What's Inside

The theological ramblings of a simple man.


Because God is never cruel, there is a reason for all things. We must know the pain of loss; because if we never knew it, we would have no compassion for others, and we would become monsters of self-regard, creatures of unalloyed self-interest. The terrible pain of loss teaches humility to our prideful kind, has the power to soften uncaring hearts, to make a better person of a good one.

Dean Koontz

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Jeremiah 29:11

Love God, Love others...
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Thursday, October 12, 2006
Historical Accuracy
Fact: writings from ancient cultures were passed down through oral traditions before being written on paper. This is true of all cultures on all continents. Let's do some comparisons. The earliest gospel was written about 70 AD and the latest about 90 AD, all four with in a lifetime of the events of Jesus’ time. Do you believe the stories of Jesus to be true?

How about Alexander the Great? Do you believe he existed? Do you think that the stories we have of him are accurate? Most scholars do, but the earliest biographies of Alexander were written during Jesus’ lifetime... 400 years after Alexander the Great had died.

If the the story of Alexander could be kept accurate after a span of 400 years, so could the story of Jesus. And it only took 30-40 years for that story to be written.

People of the ancient world differ from modern man in the way we write. They only wrote if there was reason to preserve that story.

As for the Old Testament. The Dead Sea scrolls have helped to prove that the content of the Old Testament has gone unchanged in 2000 years.

There is corroboration outside of the Bible to support its accuracy. Ancient Jewish writings from Jesus’ time talked about His miracles and called Jesus a sorcerer who led Israel astray. Why would they call the miracles of Jesus a magic trick if He hadn't done what the Bible says he did?

Fact: we don't have an original copy of the New Testament. We don't have the original copy of ANY document written during ancient times. The Bible you know today (in all its versions) is translated from a copy of a copy. The same is true of other ancient writings like Homer's Iliad or the Dialogs of Plato. Experts believe the Iliad and Plato's Dialogs to be accurate in content, why not the Bible? They were both written the same way, and most of the New Testament was written in the same language.

When all of these texts are examined for authenticity, what experts look at is how many copies exist and their age. When multiple copies of the same thing exists, they are cross checked to see if they say the same thing. Again, let's do some comparisons.

The earliest copies of the New Testament that we have today dates back to a couple generations after Jesus’ time; written in several languages like Greek, Latin, and Coptic. Most other ancient texts have a difference of 500 - 1000 years between the original and the earliest surviving copy and often only in one or two languages.

The 'Annals of Imperial Rome' was written by an early Roman historian in 116 AD. There is only one existing copy which wasn't written till 850 AD.

Josephus was a Jewish historian and contemporary of Jesus. There are only nine copies in Greek of his writing 'The Jewish War' all copied 900-1100 years after the original.

The Iliad was originally written in 800 BC. The earliest manuscript dates between 200 AD & 300 AD and less than 650 copies still exist. There are more remaining copies of the Iliad than any other ancient text, except for one... the Bible.

There are more than five thousand existing Greek copies of the New Testament. In addition to Greek, there are over eight thousand manuscripts in Latin, and another eight thousand in Slavic, Ethiopic, and Armenian. The grand total of all biblical manuscripts totals close to twenty-four thousand.

Some of the earliest were copied about 200 AD. When those copies were discovered and dated in 1930, a funny thing happened. They said the same thing as other copies that have been discovered and they said the same thing as what people were reading in their own Bibles. The very earliest copy is a small portion of the gospel of John; it dates back to somewhere between 98 AD to 150 AD.

Fact: there are variations in those early copies. Those variations are very minor; most of it is misspelling or changing the order of words. But there is a major difference between English and Greek. In English if I say 'A hand pats back' you know that the subject of that sentence is HAND. Instead if I said 'A back pats hand' you might think that BACK is the subject and sentence makes no sense. But in the Greek language, word order didn't matter. The subject was known by how the words were inflected. If I spoke Greek, I could say 'pats back A hand' and my audience would know by inflection that the hand is the one patting the back. Even with the variations, modern translation of the Bible is more accurate than of any other ancient text. Some scholars say the Bible has been preserved in a state that is about 99% pure.

The differences between translations are words. Syntax. If you read them they say the same thing. Is the fact that the King James Version says "fellows" in Hebrews 1:9 while the NIV says "companions" and the RSV says "comrades" really such a big deal?

For further study, I worecommendmend reading The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. That is where I received most of this information.
posted by nicholas casey @ 7:37 PM  
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