How many Bibles do you own? None or perhaps you may have multiple electronic copies on your mobile device? How do you know that Bible is correct? Christians believe the Bible is a manuscript containing sixty-six books that are the divinely inspired word of God. Has it been changed in the past 2000 years? We should all desire have beliefs that are true. 16th century Philosopher Blaise Pascal wisely said, “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” If an investigation to find proof is required then one must explore what sets apart the Christian Bible from other historical texts.
- Was the Bible translated correctly?
A common argument heard is, “the Church biased the Bible translations to make it say what they wanted it to say.” Normally, this rebuttal is from a basic awareness that there are different translations of the Bible. The New International Version (NIV) and the English Standard Version (ESV) are translations commonly used in the present day. This is a good question. In the first century the Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. The reason different Bible translations exist is simple. Different versions translate the original texts in either a “thought for thought” or a “word for word” method.
In a thought for thought transcription such as the NIV Bible, the precise dynamic equivalency of the text is interpreted for use. See the example of 1 Corinthians 6:20 and 7:36.
20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”(6:20 NIV)
“36 If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married.” (7:36 NIV)
In a word for word translation the precise meaning of the original words is emphasized in the translation.
“20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (6:20 ESV)
“36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin.” (7:36 ESV)
Both versions retain the accuracy of original texts while emphasizing different areas of present-day English language usage. Both Christian and secular Greek scholars specializing in the study of historical texts, agree that our English Bible is an accurate translation. What does this mean for us? Each Bible translation is accurate to the original historical documents (more on that later), but provides an easier to read document updated to contemporary language styles.
- Is the Biblical manuscript corrupted?
Biblical scholar’s estimate the Gospel of Mark was written around 65-80 A.D. This places the Book of Mark as one of the earliest gospel writings to life, death, and resurrection (33 A.D) of Jesus Christ. This book of the Bible is a useful place to start answering this question. When comparing the Gospel of Mark to other historical manuscripts, the Gospel of Mark fairs very well in how quickly the events were captured in early writings and how many manuscripts are available for comparison. There are 140 years between the original events and the earliest manuscripts regarding the Gospel of Mark and his account of the life of Jesus. By comparison, writings from Plato have a 1,200 year gap between the originals and the earliest copies. Other books of the New Testament only have a 25 year gap! If we consider Plato’s writings historical, accurate and true with a 1,200 year pause, it follows that a reasonable person seeking truth can be assured the Bible has not been corrupted in a brief timeframe of 140 years. You may ask, “But how many copies of the manuscripts do we have?” Great question! Remember Plato was written 1,200 years after the event, and there are only 6 copies in existence. However, there are thousands of copies of the Gospel of Mark to compare, evaluate and judge the accuracy of the Bibles we have today!
“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 ESV)
- If the Bible is a true historical document, what does this mean for me?
It means any honest spiritual researcher wrestling with life’s difficult questions needs to take into account that the Bible is a dependable source of historical events that took place 2000 years ago.
A truthful seeker of the Christian faith needs to evaluate ancient documents from identical criteria. It’s dishonest to declare, “I trust the writings of Plato and not the writings of the Gospel of Mark based on number of manuscript copies and early dating of those manuscripts. Assess both documents on equivalent evaluation standards and move forward from that point.
“6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.” (Mark 16:6 ESV)
If the story of Jesus Christ is true, everything changes. If it not true, than it holds no weight in how we live now or what happens after this life is finished. An individual can continue to believe in contradictions and alternate spiritualties that have no foundation in reality. I invite you to genuinely search for answers. (Jeremiah 29:13) Read the Bible, investigate thoroughly and ask questions. As many questions as you can come up with. (Mark 9:24)
Christianity is a historical verifiable religion that for 21 centuries has withstood continuous pounding from governments, naysayers and other faiths. (Matthew 23:34-37) And it will continue to endure further until our risen Savior returns. (Revelation 22:20)
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (1 Co 7:36). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
- Geisler, N., & Turek, F. (2004). I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.
- The New International Version. (2011). (1 Co 7:36). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.