FROM THE ORIGINAL CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN A UNIVERSITY FRESHMAN AND MYSELF (JOHN IDEMS)
Excerpt from David’s email (Feb 2 2011): “One question or area you might be able to help me is related specifically to The Bible. At university, we are taught to be very critical of history and scriptures. It seems the conclusion of many scholars I meet is that The Bible is not a reliable historical text. I am sure though that there are Christians who have rigorously defended The Bible against such claims. Do you have any recommendations on how to meet this challenge? It would be helpful because apart from philosophy courses, I also take the odd religious studies course, in which we normally analyze and critique scripture. ― David Jr. [identity kept confidential]
MY REPLY (Feb 8, 2011) Dear David: I prayed for your specific need and then was distracted by other responsibilities. On Saturday morning (Feb 5th ) a truck driver handed me a CD at random. This afternoon I had a moment to listen to it and was surprised at how pertinent it was to your particular need. Because I know how busy you can be, I will attach a copy of the CD message, spoken by Josh McDowell, AND I have transcribed the message into text so that you can read through it & quickly locate what you need. ―John Idems [email@example.com]
Message is Entitled: ON THE HISTORITY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT by Josh McDowell [Attached is the word-for-word transcript of the spoken lecture0
ON THE HISTORITY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
by Josh McDowell
“Today we want to cover, “the Reliability of the New Testament.”
“When you’re finished this hour, you will know more about the reliability of the New Testament than 90% of the faculty in secular universities. When you read the chapter in “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” you will know more than 98% (and I’m not exaggerating) of faculty in secular universities― and to a large degree those in Christian universities. The majority of what I say will be found in various places in “Evidence that Demands a Verdict“― I’ll just be putting it into a little different perspective.
The Reliability of the New Testament. I was speaking at a history class and the man that had set it up for a debate, set some questions to the students to shoot me down when I came in; and there were about 200 students there, and I was speaking, and the man was there and he said this to me, when I made the statement “Manuscript wise there’s enough evidence to affirm the reliability of the New Testament, more so than any 10 pieces of Classical literature pit together.” and he spoke up, and said, “That’s ridiculous! Making a statement the New Testament is reliable!” A lot of the students in the class were rather snickering, saying, ‘ya, that’s pretty ridiculous!’
This man has two PHD’s. One from an American University, the other from the University of Berlin. So I felt I had to call him down, and I said, “Tell me sir, what are your tests, that you apply, to any piece of literature, to determine it’s reliability and it’s accuracy?” And do you know that this man with two PHD’s in literature did not have any tests to determine the reliability of any piece of literature, and yet he had the audacity to snicker at me in a classroom in a university when I made the statement that the New Testament was reliable! And yet he did not even have any tests to determine it? I said, “Sir, that’s ridiculous!” I mean, really, a person like that , to me, doesn’t even have the right to teach in a university! He ought to be down at the Junior High level. I said, “Sir, I have some tests. You might not agree with me, but at least I know why. (And as a Christian, I think you ought to know why you trust in the historicity; ― Now, I’m not talking about the inspiration― it being God’s Word― I’m talking about the accuracy in history. I said, “I have three tests. And these tests were taken from Dr. C. Saunders ― he’s not a Christian― he’s a military historian, so I’m not being theologically biased― “Introduction to Research in English Literary History“. And Dr. Saunders gives three tests for determining the reliability and accuracy of any piece of literature in history. (This is why I love to have some professor say, “Oh that’s ridiculous! , the New Testament’s reliable! ” because I’ve never had a professor give me any tests for determining the reliability of a piece of literature.)
Three tests he gives. A bibliographical one― ( in one philosophy class, when I said bibliographical, one student said “I knew you’d bring the Bible in!” I said, “it’s bibliographical, not Bible!” Open mouth insert feet!)
