Category Archives for "The Bible"

The Christianity I Dont Believe In

Abortion , Christian Apologetics , Current Events , Doctrine , Polemics , The Bible


Christianity is a beautiful and elegant belief system - here's some examples of how it gets mistaken...,

Earlier I wrote a post indicating the Christianity I believe in – here now is a discussion of what I DON’T believe.  The point of this exercise is to help me think things through, as well as help clarify for those with struggles on debatable points, and also for those who love to pin these type of beliefs on us Christians, the Truth notwithstanding.

Santa Claus God God is the Prime Mover; the Creator; the source of all Logic and Reason and Purpose (logos) and Love.  He is the original relationship (all creation seems to be driven by relationship – with Love being at the apex).  He is Spirit – to be worshiped, honored, and contemplated as such and in Spirit.  He is identified as masculine in most of the Bible because the writers (and for the most part – us too) were a Patriarchal society – so masculinity indicates authority.  When we realize what He is, and that we are His creation, it seems silly that we put demands on Him, much less expectations.  Some like to think of Him as our Santa Claus – or our servant out there waiting to do our bidding if we just ask, or ask in the right manner.  Surely He desires the best for us all, and He has selected His Church to execute His will on this earth, but we are the creation, not the task-master.  So – if a prayer goes unanswered to my ‘liking’, it is not some sort of a proof against a God who should show His ‘love’ to me by answering my prayers, it is a careful warning to me to make sure I am aligned to the will of God.  

Christianity Is Anti-Intellectual There’s a lot of other writings in this site that discuss why I truly believe that Christianity is the only belief system (view of life and the world) that makes any sense at all.  In summary, it seems to me that Grace is the ONLY hope for the world.  And, I must exhibit this as much as I can, like Jesus did and like God expects me to, in order to represent Him.  Also, NONE of the other belief systems make any sense to me, indeed they seem to be only partial answers from our limited intellect to answer the great questions of existence, meaning, and purpose. Now not all Christians believe the same things, and none of us have totally thought everything through, nor do we have answers to everything.  But this certainly does not prove anti-intellectualism.  I am as interested in knowledge, logic, reason, the pursuit of Truth, and the scientific method as anyone.  So please don’t begin a discussion with me about the ignorance of my faith, unless you are prepared to speak to yours.  And if you’re a Christian, please consider thinking through with me (or others) the deep deep meaning of the Gospel and its ramifications, and help us all present the Truth to those who are looking for it.  

Christianity is Racist, Sexist, Homophobic, Whatever Else… This one should be pretty clear – we are ALL made in the image of God, and equal in His eyes.  We should treat each other as such.  Now – some want to try and paint the Bible as condoning slavery – it simply addressed it as a cultural issue.  Not only was slavery different in those days from what we generally think of it these days (as racist, or less than human), the Bible was clear that the slaves of that day should be treated fairly, and that they are Children of God.  In fact, and entire epistle speaks to the treatment of slaves as equals. The treatment of women is virtually the same.  Women are indeed equal in God’s eyes as man.  Indeed I’ve seen MANY women smarter than men!  When men properly address women as equals, they cherish them as themselves!  This is a deep deep statement, and not often practiced, even in supposedly enlightened secular circles. I’ve never quite understood why people would want to identify with their sexuality, or their sin.  And, a person’s dealing with their sin is a matter for them to address with God, although the issue of identifying with it places issue with leadership in the Church, as it does with any other clearly identified sin.  Nevertheless, all people are God’s Children, and deserve to be treated with respect in that manner. Hopefully these items are thought provoking, not just provoking.  I truly have no desire to offend anyone, or to be labeled a heretic (HA!).  Please let me know what you think – let’s reason together.  

Here are some links to other relevant information

The Christianity I Believe

Grace and Peace to you all!


Gospel Reliability

Book Reviews , Christian Apologetics , Resources , The Bible

One standard critique of Christianity is that the Biblical records are unreliable.

