Is there more to the Bible than just a book written by men? A Case for the Bible: Part 2


A Case for the Bible: Part 2, Literary evidence

(This blog is part of a series. You can start the series by going back to the September 1, 2014 Introduction called A Case for Christianity: Why do we need one?)

Why is evidence important?

At the end of John’s Gospel (20:30-31) he writes…

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name.

Jesus did miracles to confirm His message, John, who was an eyewitness to the events of Jesus’ life, wrote to create belief in Jesus’ message. All the Bible writers wrote, to some extent, to verify truth using evidence and eyewitness testimony. In our culture today there is extreme skepticism about Christianity and the Bible, even by some Christians, but why? For centuries Christians (and Jews concerning the Old Testament) have held to the inerrancy and inspiration of the Scriptures, but from the enlightenment period to today human knowledge, producing the philosophies we see today, have taken the place of God centered knowledge, even among Christians. Why? Humans used to look at the world and the ways of the world through God’s eyes, now they do so through man’s eyes. So in our culture today one of the biggest questions coming from the skeptics is…

How Do We Know The Bible is The Word of God?

Over the next few posts I want to examine evidence from various sources and put it all together, like a lawyer would do in a court of law. The following is an outline of the evidence I would like to present and then I would ask you to make a decision by commenting on it. I would like to make it as simple as possible yet letting the reader know that they can go as deep as they want by investigating the facts further with sources I will recommend. It is difficult in secular education to get “the powers that be” to pay attention to evidence concerning a “Holy Book” because of the separation of Church and State issue, so you won’t see this information coming out of secular academia, but that does not mean it is not available and trustworthy. I believe that if you put all of this evidence together you will come to the conclusion that it would take more faith not to believe that the Bible has Divine Inspiration!

I. External Evidence for the reliability of the Bible:

A. Physical Evidence

  1. From the historical literary view
  2. From Jewish history and Scribal copying rules
  3. From manuscripts
  4. From archeology

B. Eyewitness Evidence

  1. From eyewitness accounts
  2. From historians
  3. From hostile witnesses

II. Internal Evidence for the reliability of the Bible

A. From the Language

  1. Hebrew
  2. Greek
  3. Aramaic

B. From the Cross-references

  1. Old Testament to New Testament
  2. New Testament to Old Testament

C. From Prophecy and its fulfillment

  1. Messianic
  2. Apocalyptic

D. From Scientific accuracy

  1. Medicine
  2. Nutrition
  3. Cosmology
  4. Biology

Let’s start by looking at some of the external evidence for the reliability of the Bible:

I. External Evidence for the reliability of the Bible:

A. Physical Evidence

  1. From the historical literary view

The Bible meets and exceeds all historical and literary requirements for excellence based on scholarly academic standards:

  • The Bible is made of 66 individual books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament, written by 40 authors, living in 10 different countries, over a period of about 1,500 years.
  • The Bible has a cast of 2,930 characters depicted in 1,551 places.
  • The Bible’s human authors came from various stations of life: Kings, peasants, poets, herdsmen, fishermen, scientists, farmers, priests, pastors, tentmakers, tax collectors, doctors and governors.
  • The Bible was written in extreme places like the wilderness, dungeons, palaces, prisons, on lonely islands and in military battles.
  • The authors wrote on various subjects, including the unknown future.

You couldn’t get 10 people in a room to agree on what they are writing let alone these mind-boggling facts. Yet the Bible flows seamlessly with one common storyline and overarching theme.

See Josh and Sean McDowell’s work: More Than A Carpenter and Evidence That Demands A Verdict.

Oral Transmission:

  • God has used both oral transmission and the written word beginning with Moses (Exodus 24:3-4) to pass down human history.
  • Oral transmission in ancient cultures was very accurate and self-correcting because it was community oriented. No one could get away with false or incorrect information because the clan, tribe or community would correct it. (It was not like the telephone game, in that game only one person transmits at a time)
  • Historians report that oral transmission of historical information was very reliable even up through the time of the printing press in the sixteenth century.
  • Special note: The oral transmission from Adam to Moses was only about five generations. This is a remarkably short transmission line to get to the written Word.

Written Transmission:

  • From Moses’ time on the written Word was considered sacred.
  • The job of transmission through copying went to the tribe of Levi and the Scribes along with the continuation of oral transmission. (Leviticus 1-27)
  • From the time of Christ to the printing press, the written Word was considered sacred and was protected in the various Christian communities throughout the ancient world.
  • The written Word in the first century traveled rapidly because of the Roman transportation system and the culture of the Greeks as the universal language (very similar to English today).
  • There are over 25,000 early New Testament manuscripts from about five different document families, because of this rapid transmission, in all of which we find 99.5% agreement based on textual criticism. There was not enough time for legend or myth to develop otherwise all of these early manuscripts would have to had been changed.
  • There are over 25,000 pieces of archeological finds that support historical Biblical accounts, no account has ever been disproven.
  • The Bible comes from primary sources not secondary. In other words it is written by people who were there and who are reporting historical eyewitness accounts.
  • Since the invention of the printing press more than 6,000,000,000 (6 billion) copies of the Bible have been printed in more than 2000 languages.
  • In many third world countries today Christianity is fast growing, even in many Muslim nations, and the Bible is being requested more than copies are available.
  • Both Christian and non-Christian scholars consider the Bible to be the greatest piece of literature ever written.
  • All major versions of the Bible today have been translated only once from the original languages that we can go right back to for verification.

Luke, the author of both the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, is said to be one of the greatest historians to ever write. His historical accounts have always been confirmed and the details he gives allow both Biblical and non-Biblical scholars to uncover historical truths and artifacts based on his records.

For example,

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip, tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene—during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet.  –Luke 3:1-4

Does that sound like someone writing a mythical story or does it read like a fact of history?

If the Biblical writers are accurate on facts of history, how much more so are they on the facts of Jesus?

Join us next week as we continue to examine the historical literary evidence for the reliability of the Bible.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua…Exodus 17:14  And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. Exodus 24:4

Let me know what you think: Is it possible that the Bible has been accurately transmitted over the centuries? If God exists (as evidenced in previous blogs) then is it possible that He is able to assure that His Word would be preserved?

Over the next several blogs I am going to continue to present logical reasoning and sound evidence not found in the public school textbooks.

Teri Dugan

Always be ready to give an answer for the hope that you have in Christ Jesus as Lord.

1 Peter 3:15


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