Everyone has heard of the Bible. It is considered one of the most profound and sacred texts ever written throughout history – even by non-believing critics. It contains 66 books written by about 40 people from all walks of life (kings, farmers, homeless prophets, tent makers, doctors, musicians, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen and scholars), in many different settings (the wilderness, prison, palaces) at different times (during war, peace, famine), on three continents (Europe, Asia and Africa), in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) and during a 1,600 year span (from 1500 B.C. – 100 A.D. – that’s over 40 generations!). It contains about 611,000 words and 1,189 chapters (chapters were introduced to the Bible in 1238 A. D. and verses were not added until 1551 A. D. 1 ).
There are more than 168,000 Bibles either sold or given away every day in the United States according to the Gideons, Wycliffe International and the International Bible Societies. Historically it has been said that the Bible is the best selling book of all time. It is regularly on various best seller lists. The Bible has also been translated into more than 1,200 languages with many more translations in process.
No matter what your faith or beliefs are, you have probably heard of the most famous verse in the Bible:
John 3:16 *, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.“
Many people have asked the following questions: Is the Bible a trustworthy document? Are the Scriptures true as written? Or are they full of myths that may have symbolic value but little if any basis in fact? People have been questioning the Bible almost from its very beginning. The apostle Peter, for example, experienced suspicion from many as he preached the gospel in the first century. Many said that his assertions about Jesus were nothing than a ruse of shrewdly made up tales.
However, he and the other disciples (along with many more) experienced and witnessed Jesus’ miracles first-hand! Then they wrote about them in the gospels – the first four books of the New Testament – and in the book of Acts. These accounts of Jesus’ life weren’t written from someone who had heard about them from another person or who had read about them in ancient texts – these authors were actually there when Jesus walked on water. They saw the fish and loaves multiply as Jesus fed the multitudes. They were able to physically touch Jesus and place their fingers into the scares made by the nails that hung Him to the cross!
Still, there were those who renounced the accounts of Jesus throughout the gospels. Peter, however, strongly rejected these accusations. In 2 Peter 1:16-21, he wrote:
“For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were EYEWITNESSES of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’. And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (emphasis added)
The point of this first post is to answer the question: Is the Bible 100% accurate or was most of it made up? The following post will then answer: If the Bible is 100% accurate, how can I heed and follow its message?
First and foremost, we as protestants (non-Catholics) at Cross+Connect+Trinity believe that our entire Bible is 100% accurate. There is not one word in Scripture that is not true! Every word that was hand written by man was God inspired and God breathed. The words written in both the Old and New Testaments are to be taken seriously and applied to your life.
There are four main parts of the Bible that all the writers agree on:
- They give the same belief of God from beginning to end – that He is one God, Creator, Savior and the supreme Authority. He is all-powerful, all-knowing and everlasting. His nature is holy, good, loving and fair 5.
- They offer the same comprehension of human character. Humans were created in God’s likeness and are able to do great good. However, man is also immoral, sinful and capable of great evil. The greatest commitment of humanity is to be harmonized with God and with each other 5.
- The authors also offer a unified perception of Jesus Christ. He is both God and man at the same time. He was born as a human being so He could reveal to the world the God we could not otherwise understand. Something profound occurred as an outcome of His death on the cross, making it viable for God and mankind to be reunited 5.
- Finally, biblical authors offer a unified promise: God will carry out His will for all His creation 5.
Is the Bible 100% accurate or was most of it made up?
An atheist once commented to me:
“Whilst I respect your religious view, I cannot see how you can possibly believe every word in the Bible. It has been written, re-written, altered, reinterpreted to Kingdom come and back. Not even penned until two or three centuries after the gory death of the ‘Redeemer’. Your comment does not befit an intelligent man.”
This person holds beliefs that are very similar to many non-believers and antagonists of the Bible.
Here’s another view from someone who doesn’t believe the Protestant Bible is true. Daniel Miessler (a blogger who vigorously tries to prove the Bible wrong) states:
“The Bible is full of massive contradictions, so we really have two main explanations:
- God created all these stories and characters thousands of years before the Bible in order to trick people, and then created new stories and characters that were almost exactly the same. But the version that went into the Bible—even with all the contradictions and immoral teachings—is the actual word of God. …OR
- The Bible was created during a time where stories were orally passed down over thousands of years. Stories constantly morphed and changed over time, and the Bible is a collection of these. This is why it has the nearly identical flood story from Gilgamesh, and why Jesus has the same characteristics as Dionysus, Osiris, Horus, Mithra, and Krishna. The contradictions and immorality in the stories are not evidence that God is flawed or evil, but rather that humans invented him, just like the thousands of other gods that we used to but no longer believe in.” 2
It is interesting to me that Mr. Miessler puts so much effort in this blog post in proving the Bible wrong. He does write about many other things in his blog but he is a self proclaimed atheist and doesn’t believe in free-will. Why would he invest so much study and time into something he believes is totally made up? Why not just leave it alone? Think about that for a moment.