OC Apologist has written a good summary of the book Without a Doubt by Kenneth Samples…

Here's a summary:

  1. The New Testament documents are the best attested documents of antiquity in terms of total number of manuscripts. 
  2. The interval of time between the date of the original authorship and the date of the earliest New Testament manuscript copies is extremely short.
  3. The historic statements made about Jesus by ancient non-Christian authors for the most part matches well with the Gospel record. 
  4. The authors of the four Gospels were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life themselves, or were closely associated with the eyewitnesses. 
  5. The Gospel writers intended to convey factual and historical information and the writings of their historical content have been confirmed to a significant degree.
  6. The apostles’ testimony becomes more credible when it is considered that they had nothing to gain from it and everything to lose.  

My favorite part though are the comments – there is a typical response from a skeptic, and a good rebuttal

Grace and Peace!

Matthew vs Mark

Christian Apologetics , The Bible


There's been a lot of conjecture about why the Gospels don't line up EXACTLY – and there are good reasons why.

Andy Naselli has a good diagram of the differences of the first two Gospels here

Is good use in a class you may teach about the intricacies of the Bible…

God bless!


Independent Collaborations for the Bible

Christian Apologetics , The Bible

Are There Any Independent Verifications of the Bible?

YES!  There are MANY 'Secular' (non-religious) Sources

The existence of extra-Biblical documentations only helps to confirm the validity of the Bible, and provides incentive for the serious consideration of the Bible's messages.  

"Secular" Collaborating Information






Further Info

Dating of the Bible Documents

War Of The Jews / Antiquities Of The Jews  Flavius Josephus

77 or 78 A.D / 93 A.D.

Describes the horrendous torture and slaughter of the Jews by the Romans in 70 A.D.  Every historical writing after this period discusses this event.  The gospels are silent, however, providing rational circumstantial evidence that they were written prior to 70 A.D.  


Confirming the Execution of John the Baptist

Antiquities Of The Jews  Flavius Josephus; Book 18, Chapter 5.

93 A.D.

Describes that "John, that was called the Baptist", was murdered by Herod.


Confirming Existence and Importance of Jesus

Antiquities Of The Jews  Flavius Josephus; Book 18, Chapter 3.  There is much controversy over the validity of this passage, whether is was entirely written by Josephus or added manipulated by Christians.

93 A.D.

"Now, there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, -a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure.  He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles.  He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principled men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again on the third day, as the divine prophet had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him' ant the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day."


Confirming Death of Jesus, and the Persecution of Christians

Tacitus – A Roman Historian (60 – 120 A.D.)


Refers to fact that "Chrestus…was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilot in the reign of Tiberius."  Also mentions that Nero put many of his followers to death

Chalmers; Evidences of the Christian Revelation

Tacitus; Annales xv.44

Documents of the Christian Church

Confirming Persecution of Christians

Suetonius – A Roman Historian (TBD)


Refers to Jews who were 'continually making disturbances at the instigation of Crestus' were expelled by Claudius from Rome.


Confirming Death of Jesus, and the resulting Darkness That Fell Over The Land

Julius Africanus

221 A.D.

Refers to a work by Thallus, who wrote in ~52 A.D. mentions the crucifixion of Jesus.  Thallus describes the event as a solar eclipse, but Africanus disputes this, since the moon was full at the time of the Passover.  (Thallus' work has been lost, but its significance is confirmed by the mentioning by Africanus.

The New Testament Documents – Are They Reliable?  113

Confirms Existence and Execution of Jesus

The 'Mishnah', which is part of the Jewish Talmud.


"On the eve of Passover they hanged Yeshu (of Nazareth)."  This confirmation comes from a Jewish source (non-Christian), which was a record of events sanctioned by the Jewish Sanhedrin.

Habermas; Ancient Evidence For the Life Of Jesus, Pg 98


Online Bible Resources

Christian Apologetics , The Bible


Online Bible Resources: 


Bible Gateway – Provides a nice search feature with many translations and lots of additional information.


NET Bible – The New English Translation


Bible Crosswalk – Another nice search feature with many versions online, includes Strong's numbers!


Parallel Comparison – From the folks at Crosswalk – compare texts of two different translations!


Bible – TONS of Bible information, history, maps, geography, timelines, etc etc etc



Public Domain Dictionaries:


Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology – From the folks at Crosswalk – one of the finest Dictionaries in use today!


