In recent years the Bible has been under attack, but that is nothing new. From ancient Rome, to modern communism, to Islamic states, the Bible has been banned, burned, outlawed and restricted yet it remains the most widely circulated and read book in the world, and it likely always will be.
Do you struggle with believing the Bible is from God? If you do that’s understandable and normal – a lot of it is hard to believe on the surface.
But when you dig a little deeper, you’ll find there’s some crazy persuasive evidence that will cause any honest truth seeker to stop and reconsider.
The Bible is unique in four primary ways that should cause anyone to stop and give it a serious look.
1. The Bible is Unique in History & Circulation
Do you like your cell phone, tablet, computer, and other modern forms of technology? If you do, then you should tell the Bible ‘thank you’, because if it weren’t for the Bible we likely wouldn’t have those things today.
One of the greatest inventions of all time that led to the dissemination of ideas that would eventually lead to our modern technological revolution and information age was the invention of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg.
Gutenberg invented the printing press to mass produce copies of the Bible, and since then the Bible has been the best-selling book of all time with over 5 BILLION copies (billion with a ‘B’) sold.
The Bible was also the first book to be translated into another language – ever. Portions of the Bible have been translated into over 2,500 languages to date representing over 90% of the world’s population, and there is currently work to make translations available in another 500 languages. People are going to remote areas where the people aren’t even literate, helping them invent an alphabet and educating them for the purpose of giving them Bibles to read. There is nothing else like that happening with any other book on the planet.
2. The Bible is Unique in Authorship & Continuity
The Bible isn’t simply a book – it’s a book of books. Sixty-six different books covering various genres – history, poetry, prophecy and letters – written over the course of 2,000 years in three different languages on three different continents were put together to form the Bible you can hold in your hands today.
Who wrote the Bible?
There were over forty different authors whose books were used in what would become the Bible. Those authors spanned cultures, classes, and socioeconomic statuses. A homeless guy wrote a book, a stinky shepherd wrote a book, a really rich businessman, a poet, a king – I could keep going but my point is the people who wrote the books found in the Bible were very different from one another.
I’m not sure they ever envisioned their writing being paired with a writing from someone else, but it later was and what’s amazing is that when you put all 66 of those books together there’s a consistency of message and cohesiveness to it all that not only tells a unified story, it addresses thousands of controversial topics with a unity of message throughout all the books.
Think about it – if you give forty people today just one controversial topic and asked them all to write an essay on it – for instance, their opinion of Donald Trump – do you think they’d all come out saying the same thing?
How is it even possible for something like that to happen? The only way that’s possible is if a Divine Power is behind the authorship influencing the writers as they write, and that’s exactly what happened. People wrote the Bible, but God’s Spirit worked in their hearts to inspire them what words to say.
2 Timothy 3:16
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness …
2 Peter 1:20-21
20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture
came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.
21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men
spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
People wrote the books of the Bible, but God’s influence is seen throughout. That’s why it’s unified throughout.
3. The Bible is Unique in Transmission & Survival
Some people criticize the Bible saying that the reason it’s unified of message is because it’s been rewritten over the years to make it that way. They say the version of the Bible we have today is nothing like what was originally written.
While we do not have the original documents the Bible was written on (known as autographs), we do have copies (known as manuscripts).
The reason for this is simple – the Bible was originally written on perishable materials. Papyrus, vellum and paper are all perishable meaning they will eventually decay and turn to dust. The same goes for any old historical document. We don’t have the originals of much of anything ancient anymore including historical documents unrelated to the Bible. Why? Because they decayed and turned to dust.
How was the Bible passed down from generation to generation?
The Bible has been recopied countless times in the last few thousand years, but evidence indicates it has never been rewritten. The ancient manuscripts (copies) themselves were transmitted with astounding accuracy because of the reverence the Jewish scribes had for the word of God. Regarding the copying and handing down of the Old Testament, special classes of Jews were in place to make copies from one generation to the next.
One group was known as The Talmudim. The scrolls had to be written on specially prepared skins of animals, and each skin had to have space for a certain number of columns, lines, and letters. A special recipe of ink was used for the writing, and there was precise distances between consonants, sections, and books that were each carefully measured. The scribe could not deviate from the original under any conditions.
Before a person could begin making the copies they had to go through an elaborate washing procedure in which they washed their entire body, they had to wear certain clothes, and go into a specially prepared room for the transcriptions. Each time they wrote the word “God” they had to go through a special ceremony to in wiping their pen, and each time they wrote the word “Yahweh” – the Hebrew proper name for God – they had to go through a special ceremony in which they cleansed their entire bodies. That’s how reverent they were, and how careful they were in copying the text.
Another group was known as The Massoretes. They numbered the verses, words, and letters of each book and calculated the midpoint of each. When one Massorete would complete a scroll, others would count the number of words and syllables forward, then backward, then from the middle of the text in each direction. Up to two mistakes per page were allowed, but if three mistakes existed on a single page them the entire manuscript was trashed. When a scroll would get too old to read, the Massoretes would burn them to protect others from misreading the word of God due to fading ink.
