Bible Truth - Why is this Book any Different than the Others?
Is there such a thing as "Bible Truth?" Why should we trust this "holy book" any more than any other spiritual, religious or philosophical treatise? How can we be sure that the Bible we read today is the same collection of 66 books that were originally written in ancient times?
Bible Truth - The Reliability of the Ancient Manuscripts
Bible truth? Let's take a look! The Bible is unquestionably the world's all-time bestseller with an estimated 2 billion copies in print. The Bible was completed in its entirety nearly 2,000 years ago and stands today as the best-preserved literary work of all antiquity, with over 24,000 ancient New Testament manuscripts discovered so far (compare this with the second best-preserved literary work of all antiquity, Homer's Iliad, with only 643 preserved manuscripts discovered thus far). The printing press wasn't invented until the 1450's, but we have hand-written copies of the Old Testament dating back to the 200's BC. Remarkably, these ancient manuscripts are nearly identical to the Bible we read today.
As far as the New Testament, the Bodmer Papyrus II contains most of the Gospel of John and dates from around 150-200 AD. The Chester Beatty Papyri contains major portions of the New Testament and dates back to about 200 AD. The Codex Vaticanus, the oldest complete New Testament manuscript we've discovered so far, dates from 325-350 AD. The apostle John, who lived with Jesus and learned from Jesus, penned five New Testament books and died in 100 AD. We have fragments of John's Gospel that date from 110-130 AD, within 30 years of his death. When compared to other ancient works such as Plato, Homer or Tacitus, that short time period between the original and the most recent copy is dramatic!
Clement of Rome was martyred in 100 AD. In his writings, he quoted from Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, 1 Corinthians, 1 Peter, Hebrews, and Titus. Clement's quotes totally correspond with the Bible we read today. In fact, even if we lost all of the 5,300 early Greek manuscripts, all of the 10,000 Latin vulgates, and all of the 9,300 other ancient manuscripts, we would be able to reconstruct all but 11 verses of the New Testament from the writings of the early Church leaders who quoted from them extensively. We have over 36,000 preserved quotes from the New Testament. In a nutshell, the Bible stands today as the best-preserved literary work of all antiquity, and its overall reliability is without question!
Bible Truth - The Passion of the Ancient Writers
When it comes to Bible truth, many critics argue that the early Church deliberately corrupted the Bible's text for its own agenda. As for this argument, ask yourself one question: would a group of men who were willing to suffer terrible persecution and die horrible deaths in defense of the Scriptures be guilty of corrupting those very same Scriptures? That's lunacy! If they corrupted the Scriptures, or knowingly allowed them to be corrupted, that would mean they knowingly suffered and died for a lie! No one suffers and dies for a lie! For example, the September 11th suicide hijackers may have sincerely believed in what they died for, but they weren't in a position to know whether or not what they believed was true; they put their faith in traditions passed down to them over many generations. They didn't knowingly die for a lie; they died for a lie in ignorance.
In contrast, the New Testament's martyrs either saw what they claimed to see or they didn't; plain and simple. Either they interacted with the resurrected Christ or they didn't. They certainly knew whether or not their testimony was true! Nevertheless, these men clung to their testimonies, even to their brutal deaths at the hands of their persecutors, and despite being given every chance to recant, knowing full well whether their testimony was true of false. Why would so many men knowingly die for a lie? They had nothing to gain for lying and obviously everything to lose.