Public Domain Commentaries: 


Crosswalk Commentaries – Many public domain commentaries, including Scofield's notes and Wesley's notes!


Public Domain Concordances: 


Crosswalk Concordances – Many public domain concordances, including Nave's and Strong's.


Bible Study Software: – A nice, basic system with many resources and a good search engine.  FREE! – A nice tool to work with original languages, many versions and reference materials


Logos – The cream of the crop (high end)!  $150 – $600.


Greek / Hebrew Information: 


Lexicon– From, enter a word and determine the Greek or Hebrew meaning/equivalent


Foreign Language Versions: 


Text available in MANY different languages, provided from the Bible Gateway folks

Biblical Contradictions

Christian Apologetics , The Bible


But Aren't There a Lot of Contradictions in the Bible?
Contradictions are NOT the same things as Interpretation Issues…



One particularly favorite game of a skeptic is to find alleged discrepancies within the Bible, under the assumption that the existence of these discrepancies invalidate the claim of Divine inspiration – after all, if the Bible were truly inspired, then it would be perfect and have no contradictions or discrepancies – right?  In addition to this game, the issue can be of serious importance to a seeker who sees the difficulties, perceives intellectual issues and needs resolution in order to continue serious contemplation of Christianity.  It can be a significant stumbling block when not properly understood. 

Causes of the Perception of Discrepancy – All of the seeming contradictions can, when properly analyzed and understood and not just taken 'at the surface', become resolved.  Most are examples of mistaken assumptions by the reader, or of insufficient knowledge about ancient linguistic syntax or cultural interpretation, or simply a misunderstood perspective of the writers intent. 

The following are examples of some of these most common types of misunderstandings, and their resolutions:


Perceived Contradiction




Judas' Death

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left.  Then he went away and hanged himself.  Matthew 27:5

With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out….they called that field…the field of blood.  Acts 1:18,19b,d

Both can be true, and not contradictory.  Judas may have hung himself alone, and then fallen headlong onto the field, etc.  One reference can simply be telling more details of the story than another.  An example of the requirement of a proper perspective for interpretation.

Jesus' Period Of Death

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heard of the earth.  Matthew 12:40

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week…he has risen.  Matthew 28:1a,6b

In Jewish custom, any part of a day is considered part of a full day.  We see this confirmed in Esther chapters 4&5, where 'on the third day' is equivalent to 'after three days'.  And, even now in Jewish custom, the new 'day' begins at sundown of the previous day.    An example of the requirement for cultural understanding for proper interpretation.

Jesus Curses The Fig Tree

He said to it, 'May you never bear fruit again!'  Immediately the tree withered.  Matthew 21:19

Then He said to the tree, 'May no one ever eat fruit from you again.'  In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.  Mark 11:14,20

Clearly a matter of timing.  The issue is in the implications however.  In Matthew, we assume that the object lesson on faith happened immediately afterwards, but we are not told this directly.  Mark may be more descriptive in the chronology of events, while Matthew was describing the event in whole, with breaks in time eliminated to round out the point.  An example of the requirement for proper syntax (structure) understanding for correct interpretation.

We can clearly see that things that appear at first glance to be difficulties, are not, yet need to be properly understood.  One minor lesson from this is that the Bible is to be studied, not 'glanced'.  When you come across a perceived difficulty, don't just simply write the Bible off as errant and therefore not inspired – delve into the facts of the context and pursue proper understanding.  In other words, give the Bible the benefit of the doubt!

Finally, when one considers the fact that the Bible has survived incredible persecution (from the abolition of Rome in A.D. 303 where scores of Christians were killed, and a massive 'book burning' of all Bibles that could be found occurred – yet just 10 short years after this Christianity was accepted as the 'official' religion of the Roman Empire, to Voltaire and Thomas Paine's vain predictions in the 18th century that the Bible will soon be forgotten) is evidence of seemingly supernatural intervention.  

Clearly, these supposed 'contradictions' and 'difficulties' have been worked through for a VAST amount of people for thousands of years.  The Bible is clearly meant to be taken seriously.

