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We have looked and seen that ancient historians and archaeology both support that Jesus did exist. We have seen that all the prophecies concerning His coming to earth the first time have come to pass as well. But how can we know that the Bible we have today is accurate? Many would say that the Bible we have today is not the same as the original and that many things have been added or taken away. Is this true? Let’s take a look.

When it comes to historical documents by ancient historians we find there are few. One of them was Tacitus, the Roman historian who wrote the Annals of Imperial Rome in about 116 A.D. Only 1 manuscript exists and it was copied about 850 A.D.

Josephus the first century Jewish historian’s work The Jewish War has only 9 copies all made between the 10th and 12th centuries.

Homar’s Iliad which was the bible of the ancient Greeks has fewer than 650 manuscripts. Some from the 2nd and 3rd century. When you think that he composed it about 800 B.C., it’s quite a gap.

How many manuscripts exist for the Bible? For the New testament alone they have found and cataloged over 5,000 Greek manuscripts. One of these is from around 3rd century called the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri number one contains portions of the four gospels and the book of Acts. Papyrus number 2 contains large portions of eight of Paul’s letters and a portion of Hebrews dating to the year 200. Papyrus number 3 has a large portion of the book of Revelation dating from the 3rd century.

The earliest portion of scripture ever found is a portion of John chapter 8. It was discovered in 1920 and in 1934 C.H. Roberts of Saint John’s Collage, in Oxford, England was able to place it as originating somewhere between the years of 100 and 150 A.D.

In addition to the Greek documents there are portions in other languages. There are 8,000 to 10,000 Latin Vulgate manuscripts plus a total of 8,000 in Ethiopic, Slavic, and Armenian. In all there are about 24,000 manuscripts in existence.

The late F.F. Bruce, eminent professor at the University of Manchester, England and author of The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, said; "There is no body of ancient literature in the world which enjoys such a wealth of good textual witness as the New Testament."

Sir Frederic Kenyon, former director of the British Museum said; "In no other case is the interval of the time between the composition of the book and the date of the earliest manuscripts so short as that of the New Testament."

Many people believe that because the Bible has been copied over and over again it is full of mistakes and inaccuracies therefore, today we don’t have what was originally written. Is this true? Let’s take a look. There are literally tens of thousands of variations between the different texts that have been found. Eye glasses were not invented until 1373 in Venice and many of the scribes had to work under conditions with poor lighting and from texts that were faded by age so yes error was bound to come in at some points. Sometimes the scribe’s mind would play tricks on him between reading the script and the actual copying to a new parchment and words would get shifted. So instead of the sentence reading dog bites man it would be copied as man bites dog. The words were right but they were placed in the wrong sequence. In English or French this might cause a problem but because they were copying in Greek it was not. In Greek sequence doesn’t matter. One word functions as the subject of the sentence no matter were it is placed in the sequence. The meaning of the sentence isn’t distorted even if the words are not in what we would consider the right order. Differences in the spelling of names and places would be another variant between the different manuscripts. Other variants are differences in punctuation.

So do the variants between manuscripts affect any of the major doctrines of the church? None at all. Even with the variant’s we have scholars Norman Geisler and William Nix concluded that, " The New Testament, then, has not only survived in more manuscripts than any other book from antiquity, but it has survived in a purer form than any other great book, a form that is 99.5% pure"

When it comes to the Bible, how can we know that some books haven’t been left out or were changed by the early church fathers? How did they arrive at what books were to be in the Bible and which were not?

Basically the books had to meet three different criteria. First they had to have apostolic authority, meaning they had to have been written by the apostles themselves, who were eyewitnesses to the events they wrote about or were followers of the apostles, as is the case of Mark and Luke. Mark was a helper to Peter, while Luke was an associate of Paul.

Second there they had to conform to what was called the rule of faith. The documents had to be in harmony with each other. And third it had to be accepted and already being used by the church. All the books we have now in the New Testament were accepted by the end of the second century.

Dr. Bruce M. Metzger, PH.D. of the Princeton Theological Seminary say’s, "We can be confident that no other ancient books can compare with the New Testament in terms of importance for Christian history or doctrine. When one studies the early history of the canon, you walk away convinced that the New Testament contains the best sources for the history of Jesus. Those who discerned the limits of the canon had a clear and balanced perspective of the gospel of Christ.

"Just read the other documents for yourself. They were written much later than the four gospels, some as late as the 6th century, long after Jesus was here. They carry names like the Gospel of Peter and the Gospel of Mary that are completely unrelated to their real authorship. On the other hand the four gospels were accepted with remarkable unanimity as being authentic in the story they told."

When it comes to the question of whether some of the books in the New Testament were changed to suit the beliefs of the early church fathers you have to realize that books were in wide circulation before the canon was accepted. If the leaders changed the words of Jesus, there would have been such an outcry by the early church that would have been documented and yet not one such protest has ever been found.

