Samenvatting – De Bijbel is een historisch
Is the Bible true? The Bible is much more than an ordinary book. It is a collection of ancient writings penned by 40 men spanning 1,500 years, proclaiming to be the Word of God in toto. In this section we studied a large collection of evidences and observations that set apart the Bible as a historical reliable document, strongly supported by ancient manuscript evidences and (recent) archaeological discoveries. The following exhibits for the truth of the Bible were presented:
On the texts of the Old Testament:
When comparing the 2,000-year-old texts of the Hebrew Old Testament found in the Dead Sea Scrolls to the 1,100-year-old Masoretic texts that form the basis of our modern day Bibles, hardly any differences are observed. This builds strong confidence that over the centuries the Bible texts, with high dedication and accuracy, were reliably copied and preserved by generations of scribes.
The first translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek stems from the 295-270 BC era. This proves the texts of the Old Testament existed at least 300 years before the birth of Christ. Additionally, the preservation of this Greek translation (called the Septuagint ) is another evidence for accurate copying over the centuries.
The canon (list of books) of the Hebrew Old Testament was closed around 400 BC, the so called apocryphal books of the Old Testament that are in Bibles used by some Christians (including Roman Catholics) are not part of the original Hebrew Scriptures.
Because of its prophetic content, the authorship of the Pentateuch or Torah (the first five books of the Bible) has been subject of numerous scholarly attacks. Even though the authorship of most Old Testament books cannot be conclusively proved, analysis of the content of these five books in relationship to the knowledge derived from secular history builds a strong case for the authenticity of Moses.
Similarly many have claimed that the prophet Isaiah only wrote the first part of the book named after him. However this so-called deutero-Isaiah hypothesis is based on a shaky foundation.
Also the authorship of the book of Daniel has been under relentless attacks because of its many prophecies. Objective analysis and scholarship show a solid based for the claim that the whole book was indeed written by Daniel during the Babylonian exile.
On the texts of the New Testament:
The existence of thousands and thousands of ancient manuscripts of the New Testament makes it by far the most accurately preserved ancient writing in existence today.
Tens of thousands of New Testament text quotations found in the preserved correspondence of the Early Church Leaders provide additional evidence for the preservation of the texts, the early dating of its writing and early acceptance as Scripture of the texts of the books of the New Testament.
A significant number of verses in the New Testament can be traced back to be used by the Christian church in its very first years of existence as oral declarations (called creeds) of faith and confirmations of the resurrection.
The official canon of the New Testament was not agreed upon until 397 AD, however already at the turn of the first century all the gospels, Acts and Paul’s epistles were recognized and set apart as Scripture.
The four gospels and the books of Acts do not make explicit claims about authorship, however early and undisputed traditions, confirmations from the Early Church Leaders, and intrinsic analysis of the texts build a strong case for the authorship by Matthew, Mark, Luke (who also wrote Acts) and the apostle John. Additionally, the choice of Matthew with the background of a widely despised tax collector, Mark, who was not even an apostle and Luke, who was not even a Jew, would not have made the top of any list of potential names to be associated with made-up gospels.
Analysis of the synoptic relationship between the first three gospels as well as various details recorded in the texts and the dating of the oldest extant manuscripts support the writing of these documents during the lifetime of the apostles and other eye-witnesses.
About half of the New Testament consists of thirteen letters written to various churches. All these letters explicitly claim to be written by Paul, the apostle. Their authorship as well as the composition of these letters in the period 50-65 AD, within 20-30 years of the resurrection, are not under competent dispute.
Archaeology, history and other observations:
Over the centuries, and especially during our generation, many other documents have been “discovered” and are now claimed by some as “lost” and “new” or even “more reliable” gospels about Christ. However the vast majority of these “gospels” can be traced to be written generation after the apostles. Of the few documents that might be dated back to the first century, the recently discovered texts from the fourth century show well documented evidences of editing during translations by heretic (especially gnostic ) groups.
Dozens of significant archaeological discoveries of especially the last 50 years corroborate significant details of described customs, events, names and locations of accounts in the Old Testament. Even more important, no archaeological find has ever been discovered that conclusively disproves any of the recorded accounts in the Bible.
Even more convincing is the archaeological evidence for the New Testament. Many discovery confirm detail after detail of the gospels and Acts, as well as the epistles.
Analysis of a number of compounded symbols in the oldest, pictorial language in world history, the ancient Chinese alphabet, show remarkable consistency with the accounts as recorded in the first chapters of the book of Genesis.
The writings of more than a dozen non-Christian first century authors and historians confirm many of the historical events as described in the New Testament. This includes multiple confirmations and details about Jesus’ crucifixion .
Detailed analysis of the gospel texts against commonly accepted criteria of honest and trustworthy testimony shows the truthful intent of the gospel writers. They recall the events as they remembered them,, including description of irrelevant details, without evidences of exaggeration or attempts to avoid self-damaging information.
So, is the Bible true? We do not possess the original manuscripts of the Bible books unambiguously signed by the author, nor do we have detailed and accurate non-Biblical confirmations of the events that happened so long ago, therefore it is technically not possible to prove beyond skeptical criticism, that the Bible is 100% historically reliable and accurate. However, we are given an astounding amount of clues, details and observations from archaeological discoveries and (secular) history that again and again confirm the correctness of the accounts. These evidences not only make the Bible truly unique compared to any of the other ancient (religious) writings, but also build a compelling case to accept the Biblical texts as accurately preserved, written by the proclaimed authors and dated accordingly, being historically accurate and reliable and additionally truthful and honest.