I. THE BIBLIOGRAPHICAL TEST
A. REFUTING ATTACKS ON THE RELIABILITY OF THE MANUSCRIPT TRANSMISSION
The bibliographical test, the internal test, and the external test. Briefly we’ll be going through these today. The bibliographical test is how the manuscripts are handed down to us. The internal test: are there internal discrepancies. And then the external test is, what pieces of literature are there, apart from the piece of literature you’re studying, that confirms the inward testimony that it is accurate. (In other words, is there literature apart from the Bible, that confirms the inward testimony of the Bible?)
I said to this head of the history department, “Sir, today I will apply these three tests to the New Testament, and tomorrow we’ll do it for the old Testament. Sir, I have come to the conclusion that’s there’s more evidence for the reliability of the New Testament than any 10 pieces of classical literature put together.” This is not philosophizing― it’s factual history.
Now the first test, the bibliographical― is this: it’s an examination of the textual transmission by which documents reach us ― in other words― not having the original document ― now remember, they were written on materials that would perish― somebody would say, “Hey look, do you have the original documents? No? Then you can’t trust it!” And then I’ll say, do you have the original documents of Aristotle, or Herodotus, or Thucydides? Etc. Etc? No? Then let’s apply the same tests. Most people like to apply one test to the Bible, and yet another test to secular literature.
Never get sucked into that! Say, “uh, uh, you choose the test, but let’s apply the same to both! It’s like the Communists. They like to apply one test to a free society, and another test to a Communist society. Whenever I argue with I Communist, I say, “now look― you choose the test, but let’s apply the same test to both societies.” Critics like to apply one test to the Bible, and another test to secular literature. You hear them say, “You know, Jesus didn’t write it down― his followers did”― to which I say, “Hey! Many of the classical writers never wrote it down either! Homer never wrote it down― his followers did! August Caesar never wrote down anything. Charlemagne never wrote anything down!
So let’s apply the same test to them.
Not having the original documents, how reliable are the copies we have considering the number of original manuscripts? How many discrepancies are there? How many years are there between the original and the copies? 100 years? 200 years? 1000 years? 2000 years? What?
Dr. Fenton Anthony Hort, who spent 28 years studying the text of the New Testament Manuscripts said this: “The proportion of words virtually accepted on all hands as raised above doubt is very great, not less, on a rough computation, than 7/8ths of the whole. The remaining eighth, therefore, formed in great part by changes of order and other comparative trivialities, constitutes the whole area of criticism…. the words, in our opinion, still subject to doubt, only make up about one-sixteenth of the New Testament (and when the doubt would be severe enough to actually change the meaning, the number of such cases) “…can hardly form more than a 1000th part of the entire text.
Doctor Geisler and William Nix say that “only about 1/8th of all the variants had any weight, as most of them are merely mechanical matters such as spelling or style. (as they recopied the manuscripts, of course in some cases the words would be spelled differently, and so that would be termed a variance from the original) You don’t spell confusion today with a “k”.
On the whole, then, only about 1/60th rise above “trivialities”, or can in any sense be called substantial variations of the text. Mathematically speaking, the New Testament manuscript text stands established at 98.33% pure. And in comparision to world literature, that is absolutely miraculous.
Dr. Fredrick Kenyon, a man who is number one above anybody, to give testimony as to the reliability of any manuscript, (for years he was head of the library at Manchester) said this: “one word of warning already referred to, must be emphasized in conclusion. No fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith rests on a disputed reading.”
Now keep that in mind! About disputed meanings, is meant, “what should be the word here? This word or this word? Not in one single case having to do with a fundamental doctrine is there a dispute.
“It cannot be too strongly asserted that in substance the text of the Bible is certain: especially is this the case with the New Testament. The number of manuscripts of the New Testament , of early translations from it, and of quotations from it in the oldest writers of the Church, is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or other of these ancient authorities. This can be said of no other ancient book in the world.”
Scholars are satisfied that they possess substantially the true text of the principal Greek and Roman writers whose works have come down to us, of Sophocles, of Thucydides, of Cicero, of Virgil; yet our knowledge of their writings depends on a mere handful of manuscripts, whereas the manuscripts of the New Testament are counted by hundreds, even thousands.”
