Hugh Fulford: Is the Bible reliable?

Bible is reliableCritics of the Bible often claim that it has been translated and re-translated so many times that we cannot be sure that what we have today is the original and pure word of God. They think that the text has been corrupted over the years and that there is no way we can know for sure that the Bible we now have is reliable.

From where or whom did such notions arise? Have those who entertain them ever read and studied about how the various documents of the Bible originated and how those documents were preserved and handed down?

Have they ever compared the reliability of the Biblical text with the reliability of other ancient writings—for example, such Greek philosophers and writers as Sophocles, Euripides, Plato, Aristotle, et. al.—and for which the evidence of the reliability of their writings is not nearly as strong as the evidence for the reliability of the text of the Bible?

If one does not question the reliability of the texts of Plato, Aristotle, et. al., why question the text of the Bible which has far greater supporting evidence?

There are over 5300 Greek manuscripts of our New Testament. Some of these are quite old, going back to very near the time of the originals.

  • Codex Vaticanus, dating back to A.D. 325-350, contains most of the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint) and most of the New Testament through Hebrews.
  • Codex Sinaiticus, dates back to A.D. 350, and contains the entire New Testament and a large part of the Greek Old Testament.
  • Codex Alexandrinus goes back to around A.D. 400 and contains the Greek Old Testament and most of the New Testament. (Note: A codex was an early form of a book.)

The early Christians wrote extensively of their religion and frequently quoted from the writings of the apostles of Christ and others they considered inspired. Of these, Neil Lightfoot has written:

“Not a few of their quotations give us the exact words of their Biblical texts. These quotations not only supply many of the words of their Scriptures, but they also reveal what kind of text was in existence in the second and third centuries” (How We Got The Bible, page 45).

Some 32,000 citations from the New Testament existed prior to the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325.

The text of our Bible rests on a firm foundation. Committees of Hebrew scholars (for the Old Testament) and Greek scholars (for the New Testament), representing various religious traditions, were responsible for our best and most cherished English translations such as the King James, the New King James, the American Standard, the New American Standard, the Revised Standard, the New Revised Standard, the as well as a number of other good English translations.

Sir Frederic Kenyon, a British Bible scholar, wrote:

“The Christian can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds in it the true word of God, handed down without essential loss from generation to generation throughout the centuries” (as quoted by Lightfoot, page 191).

Jesus promised, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words will be no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

Did the Son of God speak the truth when He made that statement? Has God seen to it that His word has been preserved for mankind down through the ages? Is it not rather foolish for a person to ignore the Bible and its teaching on the unwarranted assumption that “we can’t be sure that the Bible we have today is the word of God as it was originally given”? Is this wishful thinking on the part of some, an “escape hatch,” a way of excusing themselves from taking the Bible seriously? What are they going to do when they face that word on the Day of Judgment?

Jesus said, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive my words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

Better to trust and obey and be safe than to doubt and disobey and be forever sorry.

Hugh Fulford
May 3, 2011
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