The Bible Breakdown
Inspired by the Africa Study Bible
One of the most common beliefs of atheists or those who reject Christianity is that the Bible is “fake” or “unreliable.” They have never experienced the Bible for what it truly is. These people do not understand the process of how the Bible was written, compiled, and passed down. There are several arguments that these people pose, such as “the Bible is too old to be accurate” or “the Bible was not truly inspired by God because it was written by imperfect humans”, all of which are perfectly normal and acceptable questions for an unbeliever to have. Once the reliability of the Bible is explained truthfully and properly, these frequently asked questions fade into dust.
What is the Bible? The Bible is God’s Holy Word. It is comprised of 66 books that are divided into two sections, the Old Testament (39 books) and the New Testament (27 books). Although the Bible is divided into two sections, it is the one, whole story of Jesus and his people that is to be read as a singular work instead of 66 individual works. The Old Testament tells of Israel, God’s chosen people, and their rebellion against him. The New Testament tells of Jesus and his life, death, and ministry on earth as the God-man. The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek. It has since been translated into over 600 languages and has changed lives globally.
Where did we get the Bible? The Bible was written by over 40 different authors that were specifically chosen by God. The Bible is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) and Holy Spirit inspired. The Bible that we know and possessed today has been canonized. The word “canon” means “collection”, as the Africa Study Bible states on page 1800. The early Christians went through every book in existence and examined its amount of inspiration. If a book was not clearly inspired by God, it was not included in the Bible. The books that were not accepted as fully inspired by God and are therefore not found in the Holy Bible are called the Apocrypha. In order to determine a book’s inspiration, the early Christians looked for a few different qualities. The Africa Study Bible explains the process of weeding through the books in this way:
“… a primary basis for deciding whether or not a book was inspired was the author’s relationship with God… was the message of the book consistent with earlier revelations from God?”
The Bible’s reliability. How do we know that we can fully trust the Bible? There are several reasons. The first being that Old Testament Scriptures, which were written 300 years before his birth, were quoted and used by Jesus. The New Testament was confirmed by witnesses of the Holy Spirit. Over 500 eyewitnesses saw Jesus alive after his death and resurrection.
Secondly, the Bible is the most well-preserved book in the world. It is not like a science or language book that goes out of date as new information is discovered and time goes on. Pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls, also known as the original, handwritten, most accurate manuscripts of the Holy Bible, have been uncovered. Researchers have compared the pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls to the current copy of the Bible today, and it has been confirmed that many books are almost completely identical to the original manuscript. The book of Isaiah is a key example of this truth.
Thirdly, the Bible aligns with what we know about history. The biblical timeline matches our historical timeline. Biblical artifacts, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the collapsed wall of Jericho have been discovered. Unbiased archaeologists have confirmed the proof that certain Biblical events and people really did exist (Africa Study Bible page 1801). Not to mention the prophecies, warnings, and foreshadowing presented by the Bible that have been consistently accurate.
Well, what about all the different translations that are available? Great question! Any time a book is translated into a new language, there are hindrances. Our translations come as close as possible to the original manuscripts. The translations that we have today were drafted not only for readability and understanding, but also to maintain the original message as well as possible while taking human error into account. As the Africa Study Bible wisely claims on page 1802, “Translations of the Bible into our modern languages are undertaken with great care and precision… language continues to change and grow, so Bible translations are updated and revised so they continue to speak with the language people use every day.” Biblical scholars and professionals are in charge of maintaining Scripture’s integrity while making it available to more and more ethnic groups across the globe (the same process as many academic books). It’s a big role to take on, but it’s not for just anyone. We trust the illumination of the Holy Spirit in the process. If people claim that they cannot trust the Bible because humans have translated it, then they must be consistent in that belief with ALL books including science, history, English, mathematics, etc. Those books go out of date, theories are proven wrong, more information is discovered, etc.
What the Bible claims to be. Most importantly, the Bible is what it says it is. It is a life-transforming book about love and hope. It is the only inerrant, consistent, everlasting work in existence. The Bible is our “how to do life” manual full of everything we could possibly need. It is our go-to source as Christians. Its contents change people’s lives every day and it will continue to do so. The Bible is God’s one and only Holy Word and its power is endless.
I challenge you to put the Bible to the test. If you’re hesitant, just give it a try. Pick one thing and follow what it says. Memorize it and make an effort to consciously put it to practice. Here are a few recommendations: Philippians 2:14, Hebrews 13:15, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Ephesians 4:31-32, Philippians 2:3-5, Philippians 4:6, Psalm 118:24, Romans 12:2.
This excerpt is inspired by an Article of the Africa Study Bible titled, “The Bible-Writing, History, Reliability”. Africa Study Bible Articles are about the Christian life and critical concerns that face the church in Africa and its people. The articles help you understand how to apply the bible to a specific area of life where God’s wisdom is needed.
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