Living the Christian Life – Chapter 5: Truly God’s Word?

Inspiration MinistriesBy Inspiration MinistriesMay 1, 20207 Minutes

No other holy book can truly be called God’s word. The Scripture is our guide in life, and so we need to know how to properly read and interpret it—then apply it to our lives.

Non-Christians may respond, “Hey, why are you so narrow minded? What makes the Bible any more special than any other holy book? How is the Bible different than the Qur’an, or the Book of Mormon, or any other book that claims to be Scripture?”

The Christian view of the Bible is that it isn’t just a holy book—we believe that it is the inspired revelation from God. If it is truly the final word from God, then there can be no other book that could be God’s Word. Scripture speaks of God as “Almighty,” which means “all powerful.” It also describes Him as being the essence of love. If God is truly Almighty then He has the power to protect His revealed word from inconsistencies and errors. If He is truly loving, He would make sure that you received a copy of this revelation. Well, He is all powerful and all loving, so you can be confident that the Bible you are reading is, in fact, His will for your life.

The Jews in Biblical times felt such awe and respect toward Scripture that they worked with almost fanatical discipline to preserve the unblemished accuracy of the documents. In ancient times, no printing presses existed. Instead, professional people known as scribes were trained to meticulously copy documents. These devout Jewish scribes believed they were entrusted with the authentic Word of God, so they approached their duties with extreme devotion and precision.

All of the earliest copies of the Hebrew text are in remarkable agreement. Comparisons of various texts have revealed that great care was taken in copying and that little deviation occurred during the thousand years from 100 BC to 900 AD. But until recently, there was no way of knowing how what was written in 100 BC compared with the original texts.

Then a discovery of monumental proportions happened by accident in 1947. A young Bedouin goatherd was exploring some hot, dry caves near the valley of the Dead Sea when he stumbled upon some ancient clay jars. Inside these jars were scrolls of papyrus, leather, and copper—the now-famous Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in eleven different caves between 1947 and 1956. The discoveries include a complete copy of the book of Isaiah and references to every book in the Old Testament except Esther. The majority of the fragments are from Isaiah and the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—the first five books of the Bible). Fragments of the books of Samuel were found along with two complete chapters of the book of Habakkuk. There is universal agreement among scholars that these materials were written during the last centuries of the second temple, from 200 BC forward.

As scholars have examined the Dead Sea Scrolls and have compared them to texts copied a thousand years later, they have made an amazing discovery. A comparison of the Qumran scroll of Isaiah with the later copies, known as the “Masoretic Text,” revealed them to be virtually identical.

In his book Know Why You Believe, Paul Little writes, “A comparison of Isaiah 53 shows that only 17 letters differ from the Masoretic text. Ten of these are mere differences in spelling (like our ‘honor’ and the English ‘honour’) and produce no change in the meaning at all. Four more are very minor differences, such as the presence of a conjunction (and) which are stylistic rather than substantive. The final three letters are the Hebrew word for light. This word was added to the text by someone after they shall see in verse 11. Out of 166 words in this chapter, only this one word is really in question, and it does not at all change the meaning of the passage.”[1]

Proof in Archaeology

Archaeological discoveries over the last 200 years have proved Bible skeptics wrong again and again. Today, archaeologists have unearthed more than three thousand different, ancient Greek manuscripts containing all or portions of the New Testament. In the twentieth century, the remains of many ancient manuscripts of all kinds were found, especially in the dry climates of North Africa and the Middle East.

Biblical scholars of all persuasions around the world have come to an increased confidence in the reliability of the Bible based on these exciting archaeological discoveries. One of the leading archaeologists of all time, William Albright, placed the date for the writing of the New Testament as the first century AD.

“We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about AD 80, two full generations before the date between 130 and 150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today.”[2]

He further clarifies his position in an interview for Christianity Today. “In my opinion, every book of the New Testament was written by a baptized Jew between the forties and the eighties of the first century AD (very probably sometime between about AD 50 and 75).”[3]

 



[1] Little, Paul. Know Why You Believe. Downer’s Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1968.

[2] Albright, William F. Recent Discoveries in Bible Lands. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1955.

[3] Albright, William F. “Towards a More Conservative View.” Christianity Today 18 January 1963: 3.