Can I trust the Bible


This is a central topic for Christianity – everything we know about the Christian faith comes from within its pages – the gospel, the trinity, Jesus’ life and death, along with all of God’s guidance for living the life of a Christian. If the Bible we have today has been mucked about with over the years, we’re in a tricky position.

Textual criticism is the field which assesses how reliable such a book might be. As it happens, the Bible comes out extraordinarily well when assessed with a critical eye. Some of the arguments and evidence in its favour are outlined in the comic above, but there are a number of other persuasive reasons why we can actually trust that the text in the Bible remains virtually unchanged since the time it was first written. For example:

– The vast collection of manuscript copies of the books of the Bible – which, when compared against one another, allow us to very confidently work out what the original text said, and where individual manuscripts have deviated;

– These manuscripts are dated to points in time relatively close to the events in question. For the New Testament books a gap of 300 years, compared to close to 1,000 years for the next best preserved historical works. In archaeological terms, this actually makes the New Testament manuscripts incredibly dependable;

– Even without these manuscripts, almost the entire New Testament can be reassembled purely from quotations by early church writers;

– Luke (the author of Luke and Acts) was in particular an exceptional historian with an eye for detail; time and again archaeological finds confirm locations, titles and facts from his accounts;

– The internal consistency within the books of the Bible – affirming rather than contradicting one another;

For a very helpful talk on this topic, check out Adrian Holloway’s website here. If you’d prefer a read, you could check out FF Bruce on the subject over here, or try Craig Blomberg’s The Historical Reliability of the Gospels

It’s an encouragement to me personally that the Bible passes the evidential test with flying colours. And perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise. If God wants to ensure that His word reaches His people in the form He intended, what possible obstacle could ever stand in His way?

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