Dr. Millar Burrows in his book, What Mean These Stones, says this: “Another result of comparing New Testament Greek with the language of the papyri is an increase of confidence in the accurate transmission of the text of the New Testament itself. The texts have been transmitted with remarkable fidelity, so that there need be no doubt whatever regarding the teaching conveyed by them.”
I believe I can logically conclude from the perspective of literary evidence that the New Testament’s reliability is far greater than any other record of antiquity.
B. REFUTING ATTACKS ON THE INTERNAL ACCURACY OF THE TEXT
Now let’s see what they mean.
A lot of people will say, “Well look― we’re so far removed; gosh, you live in the 20th century! Why, Jesus’ words were recorded almost 2000 years ago! Separated by 2000 years? You can’t trust what he said! I mean, all the errors, all the discrepancies have come in! Why, you can’t hold the Bible and say it’s accurate!”
How many of you have heard someone say something similar to that? I hear it almost every day.Do you know what I say to someone like that? I use a word that really communicates in Iowa: Hogwash! That’s just what it is!
Let’s look at secular authors. (In detail, this is recorded on page 48.) But what I can give you is the significance of it. Secular authors. Caesar. You know what’s so funny? The same the fellow here in the history department that snickered at me when I said the New Testament was reliable? He did his dissertation on Caesar. And I was just getting ready to put this on the overhead , and just before I did it, he said, “Let’s talk about REAL literature!”
I said, “OK: you name it!”
He said, “Caesar. And the Gaelic Wars. ” I said, “Alright”. I said― (I’m glad he picked one I could do it with!) ―kind of like the Holy spirit was leading him!― “do you believe Caesar fought the Gaelic wars?”
He said, “Sure.”
I said, “How many people wrote about it?”
He said, “A lot of people did.”
“Uh, uh, ” I said: ” the only way we know that Caesar fought the Gaelic Wars is because he wrote about it.”
And this guy did his dissertation on it, and didn’t even know it? And yet it’s taught in university as accurate history. And I said, “Sir, from the time he wrote to the closest manuscript we have is a millennium. 1000 years. In other words, all the other manuscripts had died away…everything we have on Caesar and the Gaelic wars is from a manuscript 1000 years after he died.”
This man didn’t even know it!
Plato. From the time Plato wrote to the closest manuscript is 1200 years. In other words all the manuscripts had been lost.
Tacitus, the second century Roman historian, wrote his Annuls in the 2nd Century, and the closest manuscript is 1100 AD. One thousand years after he wrote.
Pliny the younger, Pliny Secundus, wrote his history in 61 AD and the closest manuscript is 850 AD, that’s 750 years
Thucydides― many people say that Thucydides is one of the most accurate historians of antiquity― he wrote his History between 460 and 400 BC― and the closest manuscript we have is 900 AD. And yet they teach it as one of the most accurate historians…and yet there’s a 1300 year gap from the time he wrote to the closest manuscript we have.
Herodotus, the 5th century Greek historian, from the time he wrote to the time of the closest manuscript is 1300 years.
With Sophocles 1,400 years, with Lucretrius 1100 years, with Catullus only 1600 years; Aristophanes 1200 years. Aristotle wrote his Poetics around 345 BC― and the closest manuscript we have of Aristotle’s Poetics is 1100AD, 1400 years from the time Aristotle wrote his Poetics and the closest manuscript― and yet he’s taught throughout the world at Universities.
And yet 90% of the people do not realize the great gap― they’ve never studied it! And yet they’re the ones making aspersions about the New Testament!
Well, when it comes to the new Testament, it’s almost embarrassing, the wealth of evidence, for the reliability and accuracy of the New Testament. Let me show you what I mean. This documentation was taken from Dr. F.W. Hall, “A Companion to Classical Literature“, you’ll find it in almost any university library, it’s a classic, this is where all the documentation comes from, so you can’t say it’s theologically biased. Now when it comes to the New Testament, the time span, as we go, first of all, to the John Ryland Manuscripts, back to within 100 years to 130― some people date it now 100 AD.