Which Bible Translation is the Best

Christian Apologetics , The Bible

Which Bible Translation is the 'Right' Translation?
There are Actually Several Methods to Translate the Bible…

Some are intended to provide strict translation and interpretation from the original (the source) language, and others are intended to relay meaning from the original into today's (the receptor) language.  To assure the most independent and unbiased translations and interpretations, in all reputable cases, a board of scholars is employed, along with specialists in history, grammar, etc.  Why interpretation along with translation?  Because the Hebrew and Greek languages are grammatically quite different from most all others.  

Just simply translating word to word would be difficult, and in some cases impossible, if the purpose is to relay coherent meaning.  For example, according to specialist Raymond Elliot:

The word 'of' is very common in English, and it is used to represent a wide variety of relationships between words.  In only the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark, nine different English translations use the word 'of' between eighteen and thirty one times.  The word represents such relationships as possession, kinship, location, names of geographical places and features, the material from which something is made, political jurisdictions, the doer of an action, and so on.  But there is no word 'of' in Greek at all!  Greek has other ways of expressing those relationships that are translated by 'of' in English…The problem for the translator is to find, in the receptor language, those forms that will appropriately represent the structures of the source language – first as to meaning, style, and naturalness, then as much as possible as to form."

Raymond Elliot; "Bible Translation"; in The Origin Of The Bible; Philip Wesley Comfort editor

 In order to translate and interpret for the masses today, specialists utilize (generically) two forms of strategy:

Formal Equivalence attempts to preserve the original language structure and vocabulary (the form).  While strictly preserving what was originally written, it may cause difficulty in understanding items such as a historically unique statement that has no close English parallel.  An example of a translation with Formal Equivalence intent is the New American Standard Bible.   This type of translation leaves it up to us to figure out what the original meaning is.

Dynamic Equivalence attempts to relate the structure to commonly understood terms in the 'receptor' language (the meaning).  For example, when Paul (Romans 7:18) speaks of the 'sinful flesh' (NAS)  we know that he is speaking of the 'sin nature' (NIV).  Tries to interpret the meaning for us, accurately and fairly. 

Examples of Translation and Interpretation



Literal Greek Translation

King James Version

New American Standard Bible

New International Version

Matthew 1:1

Book ancestry Jesus equals Christ son David son Abraham.

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

John 1:13

who — not of blood nor of a will of flesh, nor of a will of man but — of God were begotten 

Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, not of the will of man, but of God.

who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

children born not of natural descent, not of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

Isn't The King James The Only 'Real' Bible?

There is somewhat of a controversy regarding the King James Bible.  Because this version is the 'oldest' English version, it is what many of us grew up with.  We are comfortable with it, despite the fact that it was written over 500 years ago, in a style of English that is no longer in use.  It is beautiful and poetic, and gives the Word of God a sense of style and class, as one would expect.  BUT, it is certainly not the only English interpretation that is accurate and reliable.  As has been said 'if the King James Version was good enough for Paul, then it's good enough for me' exposes the silliness of this debate. 

Are There Any 'Unreliable' Translations?

Generally, there is minimal scholarly 'issue' with the English translations that we have today.  This is easily provable, first, since there is essentially no 'active' debate regarding the translations, and second, because the quantity and availability of scholars (Christian and non-Christian) to assure us is copious.  To confirm this in your mind, especially if you still have doubts, take any English translation to your local university Greek or Hebrew scholar, and have them confirm the translation's near perfect validity.

Currently, the only 'active' debate is more political than scholarly, regarding the 'gender-inclusion' translations of the TNIV, or 'Today's New International Version.'  In places where the original languages refers to (essentially) mankind as 'he' or 'him', this version has changed the terms to 'they' etc.  While troublesome to some traditionalists, this debate seems to miss the mark in practicality, since most parents of daughters explain to them that (in general) the blessings or curses attributed to 'man' means 'mankind', to assure their girls that they are not left out. 

The bottom line is, that our English translations of the Bible are assuredly trustworthy, and reliable.


Because of the reliable condition of the English translations, a version should be picked (generally) based upon your purpose and your preference.  For beauty and elegance, the King James Version is classic.  For readability and study purposes, choose the New International Version.  For serious contemplation and consideration, many prefer the New American Standard Bible.

