The Reliability of the Bible
The reliability of the Bible is established, more than any other book of antiquity. The Bible has kept its accuracy over the centuries. What you read in the Bible is the same content as that of the original writing.
Note: An original writing is called an autograph. Autographs fade in time and copies are therefore made to preserve the original work. These handwritten copies, as already mentioned, are called manuscripts. Historians readily accept manuscripts as proof of the original writing, especially if there are a number of manuscripts to compare with each other.
The New Testament
There are more than 24,000 New Testament manuscript copies, more than any other writing. The writing that comes in second place is Homer’s Iliad with 643 manuscript copies.
The Iliad was written by Homer in 900 B.C. The earliest known copy was written in 400 B.C. The interval between the original writing and the oldest known copy is therefore 500 years, and historians accept the validity of the Iliad. However, the interval of time between the New Testament writings and the oldest manuscript is only 23 years.
The textual corruption (impurities that occurred through the ages) of Homer’s Iliad is 5 percent, whereas the New Testament is only a half of 1 percent. Most of these impurities are inconsequential and do not alter the meaning of text. These few impurities can be rectified by comparing manuscripts.
Scholars accept as authentic the writings of such notables as Cicero, Sophocles, Virgil, etc. even though copies of their works are scant. The number of copies of the New Testament are more numerous by far than all of these put together, and the copies are not as old.
The Old Testament
Jesus often quoted from the books of the Old Testament to bring across a truth to His listeners. Would He quote from books not reliable? He said, “Search the Scriptures…these are they which testify of Me.” Would Jesus suggest people search a fabrication? The Old Testament is as true as Jesus is true.
The Old Testament was quoted, and therefore validated, by writers of the New Testament books, historians at that age, and early church saints.
God gave the Jewish people the responsibility of safeguarding the Old Testament and they did so with great care and rigidity. In many cases, before beginning his work the copyist had to be dressed in a certain manner and wash his whole body. He copied each word and each letter with precision, never by memory, often using a counting system to assure not one letter was missed. The lines, the number of words, the spaces between words and even the spaces between letters were carefully determined.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in 1947, confirm the accuracy of the copyists. Before this discovery the oldest known complete manuscripts of the Old Testament date back to 900 A.D. The Dead Sea Scrolls go back to 100 B.C., about 1000 years previous. How did the Dead Sea Scrolls compare to the younger manuscripts? The answer: amazingly well! This proved that the system of copying and recopying through the centuries was incredibly accurate, and what we read in the Bible today compares well with the original writings (autographs).
Archaeology confirms the Old Testament. For example: Genesis tells us that the patriarch Abraham moved from the city of “Ur of the Chaldees.” Where is this Ur? skeptics asked. In 1929 archaeologists uncovered one of the oldest cities of the world near the Persian Gulf, further advanced and more luxurious than even the acclaimed Babylon. This once prosperous city proved to be the city of “Ur of the Chaldees.”
The Bible tells of the city of Jericho whose walls “fell down flat” when the Israelites gave a loud shout at the command of God. This account of Jericho bothered some because the walls of a city will fall inward and therefore the sides of the walls could not lay “flat” as the Bible says, but rather would lay on one another in a heap. When archaeologists discovered the ancient city they found that, mysteriously, the walls did indeed fall outward and lay flat on the ground.
Many other Biblical cities were discovered, their location and the time of their existence in accord with Scripture.
No discovery of any archaeologist has at any time discredited the reliability of the Old Testament.
No matter what test one might put to books to check their reliability, the Bible would come in first place. To discard the Bible one most certainly would have to renounce every historical writing. The Bible: just another book? Your verdict, please.