As far as historical documents go, the Christian Scriptures by far surpass the nearest reliable historical documentation in both quantity and quality. (See http://carm.org/manuscript-evidence). No other records in the history of humanity come anywhere close to the number of real, certifiable manuscripts of the Christian Bible. (A manuscript is a reliable copy of the original Christian Scriptures that date from within a hundred years of the original compositions themselves).
Click here to access part 1 of this series, “How Do We Know the Bible is True?”.
Not the writings of Homer or Plato or Aristotle or Herodotus or Julius Caesar or anyone else from antiquity comes anywhere close to the quantity or quality of the Biblical manuscripts, and yet we readily accept that all these other writings are pure and accurate without question:
Homer wrote the Iliad in 900 B.C. The earliest manuscripts we know of are from 400 B.C. – that’s 500 years after the original composition. And there have been known to be 643 verifiable manuscripts of the Iliad from this time.
Aristotle wrote in the 4th-Century B.C. The earliest manuscripts we have of his writings are from 1100 A.D., 1400 years after the original! We know of 49 copies of these manuscripts.
Julius Caesar wrote his memoirs in the 1st-Century B.C. The earliest known manuscripts are from about 1000 A.D. – that’s 1050 years after the original was composed. And we only know of the existence of 10 such manuscripts.
These are the most numerous and highest-quality manuscripts that history has to offer us – save one that surpasses them all – and yet we accept all these without scrutiny.
The one group of historical documents that by far surpasses them all are the writings of the New Testament:
- These were composed between the years 50-100 A.D.
- The earliest manuscripts come from the 2nd-Century, less than 100 years later,
- and there are over 24,000 such ancient manuscripts.
The internal accuracy of these 24,000 manuscripts – that means you take all of them and line them up to see how close each is compared to all the others – the internal accuracy over these 24,000 extant copies is over 99.5% textually purity – that is unheard-of accuracy in the age of hand-written copies!
How do I know the Bible is true? I know because the Bible is both internally and externally verifiable. I know because much of the information contained in the Bible is self-proving, particularly the prophesies. Throughout the Bible, numerous things were prophesied about, and then dozens or hundreds of years later, they came to pass! I know because historical documentation from outside of the Bible – that comes from the same time the Bible was written – confirms these events. I know because both archeology and anthropology confirm the accuracy of the Bible.
How do I know the Bible is true? I know because the laws of nature and the universe obey the laws described for them by the God of the Bible. I know because the heavens and the earth declare His glory! I know because of the remarkable order and make-up of the human body, from the cellular level on up!
When my children were babies, I used to hold them and marvel at the miracle of their biology. It still just mesmerizes me that everything that is needed to make a person is contained within a sperm and an egg coming together. Everything that is needed to make hair & fingernails & skin cells & muscle tissue & bones & vital organs with all their differing properties & functions and miles & miles of blood vessels –
But more than all that. Everything that is needed for that little embryo to have a conscience & a personality with dreams & fears & joys & hopes. Everything that is needed for there to be a soul is contained in that little zygote! Who could accomplish such an inexplicable feat except the God of the Christian Bible?
We humans are not just organic and biological matter –
- We are persons.
- We are individuals who have unique identities.
- We have self-awareness.
- We are able to consider & evaluate both the past and the future.
- We’re able to make moral comparisons and choices.
- We have hopes, intentions, emotions –
- these things had to come from somewhere –
- and what the Bible says about these things matches perfectly with the reality that humans have experienced everyday throughout our existence.
How do I know the Bible is true? I know because we know there’s more to life than what we can see. What Psalm 8 says is true. It says, “God has set eternity in the hearts of mankind.” No matter how much we may want to deny it, mankind knows that there is something inside of our own hearts that confirms to us that God is real, and that He is interested in us, and that we were created for more than just a temporal, earthly existence of a few decades of survival that ends in death.
By the way, did you know that’s whole point of every animal’s life except humans? Just survive. Think about it: for every living creature on earth besides humans, the whole goal of life is: DON’T DIE.
Why do humans aim for more? Why do we expect more than just survival? Why do we look for more & long for more & exert our capacities in pursuit of more in life than just mere survival? Could it be because deep down in our hearts, we know, there is more? Could it be that the Bible is right? Could it be that God has set eternity in the hearts of mankind? Humanity’s soul aches for more than mere bodily survival. This ache is a clue leading us closer to ultimate reality.
How do I know the Bible is true? I know because the Spirit of God has confirmed it in my own spirit. I know because He has spoken to hundreds of millions of people through His Word over the past 2000 years, and their own personal experiences of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit match up with the testimony of the Christian Scriptures about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
How do I know the Bible is true? I know for 1,001 reasons! But the most important reason is this: I know by faith. I know by an active faith, paired with simple reason, and confirmed by honest observation.
In the next post, I will share God’s glorious invitation into this life of active faith and trust in Him, along with His gracious pledge to all who accept His incredible invitation!