“Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.” ~ Revelation 1:2
Today a lot of people are being cynical of the reliability of the record of the scriptures. Some know exactly the evil they are perpetrating, while others are just being ignorant and careless. The ignorant simply follow the crowd without really researching the matter. They actually know almost nothing of what they affirm to be true nor the foundations of their beliefs.
But let us examine the facts as they are, first starting with the uniqueness of the Bible scriptures that make them stand completely apart from all other ancient manuscripts.
The Unique Continuity of the Bible:
What makes the scriptures so unique is that the 66 separate manuscripts of the Bible all harmonize around one individual, Jesus Christ, and one God. They all agree in one main story of the human race and its desperate need for integrity in their relationship with God and one another. They all point to the need for the complete transformational power in the soul that is only possible via one person: Jesus Christ.
The amazing thing is that the harmony in the scriptures of the Bible exists in spite of the fact that it was written over a 1500-year span, across 60 generations, and by more than 40 authors from every walk of life including: kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, scholars, a physician, and others. The Bible was written in a variety of different places and from the viewpoint of different customs. It was written during times of war and peace, and it covers the activities of God’s people on three continents (Africa, Asia, and Europe), and in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek).
Yet, when the Bible is analyzed as a whole, it speaks with amazing unity and harmony about hundreds of controversial subjects! All our science and history books, which represent “truth” about science, nature, and the past as we know it, are proven inaccurate in as soon as five to ten years. They must be constantly revised because of “theories” or concepts, or records that are proven to be in error! Yet the more they discover about archaeology of Bible lands (for example), the more they discover the accuracy of the Bible scriptures.
The Bible writings themselves belong to a great variety of literary types. They include history, law (civil, criminal, ethical, ritual, sanitary), religious poetry, didactic treatises, lyric poetry, parable and allegory, biography, personal correspondence, personal memoirs and diaries, in addition to the distinctively biblical types of prophecy and apocalyptic that have no equal in any other ancient manuscripts of other religions and past kingdoms.
If you took just ten authors, all from one walk of life, one generation, one place, one time, one custom, one continent, and one language: and had them speak concerning just one controversial subject; would the authors agree? No! There would be a good number of opinions in opposition!
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Bible scripture is not like other manuscripts and books. The scriptures were inspired by an intelligence that spoke the universe and all its mysteries into existence. The only disharmony that exists in scriptures, is man’s lack of mental capacity and spiritual connection to God to be able to see and comprehend the harmony.
The main reason that most people do not see the harmony in the scriptures, is because they reject the salvation of Jesus Christ, the one whom God has sent to deliver their souls from their own unrighteousness. Without Christ, truly the scriptures fall apart into disharmony. The deep meanings in scripture and how they all “tie together” into one complete and meaningful record, is through Jesus Christ! That is why we have as the final record of scripture in the Bible: the book of “the Revelation of Jesus Christ”.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ reveals Jesus to the heart and soul! And by that revelation it brings the whole Bible into one purpose and focus: to fulfill the purpose of Jesus Christ, in every age of time and in every place. You cannot understand the Revelation of Jesus Christ without the rest of the scriptures in the Bible. For Revelation is completely written in symbolic type language, and all the symbolic types are understood by studying how they are referenced and used in the rest of the Bible, and how they all point to Christ as our only hope.
The Bible is Unique in Its Vast Circulation:
The Bible has been read by more people and published in more languages than any other book.
This is not by accident, but rather by an Almighty God’s design:
- “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” ~ Mark 16:15
- “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” ~ Matt 24:11-14
There is absolutely no book that reaches, or even begins to compare to, the circulation of the scriptures.
The Survival of the Ancient Scriptural Record:
Because of the great reverence the ancient Jewish scribes held toward the Scriptures, they exercised extreme care in making new copies of the Hebrew Bible. The entire scribal process was specified in meticulous detail to minimize the possibility of even the slightest error. The number of letters, words, and lines were counted, and the middle letters of the Pentateuch and the Old Testament were determined. If a single mistake was discovered, the entire manuscript would be destroyed. As a result of this extreme care, the quality of the manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible surpasses all other ancient manuscripts
New Testament: There are some 8,000 manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate and at least 1,000 for the other early versions. Add over 4,000 Greek manuscripts and we have 13,000 manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament. Besides all this, much of the New Testament can be reproduced from the quotations of the early Christian writers.
