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The Case For The Bible

One of the most foundational beliefs of Christianity is its unwavering belief in the inspiration and infallibility of the scriptures in the Bible. Although many do waver and have doubts, and some even part from the faith due to their lack of knowledge in this area. But we should have full confidence that the Bible is God's word to mankind. It is his completed revelation to us and our way of knowing him who created all things. Skeptics ask some really good questions, and we should always stand ready to provide answers. Christianity is not blind faith, but is bullet proof faith due to the evidence backing it. Every juror in a court of law must examine the evidence, and the then must reach a verdict. We have everything we need to reach a verdict on the Christian faith.

The best way to prove the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible, is to first address the 4 gospels. As this is the foundation in which we have 4 biographies of the life of Jesus. If we can be certain of these books, we can be certain of the rest as Jesus directly quotes from the vast majority of old Testament books as divine scripture giving it instant credibility by such quotes. So lets start with the gospel books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Question: Is there any eyewitness testimony about the life of Jesus? Someone that was actually there, saw him, spoke to him, touched him, ate with him? Someone that heard his teachings, saw his miracles, saw his death, or even his resurrected self? And if so, can the testimonies prove to be reliable under scrutiny?

Answer: We have in the written canon of scripture 4 biographies of the life of Jesus in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We can be confident that these testimonies were written by these individuals and are based on either direct or indirect eyewitness testimony. Irenaeus and Papias both confirm the traditional view of these authors in 2nd century writings. John was a prominent apostle, but Matthew was a tax collector. Mark was not even an apostle, but a friend of the apostle Peter. Neither was Luke an apostle, but a historian, physician, and friend of the apostle Paul. There is no controversy on this and neither would there be reason to lie regarding them due to their lack of prominence with the exception of John. 

Question: Could the gospels be subjected to legend or embellishment in regard to the claims of the diety of Jesus due to a time gap of the writing?

Answer: No. The standard time lapse needed for legend to occur in the example of Alexander the Great was hundreds of years after his biography was written about. His biography was written well over 400 years after his death and it is considered accurate and preserved by all known historians. The latest possible dates for the gospels by even the most liberal of skeptics is the 70s for Mark, 80s for Matthew and Luke, and 90s for John. Christ died in 31 ad. That's a maximum of 40 years from Christ's death as a worst case scenario. Even then that is early enough for opposing eyewitnesses to refute the book of Mark, but there is no such opposition. 

But we can be confident that the gospels can be dated much earlier than this.
1. The new Testament fails to describe the destruction of the temple in 70ad. With such a significant event that would have been important to tell, we can be sure that the new testament was written before this.
2. The new Testament fails to describe the siege of Jerusalem that lasted over 3 years and began in 66ad. This would have been another significant event we would have heard about in the new Testament had it been written after 66ad.
3. Luke said nothing about the deaths of James, Paul, or Peter which occurred in 62ad, 64ad, and 65ad respectively.
4. Luke's gospel predates the book of Acts as stated in the opening statement of the book.
5. Paul quoted Luke's gospel in his letter to Timothy(1 Timothy 5:17-18). This was written about 63ad.
6. Paul quoted Luke's gospel in his letter to the Corinthians(1 Cor. 11:23-25). This was written about 53ad.
7. Luke quotes repeatedly from the book of Mark(and Matthew). Luke was a historian unlike the others who were eyewitnesses, therefore he compiled information from other eyewitness writers to accurately portray events. At this point, if we were to conservatively guess the books prior to 1 Corinthians were written on average of 2 years apart, based on this assumption Luke would have been written in 51ad, Matthew and Mark in 49ad and 47ad. We are only 15 years from the cross at this point. We can be confident therefore that the gospels were written in the same place and time of those that were eyewitnesses to these events whether friend or foe. Any false information from the gospels could be argued, but we do not find any opposers.
8. But we have even earlier evidence than this in the epistles of Paul of what the earliest Christians believed about Jesus. The apostle Paul incorporated creeds, or confessions of faith from the earliest Christian church. The most important is in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
The crucifixion was in 31ad, We know that the gospel went out to the Gentiles in the year 34ad by the fulfillment of Daniel 9's 70 week prophecy. So the conversion of Paul would have happened at this time on his road to Damascus. Paul then met with the disciples for several days and he began to preach about Jesus according to Acts 9:19-20. It would have been at this point that Paul was given this creed which had already been formulated and was being used in the early church. We have here an established Christian belief within a few years of the crucifixion stating that Christ died, was buried and rose from the dead on the 3rd day. And then that he appeared afterwards to over 500 people, plus the 12 apostles, and Paul. There is no legend going on here. This is news the equivalent speed of a modern twitter news flash. 

Manuscripts

Question: Were the manuscripts reliably preserved for us? We do not have any surviving copies of any of the original manuscripts. All we have are copies of copies of copies.

