This is a worthwhile question for both believers and unbelievers to consider. On the one hand, Christians claim the Bible as their sole rule for faith and practice, so clearly the trustworthiness of Scripture is central to their faith. On the other hand, if the claims of the Bible (and therefore Christianity) are true, then it has earth-shattering implications for everyone -- not just Christians. Volumes could be (and have been) written on the reliability of the Bible, but here are just a few overarching and plain facts to consider:
I. What does the Bible contain?
It covers about 4,000 years of history, from creation to the early church; it takes us from eternity past (Genesis 1:1- “in the beginning”) to eternity future. There are 66 books in the Bible, written by about 40 different authors over a period of about 1,500 years. Most of these authors claim to have received their knowledge from the one true God.
II. Concerning the reliability of Bible manuscripts:
The New Testament is by far the most accurate of ancient manuscripts. When we compare copies of manuscripts, even when separated by 500 years or more, there is an unprecedented agreement in the texts. While there are occasional differences, they are only in spelling or grammar, not in essentials.
In addition, there are over 5,300 copies of the New Testament manuscripts extant today, compared with only 7 copies of the ancient manuscripts of Plato’s writings. This gives us a degree of certainty that is not even closely approximated by any other book in history. Many of these manuscripts date back to within 50 to 100 years of the original, as opposed to 1200 years that separates the copies of Plato’s works from their originals. Scholars were amazed when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, proving the reliability and ancient origins of the already extant Biblical manuscripts. (to be continued...)
Recommended Resources: Who wrote the Bible (and how)?; Is the Bible infallible (and what does that mean?); other resources about God's Word
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