When the number of surviving manuscripts of scripture are compared with the number of surviving manuscripts from other books of antiquity, the results are truly astounding:
- Plato (Tetralogies) = 7 surviving manuscripts
- Caesar (Gallic Wars) = 10 surviving manuscripts
- Aristotle = 49 surviving manuscripts
- Homer (Iliad) = 643 surviving manuscripts (ref.2, p.24)
- Pliny the Younger = 7 surviving manuscripts
- New Testament = 24,633 surviving manuscripts
The Bible has withstood vicious attacks by its enemies as no other book has. Many have tried to burn it, ban it and outlaw it: from the days of Roman emperors, through the dark ages, unto the present-day Communist and Islamic dominated countries who brutally withstand it.
No claim that has been made to discredit the Bible has ever been proved to be true!
- “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” ~ Psalms 119:89
- “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” ~ Revelation 22:18-19
The True and Faithfulness of the Prophecies Within the Scriptures:
The Bible is the only collection of ancient manuscripts in which is found a large body of prophecies relating to: God’s people, individual nations, individual cities, and all people of the earth. And most of all: a large number of prophecies written in different times and by different people, that have all been fulfilled in Jesus Christ!
The contrast of Biblical prophecy and its fulfillment to the existence of prophecy and its fulfillment in other religions, is astounding! As one writer, Wilbur Smith, so clearly put it:
“The ancient world had many different devices for determining the future, known as divination, but not in the entire gamut of Greek and Latin literature, even though they use the words prophet or prophecy, can we find any real specific prophecy of a great historic event to come in the distant future, nor any prophecy of a Savior to arise in the human race. Mohammedanism cannot point to any prophecies of the coming of Mohammed uttered hundreds of years before his birth. Neither can the founders of any cult in this country rightly identify any ancient text specifically foretelling their appearance”
Some 300 Old Testament predictions were literally fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ, and these messianic predictions make no sense apart from His life. The mathematical probabilities of even 10 of these being fulfilled in one person are extreme – literally to a mathematical statistical degree so large that it removes any room for their happenings to just chance!
The Historical Accuracy of the Bible Scriptures:
The distinguished archaeologist, Professor Albright, begins his classic essay, “The Biblical Period” this way:
“Hebrew national tradition excels all others in its clear picture of tribal and family origins. In Egypt and Babylon, in Assyria and Phoenicia, in Greece and Rome, we look in vain for anything comparable. There is nothing like it in the tradition of the Germanic peoples. Neither India nor China can produce anything similar, since their earliest historical memories are literary deposits of distorted dynastic tradition, with no trace of the herdsman or peasant behind the demigod or king with whom their records begin. Neither in the oldest Indic historical writings (the Puranas) nor in the earliest Greek historians is there a hint of the fact that both Indio-Aryans and Hellenes were once nomads who immigrated into their later abodes from the north. The Assyrians, to be sure, remembered vaguely that their earliest rulers, whose names they recalled without any details about their deed, were tent dwellers, but whence they came has long been forgotten” (ref.17, p.24).
No other ancient manuscript describes in as much detail ancient civilizations and people like the Bible. And the Bible has never been proven inaccurate in its representation of ancient cities and civilizations. No other ancient manuscript has a family lineage that is documented and traced over 4000 years from the beginning of humanity until the coming of the prophetic Messiah.
The Non-Political, Factual Accounts of Scriptures Dealing With the Failures of Individual Leaders:
The Bible deals very frankly with the sins of its characters. Read the biographies written today and see how they try to cover up, overlook, or ignore the shady side of people. Take the great literary geniuses; most are painted as saints. The Bible does not do it that way. It simply tells it the way it is!
Even concerning one of its most important leaders: King David. David was also a prophet and key author of some of the Old Testament manuscripts. Yet the scriptures, including some of those David personally wrote: tell us of David’s most personal of failures, and how his only help and hope was in the great mercy of Almighty God and the coming Messiah.
The Ultimate Authority of Scripture:
The ultimate authority of the Scriptures is that they speak of a Savior and Almighty King of Kings who throughout history and today is still the cause of all true and lasting righteousness in the earth.
The historian Phillip Schaff describes the Bible’s uniqueness along with its Savior this way:
“This Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science and learning, He shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools, He spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and pronounced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, He set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times”
“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” ~ John 21:25