There are three viewpoints to answer the question: Is the Bible 100% accurate or was most of it made up?
The first viewpoint is from a believing Christian, the second is by using logic, reason and clarity and the third is by using scientific and archaeological evidence.
From a Believing Christian
Because I am a believer and follower of Christ (also known as a Christian), I believe completely and wholly that all scripture is inspired and God-breathed. I base that on 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
Since 2 Timothy was written in Greek, we get the meaning of inspired by God from the word “theopneustos”. This literally means “breathed by God” or “God-breathed“. God sometimes breathed His words into the human writers to be recorded much like a dictation. He said in Jeremiah 1:9:
“Behold, I have put My words in your mouth,”
But, as plainly evident in scripture itself, God’s divine truth usually manifested through the minds, souls, hearts and emotions of His chosen human instruments who then transcribed them into scripture. However, by whatever means, God divinely administered the accurate recording of His “theopneustos” truth by His divinely chosen men and women. In a supernatural way, He has provided His divine Word in human words that any person, even a child, can be led by His Holy Spirit to understand enough to become a follower of Christ.
Scripture is from God and about God. It is His self-revelation to a fallen mankind. From Genesis through Revelation, God reveals His truth, character, qualities and divine plan for the redemption of man, whom He created in His own image.
Logic, Reason and Clarity
By stating that some scripture – not all – is inspired by God would be worthless. Who would be the judge of that? Any man or any woman? Why would you trust such a person? Everyone would agree that all humans are flawed, imperfect and sinful. Therefore, a normal, everyday man or woman should not be the decider of what scripture should and should not be inspired.
Instead, men who are filled with God’s guidance and direction should decide what writings should and should not be included in the modern Bible. These men wrote the 39 Articles written in 1563 for the Church of England and the Westminster Confession of Faith written in 1647 for Calvanism. They appraised scripture using a “canon” or “measuring stick” and decided what would be included in the Protestant, non-Catholic Bible.
There are of course other Christian, God believing faiths whose Bibles differ from the protestant Bibles (Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Slavonic Orthodox, Georgian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox and others). For example, the Roman Catholic Old Testament has seven additional books than the Protestant Bible. However, the Roman Catholic New Testament is the same as the Protestant New Testament.
By stating that some – not all – scripture is inspired by God is like saying that God’s grace covers our sins (2 Corinthians 12:9, Ephesians 2:8-9, 4:7, James 4:6, Titus 2:11, Romans 6:14, Acts 15:11 and others) but hell isn’t real (Revelation 19:20, 20:13-14, 21:8, Matthew 13:42, 13:50, 25:41, 25:46, Psalm 9:17, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, Mark 9:43 and others – Jesus actually talked about hell more than He did heaven).
Another way to look at it is like opening a human anatomy text-book and believing the feet are for walking but the eyes aren’t for seeing. Or like opening up a dictionary and believing the meaning of some words but not the meaning of others. For certain absolute truths like that, one can’t just believe what they want to believe and not believe other things. Human anatomy and word meanings are not one’s opinions – they are facts. They either are or they aren’t.
The Bible works in the same way. Either all of it is true or none of it is.
More portions of the New Testament have been recovered than any other text in the history of the world! For example, Dr. F. H. A. Scrivener wrote:
“…manuscripts of the most illustrious classic poets and philosophers are far rarer and comparatively modern [than those of the New Testament]. We have no complete copy of Homer himself prior to the thirteenth century, though some considerable fragments have been recently brought to light which may plausibly be assigned to the fifth century; while more than one work of high and deserved repute has been preserved to our times only in a single copy. Now the experience we gain from a critical examination of the few classical manuscripts that survive should make us thankful for the quality and abundance of those of the New Testament.” 4 (emphasis added)
Benjamin B. Warfield of Princeton Theological Seminary wrote:
“The most astonishing thing about the manuscripts of the New Testament is their great number: as has already been intimated, quite two thousand of them have been cataloged upon the lists.” 4
This is important because copies of the New Testament are from very different eras and were discovered in many different countries. Because of that, it would be significant if all of the portions of the New Testament are parallel and tied-in to one another in agreement. In other words, they all have to say the same thing…and they DO! Other than a few spelling errors and several minor things like that, every manuscript connects to the others in compete harmony 3!