For further reading on this subject read The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel.

Please don’t forget to leave your prayer requests in the box to right. We would like to pray for you tonight at our prayer meeting.

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Comments on: "Who is Jesus? – Part 4 – Is the Bible Reliable?" (13)

  1. Hi Gerry! For The Elms, try http://www.music.msn.com/artist/?artist=16475382I like the songs Burn and Shine, Come to Me, You Saved Me and The First Day.Sorry to hear about your troubes. Obviously some people don\’t have enough constructive ways to spend their time. One of my other blog buddies has had a hard time the other way and is being harassed by straight people! You can\’t win!I hope it gets better and I\’m thinking about you.Kim

  2. I thought I was going to hear your comments on who Jesus is. Well here is my thoughts on who He is:The only-begotten Son of God, the only Son produced by Jehovah alone. This Son is the firstborn of all creation. By means of him all other things in heaven and on earth were created. He is the second-greatest personage in the universe. It is this Son whom Jehovah sent to the earth to give his life as a ransom for mankind, thus opening the way to eternal life for those of Adam\’s offspring who would exercise faith. This same Son, restored to heavenly glory, now rules as King, with authority to destroy all the wicked and to carry out his Father\’s original purpose for the earth. The Hebrew form of the name Jesus means "Jehovah Is Salvation"; Christ is the equivalent of the Hebrew Ma·shi´ach (Messiah), meaning "Anointed One."Have a nice day!

  3. Hi Gerry!I am not above sharing my music with friends, if you have an address I can mail to :)…your church maybe?Kim

  4. Ops…I guess I should of read the rest of your blogs. Let me comment on the blog~Jesus-part one.Is Jesus Christ the same person as Michael the archangel?The name of this Michael appears only five times in the Bible. The glorious spirit person who bears the name is referred to as "one of the chief princes," "the great prince who has charge of your [Daniel\’s] people," and as "the archangel." (Dan. 10:13; 12:1; Jude 9, RS) Michael means "Who Is Like God?" The name evidently designates Michael as the one who takes the lead in upholding Jehovah\’s sovereignty and destroying God\’s enemies.At 1 Thessalonians 4:16 (RS), the command of Jesus Christ for the resurrection to begin is described as "the archangel\’s call," and Jude 9 says that the archangel is Michael. Would it be appropriate to liken Jesus\’ commanding call to that of someone lesser in authority? Reasonably, then, the archangel Michael is Jesus Christ. (Interestingly, the expression "archangel" is never found in the plural in the Scriptures, thus implying that there is only one.)Revelation 12:7-12 says that Michael and his angels would war against Satan and hurl him and his wicked angels out of heaven in connection with the conferring of kingly authority on Christ. Jesus is later depicted as leading the armies of heaven in war against the nations of the world. (Rev. 19:11-16) Is it not reasonable that Jesus would also be the one to take action against the one he described as "ruler of this world," Satan the Devil? (John 12:31) Daniel 12:1 (RS) associates the \’standing up of Michael\’ to act with authority with "a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time." That would certainly fit the experience of the nations when Christ as heavenly executioner takes action against them. So the evidence indicates that the Son of God was known as Michael before he came to earth and is known also by that name since his return to heaven where he resides as the glorified spirit Son of God.Is Jesus Christ actually God?John 17:3, RS: "[Jesus prayed to his Father:] This is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God ["who alone art truly God," NE], and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." (Notice that Jesus referred not to himself but to his Father in heaven as "the only true God.")John 20:17, RS: "Jesus said to her [Mary Magdalene], \’Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.\’" (So to the resurrected Jesus, the Father was God, just as the Father was God to Mary Magdalene. Interestingly, not once in Scripture do we find the Father addressing the Son as "my God.")Jesus himself referred to his Father as "the only true God." (John 17:3) Jehovah himself said: "Besides me there is no God." (Isa. 44:6) The apostle Paul wrote that, to true Christians, "there is . . . one God the Father." (1 Cor. 8:5, 6) So Jehovah is unique; no one else shares his position. Jehovah stands in utter contrast to all such objects of worship as idols, deified humans, and Satan. All these are false gods.What kind of \’God\’ is Jesus?Jesus is spoken of in the Scriptures as "a god," even as "Mighty God." (John 1:1; Isa. 9:6) But nowhere is he spoken of as being Almighty, as Jehovah is. (Gen. 17:1) Jesus is said to be "the reflection of [God\’s] glory," but the Father is the Source of that glory. (Heb. 1:3) Jesus in no way seeks the position of his Father. He said: "It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service." (Luke 4:8) He exists "in God\’s form," and the Father has commanded that "in the name of Jesus every knee should bend," but this is all done "to the glory of God the Father."-Phil. 2:5-11.

