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DANIEL ALBERT BAIR The Bible withstands the tests of accuracy

Monday, January 26, 2004

The Bible says it has the answers to how we got here, why we were born and where we are headed.
Some pretty important stuff, wouldn't you agree?
With so much at stake (our eternal destinies, for one), the reliability of this sacred text becomes a matter of the utmost importance.
Unfortunately, many people today, even some Christians, believe that with the passing of time, errors have crept into the Bible. When you take into consideration that the Bible was written over the course of 1,500 years, in three different languages, by some 40 different writers, who represented some 20 different occupations, while living in 10 different countries, not to mention the different translations that have been handed down through the centuries ... how could it have remained intact? Well, let's put it to the test.
We can test the historical accuracy of the Bible by using the same criteria by which any other historical writings are tested. The method we can use is called historiography. Historiography consists of three main components: the bibliographical test, the internal evidence test and the external evidence test.
The three tests
The bibliographical test examines textual transmission: the number of manuscripts, or handwritten copies, and their closeness to the originals. This test also takes into account the accuracy of manuscripts as supported by ancient lectionaries (books used in church or synagogue worship services that included portions of Scripture). The bibliographical test also looks at the accuracy of manuscripts as supported by the writings of the early church Fathers.
The second test, the internal evidence test, examines benefit of the doubt issues, takes a look at whether or not the documents are free from contradictions, and asks the question, "Did the writer[s] use primary sources?"
The third and final test for historicity of the Bible, the external evidence test examines ancient writings (outside the Bible) from both Christians and non-Christians alike. The external evidence test also delves into archaeological finds.
The Bible has indeed been put through the rigors of these tests and more.
How did it stand up under the scrutiny?
Look at the evidence
To those who still doubt, I say look at the evidence for yourself.
When it is studied seriously, it becomes quite clear that the Bible is more than merely a human book about religion. The Bible was written through what is known in theology as plenary verbal inspiration. Plenary means full or complete. It means that all the Scriptures (from Genesis to Revelation) were inspired by God.
That means that when we come to the book of Jonah, we can not hit the fast forward button on the remote if we find it hard to believe that a man could live in the stomach of a big fish for three days and live to tell about it. If we are indeed to separate truth from error, then we cannot pick and choose which parts of the Bible we will believe. It's all or none.
The verbal part of plenary verbal inspiration means that God's inspiration extended to the very words the writers chose, but still allowed their personalities and choices to show through. The Holy Spirit guided the whole process.
A higher power
After checking out the evidence for myself, and coming to a better understanding of how the writings that became Scripture were inspired, I came to this conclusion: No book written by man over such a long period of time and by so many different writers could come out as perfect -- as life-changing -- as the Bible has unless it was directed by a higher power.
After all, would preserving the instruction manual that God gave to mankind be too difficult a task for the eternal creator of the universe? I think not.
It becomes quite clear that God breathed his words into the very lives of the writers of the Bible. When they wrote, they wrote from their own hearts, but it was that almighty author who edited it all.
XDaniel Albert Bair attends New Covenant Worship Center and is studying to become an ordained minister.