The Bible is not an ordinary book in circulation. In fact, because of its ordinary features, the Bible has been in question and had been greatly criticized for many years. It was not only the atheists and the liberals who were the greatest of its critics but the list also includes the religious non-Christian community. It is not however the responsibility of the Christian community to defend the Bible against its critics. This is because the Bible itself can prove its integrity and reliability. It is for this reason that the Bible is held extraordinary, inspired and reliable book. The Christians’ responsibility is to believe.
In this paper, this writer aims to provide several but essential points that will prove the integrity of the Bible. This writer also explored several writings by respected and reliable theologians, The Bible unveiled archeologists and writers who worked on finding the answers to the questions and criticisms which aimed to disprove the truth of the Bible’s reliability.
TEXTUAL QUESTIONS ON THE BIBLE
Critics have been consistently claiming that there is a great possibility that the Bible passages have been copied and transmitted from generation to generation (C. Blomberg). Critics therefore point to the question whether the Bible has been accurately translated and transmitted. Craig Blomberg referred to this as the Bible’s textual question. The textual questions include the occurrence of textual variations and the claims that the Bible has lost some truths.
There are several evidences available to us that prove these claims wrong. First, there are evidences that the Bible can be reconstructed from the original texts. Rabbi Glenn Harris, in his article entitled, Why the Bible is the Word of God: Can I Trust the Bible?” made a good comparison of Homer’s “Iliad” and the Bible’s New Testament in order to stress the textual integrity of the Bible. Of the 20,000 lines content of the New Testament, only 40 lines are said to be in question and that is about just a half percent. As with Iliad, which is said to be the second ancient Greek/Latin literature having the most number of manuscript testimony, have 764 lines in question out of its 15,600 lines. IN comparison, the lines in question account for five percent. It is still to be noted that the textual criticisms of the New Testament will sum up to a matter of missing letters and misspellings that are too insignificant to alter the essence of the texts involved. Another point of comparison is on the number of manuscript evidences relative to the two ancient writings. Relative to the New Testament, there are more than 24,000 manuscript copies existing to date, 10,000 of which were in Latin versions and the rest were in other early versions. The Iliad had only 643 surviving manuscripts (F. Kenyon).
HISTORICAL QUESTIONS OF THE BIBLE
The Bible, especially the Old Testament, is full of stories- narratives that place the Bible in question. However there are archeological evidences that prove these events, places and Bible characters to have been actually taken place and existed. Of the long list provided by archeologists and Bible scholars, Bryant Wood has provided some of them. King Solomon, for example, who was made famous for his great wealth have been proven to have actually existed. Archeological records have proven his wealth exactly as the Bible described. The land of Canaan was also in question as to its existence but writings on clay tablets recovered in Syria in 1970s in the Ebla archive proved it to be true. The Assyrian king “Sargon” mentioned by the prophet Isaiah was proven to have actually lived when the king’s palace was discovered in Khorsabah in Iraq. In the same discovery also the proved the occurrence of the capture of Ashdod by its records in the walls of the palace exactly as how Isaiah had recorded. Upon the discovery of the Hittite’s records and their capital at Bogazkoy in Turkey that proved the Bible’s records of their existence.
By dating the manuscripts, the Bible can prove itself historically reliable. A well-known archeologist said that “the average gap between an original composition and the earliest available copy is over 1,000 years for other works of manuscript” (N. Geisler). The New Testament autographs, according to Harris dated 40 to 100 A.D. while its earliest copy was printed about 125 A.D. The gap of 250-300 years between the said dates therefore corroborates with the average gap. AS with the Old Testament, the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947 must be sufficient enough to prove its integrity. Including a copy of Isaiah’s scroll, the Dead Sea Scrolls also revealed a 95 percent similarity to the said texts of our Modern Hebrew Bible. The remaining five percent of the text, according to Gleason Archer “accounts for the obvious slips of the pen and variations of spellings” (G. Archer, 1974). It is thus fair to conclude that “archeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of the Old Testament Tradition” (F. Albright).
THEOLOGICAL QUESTIONS OF THE BIBLE
The Bible is not merely a historical book that records the events relative to the foundation of Christianity. The Bible, more importantly, is a book that contains moral guidelines and ethical religious standards set for all mankind. Simple analysis will therefore answer the question why the Bible has been theologically criticized. Since the Bible by itself is authoritative, in the sense that there were not few rules and regulations contained therein, there are people who will be made morally guilty, and if not, uncomfortable. It is but a natural reaction of the concerned ones to object to the Biblical doctrines and by all means, to have it rendered as a myth. The Bible is therefore held in the situation where it has to prove itself true and reliable.