Biblical Archaeological Evidences

Christian Apologetics , The Bible

Are There Any Biblical Archeological Evidences?
YES!  There are MANY!

As with the independent collaborations, archaeological evidences discovered confirming items and events in the Bible serve to provide reason to consider the Bible and its teachings seriously.  It has been remarked that NO archaeological evidence has been discovered that disproves anything mentioned in the Bible!



Independent Collaborating Information




Confirming Artifact


Reference / Further Info

Roman Census Order

Luke 2:1,3  "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world….everyone went to his own town to register.

A census order from 104 A.D., requiring all to return to their homes to be counted was found in Egypt

Confirms that census' were a function of the Roman government.  An earlier census (dated ~6A.D.) was also found, although the dating is in dispute.

Jesus: The Evidence; Ian Wilson; pg 47

Quirinius (a ruler)

Luke 2:2 "(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was the governor of Syria.)"

An inscription describing Quirinius as a person of authority in Syria was found in Antioch

Confirms a historical aspect of Luke's Gospel

The Bible As History; Werner Keller; pg. 323

King David

2 Samuel 5:4.  'David was thirty years old when he became King, and he reigned forty years.'

A basalt stone monument dated ~900 B.C., discovered in Galilee, describes 'The House Of David' and 'The King Of Israel'

Until this find in 1993, a record of King David has never been found outside of the Bible, leading many scholars to improperly believe that David was a fictitious character.

Is The Bible True?; Jeffery Sheler; pg. 59

Nazareth, the Town In Which Jesus Was Raised

Luke 4:16a. 'He went to Nazareth, where He had been brought up…'

Many farming community relics, dated to the first century A.D., discovered in the precise location Nazareth was supposed to be.

Until this find in the 1950's by Belarmino Begatti, no evidence of Nazareth was found, leading skeptical scholars to believe that the town was a Biblical fantasy.

The Archaeology Of The New Testament

Capernaum, a Town Which Jesus Visited

Luke 7:1b,3.  'Jesus entered Capernaum…The Centurion head of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant…"This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue."'

Captain Charles Wilson (1866) confirmed the location of the town.  Virgilio Corbo (1974) discovered a synagogue there, dated to the early first century .

Skeptics, once again requiring archaeological proof before they will believe anything, were again confounded at the discovery of this city.  Corbo believes that we are justified in believing that this synagogue was the very one built by the Centurion mentioned by Matthew, Mark and Luke.

The Archaeology Of The New Testament pg 99

A House In Capernaum, Where Peter and Andrew Lived, and Where Jesus Visited

Luke 4:38.  'Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon.' 

The oldest Christian church yet discovered, attested by documentation dated ~350 A.D. describing a pilgrimage to the 'house of the first of the apostles [where] a church was made…Here the Lord cured the paralytic.' 

Also described in 570 A.D. as a basilica that preserved the house of Peter.

The Archaeology Of The New Testament pg


How Did We Get the Bible

Christian Apologetics , The Bible

Who Decided What Would Be In The Bible?
How did the Bible get 'canonized'?

The 'canon' is a term that refers to the ‘standard,’ or ‘rule.’  The early church fathers, in an effort to preserve the integrity of the ancient writings and the doctrines of the Church, 'canonized' the books that were recognized as 'inspired' by God.  When the writings were ‘canonized,’ this simply means that the church accepted them as the ‘official’ documents that were prescribed by God.  It is important to realize that they were not simply ‘appointed’ as official, but that they had been recognized for some time by the majority of the Church at the time as the inspired word of God and used as such.  The canon simply documents this recognition.  

The Old Testament was known (essentially) as three 'books', the Law (Genesis to Deuteronomy), the Prophets (Joshua through 2 Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the 12 'minor' prophets), and the Writings (the remainder of the OT books.)  These books were confirmed by Christ and the early Church fathers as they referred to them with comments such as 'It is written' or 'God says…'.  The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls included every book of the Old Testament except Esther, indicating an acceptance of them as scripture from the first Century A.D.

Generically, the New Testament canon includes those writings which were most universally accepted by the majority of the early church.  The most controversial (those which were adhered to by a few sects, but not a majority) were eventually culled out of the official 'list'.  Several books, including Revelation, James, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, were included by the end of the second century.  

