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The Bible

The evidence for what the Bible says being true is extreme. Here are a few thoughts about the historicity of the Bible for your consideration. First the Bible mentions numerous historical characters that can be validated outside the Bible. Some of the descriptions are very specific. Consider these examples:

  • “In the year that King Uzziah died…”
  • “This oracle came in the year King Ahaz died…”;
  • “In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Evil-Merodach became king of Babylon…”;
  • “They served in the days of Joiakim son of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra the priest and scribe”.;
  • (“This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria”.);
  • “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–…”.

I could continue, but you get the idea. In addition, the archeological evidence, the original transcript evidence and the Messianic prophecy evidence is staggering. The Bible has exponentially more historical evidence than any other historical book, including Homer’s Iliad.

 

The Bible: 66 Time-Tested “Books”

In the year 367 an influential bishop named Athanasius published a list of books to be read in the churches under his care. The list he created includes all the books we know as the Bible with this exception — he admitted Baruch and omitted Esther in the Old Testament. Other such lists had been created by others. These lists, created as early as the year 170, did not all agree. So how did the men who published these lists decide which books would make the list and which books would not make the list? Scholars who have studied this matter closely have concluded that the lists are ratifications of the decisions of most of the churches from the earliest days after the day of Pentecost. We are able to prove this by examining the surviving works of Irenaeus (born 130), who lived in days before anyone felt it was necessary to list the approved books. He quotes as Scripture all of the books and only the books that appear in the list published on another continent and sixty years later by Origen.

It is evident that the elders of each congregation had approved certain writings and rejected others as they became available. It is by the grace of God, that most of the churches were in agreement by the year 170 about which books belong in the Bible. The churches had approved the same books independently. Prominent teachers were also influential in this process. The approved books were then called the “canon” of Scripture, “canon” being a Greek word meaning “rod” or “ruler.” These books constituted the standard rule of faith for all churches. The canon grew up by many independent decisions of elders who were responsible for their congregations alone.

The elders received apostolic writings as authoritative. But how did the elders of the churches decide which writings should be read in the church as authoritative? They received the writings of the apostles and their closest companions, and the writings endorsed by them. The entire Old Testament was received by the implicit endorsement of the apostles. The Gospel of Matthew was written by an apostle. The Gospel of Mark was written by the Apostle Peter’s closest disciple. The Gospel of Luke was written by the Apostle Paul’s close companion. The Gospel of John was written by an apostle. The Acts of the Apostles was written by Paul’s close companion. Thirteen letters were written by Paul. The epistle to the Hebrews was received as from Paul. The epistle of James comes from the brother of the Lord as does the epistle of Jude. The two epistles of Peter are from an apostle. The three epistles of John are from an apostle, who also wrote the Revelation and the Gospel of John. How did they know that these writings were not counterfeit? The churches did not receive them from strangers. These documents were hand-delivered by friends of the apostles to elders who also knew the apostles personally. Forgeries would be obvious, especially if the writing promoted strange doctrines.

Many so-called “scholars” of today that media types are drawn to deny the biblical Jesus which is a belief that media wants to espouse and promote. Among the most prominent of these so-called “scholars” is the Jesus Seminar. The claims of the Jesus Seminar are sometime so outrageous that noted Jewish scholar Jacob Neusner called the Jesus Seminar “either the greatest hoax since the Piltdown Man or the utter bankruptcy of New Testament studies – I hope the former”. The Jesus Movement denies the canon and scripture and embraces false books that were never accepted by early Christians and were written long after Jesus’ death by people who were not eye witnesses to the life of Jesus (unlike new testament authors who walked and talked with Jesus and were eyewitnesses to the events they wrote about – especially the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus). Even Paul (formerly Saul before Jesus changed his name), who vehemently denied the deity of Jesus and persecuted Christians severely, acknowledged Jesus was who he claimed to be after he saw the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus.

Today what we know as the Bible is a combination of books that have stood the test of time and are widely accepted as the canon of scripture. There is no disagreement between true scholars about the books that belong in the canon of scripture. The only deniers of the canon are false teachers like the Jesus Movement who if they were investigated by those that promote them would be found to be counterfeit scholars.

May all of us honestly seek the truth and follow it where ever it leads.

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