The bible is the worlds most read, best selling, most distributed and most translated book. It beats everything else, hands down. However, is it more that just a book. Is in inspired by God. I recently gave a talk on the 9 reasons that I have for believein the answer to this question to be “yes”. Here, very briefly, are the nine.
1. Jesus Believed Them To Be Inspired
This focuses on the question “Who is Jesus?”. If he is the Son of God, then his approach is important. I am convinced that, however unlikely, Jesus being the Son of God is the best way to exlplain the historical evidence we have. Therefore, his teaching – and his views on the inspiration of the bible (the Old Testament in particular) holds a lot of weight.
Jesus quoted 24 OT books and he believed in their inspiration. For example:
Matthew 22:29Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.
John 5: 39You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
2. The New Testament Comes from the Apostles (eye witnesses of Jesus)
The evidence is good that the NT came from the apostles and was written fairly early on after Jesus ministry. John AT Robinson (one of the foremost New Testament scholars of the 20th century – and not always a friend of orthodox Christianity “concluded that much of the New Testament was written before AD 64, partly based on his judgement that there is little textual evidence that the New Testament reflects knowledge of the Temple’s AD 70 destruction. In relation to the four gospels’ dates of authorship, Robinson placed Matthew at 40 to after 60, Mark at about 45 to 60, Luke at before 57 to after 60, and John at from 40 to after 65. Robinson also argued that the letter of James was penned by a brother of Jesus Christ within twenty years of Jesus’ death, that Paul authored all the books that bear his name, and that the apostle John wrote the fourth Gospel.”
Whilst archaelogical findings cannot confirm that the bible is inpsired by God – they can confirm that it is good history. Again and again, this proves to be the case. Noted archaeologist Nelson Glueck writes, “As a matter of fact, however, it may be clearly stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a single biblical reference. Scores of archeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or exact detail historical statements in the Bible.”
Once again, historical documents cannot prove that the bible is inpisred, but they serve to confirm that the bible is, in itself, an excellent historical book (or collection of books). The most famous example is the quotation from Josephus‘ writings from the 1st Century AD:
Josephus – 3. (63) Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. (64) And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross , those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day , as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named for him, are not extinct at this day.
No other ancient book can point to the manuscript evidence that the NT has.
Sir Frederick Kenyon (Director of the British Museum) ‘The interval then between the data of original. composition and the earliest extant evidence become so small to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scripture have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established.’
6. Fulfilled prophecy
Many Old Testament prophecies have already been fulfilled in history. Prophecies about Jesus were remarkable – up to 100 that he fulfilled (including where he would be born, how he would die etc.). This is unique in history.
7. Consistent and non-contradictory
People who think there are contradictions often haven’t read it. All or most apparent contradictions are just that – apparent. I happily challenge anyone to come up with a contradiction that will stand scrutiny.
8. Internal unity
It is also remarkable that a collection of books written over 1600 years by 40+ authors should have such internal unity. Many books, many author – but one theme and one common vision of who God is, and who we are.
9. It is Powerful
JB Phillips who translated the bible into English in the 1950s described the experience as like “rewiring the house with the lights on”.
This is the Ronseal test – “It does exactly what it says on the tin” – i.e. it works. Millions testify to this.