Four key questions were considered by the Council Of Carthage (397 A.D.) that declared the official canon of the New Testament church:  

1) Is the writing Apostolic?  If an Apostle either was credited with authorship, or with direct influence (as with Mark and Luke) the canonicity was generally assumed.  This is not a rigid requirement; for example, the book of Hebrews' authorship is still under question.

2)  Is the writing Orthodox?  If the writings conform with the early understandings of the faith, and do not obviously contradict another accepted canonical writing, it is generally accepted.

3)  Is the writing universal?  Writings that seem specific to a certain group, and apparently not intended for the Church as a whole were generally not considered to be appropriate to a canon of the Universal Church.  

4)  Has the writing had influence over the Church over time?  The proven ability for the writing to provide guidance, sustenance and inspiration for the Church is expected.  

Understanding these requirements show that the writings were not simply 'chosen', but proven to be inspired by their 'intrinsic authority and constant usage.'  (Adapted from Zondervan's Handbook To The Bible.)

What About The 'Apocrypha'?

Even after the official canonization, there was some debate going on.  In ~385 A.D., the ancient Church father Jerome developed a version of the Bible that included the books of the Apocrypha, although he later disavowed them as canonical, in his 'Vulgate' Bible.  In 1545 the Council of Trent declared the Vulgate Bible the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church.  The protestant movement sided with Jerome, who by then had separated the Apocrypha from the remainder.  

The Bible Is Reliable

Christian Apologetics , The Bible

How Do We Know That The Bible We Have Today Is Reliable?

The best way to consider the acceptance of the documents are to think of them in terms of evidence.  Simon Greenleaf was a professor of Law at Harvard University in the nineteenth century, and established himself as a premier authority on the rules of evidence.  His three volume work on the rules of evidence is still a standard used by lawyers today.  He wrote a treatise on the admissibility of the four Gospels, and concluded that the "competence of the New Testament documents would be established in any court of law."  In short, according to one of the most prestigious experts on the admissibility of documents in a court of law, the Bible is able to withstand the scrutiny and be accepted as reliable evidence.

Utilizing these rules of evidence, Ewen makes the case that the New Testament documents pass the following tests:  Admissibility and Authenticity of the Evidence (the manuscripts) as determined by their age, quality and quantity, care in their preservation, and location, timing and motive of their writers.  Corroborating Evidence is then analyzed, including archaeological evidences, results of scientific papyrology studies, and comparison of other similarly dated historical documents.  Finally, upon passing these tests, the documents are then subjected to 'Cross Examination', assuring that the documents are not internally or externally contradictory, that the writers have established credibility, (that the message is proven by extra-biblical sources)

In summary, this investigation results in a  conclusion beyond a reasonable doubt, that 1) Jesus lived approximately 2000 years ago; 2) Jesus died on the cross; and 3) Jesus rose from the dead.  (Adapted from Faith On Trial, Pamela Binnings Ewen.)

How do we know that they were copied correctly through the ages?

Two ways.  First, in antiquity, the role of a scribe was very prestigious.  The role of a scribe is that of a "professional copier."  But it goes far beyond what we consider 'copying' today.  Many procedural details were followed to assure reliability in the copying of these Manuscripts.  Each scribe had a personal identification sign, in which his reputation as a scribe was built.  A second set of eyes served as 'correctors.'  Severe penalties were imposed for carelessness.  Even the numbers of letters were counted, to assure that the copy was as close to the original as could be.  We can be assured that the method of transmission through the ages by scribes was reliable.

Second, recently discovered manuscripts from antiquity are nearly identical to the copies we have today.  Until the 'Dead Sea Scrolls' were discovered in the caves of Qumran in 1946, the oldest known manuscript of the entire Bible was dated about A.D 900 (the Aleppo Codex.)  "The books of the Old Testament found in the Dead Sea Scrolls written approximately one thousand years before the Aleppo Codex were found to be almost identical to those of the Aleppo Codex."  (Pamela Binnings Ewen, Faith On Trial, pg 33.)  Discrepancies of syntax were all that was found (for example – color vs. colour.)  This is breathtaking evidence that the transmission of the Holy Writings have been immaculately preserved over millennia.

