We can all agree that our planet and the fact that we even exist is astounding after parts one and two, but maybe you still aren’t convinced that necessarily means we have a creator who has purposefully designed us and our world. Let’s keep building and move on to the most controversial book of all time, the Bible.
Listen to the podcast
Faith Q&A is available on all major podcast platforms.
This is a four-part series:
By a vast measure, the Bible is the most printed book of all time. Six billion copies of the Bible have been printed in almost 700 languages. The New Testament has about double that.
When I looked for the Top 10 printed books of all time, none of the lists were the same. They each recorded different books in different orders. But two things were the same in every list:
- The Bible is always listed at the top with numbers in the billions.
- The second books, though varied, are each numbered in the millions.
The Bible has been printed and circulated at least six times more than any other book in history. Why? It has been imperative for me to research the Bible and its integrity if I am going to follow it and live my life by it! Let’s go over some common questions.
Is the Bible true?
One factor that sets the Bible apart from other world religious writings is its remarkable consistency. The Bible is composed of:
- 66 books
- written by 40 authors
- in 3 languages
- in 3 continents
- over 1,500 years
… and yet its themes and story remain unified. It was written by farmers, shepherds, kings, prophets, tax collectors who all agree on the two subjects notorious for war and discord — religion and politics! How could all 66 books written in prisons, palaces, wilderness deliver one message, the same message? It is the message of God’s eternal plan and how He will save His people.
Can I get a witness?
The gospels were written in a time when other eye witnesses were still alive. In fact, there were at least 300 eye witnesses of the resurrection still alive when 1 Corinthians was written (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). Writings would quickly be disregarded if false testimony was given with so many witness still present.
The gospels — the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — offer four accounts of Jesus’ time on Earth. What is noteworthy is that each of the books seem to be written completely independent of one another and speak from very different points of view. It’s not what you would see from a more coordinated collaboration. If you and I were going to corroborate a believable but made up story, wouldn’t we sit down and go over exactly what we would say to ensure it was consistent? It’s just not what happens in the gospels.
Some mention details others leave out. One might tell the first part of the story and another tells us the second, all depending on the author’s point of emphasis. It’s what would happen if we each just told the same story naturally.
Matthew is speaking to Jewish audience and wants to convey Jesus as the king and predicted deliverer. Luke gives us a history lesson and shows Jesus’ “human” side. John’s focus is evangelism. Mark stresses Jesus as a servant, who suffers for the good of others. Together, they give us a fuller picture.
And by the way, if I were writing the Bible I might have conveniently left out that Moses committed murder. Or that David killed a man because he got his wife pregnant. Or maybe that Paul relentlessly persecuted Christians before he wrote at least one-third of the New Testament. But these and hundreds of other sins and details did not get left out. There they sit in print for us to read thousands of years later. Why? Instead of only representing one-sided perfection, these misfit heroes of the Bible can give us hope in our own lives. We are not perfect, we do terrible things as well, but God can still use us as he used them.
There are 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New Testament, according to J. Barton Payne’s “Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy” lists. That’s a total of 1,817 biblical prophecies, many of which have been fulfilled. No other book has dared to be so laden with telling the future. See some examples in this article at Bible Study Tools.
What about the harder to believe stories?
I’ve heard people say something like “Yeah, I believe the Bible, except for Jonah being swallowed by a fish and living. That’s too much.” Why it wouldn’t be Jesus rising from the dead or even the whole Earth flooding, I don’t know, but it’s important say that God is not constrained by the natural laws he created.
And honestly I don’t think humans would be happy with or without the miracles. If he had never done anything supernatural, outside the laws of physics, we would question if he was really there or if he was truly all-powerful. Yet when He does them, we say “Nah, I can’t believe that could ever happen.” Do you see my point?
That said, I admit to still being curious about some specific stories. In an effort to be as brief as possible I can’t go into all of them, but check out Answers in Genesis for things like:
- Could Jonah survive being swallowed by a fish?
- Was There Really a Noah’s Ark & Flood?
- What about dinosaurs?
Has the Bible been altered?
The Bible is not a translation of translations. It was written in Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew, which people still speak today.
No one questions whether we have the original words of Plato, but there are only seven ancient copies, and the oldest are separated from the original by 1,200 years. Socrates has no surviving manuscripts. The closest book in printed ancient copies to the Bible is Homer’s “Iliad” with 643 copies within 500 years of the original.¹
By enormous contrast, there are more than 5,600 copies of the new testament within 100 years of the original. And recently fragments from Mark have been found that were copied less than 100 years from the original.
The Dead Sea scrolls
In the 1940s, a shepherd boy found what are now known as the Dead Sea scrolls in the Qumran Caves in Israel. The Dead Sea scrolls contain the oldest copies of scripture ever found, even as early as 4th century BC. Secular archeologists confirm their validity.
Fragments of the book of Isaiah were recovered, which was written hundreds of years before Christ, and not a word had been altered. It is safe to say that the Bible has the same words today that it has had throughout the centuries. The accuracy of the words are reliable. The scroll is shown in the photo above.
Does archeology support the Bible?
The Bible is not a collection of cleverly invented stories (2 Peter 1:16). It is full of names, people, places and stories that can be verified. Thousands of ancient writings from hundreds of sites have been excavated confirming the Bible’s accuracy.
Of course, not all archeologists agree on dates and interpretations. Cutting technology changes previously set datings and new artifacts suddenly bring people “into existence,” but it is compelling and worth investigating on our journey of proof.
Here are a just a very select few archeological findings that support the Bible:
- Many ancient cities such as Babylon, Ur, and Beersheba mentioned in the old testament have been located and date back to coordinating times in the Bible.
- Proof of the Hittite population (enemies of the Israelites) didn’t exist until the 19th century.
- What is believed to be the city of Sodom was discovered and appeared to be abandoned suddenly as stated in Genesis 19.
- Jericho excavations show that it was violently destroyed as the account details in Joshua 6.
- King David’s palace was recovered.
- Herod the Great’s palace was found, where Jesus was tried.
- Stone tablets have been recovered proving that Pontius Pilate existed, which had been up for debate.
- The Bible lists detailed genealogies in Genesis, Numbers, Chronicles, Ezra, Matthew and Luke. These confirm prophesy (Jesus was from the line of David) and reinforce scriptural accuracy and historic timelines.
- Seven compelling evidences
- Biblical Archaeology’s Top 10 Discoveries of 2016
- 10 Archaeological Discoveries Consistent With Biblical Passages
- FAQs of biblical archeology
- You Can Believe the Bible
The Bible is worthy of your attention on an academic level and personal level. At least consider spending some time in the most-printed book ever written, the one that shaped humanity more than any other.
However, it is remarkable that where confirmation is possible and has come to light, the Bible survives careful investigation in ways that are unique in all literature. Its superiority to attack, its capacity to withstand criticism, and its amazing facility to be proved right are all staggering by any standards of scholarship. Seemingly assured results “disproving” the Bible have a habit of backfiring.” — Clifford Wilson
Here is a PDF of the discussion guide if you would like further reflection or to do it as a group.
Next: Is Jesus the Son of God? >>
And all of this leads us to where we need to be — Jesus. No other man in the history of the earth has been more influential than Jesus Christ. Even his birth became a dividing point in time — AD and BC. The question I have asked many times is this: How can a man who lived over 2,000 years ago affect my life today?