Noted Bible experts say that the historical evidence surrouding the ancient book gives strong reasons to trust its contents.
Dr. Jonathan Morrow, who teaches Christian college students how to defend their faith at the Impact 360 Institute in Georgia, recognizes secular college campuses are often a first place where people have the validity of their faith questioned.
“Sometimes (students) are going to have a professor that’s going to outright challenge why they believe what they believe and say, ‘Look, what you believe is actually a fairytale,’” Morrow told CBN News.
One good first step to countering this charge is knowing that Jesus was an actual person in history, and the evidence for that is overwhelming.
In his book, “Questioning the Bible,” Morrow points out there are more historical records regarding the existence of Jesus than the Roman emperor Julius Caesar, yet no one doubts the latter walked the earth.
“When you’re doing history, you want early and you want eyewitnesses. And the gospel writers give you both,” Morrow explained. “They investigated everything carefully. They have the ring of truth to them. They include embarrassing details.”
Author and speaker Josh McDowell, who wrote the bestselling “Evidence That Demands a Verdict,” noted that Jesus’ ministry was so profound ancient historians wrote about him too, corroborating the Gospel accounts.
“There are 16 total historians apart from Scripture that reference Christ,” he said. “Almost everything about Christ we can find without ever going to the New Testament.”
The integrity of the Bible’s text is reinforced by the thousands of ancient manuscripts that have been found over the years, perhaps most noteworthy, the Dead Sea Scrolls.
“We’ve got manuscripts and fragments that show up within 35 or 40 years of the time when they were written,” Morrow said. “Why does that matter? It means there’s not enough time for error and mythology to corrupt the message of what’s going on there.”
The scholar then compared the availability of Bible texts to that of other historical writings from antiquity.
“When you look at Greek and Roman historians like Herodotus and Tacitus and Livy, those (oldest surviving manuscripts) are hundreds of years later — 500, 600, 700 years after the fact,” Morrow stated.
McDowell said there are “66,420 some manuscripts and scrolls” for the Bible.
Further, the findings of archaeology have proven to be the ancient book’s best friend.
Historians used to argue there was no record of Nazareth, where Jesus hailed from, and no Hittite tribe that the Jewish people encountered when they entered the Promised Land.
But archaeologists uncovered Nazareth and found a home in 2015 that dates back to Jesus’ time.
Additionally, “Now you can go to Harvard or anywhere else and study the Hittite language,” McDowell said.
Cold case detective J. Warner Wallace told CBN the very actions of Jesus’ disciples themselves help authenticate the claims contained in the Bible.
He observed during the decades immediately after Jesus crucifixion — when the New Testament was written and the Gospel was being preached by those who knew him — there would have been ample opportunity to refute the accounts of his resurrection.
“(Yet), we don’t have a single, ancient record of any of the disciples ever recanting when that was often the goal of the people who were persecuting Christians,” he said.
In fact, most of Jesus’ 12 original apostles died violent deaths for their faith. People will die for what they believe to be true, but dying for what they know is a lie is not likely.
Wallace contended the standard people should employ when weighing the early disciples’ claim that Jesus died and rose again from the dead is beyond a reasonable doubt, just like in a court of law.
“So is it possible that they conspired for 60 years, at 500 plus people, under immense pressure with not enough family relationships to hold it together?” Wallace asked. “Yeah, it’s possible. It’s just not reasonable.”
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