In addition, many first person accounts, claims of eyewitnesses, combined with the likelihood of the early dating of the Gospels, provide the suggestion that eyewitnesses could have read the Gospels, and therefore been available to dispute them if there were errors.  No record of these disputes exist.  In addition, these people could have brought dishonor and pressure upon the believers, who would likely not have adopted beliefs that they knew were false. 

Finally, there is sufficient 'political' reason to trust the transmission of the stories.  Knowing that Caligula became Emperor of Rome in 37 A.D., and that he demanded sole worship of himself, even of the Jews, it would be life-threatening to promote the worship of someone else.  This gives credence to the consideration that the early Church would not have promoted a doctrine that they knew to be wrong (seeing a resurrected body would certainly embolden a person's beliefs!)  All of the Gospel writers suffered greatly, as did Paul.  Most were killed for their beliefs.

What is the Status Of The Documentation?

The original manuscripts (the autographa) are lost, but there are enough copied manuscripts in existence, some written during the lifetimes of some eye-witnesses to the Resurrection and the ministry of the Apostles, that the credibility of the transmission is assured.  This simple fact is astounding when compared to the evidence of other copied manuscripts from antiquity (indeed, there are NO originals of ANY manuscripts from antiquity!)  For example, there are only 643 manuscripts of the Iliad in existence, which is similar in length to the New Testament.  There are over 25,000 pieces of evidence for the Bible, and they are all so similar that they are considered to be identical.

Can We Trust These Documents If They Weren't Written In 'Real Time'?

Some believe that this gap of ~50 – 100 years before things were written down automatically destroys their reliability.  They assert that legends may have developed in lieu of fact, and therefore we have no basis in trusting that the manuscripts are valid.  There are essentially three items to consider when contemplating this issue:

1)  The transmission of fact and tradition when eyewitnesses are still alive.  Personal interpretation and adjustment is easy to do if the writer or eyewitnesses are not around, but much more difficult if you are possibly subject to correction or ridicule from them.  With the Gospels as close as 50 years after the death of Christ, it is conceivable that many of these eyewitnesses were still alive, as well as Peter and Mark and Paul and many of the first generation church leaders (such as Polycarp and Papias, who were direct disciples of the Apostle John.) 

In addition, evidence of the the introduction of the common 'heresies' (distortion of original doctrine/orthodoxy) did not begin until ~200 A.D., with the Gnostic heresy and others.  (Indeed, this is one reason the Church fathers formalized the canon.)

2)  The incredible similarity of the disparate documents.  When we consider the emphasis on perfection that the scribes – think of them as 'human copying machines' – had (remember that their livelihood and reputation relied on their quality of work – not to mention the seriousness they took to transmitting what they believed to be the 'word of God'), we can place faith in their work.  We know that this quality exists when we find documents, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, that were written approx. 1000 years later than some earlier documents, and found to be practically identical. 

In addition, when the various manuscripts are compiled with their various insignificant 'disparities' (akin to spelling color as 'colour' – and 'error' that does not changing the meaning) we can compile the original.  Consider this exercise:  If I write a letter to a friend, and then give it to 10 different people to copy, they each may make an error here or there, but they all won't make the SAME error.  Because of this, someone could easily determine what the original letter said from these ten copies.  For example, 9 of them may spell my name right (Sutherland,) while one may spell it wrong (Southerland).  It would be a proper assumption for my friend, when he sees the 9 vs. the 1, that my original had the spelling sans 'o'. 

3)  The relatively short period of time when compared to other 'trusted' pieces of antiquity.  The Old Testament books are generally considered reliable especially because of the previous examples.  New Testament documents are also, but an additional comparison of known and trusted pieces of antiquity aid in conveying trust (we should not hold these Biblical documents to any further doubt than we do other accepted manuscripts – this would be a double standard of the rules of evidence in antiquity!)  Consider the following comparisons of documents and their timing:

Biblical Works of Antiquity






Period Between Event and Writing

Earliest Extant Manuscript

Period Between Event and Manuscript

Gospel of Matthew

Matthew / ~0-70? A.D.

