The dead sea scrolls, beaten old biblical writings torn up

How Can We Trust The Bible is Reliable?

Sharing Your Faith
Article
These books were written thousands of years ago, how could we possibly trust that they are real, true, and still reliable?
Short for time? Read this!
Expand
Collapse

There are SO many different factors that go into determining the reliability of historical text. We can break down the full process in another article if so desired. But the point stands, after looking at the authorship, date of writing, content written, copies of the writings, and even archeology, we can see that the Bible is no joke. These are real stories written by real people over the course of 1500 years. And as a believer, we believe that Scripture is God-breathed and (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and inerrant. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, we can have assurance that God’s Word is trustworthy and reliable. Plus, could you imagine that God would allow a book full of lies to be a part of the largest selling book in the world to date? If we truly believe God is sovereign and in control, we can also know that He has given us the revelation and Scripture we need to better understand God’s love for us, and our purpose and mission on Earth.


0.98 minutes to read

How in the heck could we trust something that was written thousands of years ago. Growing up I never questioned it. Until I got into high school and I remember having a text conversation with a friend who was an atheist. He claimed that there is no way we could trust the Bible that was written basically by a game of telephone. Having no idea what he was talking about, I started to do the research. Turns out he was right. Well… sort of. I had no idea that all of the Old Testament was passed on by Oral Tradition and not just written down then and there. While Oral Tradition is in fact the truth of how much of the word of God was passed down before being written, it is in no way a game of telephone. Regardless, this started the journey for me to really question and seek out the truth and validity of the things I believe. Not just assume it’s all truth because of one pastor. I anticipate that is why you are here. Seeking the truth. Is the Bible accurate and reliable? Or have we been lying this whole time for a lost cause?

How Do We Know?


To give a basic breakdown of the Bible and how it came to be, the Bible was written over the course of 1500 years by 40 different diverse authors from 1400 BC to 100 AD approximately. Each book was written separately to be its own in the form of scrolls before they were compiled into a single composition around 400 AD. 


In order for us to determine whether or not the book was reliable and true, they would do everything from look at the authorship, the date it was written, what the text talked about, if it was consistent with God’ teaching, and if it could be confirmed during their times. Remember at the end of the day, the Bible is historical literature. So what we use to check the reliability and trustworthiness of one piece of literature we use for all. With that being said, the Bible out performs every other literature text by 10 fold. No joke. 


The New Testament


To further explain, the second most written historical literature is Homer’s Iliad and there are approximately 600 copies of the original manuscript. In first place is The New Testament and it has, you guessed it, over 26,000 copies of the original manuscripts. Not only does that show that we have reliable sources to compare original documents, but it makes you wonder, why is it that there are so many copies of it? What makes it so special? Beyond that, all the books of the New Testament are dated to have been written within the same century as the life of Jesus, the last one coming from John in 90 AD. Why is that so important? These texts would have been written at the time when people were still alive to confirm or deny accuracy of what was written. This is why when books show up hundreds of years later like the “Gospel of Thomas,” there is a lack of trust because it was written beyond the time anyone would be alive to confirm or deny the truth of it. Every other letter and book of the New Testament was written during the times they were alive and witnessed it. Here are the dates of each book with their author and when they were approximately written:


Matthew = Matthew - A.D. 55

Mark = John Mark - A.D. 50

Luke = Luke - A.D. 60

John = John - A.D. 90

Acts = Luke - A.D. 65

Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon = Paul - A.D. 50-70

Hebrews = unknown, mostly likely Paul, Luke, Barnabas, or Apollos - A.D. 65

James = James - A.D. 45

1 Peter, 2 Peter = Peter - A.D. 60

1 John, 2 John, 3 John = John - A.D. 90

Jude = Jude - A.D. 60

Revelation = John - A.D. 90


You might be asking, why weren’t they written right after the events took place? It seems today that is the case for everything. Something happens, we write it down, news covers it, and word spreads. Well, 2000 years ago, they didn’t have technology like us, and more often than not, the norm was oral transmission. Back then it was important for them to remember the story word for word from the witness and not mess it up. Sounds hard for our brain to wrap our head around, but when that was how their culture was and how they were raised, it eases our mind to not think it was some silly game of telephone.


