Tag Archives: Bible

The Reliability of the Bible…

One question that comes up in many Apologetics discussions is the reliability of the Biblical manuscripts.  In this post, I am not going to go into detail, as others have already done so.  What I am going to do is give an overview of why this is important, and also give resources for everyone to utilize.

First a word about a common misunderstanding.  Many times, atheists and other non-believers will accuse Christians of circular logic.  They present a straw man which says, “Christians always refer to the Bible as evidence of God, and they use the Bible as evidence for the Bible which is circular.”  Now, I personally haven’t read any Christian doing this; what I do see often is fundamental lack of knowledge on the part of the atheist/non-believer as to what the Bible actually is, and why we cite it as evidence, and why it can indeed be cited as evidence.

The Bible is not a single document.  It is a collection of ancient documents into one binding; there is a distinct difference.  These documents often have different authors and are written at different periods of time; they are not one solid document that someone can accuse of trying to “prove itself.”  This would be like entering into a conversation about the formation and continuation of the United States government.  In this discussion, one person pulls out a book titled: Political Documents of the United States.

Within this single book is a collection of many US documents; The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Federalist Papers, The Records of the Continental Congress, etc…  Then, the person they are dialoging with says, “You can’t use that as a reference, or as evidence when talking about the formation and continuation of the US Government!  Political Documents of the United States is just used to prove itself, that’s circular logic!”

So, a basic understanding of the composition of the Bible is needed; it is a collection of manuscripts authored by around 40 human authors (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit).  It’s contents were written over a large span of time, and in different languages, mainly Hebrew and Greek.  Then these manuscripts were collected together into one volume; The Bible.  Using various historical manuscripts to support other historical manuscripts is not “proving itself.”

There is also discussion about how these particular manuscripts made it into the collection.  Many non-believers try to make this into some huge conspiracy, while the Roman church tries to use it as proof that they are the one true church, and them alone; some fundamentalist Christians act as though God handed the KJV in it’s final form to Moses on Mt. Sinai.  The truth is that it was a very organic and logical process, though the inclusion of some of the books were debated.  I just read a good description of the process in Ravi Zacharias’ new book; Beyond Opinion.   In fact, the very first chapter of Ravi’s book is devoted to “Postmodern challenges to the Bible,” written by Amy Orr-Ewing.

In general, certain criteria were met, and as these criteria were met, the books eventually came to be “canonized” formally, though many of the books were already recognized as canon.  (The criteria were things like; authorship by an apostle or an immediate follower of an apostle (which obviously included dating), church usage, etc…)

Are the documents reliable?  Are they accurate?  Can you trust the Eyewitness accounts in the NT? There are many good resources for these questions here are only a few:

Online resource examples;Manuscript evidence for superior New Testament Reliability on CARM,  The Textual Reliability of the New Testament from Tekton, Miscellaneous Questions on the Text of the Old Testament from Tekton, Testimony of the Evangelists by Simon Greenleaf, Archaeology and the New Testament from Apologetics Press,  Is scripture a “faithful record” of historical events? from Apologetics Press, etc… etc…

Other resource examples; The New Testament Documents by F.F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture by F.F. Bruce, Trial of the witnesses by Thomas Sherlock, General Introduction to the Bible by Geisler and Nix, Can I trust the Bible? by D. Bock & R. Zacharias, and also examples of general resources that touch upon Biblical matters: The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell, The Case for Christ by Strobel, etc… etc…

These resources are for everyone; believers, skeptics, anyone interested in Biblical apologetics.  What I offered here is not even a drop in the bucket of information available on this topic.  One of the most frustrating things in Apologetics can be talking to people who glean all their knowledge of the Bible from proselytizing atheistic websites that have lists of points to try to bring up in a debate.  Why is it frustrating? Because the answers are readily available to all, and are very easy to find, and also it shows, to me, that the person isn’t really wanting an answer, no…they are trying to proselytize their own beliefs.

Take the time to study the Bible.  It can be trusted and is highly reliable; historically, prophetically, internally, archaeologically, etc…  The resources I gave above have many other resources cited in their notes, so, keep digging and studying.  The Bible can stand up to all scrutiny.

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Filed under Apologetics, Logic, The Bible, Uncategorized

Biblical food metaphors…

Have you ever noticed how many times a food metaphor is used in the Bible?  Many times, it isn’t “cream puff” ideas being put forth either…Jesus Himself employed them about various subjects, including Himself.  Why do you think that is?