This also means that it would be very simple to prove if the Bible was altered over time while being translated from one language to another. All one would have to do is point to a portion of scripture and say, “At this point in the older texts, they all said this. And then in the newer versions, they all began to say something different.” 3
Also, if scripture were altered, instead of people just alleging that this was true, they would actually be able to prove their claims. It would be very easy to accomplish this. It is also critical to know that the Bible is by far the most analyzed texts in the world and there are many intelligent critics who dislike it 3.
It might be shocking to know that the well-read pundits of the Bible don’t find that it has been modified or changed by the scribes. These critics are too knowledgeable with the original writings to fall for that 3.
With the Old Testament, it’s easy to establish that it wasn’t modified. In recent years (about 1947), the earliest duplicates of the Old Testament were only about 1,000 years old. This is because the Jewish manuscripts were lost in 70 A.D. when Rome devastated and destroyed the Temple where most of the writings were held. These 1,000-year-old documents were called the “Masoretic Texts” because a family of scribes called the Masoretes owned them 3.
This all changed in 1947 when the Dead Sea Scrolls were found that dated from about 300-100 B.C. to 100 A.D. Among the scrolls, they discovered remnants from every Old Testament book except for Esther. Biblical scholars waited in anticipation to find out if the original scribes had accurately and faithfully conveyed the scriptures during this 1,000-year divide between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Masoretic Texts 3.
What they found was that an almost immaculate reproduction of the texts word-for-word was handed down! It wasn’t such a shock for the Jewish people that the ancient scribes had done such a thorough job in maintaining the text over the 1,000 years because the transcribers were very serious and deliberate with their responsibilities. In fact, it has been said that if a scribe mis-wrote even one word, they would have to discard the entire transcription and start over from scratch. It has also been said that they would ritually bathe every time they wrote the name of God – יהוה, Jehovah or Yahweh 3!
Scientific and Archaelogical Evidence
The Bible is also scientifically and archaeologically accurate. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah mentioned that the earth was round in Isaiah 40:22:
“It is He who sits above the circle of the earth…” (emphasis added)
This scripture does not refer to a “flat disk”, as many critics claim, but to a “round sphere”.
In Psalm 103:12, King David describes the earth as being round:
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (emphasis added)
Notice, David didn’t use “north and south” but “east and west”. On a globe, if you go north far enough, you will start going south. However, if you continue going east or west, you will keep on going in that same direction! This is not possible to do if the earth were flat.
Man observed that the earth was round 2,400 years later when Sputnik-1, the first satellite was launched into space. It was amazing that during an era when scientists asserted that the earth was flat, God revealed the truth thousands of years before through several authors.
There has also been recent geological evidence that the Great Flood of Noah’s time actually happened. Remnants of the ark have been found on Mount Ararat in far east Turkey.
For years, the Hittite kingdom was only known in Genesis 23 and 2 Samuel 11. However, in 1906, archaeologists discovered the existence of a Hittite kingdom in the modern city of Ankara, Turkey 6.
The following biblical cities have been excavated and proven to have been inhabited: Haran, Hazor, Dan, Megiddo, Shechem, Samaria, Shiloh, Gezer, Gibeah, Beth Shemesh, Beth Shean, Beersheba, Lachish, and many others 6.
Finally, in 2014, archaeologists in Mosul, Iraq made a stunning find under the tomb of the Old Testament prophet Jonah (remember Jonah and the Big Fish?). They discovered the hidden palace of the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh. This is the very cite where Jonah was sent to by God 7!
Many of you who are unbelievers will still hold on to your beliefs after reading this portion. However, those of you who are searching and questioning the Bible have – I hope – gained a better understanding of the truth behind the Bible and it’s authors.
In the next post, I will answer the question: If the Bible is 100% accurate, how can I heed and follow its message?
- Moore, G.F. The Vulgate Chapters and Numbered Verses in the Hebrew Bible, pages 73–78 at JSTOR. page 75
- Walker, M. (2011, July 10). The truth about the Bible revealed – Undeniable proof. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ET5LSDe1KIs
- Jackson, Wayne. “The New Testament Compared to Classical Literature.” ChristianCourier.com. Access date: March 22, 2017. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1441-new-testament-compared-to-classical-literature-the
- NKJV Study Bible. (2007). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Pub.
- Maier, P. L. (2004). Biblical Archaeology: Factual Evidence to Support the Historicity of the Bible. Christian Research Journal, 27(2). Retrieved from http://www.equip.org/article/biblical-archaeology-factual-evidence-to-support-the-historicity-of-the-bible/
- Rogers, J. (2017). Biblical king’s palace uncovered beneath shrine destroyed by ISIS. Fox News Sciene. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/science/2017/03/06/biblical-kings-palace-uncovered-beneath-shrine-destroyed-by-isis.html
* All scripture in this post has been taken from the New King James Version – NKJV