They took the word of God extremely seriously, and to say the transmission of the Old Testament was done very carefully would be an understatement!
The way the New Testament was transmitted is a letter would be sent to a church or an individual, then copies would be made and distributed to others who would make more copies to give to others, and the process would repeat.
The shear number of copies we have is staggering! We literally have thousands of them that were distributed over a large geographical area.
How many ancient copies of the New Testament do we have?
If you include fragments of books, we have over 24,000 ancient New Testament manuscripts, and scholars are finding more all the time! Hear me when I say that no other historical document in the world even comes close to having that number of ancient manuscripts available for us to examine. The Bible is truly in a class of its own in terms of manuscript evidence.
Additionally, when those copies of the New Testament are studied together, we find that there are differences between the copies, but the differences are small – mostly misspellings or minor errors made by the copyist. The idea that the Bible was rewritten over the years is a myth that the evidence dispels pretty easily. The differences between the oldest, best copies we have and manuscripts produced hundreds of years later are mostly insignificant.
Has the Bible been rewritten? Overwhelming historical evidence says absolutely not.
When it comes to the Bible, there’s hard, overwhelmingly documented, thoroughly vetted evidence to prove it has NOT been rewritten over the years. Anyone who claims that it has is simply repeating something they’ve heard someone else say and they will not be able to produce credible evidence to support their claim. Why? Because there isn’t any – the evidence says the opposite.
The bottom line is this – when we open the Bible, we’re opening the most accurately transmitted book of all time. The message we have in the Bible today is the message God wanted to convey to us. There is zero evidence the Bible has been rewritten.
4. The Bible is Unique in Revelation & Confirmation
First, there’s archaeological confirmation.
To date, there hasn’t been a single discovery to prove that the Bible’s account of history is untrue. In fact, just the opposite. From kings, to nations, to wars, to cultures, archaeology has served to confirm what’s been in the Bible for centuries. If you’re interested in studying archaeology in the Bible more, consider picking up a copy of The Archaeological Study Bible. It’s packed with useful information.
Second, there’s prophetic confirmation.
A prophet is a person who is sent by God to speak on behalf of Him. God sent many spokesmen and spokeswomen into the world over the centuries, and in the Bible there are around 2,500 prophecies (or words from God) made regarding future events. Around 2,000 of those predictive prophecies have already come true (around 500 are still to come), and one of the ways to easily verify the validity of the Bible is to check out when a prophecy was made verses when it was fulfilled. There are a whole bunch of these.
One of my favorites to look at is Isaiah 53. Please don’t skip over this – read it slowly and think about who it’s talking about.
Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
The prophet Isaiah was active around 600 BC – a full 600 years before the birth of Jesus.
However, Isaiah 53 is very obviously talking about Jesus. In fact, in the New Testament authors even quote Isaiah 53 in reference to Jesus in John 12:38, Matthew 8:17, Luke 22:37, 1 Peter 2:22, Acts 8:32-33 and there are allusions in other places as well.
For years skeptics claimed Isaiah 53 must have been a later addition to the Old Testament, because it’s so obviously talking about Jesus there’s no way it was part of the original writing. They claimed that would be impossible because God doesn’t exist and this was obviously a ruse designed to spread the myth of Christ.
What added validity to their claim was the fact that the oldest copy of the Old Testament we had at the time was from the 8th century AD – hundreds of years after the birth of Jesus – because the Massoretes burned fading copies of the Old Testament (as mentioned under point #3).
Who’s to say someone hadn’t come along and added that chapter to Isaiah to make it look like Christianity was true? There was no evidence to refute that claim for a long time, but then something happened.
Mountains of Evidence
In the 1940s a young shepherd boy in Palestine was looking for a lost animal when he happened upon a cave in the side of a hill. Thinking his lost sheep or goat might have been in the cave, he threw a rock inside and heard pottery break. He investigated further, and found thousands of ancient clay pots with ancient documents inside of them – a discovery that would later be known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
There were over 20,000 ancient documents in that cache, among them nearly a full reproduction of the Old Testament.
One of the best preserved documents found is a full scroll of The Book of Isaiah famously known today as The Great Isaiah Scroll (you can actually go see it in museums).
Guess what was included in that scroll? The full text of Isaiah 53.
And guess how old that scroll is? It’s been dated to around 250 BC – hundreds of years prior to the birth of Jesus.
Now, that’s just one ancient prophecy verified by the testimony of scripture that relates to Jesus. Would it encourage you to know there’s more than one – there are literally hundreds of prophecies fulfilled in Jesus.
The bottom line is the Bible can be trusted.
When you put your faith in God, it’s not blind. You can follow God with your eyes wide open.
I’d like you to know that we at The Crossings Church Collinsville welcome questions. We believe that truth, if it is really true, doesn’t have to be afraid of questions because truth can stand up to the hardest ones.
If we can help you find answers, or if you’d like to learn more about how you can have a relationship with God, we’d love to help you. We can even do so through virtual meetings online.