John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst

Food and drink are two things every human can relate to.  We know what it is like to be hungry and thirsty; these are experiences we’ve all had.  When a food metaphor is used, it is then easy to connect to no matter who you are.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Food and drink are essential to life.  Food gives us energy, and strength.  It helps us to grow and even to think.  Have you ever noticed that when you are hungry that it is easier to zone out; usually we just concentrate on the rumblings in our stomachs.  When you are thirsty all you can think of is how thirsty you are, how great it would be for a nice cool glass of some kind of sparkling liquid to quench that thirst.

John 4:13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

When Christ was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, one of the outcomes of the isolation was that Jesus was hungry.  Here comes the devil to tempt Him with food.  Command the stones to become bread, the devil prodded.  How did Jesus answer?  Matthew 4:4…Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. The metaphor is doubled when we consider that Christ Himself is the very Word of God.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

So, that is our answer to getting spiritual food; we turn to the word of God; scripture, and also to The Word of God; Christ.  In the same way that physical food nourishes our bodies, helps us to grow, to concentrate, to be strong…so too does turning to the word and The Word of God.  I’ve mentioned before that I find it interesting that those who do not have a relationship with God; those that are not permanently quenching that thirst, try to quench it through various means, be it with drugs, human relationships, fame, physical food, man-made philosophy, etc…  While in their current lives, these things may add something, we are more concerned with eternal life. It reminds me of the occurrence of pica; the ingestion of substances that don’t really have any nutritional value…such as clay from a river bank.  Often times it gives the impression that one is feeding oneself, it makes you feel full for a time, but in reality, the person is not getting anything from what they are eating.  In fact, their body may be in need of some essential nutrient, but they are not getting it from the substance that they consume.

2 Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come…. 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

So, for me, it is clear why food metaphors are used; they are central to the human experience, food and drink are necessary for life, we gather energy and strength from them, and let’s face it, most of us like good food.  Food, in the best of times, also becomes a communal experience, something shared between people.  Food connects us and enhances our lives…so it should be with spiritual food as well.  Just as with physical food and drink, we need to keep part of our minds on our health.  It matters very much what we put into ourselves, what we feed on, what we draw our nutrition from.

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Filed under Communion, The Bible, Theology

The Codex Sinaiticus Online

Really interesting (and quite a neat) development.  The Codex Sinaiticus manuscripts are going to be brought back together online.  You can read about it here: Scholars plan to reunite ancient Bible — Online.  It’s going to take them about a year to get it all setup and accessible.

Here is the main site: http://www.codexsinaiticus.org/ that will go live on July 24th, 2008…this Thursday.  It will start with The Psalms, and The Gospel of Mark.  The Codex Sinaiticus was written somewhere in the 4th century (300’s AD).  It contains all of the Greek New Testament, as well as portions of the Septuagint; Greek Old Testament.  It is one of the most important documents, or manuscripts, relating to textual criticism (“text crit”) of the Greek OT and NT.

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Filed under Apologetics, Of Interest, The Bible

Trolls in Biblical Times…

The ‘Shrink has been blogging about Trolls recently: The Psychology of Trolls and The Trolls in All of Our Lives…and he got me thinking, and it made me realize that there were trolls in Biblical times as well.  A “troll” is slang for someone that comes around (on the ‘net it is usually on message boards, or the comments section of blogs), and says things to stir people up, and tries to cause an emotional reaction.  Many times it is in the form of an attack, and can be a set up.

Think about it.  Jesus hardly ever preached to the people when there weren’t a few trolls around.  He’d be out for a stroll or going to heal someone on the Sabbath and the trolls would pounce.  I believe His reactions and His teachings can help us out with the trolls in our own lives, and help us to remember that if we encounter trolls; He encountered them first.  If you discuss religious issues online from any angle, there will be trolls of different backgrounds to deal with.

Let’s just take one example; Jesus’ encounter with the trolls and the adulterous woman:

John 8:1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. 2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. 3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?  6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.  7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.  8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.  9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

I love the Lord, and His reactions.  Notice He was minding His own business (literally) and was setting there talking to the people, when the trolls show up.  They didn’t care what Jesus had to say, it was all a set up over an emotional issue, that in this case, could have very dire results for several people involved.  Notice what The Lord does; He ignores them.  That’s their chance to get the hint and take a hike…but did they catch on?  No.  Did they just hang around? No. Read it; they kept askin’ and askin’.  I love it; He actually stands up and faces them (I can imagine the look on His face), and completely turns the tables on them, teaching us all a valuable lesson.  Yes, if one person can show us how to handle a troll, or a group of trolls perfectly, it’s Him.  After they finally take a hike, morphing from troll to human even in their own eyes, He goes on to deal with the very human woman left standing before Him.

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Filed under Apologetics, Humor, Of Interest