  5. Well Debbie, Obviously you are a Jehovah\’s witness let\’s see waht the bible really says. John 1:1 in a literal translation reads thus: "In beginning was the word, and the word was with the God, and God was the word." Notice that it says "God was the word." This is the actual word for word translation. It is not saying that "a god was the word." That wouldn\’t make sense. Let me break it down into three statements.1. "In beginning was the word…" (en arche en ho logos) A very simple statement that the Word was in the beginning. 2."and the word was with the God…" (kai ho logos en pros ton theon) This same Word was with God. 3. "and God was the word." — Properly translated as "and the Word was God." (kai theos en ho logos) This same Word was God. Regarding statement 3 above, the correct English translation is "…and the Word was God," not "and God was the word." This is because if there is only one definite article ("ho"="the") in a clause where two nouns are in the nominative ("subject") form ("theos" and "logos"), then the noun with the definite article ("ho"="the") is the subject. In this case "ho logos" means that "the word" is the subject of the clause. Therefore, "…the Word was God" is the correct translation, not "God was the Word."1 But this does not negate the idea that John is speaking of only one God, not two, even though the Jehovah\’s Witnesses maintain that Jesus is "a god," or the "mighty god" as was addressed above. Is there suddenly a new god in the text of John 1:1? It is the same God that is being spoken of in part 2 as in part 3. How do the Jehovah\’s Witnesses maintain that the word had somehow become a god in this context, since there is only one God mentioned? Remember, the Jehovah\’s Witnesses teach that Jesus was Michael the Archangel. Therefore, is there any place in the Bible where an angel is called "a god," besides Satan being called the god of this world in 2 Cor. 4:3-4? John 20:28 – "Thomas answered and said to Him, \’My Lord and my God!\’" In the Greek in John 20:28 Thomas said to Jesus, "ho kurios mou, kai ho theos mou," "The Lord of me, and the God of me." If Jesus was not God, but "a" god, then shouldn\’t Jesus have corrected Thomas? Shouldn\’t Jesus have said, "No Thomas, I am not the God. I am a god."? But Jesus did not. To do so would have been ludicrous. Nevertheless, the Jehovah\’s Witness will say that Thomas was so stunned by Jesus\’ appearance, that he swore. This is ridiculous because it means that Thomas, a devout man of God, swore in front of Jesus and used the Lord\’s name in vain in violation of Exodus 20:7. This is hardly the case since we find no New Testament equivalent of a disciple of Christ using God\’s name in vain. The main reason the Jews wanted to crucify Jesus was that he decared Himself to be God. He said in John 10:30, I and the Father are one. Jesus often used the words that only God had used before when He would say "I Am"In Hebrews chapter 1 God did call Jesus God; verses 5-8 say; For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father"? Or again, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son"? And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God\’s angels worship him."In speaking of the angels he says, "He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire." But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdomI know the word speaks for itself. Jesus Chrsit and God are one and the same. I\’ll finish with what I said in the blog. because the scriptures were in wide distribution in the first and second centruries If they were changed even in the slightest. There would have been such an outcry by Christians. And yet history records not one. Jehovah\’s Witnesses are guilty of taking the Word of God and changing it to suit their own needs and views. You are warned in Revelations 22:18-19 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. Gerry

  6. I Love God, But I also love premarital sex…is that wrong?

  7. If you really love God, you would hate darkness and sin. If you love sin you are an enemy of God. Jesus said in Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other." There is no playing the fence my friend. You are also destroying something that is beautiful. Pretty selfish if you ask me.

  8. HeyI\’ve been having debates on http://www.evcforum.net on the topic of \’is the bible reliable\’ and \’can the gospels stand up to scrutiny\’. It\’s been a good debate and there are good points, maybe you want to place you points there so they can be discussed.Thanks and God bless.Dan

  9. …..The hell? makes no sence.Your fatal desire.:::Cassie:::(please feel free to vist my blog site.)

  10. Cassie, you have to read the entire series. This is part 4.I would visit your site but it is listed as private.Gerry

  11. Hi Gerry!I can email you songs in outlook if you email me your email address. Mine\’s kimverrall@hotmail.com

  12. Hi, Gerry. Thanks for stopping by my space. I saw your note when you posted it, but just now have the time to respond. Yes, you may add a link to my blog from your own space. I\’m thrilled with more traffic. I only wish time and creativity allowed me to write more than I do, but I hope what I do post may touch someone somewhere along the way. I started out thinking I\’d use my space for me…but instead I\’ve realized a better solution: use it for God. And what an honor that is. Interesting topic you have going here. I\’m going to have to visit more often. 🙂

  13. heyy! we think your space is super cool. we lovee that you are a minister and a worship leader and all that jazz. its awesome that you spread the word to more and more people and that you can influence people and lead them to christ. k byee!

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