“For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” ~ 2 Peter 1:21
As we voyage through this valley of deciphering who Jesus Christ is we have determined that there are several misconceptions regarding Christianity- a consequence of agendas, ill-equipped churches, and misguided information. More than Judas has positioned, that in order to honestly make this journey of discovering The Historical Jesus, we must first determine if the Bible is credible. Admittedly, not all scholars have taken this approach.
Without Scripture, everything else is a crapshoot. These are the facts we have determined over the last few weeks:
1. The science of Historicity has proven that of the 6,000 copies of the original Biblical Manuscripts, the Scriptures are 99.5% accurate. Of this small amount, the errors only include misspellings, grammatical mistakes, word repetitions, or other variant gaffes. NO DOCTRINAL MATTERS WERE INCLUDED WITHIN THESE OVERSIGHTS.
2. There is more evidence supporting the life of Jesus Christ, than Homer’s Iliad, Aristotle, Caesar, Plato, and many more. In fact, one could add up each of the evidences together, supporting these historical figures and Jesus would still have more proof of existence, than all others combined.
3. Furthermore, we discussed the mystery of the Apocrypha and Gnostic Gospels- a curiosity which many tangle with as to why these books were not included in The Bible.
• Apocrypha- These are a set of books initially not considered to be inspired text. Centuries after the Church Fathers identified the Biblical Canon, the Catholic Church added the Apocrypha as inspired text. Yet, this causes issues for many. To begin, Jesus never referenced books from the Apocrypha like he did with the Old Testament. Next, there are historical mistakes documented in these texts.
• Gnostic Gospels- pseudo graphical writings ascribed centuries after the life of Jesus, do not exalt Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, nor is the author identified as one who walked with the Messiah, or associated with someone who did. Overall, these writings deviated completely from other books that are included in Scripture. Take for example, The Gospel of Thomas (A Gnostic Gospel not included in the Bible):
Vs. 30- “Where there are three gods, they are gods; where there are two or one, I am with him.”
Vs. 82- “He who is near to me is near the fire, and he who is far from me is far from the kingdom.”
Vs. 105- “He who shall know father and mother shall be called the son of halot.”
Vs. 114- “Simon Peter said to them: Let Mary go forth from among us, for women are not worthy of the life. Jesus said: ‘Behold, I shall lead her, that I may make her male, in order that she also become a living spirit like you males. For every woman who makes herself male shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Even to the individual most unfamiliar with The Bible, the obvious is very apparent, the texts above do not glorify Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior- the primary purpose of both Old and New Testament Scriptures.
LET’S REVIEW HOW WE GOT THE BIBLE
One of the biggest quandaries debated in the world of skepticism, is the question of “Why do we not have the original Scriptures of the Bible?” Well…the same reason why we do not have most other original texts written centuries ago. Original writings of antiquities are often destroyed, lost or completely disintegrate as a consequence of frail conditions. Ironically, as mentioned before, this question is rarely ever posed for other historical figures as a means to justify their existence.
Take for example, Classical Greek Philosophy-Not only were these documents copied, just like the Bible, they were also lost or destroyed. Moreover, this culture also relied heavily on oral tradition, and there was a greater length of time from the original text to when the copies were made, than the New Testament books themselves. Several weeks ago, in the More Than Judas Devotional, “The Historical Jesus: Is the Bible Reliable?” we included a graph from a well-known Christian Apologist that compares the evidence for Jesus’ life to that of other figures of antiquity. Undoubtedly, there is more evidence for the life of Christ, than any other historical figure.
Here is a step-by-step walk through of how the Bible came about:
1. Old Testament was written on stone, clay and leather (1500 to 400 BC).
2. Books of the Bible were copied onto scrolls of leather, and then later papyrus.
3. The books were copied onto fine animal skins from calves, vellum, sheep or goats (AD 300 to 1400).
4. These books were collected and arranged by church rabbis and leaders, to determine which Scriptures were inspired.
5. Ezra, a priest and scribe, collected and arranged the Old Testament books in 450 BC, according to Jewish tradition.
6. Constantine legalized Christianity in 313. During this time, the books were being circulated throughout the Mediterranean. By AD 400, 27 book of the New Testament have been vetted and accepted, by church leaders such as: Athanasius, Jerome, Augustine, and three church councils. The 27 books of the New Testament were formally confirmed as canonical by the Synod of Carthage in 397, recognizing the texts used by Christ Followers.
7. The Bible is printed by a printing press in 1445.
Original antiquity writings transcribed on fragile materials do not last and crumble over time. This does not disprove the existence of God no more than it disproves the existence of Aristotle. For example, the writing on the Declaration of Independence, written in 1776, can barely be seen now. Nonetheless, this does not disprove the existence of this critical document, as a part of the founding of our country or the forefathers who wrote it.
Another concern many have is the fact that there are several translations of the Bible. Many claim, “The text is being lost,” “How do we know what the Bible really says?” More than Judas admits there are poor translations available- lately there have been some publishers who even wish to promote a gender neutral agenda, as to not offend transgender orients. Yet, overall, this point is often exaggerated by skeptics in a drastic way. Some skeptics literally believe that the translations transcribe opposing views. This is false. Here is an example using the well-known John 3:16, and the differing translations a Christian can choose from:
New International Version: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (Moderate version for laymen using somewhat relaxed language)
English Standard Version: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (Conservative version that translates the Hebrew and Greek more precisely)
New Revised Standard Version: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.” John 3:16 (Liberal translation)
New Living Translation: For God so loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (Translation using more modern-day language)
As you can see, while the differing translations may use varying words or phrases, their verses accomplish the same goal and the meaning or message is not altered.
IS THE BIBLE INSPIRED
The Bible is God’s masterpiece, written over 1500 years. More than 40 kings, prophets, leaders and followers of Jesus contributed to the Bible- all with the same goal and purpose of writing- to glorify Jesus as Lord and Savior. As of the turn of the 21st Century, the Bible has been translated into nearly 2,500 languages.
Whether this book is inspired or not is only a question you can answer. If the Bible is not inspired, everything within this devotion and others alike, will be mere nonsense. Nevertheless, how else could the entire 66 books flow from start to finish? How else could the prophecies be predicted and referenced by the writers- and ultimately fulfilled? Take for example Psalm 22, a prediction of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, written a thousand years before Jesus was even born. There are countless more examples in Scripture, just like this one. Nonetheless, again, this is a decision that every person must make for themselves. No one can force a person to follow Jesus, to have faith or to revere The Bible.
The Bible was meticulously fashioned over centuries. Sinful men, not worthy of Heaven by their own accord, were guided by the Holy Spirit to transcribe the inspired, authoritative, infallible, and inherent Word of God. Man alone could not have accomplished such a grand task.