No, The Bible Is Not Corrupted (Pt.2)

After taking a deep sigh of relief, he sat back on the couch.

Pulling a rubber band out of his pocket, he put his blonde-tipped dreads into a ponytail and said, “Okay, so the Bible is not corrupted?”

“No, man.” I reaffirmed, “It’s a sacred, self-attesting book that’s historically reliable. You and I don’t serve a god of religion; we serve the God who is the author of history!”

This story isn’t unique. It’s become all too common. Like the young man who sat on my couch, inner city dwellers are looking for historically informed, theological answers to combat inaccurate Instagram memes and facebook’s intellectual junk food.

As believers, we are responsible for challenging irresponsible, unchecked statements in order to lead people out of error and persuade them to Christ.

Last week, we challenged the notion that the Scriptures were corrupted.  We discussed the accurate transmission and the rich manuscript history of the Scriptures.

This week, I want to shift gears and focus on extra-biblical sources that affirm Scripture’s validity.

Here are 3 more reasons why we can trust the Scriptures.

1. The Church Fathers Affirm The Historical Reliability.

The Apostolic Fathers, who wrote between AD 90 and 160, alluded and quoted nearly all the books of the New Testament. Astonishingly, their writings contained more than one million allusions or quotes of Scripture.[1]

The Didache which was written by Clement, the Bishop of Rome around AD 96, quotes or alludes to the Synoptic Gospels, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Titus, Hebrew, 1 Peter, and possibly other books.

Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch, reasonably quotes from Mathew, John, Romans, 1st & 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1st and 2nd Timothy, Titus, and possible quotes Mark, Luke, Acts, Colossians and many others.

A compilation of many of the contributions by the early church fathers can be found in the weighty work entitled The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers. [2]

This is what I explain to people on the block…

These men were very familiar with the New Testament documents, and the entire New Testament could be reconstructed from their writings alone.

If we burned the 5700 Greek manuscripts, and the 25,000 other copies were lost forever, virtually all of the New Testament can be reproduced from the quotations of these early Christian writers.

Here’s the icing on the cake, we know them to be credible because many of who knew the disciples of Jesus personally. [3]

2. Extra-Biblical Sources Affirm Events/People of Scriptures

When scrutinizing the trustworthiness of an ancient document, it’s important to have corroborating historical evidence.

Unsurprisingly, there is an abundance of extra-biblical sources that substantiate the historicity of scripture.

How so? Because they acknowledge events and people mentioned in the NT.

Flavius Josephus, a Jewish Historian that wrote in the late first century, recounts the execution of John the Baptist under the rule of Herod in his writing Antiquities, Book 18, chapter 5, paragraph 2: “Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him…”

He continues in chapter 5, paragraph 3: “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man….He was the Christ…condemned him to the cross…appeared to them alive again the third day.[4]

Finally, he mentions the brother of Jesus: “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James” (Antiquities Book 20, chapter. 9).

In his writing Annuals, the Roman historian Tacitus affirms the wide spread influence of Christianity and the severe punishment of its adherents:

Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius…”

Pliny the Younger, who was the governor of Bithynia, wrote in the last of his ten books that “they (the Christians) were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god…

There are more accounts, but suffices to say, the sheer volume of extra-biblical sources affirming the existence of people and events mentioned in the Scriptures is astounding.

No other work of antiquity comes close.

3. Archeological Discoveries Attest To The Validity of New Testament Claims

Finally, many archeological discoveries of the past decades have confirmed the biblical record.[5]

Although it requires meticulous procedures and an array of scientific technologies is required, many New Testament cities have been excavated. Archeologist

Archeologist uncovered monuments, tombs, buildings and small finds like inscriptions, coins, pottery, and glass found in NT accounts.

For example, the Gospel of John has become a treasure trove of biblical archeology, and his account demonstrates amazing awareness of the geography of Palestine.

Archeological digs have confirmed- the Samaritans worshiping at Mt. Gerazim (4:20); the location of Jacobs well (4:6); the pool of Bethesda (5:2); Solomon’s porch (10:22-23); and the pool of Siloam (9:7).

Furthermore, nearly every town in the book of Acts has been identified and many have been excavated.

Luke includes correct terms for specific governors and uncovered inscription of the proconsul Gallio (18:12) as well as the politarchs of Thessalonica (17:1,6) [6]

Additionally, archeologists have uncovered other inscriptions of New Testament figures such as Pontius Pilate (Luke 23:1), Herod the Great (Matt. 2:1), and the synagogue of Capernaum (Mark 1:21).

There are a number of other archeological discoveries that we could cite that attest to the historical reliability of New Testament.

Conclusion

Although this is not intended to be an intensive treatment, I hope that posts like this encourage and strengthen you as an urban missionary.

I’ve got a few more topics that will be coming your way that are designed to bless you in your endeavor to make disciples.

Let’s get on these streets for the glory of Jesus.

Grace and peace.

[1] Ehrman, Bart D., Daniel B. Wallace, and Robert B. Stewart. The Reliability of the New Testament. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011, 70.
[2] Bruce, F. F. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1960, 14.
[3] Robertson, A. T. An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1925, 29.
[4] There has been some debate among scholars regarding the validity of the account because it’s written so favorably about Jesus. The position opposed to its validity has never been substantiated. For more information on this debate see: Yamauchi, Edwin, “Jesus Outside the New Testament: What is the Evidence?” in Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus, edited by Michael J. Wilkins and J. P. Moreland, Zondervan, 1995
[5] Grudem, Wayne A., C. John Collins, and Thomas R. Schreiner. Understanding Scripture: An Overview of the Bible’s Origin, Reliability, and Meaning. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012 (Kindle Location 1468)
[6] Ibn, Kindle Location 1522

Ernest Cleo Grant, II

Ernest Cleo Grant, II (@ernestcleogrant) is the Lead Pastor of Epiphany Fellowship Church of Camden, a graduate of Reformed Seminary (D.C.), and is currently completing his Doctorate of Education from Stockton University. He and his wife Sarah have been married for almost a decade and have two children( Amaela and Chancellor). He's an avid reader, a community advocate, and has bylines in The Witness, Christianity Today, The Star-Ledger, Desiring God, and other publications

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