Bible Reliability

The Bible consists of sixty-six books written over fifteen hundred years, or thereabouts, in three different languages—Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek—on three continents—Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Thematic Consistency

The Bible has over forty authors, including kings, peasants, fishers, poets, politicians, scholars, a shepherd, a military general, a cupbearer, a doctor, a tax collector, and a rabbi.

These writers included murderers, adulterers, human rights abusers, traitors, and whiners. Each wrote under different circumstances, from the battlefield to prison to palace living.

The Bible is a collection of letters, sermons, laws, poetry, history, prayers, praise, practical sayings, and prophecies. It covers a variety of subjects, including the existence, attributes, and works of God; the nature of his relationship with the world; the creation of the universe; the corruption of man and the earth; the meaning and purpose of life; and the ultimate destiny of humanity. Its many historical and geographical references validate its accuracy.

A few Old Testament writers knew their co-authors, and each succeeding scribe could read the books previously written, but none of them could have known what the New Testament authors would write.

The New Testament writers could read the Old Testament books, and many knew each other, but the earliest scribes could not have known what later authors would write. Only John, one of the original twelve disciples and the author of Revelation, the youngest book in the Bible, could have read all of the earlier Old and New Testament books.

Despite these timing differences; the diversity of authorship and topics, the variations in structure and writing styles; and the complexity of the subject matter; the Old and New Testaments complement and complete each other.

Both testaments provide a continuous and harmonious account of God’s dealings with humankind without contradiction because they are the product of a single mind.

The Old and New Testaments were divinely inspired and, therefore, inerrant in their original writings. God did not move the pens of entranced authors. Instead, he enlightened the writers on many levels, built his message into their lives, and motivated them to record it.

Each Bible verse has equal merit. Some editions print the New Testament words of Jesus in red ink, which may lead readers to assume they are holier than other verses. This assumption is incorrect. The entire Bible is sacred.

Preservation And Assembly

In the centuries before the birth of Jesus, the Old Testament was maintained by a group of specially trained artisans who used exacting techniques to precisely copy every detail of the previous edition and double-check the latest version.

Assembly of the New Testament began soon after the apostles started writing. Its final configuration was established a few decades after John wrote Revelation. The criterion for including or excluding particular texts was whether the authors were contemporary witnesses of the events they described.

The thematic and prophetic consistency of both testaments evidences divine oversight of the preservation and assembly processes.

Consistent Copies

As with other ancient writings—Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Caesar, etc.—the original Old and New Testament documents have disintegrated into dust. All that remains are copies of the original manuscripts. The Bible we read today has been reconstructed from these copies.

The underlying accuracy and reliability of these copies relative to the original manuscripts is a function of three tests: How close to the time of the original writings can we date them? How many copies do we have? And how consistent is the text from one document to another?

By these measures, the Bible is the most reliable text of the ancient writings, including the books central to the other major religions.

We have thousands of partial and complete copies of the Old and New Testaments, many more than the ancient texts written by others. Moreover, portions of the New Testament copies can be dated within a few decades of the actual events, a gap that beats the other aged writings by hundreds of years.

There is remarkable consistency in these copies, which assures us that the New Testament we read today is a faithful rendition of the original scripts.

No Amendments Or Additions

Some people believe the Bible is incomplete. They claim God amended the original Biblical teachings through subsequent revelations to more recent authors.

Jesus declared the Old Testament complete and accurate. His deity validates this representation.

The Book of Revelation explicitly states that it is the final written word from God, and no further elaboration would be forthcoming. Its prophetic fulfillments, which are currently in process, validate this pronouncement.

Some critics say that other gospels, such as those supposedly written by Judas and Thomas, are as valid as those written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. However, the textual reliability of these other gospels does not hold up under scrutiny.

No Contradictions

Other critics contend the Bible is full of contradictions. There are none. Some purported inconsistencies take verses out of context. Others reflect doctrinal misunderstandings or incorrect assumptions about historical context.

Some Bible passages appear contradictory due to the limitations inherent in translation. For example, the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek writings include over 11,000 words. The typical English translation has about 6,000 words.

The gospel passages some deem contradictory are actually complementary, describing the same event from different perspectives. These seeming contradictions prove there was no corroboration between the gospel writers.

No Hoaxes

Some skeptics question the credibility of the four New Testament gospels by contending that the miracles Jesus performed were hoaxes.

Jesus performed his miracles publicly. They were seen by believers and unbelievers alike. The Jewish religious leaders and Roman government officials would have gladly exposed any hoax that discredited the gospels, but they could not deny that the miracles occurred.

The enduring credibility of the four gospels in light of this active opposition, and the lack of any contemporaneous refutations that would have been widely disseminated, gives us confidence that Jesus performed miracles.

Bible Translations

We have many Bible translations to choose from. Why do they differ?

The primary reason is they were produced at different times, decades apart, sometimes centuries.

Languages constantly evolve. Words fall into disuse, new ones are invented, and the meanings of others morph.

Translators consider these changes when producing a new Bible version for their generation.

For example, the King James Bible was originally produced in the 1600s. That is why its readability differs so much from newer translations.

The verses quoted on this website are from The New International Version of the Bible.