Answer: Yes we can be very confident of the accuracy of the manuscripts.
1. The vast number of copies we have of the gospel manuscripts allow us the ability to cross check all of them for accuracy. There are over 24,000 manuscripts of the new Testament. No book of history comes remotely close to this number to validate its accuracy. Homer's Illiad is a distant 2nd place at 650 manuscripts. 3rd place is not even close to that. And many of these other historical works are considered more than reliable by all known scholars.  
2. The fact that so many manuscripts come from various geographical areas of the world, this allows us further proof of its accuracy as they could not have corroborated with each other. 
3. We have copies that date within a couple generations of the originals versus the norm of other ancient texts being 500 plus years beyond the originals. 
4. We also have a vast number of copies of manuscripts that have been interpreted into many other languages. So even if we didn't have copies in the original Greek language, we would be able to reproduce the contents of the entire new Testament with all the other manuscripts of other languages, not to mention all the many quotes, commentaries, sermons, and letters of all the early church fathers of the new Testament. 

Question: Wouldn't there be copying errors in the copied manuscripts that could distort the truth of what was written.

Answer: Yes and no. Yes there were errors, but no it would not and did not distort any truths in the original writings. All the variants are minor and not a single one has any significance. For example, misspelled words or punctuation can be easily fixed and cross checked from the multitude of of manuscripts. Any omissions or additions are also easily fixed or cross checked. If one manuscript leaves out a line that the majority of others have included, it is reasonable to deduce that the omission was simply an error and was accidentally left off. So not only are all the variants insignificant, the multitude of manuscripts available to cross check the minor variants leaves us with virtually the exact and perfect result of the originals.

Question: Could there be equally accurate gospel accounts suppressed by the church? Could any of these other accounts hold new light important for us to know, but unfortunately for us was suppressed due to someone's agenda?

Answer: The books that were canonized were unanimous among early christians. It was not formed by councils of men, but was naturally formed by early christians. We can not form a council today to determine if rape is wrong. They would determine it is wrong and we would say, "thanks for nothing, we already knew that." This is how the canon was determined. It was unanimously known which books were authoritative and inspired by God.

The main criteria was, first it had to be authored by an apostle or a close associate of an apostle. Second, it had to be consistent with what was considered the norm of the faith. Third, it had to have continuous usage and acceptance by the early church. Other accounts not included in the canon were left out for obvious reasons, and they did not fit these reasonable parameters. Obvious reasons being things such as being written well after the 1st century, having bizarre teachings inconsistent with standard teaching of 1st century believers, and/or they were not used or accepted by early christians.

Question: Is there any corroborative evidence outside the Bible of Jesus and his life? 

Answer: Yes, most notably from the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus and the early 2nd century writer Tacitus just to name a couple. Both are prominent writers and neither were believers in Jesus as the Messiah. But they both acknowledged his life and the Christian movement after his death. The Talmud also talks about Jesus, although in a very negative way. But a good example of corroborative evidence from enemies of Jesus is when the Talmud says he did sorcery. This is evidence admitting that he performed miracles, they just dispute the source of his power. But outside of the Bible, you can still reconstruct the basic truths of Jesus simply from secular sources. All of the following can be deduced simply from secular sources: 
1. Jesus was a teacher.
2. He performed miracles.
3. Some believed he was the Messiah.
4. He was rejected by Jewish leaders.
5. He was crucified by Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius.
6. His followers believed he rose from the dead.
7. His followers worshipped him as God.
8. The religion spread throughout the land.
9. His followers were willing to die for their faith.

Archeology

Archeology can not prove the Bible to be true. It could potentially however disprove the Bible. It also has the ability to corroborate the Bible with additional evidence to further enhance our faith. Archeology has verified many of the Bible's claims in regards to various things such as location and existence of cities, kingdoms, kings, other political leaders. There have been times when experts thought the Bible was wrong, but archeology came along and corroborated the Bible.

There have been many archaeological excavations that have shown the consistency and accuracy of the Bible. That has become the norm. So telling of all the discoveries can become rather mundane. What would be interesting is if there was ever an archeological find that contradicted the Bible. But the fact is that no such thing exists. So archeology has been a supporting evidence for Christianity the last few hundreds of years and looks to continue to be so.

Prophecy 

The Resurrection

Question: How do we know Jesus really died on the cross?

Answer: Based on the evidence, it was impossible for him to have survived the cross. The Romans were experts at human executions. The soldiers would be put to death if they didn't ensure the criminals death. Jesus was brutally beaten by flogging prior to being raised up on the cross. This flogging was so brutal that many didn't survive it. The amount of blood loss would often send the victim into shock. Jesus would have been in serious to critical condition even before he was nailed to the cross. After being nailed to the cross and being raised up it is a matter excruciating pain and breathing. His arms were popped out of their sockets, and you have to lift yourself up in order to get a breath. This requires ripping the flesh were the nails were driven, more ripping of the flesh on his back on the wood of the cross as he lifts himself. Eventually exhaustion sets in and you die. The Roman soldiers would sometimes break the legs of the victims to speed up the death as that prevented them from lifting themself up to breath. Jesus's legs were not broken fulfillng prophecy. He was already determined dead when the soldier struck him in the side with his spear and water came out. 

Question: Did the resurrection really happen?

Answer:

Scientific Foreknowledge 

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