to dissemination throughout the Roman world during and after the Apostles’ days, and was written in a host of languages living in that time. The abundance of available manuscripts, rather than revealing a weakness in finding the Bible trustworthy, served as a failsafe for anyone who wanted to add a fabrication to the existing epistles and gospels. A fraud would be rejected, because every region had a matching manuscript that had the NT’s canon already in it. The Councils of Nicaea (AD 325) and Constantinople (AD 381) merely confirmed the canon of the NT; it was not convened to vote books in. In other words all parties consented that the Bible presently intact at the time were in fact the inspired words of Christ’s Apostles.
More than this, the writers of the first and second centuries who succeeded the Apostles quoted the New Testament so much in their epistles that one could virtually reconstruct the NT solely with their writings. This alone demonstrates the integrity of the New Testament when it comes to the authenticity of the manuscripts.
Historically speaking, the Bible (OT or NT) has never been proven wrong. Archeology constantly vindicates the Bible in regards to what it states about persons, places, or events. Names of kings, countries and battles are constantly and eventually uncovered by unwitting witnesses who lend credence to what the writers within the Bible recorded hundreds or even thousands of years prior; demonstrating strikingly that the authors (humanly speaking) were eye witnesses to the events they recorded rather than zealous scribes creating mythology hundreds of years after the fact. From Daniel to Luke to Moses, all of the authors have been vindicated of many things formerly considered fantastic make believe by over imaginative Jews or proselytes. Many events, from the existence of King David to the existence of the Hittites, have shown the Bible’s factual and unbiased nature. Rather, it seems to me that there is a general bias in the minds of the pursuers who want to discredit the Bible despite the evidences to the contrary. For those seeking reasonable proofs as to the legitimacy of the Bible, there is ample evidence that the Bible (and the God who inspired it) are entirely trustworthy and worthy of not only our attention, but our worship.