~50-70 A.D.

< 50 years

ca. 200

< 150 years

Gospel of Mark

Mark / ~15-90? A.D.

~65-70 A.D.

< 50 years

ca. 225

< 200 years

Gospel of Luke

Luke / ~10-80? A.D.

~60-75 A.D.

< 50 years

ca. 200

< 200 years

Gospel of John

John / ~10-100? A.D.

~90-110 A.D.

< 80 years

ca. 130

< 100 years

Pauline Epistles

Paul / ~0-65? A.D.

~50-65 A.D.

~20-30 years

ca. 200

< 200 years


Secular Works of Antiquity






Period Between Event and Writing

Earliest Extant Manuscript

Period Between Event and Manuscript

War of the Jews

Josephus / ~37-100? A.D.

~80 A.D.

~10-300 years

ca. 950

~900-1200 years


Josephus / ~37-100? A.D.

~95 A.D.

~30-300 years

ca. 1050

~1000-1300 years


Tacitus / ~56-120? A.D.

~100-120 A.D.

~30-100 years

ca. 850

~800-850 years


Herodotus / ~485-425? B.C.

~430-425 B.C.

~50-125 years

ca. 900

~1400-1450 years


Polybius / ~200-120? B.C.

~150 B.C.

~20-70 years

ca. 950

~1100-1150 years



~364-322 B.C.


1100 A.D.

~1400 years



100-44 B.C.


900 A.D.

~950 years

Adapted from Willams; Are The Biblical Documents Reliable?;; 4-03


It is clearly evident that the Biblical documentation is better documented than many accepted secular works.  To accept secular works, while holding Biblical documentation to a different standard is unfair.  Lets look at some summary information regarding what is in existence regarding Biblical documentation:

Information Regarding Extant Biblical Manuscripts 




Biblical Reference Description Dated Further Info

Chester Beatty Manuscript

Four Gospels, Acts


~225 A.D.


Codex Vaticanus

Majority of OT and NT

Probably the oldest extant vellum manuscript, believed to have been commissioned by Constantine.  Added to the Vatican library in 1448. Also known as 'Codex B'.  Missing are portions of Genesis, Psalms and Hebrews, the entire books of I and II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Revelation and the books of the Maccabees.

~325 A.D.

Scholarly Summary


Encyclopedia Info

Codex Sinaiticus

Majority of OT and NT

Contains the oldest known complete copy of the NT (also contains part of the OT.)  Discovered at a monastery at Mt. Sinai in 1844.

~350 A.D.



Information Regarding The Dating Of The Gospels




Consideration / Artifact Date Significance Further Info / References


Magdalen Fragments – Pieces of papyrus from Matthew 26. 

A.D. 66 (latest)

Indicates that the gospel was written no later than 36 years after Jesus' death.

Eyewitness To Jesus


Time Mag


Qumran 7Q5, a dead sea scroll containing the Gospel of Mark

A.D.68 (latest)

The caves were abandoned in A.D. 68, giving us an outside date of the Gospel of Mark



P4 Fragment –  Papyrus that is similar in style to the Magdalen Fragments

~ A.D. 66

Assuming the similarity to the Magdalen Fragments, again provides us with an outside date for the Gospel of Luke



St John Papyrus P-52 (aka John Rylands Greek 457)

~A.D. 125 (latest)

While conservatively dated after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, it references items not in existence after the destruction, indicating a reasonable belief that it was perhaps written before A.D. 70



No Gospel mentions either the stoning death of James the brother of Jesus (which is mentioned by Josephus in Antiquities – 93 A.D), or the deaths of Peter or Paul. 


Indicates a reasonable assumption that the latest date of the Gospels must be 93 A.D.

Faith On Trial  Pg 40


Clearly, there is sufficient reason to believe that the evidence we have for the Bible is as good, indeed much better than required to believe that the documents are valid.  Finally, lets consider the esteemed opinion of Sir Frederick Kenyon, who was the director of the British Museum, and who expresses the amount of trust in the conveyance of the scriptures through time as follows:

"The interval, then, between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed.  Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established."  (Kenyon; The Bible And Archaeology; pg 288)