The John Ryland manuscripts. They’re located in the John Ryland Library of Manchester, England; it’s the oldest fragment of the New Testament, just a small portion of the parts of John― but this one discovery totally wiped out modern scholarship. Men like Ferdinand Christian Baur, of the Tubingen School, taught back at the end of the 1800’s that the New Testament was not written down until the last part of the 2nd Century― in other words about 150 to 200 AD, and especially the Gospel of John was not until the end of the 2nd Century. This was taught in universities. This was scholarship.
The assured results of criticism. People quoted him around the world. People started turning their back on the scriptures, because they said that in that 100 and some years all the myths grew up around it, you know, and everything was changed before it was written down. And then one discovery took it all the way back, and because of this ― you see, this was found way over in Egypt― and all your scholars, even non-Christians say that means it had to be produced in the 1st Century. And one little discovery caused a lot of men to commit intellectual suicide. As one man said, “Everything that I taught in University for 30 years went out the window!” Everything, with one little discovery: the John Ryland manuscripts.
If this would have been known, back in 1850, then this whole school of thought about the 2nd century could never have come into existence. But that was Secular education for you.
Next, we have the Chester Beatty papyri, much more extensive― goes back to 155 AD― and this is found in the Chester Beatty museum in Dublin, and part of it is also owned by the University of Michigan. Sir Frederic Kenyon, in “The Bible and Modern Scholarship” says, “The net result of this discovery― by far the most important since the discovery of the Sinaiticus ( which we’ll get to)― is, in fact, to reduce the gap between the earlier manuscripts and the traditional dates of the New Testament books so far that it becomes negligible in any discussion of their authenticity. No other ancient book has anything like such early and plentiful testimony to its text, and no unbiased scholar would deny that the text that has come down to us is substantially sound.” Because of one discovery.
And then you have the papyrus Bodmer II, which is located in the Bodmer Library of World Literature, and as Dr. Bruce Metzger says, that this MSS was “the most important discovery of the New Testament manuscripts since the purchase of the Chester Beatty papyri.”
And then you have the Vaticanus. These are copies of almost the entire Bible. The Vaticanus and Sinaiticus take us back to 350 AD. The Sinaiticus is probably one of the best, and it’s kind of funny how it was found. A scholar by the name of Tischendorf wanted to establish an accurate text of the New Testament, so he was travelling to the Middle East to gather information.
NOTE: The BOOK adds here, “In 1844, when he was not yet 30 years of age, Tischendorf, a Privatdozenbt iun the University of Leipzig, began an extensive journey through the Near East in search of Biblical manuscripts. While visiting the monastery of St. Catharine at Mount Sinai…”
He was at a monastery and he noticed some papers that were being used to start fires in the fireplace. And it looked like manuscripts― so he pulled some out of the trash can, and he started looking at it, and he said, “Just a minute! This is an ancient manuscript!” So he asked if he could see the other manuscripts that they hadn’t ripped up yet, and it was the Sinaiticus manuscripts. And they’d preserved almost all of them, and if it had been a day later, they wouldn’t have had any of them. And they took that, and finally, they gave it to the Tsar of Russia as a gift, and they sold it for about $350,000.00 or more― almost a half million― to England. And now it’s owned by Britain. The Sinaiticus manuscript. All by a mistake― or an accident― of looking into a trashcan near a fireplace. And it just blew Tischendorf’s mind when he found it.
Evidence that Demands a Verdict was first published in 1972. At that time Josh was able to use the Sinaiticus as further evidence of the historicity of the Bible, because it was an actual manuscript discovered to be 1500 years old. The existence of Sinaiticus reaffirmed the continuity of manuscript transmission. But we must be careful to distinguish this discovery only as further proof that copies were being consistently made of the Bible throughout history. Sinaiticus, however, was not a accurate copy. It was full of omissions and mistakes. How do we know? We know for certain for three reasons.
