“But you may wonder, ‘How will we know whether or not a prophecy is from the Lord?’ If the prophet speaks in the Lord’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the Lord did not give that message. That prophet has spoken without my authority and need not be feared.” – Deuteronomy 18:21-22
We live in the information and disinformation age seemingly at the same time. For every factual story we read there is a story that falls into the “you-don’t-really-believe-that’s-true-do-you” category. The bottom line is that the old adage handed down from generation to generation, “you can’t believe everything you read” still rings true.
So if you can’t believe everything you read, why should you trust the Bible? What do we know about its historical reliability? What is known about its trustworthiness? After all the Bible is a book that claims something extraordinary happened thousands of years ago; something concrete, real, and historical. The Bible claims that a man named Jesus was born to a virgin, claimed to be God, did miracles like walking on water and raising people from the dead, was crucified on a Roman cross, then rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Can we conclude confidently these things are true without simply assuming the Bible is “the Word of God”? The answer is yes. For starters, we can trust the Bible because it is historically accurate.
The Bible is historically accurate: We know that the Bible is historically accurate first, from eyewitness accounts. The Bible is primarily eyewitness accounts. That’s why it’s good history. The other test of history by which we know the Bible is accurate is the extreme care with which the Bible was copied. The Old Testament copyists, the scribes, when they would copy these scrolls from one to the other, they would copy like a Xerox copy. It had to be exact. They had this long list of rules they had to go by to make sure it was exact. In the case of the New Testament, we have thousands of complete manuscripts and multiple thousands more fragments available. There are more than 5,000 copies of the entire New Testament or extensive portions of it. In addition, we have several thousand more fragments or smaller portions of the New Testament. If these numbers don’t seem like a lot, compared to other works of ancient history, the manuscript evidence and copies for the New Testament far outweigh manuscript evidence for other works. So when it comes to manuscript evidence, the New Testament definitely has numbers on its side.
Another proof is in archeology. Many critics who brush off the Bible as a compilation of folklore and legends, do so overlooking the fact that thousands of archaeological discoveries over the past century have verified the historical reliability of the Bible. No archeological discovery has ever controverted [overturned] a Biblical reference.
- Do you have trouble with the Bible being historically accurate? Why or why not?
- If the Bible is truly the Word of God and can be trusted, what are we going to do with it?