The Game of Telephone


Let’s clear the air on something many skeptics and atheists like to bring up. Many will dismiss the Bible as something unreliable because most of it was passed down by word of mouth oral transmission before being written. They will simplify it to calling it a game of telephone. Well, let’s look at if that’s an accurate description. The purpose of the game of telephone is for one person to create a message that must be passed down from one side of a group to the other and hope that at the very end of the passing of words, the story would be the same, yet it rarely does. Many start off with a simple or silly sentence and someone is bound to change it up, say it too quietly for the next to hear, causing them to guess it, or anything that will bring excitement to the game. If it always ended with the original sentence, the game would never be played as it would be boring. So the purpose of the game is to intentionally mess up the original message in order to get a kick out of the group’s silly humor. If that’s the case, then it’s clearly not the same as oral tradition for these cultures. The purpose of passing down the stories was simply that, to share the messages they brought. There was no game, secret agenda, or intention of hoping to make the story change. When the story is important, especially when it came to God and His relationship with mankind, it wasn’t something to mess with. So rather than thinking it was a game of telephone, we can more confidently know that this was a social norm that was reliable and taken seriously by their culture. 



So beyond authorship and dates, a major way the Bible is checked for inerrancy is through archeology (the scientific study of historic or prehistoric peoples and their cultures by analysis of their artifacts, inscriptions, monuments, and other such remains, especially those that have been excavated). This method over the last century has revealed not evidence of inerrancy in the Bible, but contrarily, reliability. Seriously, as time goes on, archeologists continue to discover more and more artifacts, tombs, and sites that match the Bible’s events and people. Here are a couple examples of evidence if you are interested:



Dead Sea Scrolls

One of the most important finds in the field of biblical archaeology is the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 in the Qumran area on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. There are approximately 900 documents and fragments that comprise the find. The scrolls predate A.D. 100 and include a complete copy of the book of Isaiah. The significance of the find is the age of the documents and the astonishing lack of variants to documents that have been most trustworthy such as the Masoretic Text, Codex Vaticanus, and Codex Sinaiticus. The vast majority of the variants (about 99 percent) are punctuation or spelling errors. Incredibly, none of the variants changed the meaning of the text, nor did they contain any significant theological differences. This gives us the assurance that the text we have today in our Bible is the same as the early church had two thousand years ago. No other secular manuscripts can make the same claim. (paragraph borrowed from www.gotquestions.org)


Mosaic of Noah’s Ark

Recently in 2016 archeologists discovered a mosaic that depicted soldiers with upside down chariots and animals everywhere as the Great Flood is happening.


​​The Merneptah Stele

The stone inscription that offers the earliest reference to Israel. It dates back to 1200 BC being written by order of Merneptah, king of the 19th Egyptian dynasty. This is the farthest back discovery of an artifact confirming the Israelites as a people. 


The Tel Dan Inscription

This stone was discovered in 1993 and contains an inscription that refers to the davidic lineage that is predated to have been written around the 9th century BC. The same writings were discovered on the Moabite Stone that was discovered and dated to be written at the same time as well. 



These and so many more discoveries are fascinating as they all point towards events in the Bible. Still to this day there has not been a discovery that has disproved it. Along with archeology, science seems to be doing the same thing (we’ll save that for another article). Regardless, do your own research if you desire, see what’s out there, and you might be surprised with what you find. 


RECAP


There are SO many different factors that go into determining the reliability of historical text. We can break down the full process in another article if so desired. But the point stands, after looking at the authorship, date of writing, content written, copies of the writings, and even archeology, we can see that the Bible is no joke. These are real stories written by real people over the course of 1500 years. And as a believer, we believe that Scripture is God-breathed and (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and inerrant. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, we can have assurance that God’s Word is trustworthy and reliable. Plus, could you imagine that God would allow a book full of lies to be a part of the largest selling book in the world to date? If we truly believe God is sovereign and in control, we can also know that He has given us the revelation and Scripture we need to better understand God’s love for us, and our purpose and mission on Earth. 


With that said, we hope this was beneficial to you in some way and maybe gave you some insight into what we believe and why we believe it. Remember, don’t be lazy and just trust one voice, do your research, study it for yourself, but most importantly, don’t let it become the main thing. Our relationship with Jesus matters more than being able to answer and refute every claim by atheists or skeptics. If something were to be discovered that might refute something of the Bible, would you abandon God and lose all faith? Or does your relationship depend not on artifacts but on your experience with God the Father, Jesus the Son, the Holy Spirit? Be educated, but more than that, be solid in your relationship with Jesus. Peace and blessings.