Q&A: The Bible is a Fake!

Q: “…we don’t have originals of the Bible; the earliest manuscripts are a 100 years after the original. Hence, the Bible is not historically plausible.”

A: It seems to me that you believe that the Bible is not historically plausible because the earliest manuscripts we have are about a 100 years after the original. However, it’s important we keep things in context. I understand why a 100 years would seem like a long time between manuscripts in modern-day context; when large-sized information can be sent/transmitted/copied in seconds. However, in the context of ancient times for only a 100 years to be between the original manuscript and the earliest available copy is remarkable. In philosophy and history classes, for instance, students read and still read the works of Plato, Aristotle, and other ancient writers, assuming that the authors wrote exactly what they study. Unfortunately, much time passed between the original writing and the earliest surviving manuscripts and there are so few manuscripts compared to the Bible. However, this hasn’t resulted in professional historians deeming those manuscripts as completely unreliable. Why? Because historians have a number of ways to determine if a manuscript varies greatly from the original and is historically reliable e.g. comparing other manuscripts etc. Furthermore, the value of the written evidence for the Vikings is way limited, yet we strongly brandish so many “facts” about them with a high level of certainty, why? Because there are other evidences as well as written which support the facts. Hence, to say that the historical reliability of the whole Bible is doubtful just because there is about a 100 years between the original and earliest copy shows an unawareness as to how historical facts are determined.

I can also tell you for fact and you shouldn’t take my word for it but investigate it yourself that the New Testament is the best attested book in ancient history, both in terms of the number of manuscripts and the nearness of those manuscripts to the date of the original. What that goes to prove is that the text of the New Testament that we have today is almost exactly the same as the text as it was originally written. Of the approximately 138,000 words in the New Testament only about 1,400 remain in doubt. The text of the New Testament is thus about 99% established. Moreover, the 1% that remains uncertain has to do with trivial words on which nothing of importance hangs.

So what does all this evidence go to show? Does it tell us that the New Testament and hence the Bible (Considering the New testament quotes most of the Old Testament) is historically accurate beyond reasonable doubt? The answer is no! All it tells us is that when we pick up a New Testament today, we can be confident that we are reading the text as it was originally written. This conclusion is important because it puts to bed the claims of Muslims, Mormons, and others that the text of the New Testament has been corrupted, and we can no longer read the original text. However, it doesn’t even prove by mile that the New Testament is historically accurate. For example; I could write a paper on how I went to prom riding on the back of a mammoth with Santa Claus as my wingman. Then 5000 years later a group of archaeologists stumble on copies of my original manuscript. They then claim that my paper is historically accurate just because they discovered 50000 manuscripts of my original. Obviously, that would not be sufficient evidence for the historical accuracy of my paper. All it would prove is that the copies discovered are almost exactly the same as the original.

I discuss some of the evidence for the New Testament’s reliability in these two articles; ‘Christianity on Trial (Biblical Evidence)’ and ‘Christianity on Trial (Extra-Biblical Evidence)’. Or even better, click here for an article by William Lane Craig a well-seasoned Christian apologist and Philosopher.

Finally, According to Luke Johnson, a New Testament scholar at Emory University,

“Even the most critical historian can confidently assert that a Jew named Jesus worked as a teacher and wonder-worker in Palestine during the reign of Tiberius, was executed by crucifixion under the prefect Pontius Pilate and continued to have followers after his death.”

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