#1. It contained omissions and changes when compared to all previously discovered manuscripts.
#2. It had been trashed for a reason. Obviously the scholars in the Monastery had practiced the same rules of Bible transcription as the ancient Hebrew Massoretic scribes. When a scroll was found to vary from the original manuscripts, it was destroyed. The Hebrews were ruthless in this regard. Unfortunately, new Testament Christians do not have the same codes of ethics and standards. They received this faulty copy without applying the proscribed test of internal integrity: are there internal discrepancies? (How is it even possible to discern internal discrepancies? By comparision to all previous manuscript texts― which, when they did compare, they discovered there were substantial variations.)
#3. This in fact is the final proof that Sinaiticus was an inaccurate copy: it was taken and carefully analyzed and wherever it varied from the previously traditional manuscripts, it was used to CORRECT the previous manuscripts. Subsequently many modern translations are based on the new evidences of Sinaiticus. This is typical secular scholasticism. They always associate new information as being more accurate than old information, and they are willing to revise ancient manuscripts based on new information.
GOD made sure that his word was transmitted accurately, by raising up a nation of fastidious Jews who counted every jot, tittle, and letter― and in our generation we make changes without so much as a second thought. How could the original manuscripts have ever survived if the ancient scribes had used the same imprecision as modern scholars? ―firstname.lastname@example.org
And then you go on from there. And then what? When it comes to the time-span, there’s no comparison between the Bible and any other piece of literature.
C. REFUTING THE CHARGE THAT WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MANUSCRIPTS
Now they’ll say, “Well, that’s all good, but we don’t have enough manuscripts. We really don’t have enough to make a comparison to correct any discrepancies. So you really can’t trust it (the Bible).”
o I want to use that same word that communicates in Iowa, and in Indiana too: Hogwash!
It really is! For example: Let’s go back to the secular literature: Caesar and his Gaelic Wars. Ten manuscripts. In other words, everything in your university about Caesar and the Gaelic Wars , everything that is printed today, comes from one of ten manuscripts a 1000 years after he died.
Plato: 7 manuscripts. Cassidas: less than 20 Thucydides: 8
A gentleman came over from Germany to lecture for two weeks at Ohio State University on The History of Thucydides, and a student who heard me go through this( Josh’s lecture) and read my syllabus on it, asked his professor―stuck up his hand in class and asked, “Sir, what’s the time span in the manuscript authority from the time Thucydides wrote and the closest manuscript?”
You know, this guy didn’t know? He said, “Oh, it’s not very much!”
The guy said, “Excuse me sir, but it’s 1300 years.”
Later on in his talk, the student put up his hand again and asked, “Tell me, sir, number-wise, bibliographically, how many manuscripts are there for the authenticity and reliability of Thucydides?”
The man said, “Oh, there’s a lot.”
The student said: “No there isn’t. There’s only eight.”
And this man didn’t realize it.
Herodotus 8. Sophocles 100: not bad. Aristotle, 5 of his poetics. Aristophanes 10.
Wait till you get to the New Testament! 5000 of the Greek handwritten manuscripts; 8000 of the Latin Vulgate― all handwritten. And more than 1000 of the early versions, giving us a total of 14,000 manuscripts of the New Testament alone.
I mean, men and women, when it comes to the number of manuscripts, there’s nothing in history that compares to it. The closest one, as I said the other day, that even compares to it, is the Illiad with 643. It is reliable! We have the evidence to check it out.
Now, when you exhaust all the manuscripts, you haven’t finished with the evidence for the historicity of the New Testament― in other words, it’s reliability and accuracy.
This was first brought to my attention by the Encyclopaedia Britannica: You could take all these manuscripts of the New Testament, take every Bible in the world, and burn them. Destroy every manuscript and every Bible in the world and within several hundred years of the time of Jesus Christ, going back even earlier than any manuscript evidence or any other book in history, within 200 to 250 years I could reproduce all but 11 verses of the New Testament, without and Bibles or any manuscript (it’s the only book in the world you can do it to)― the early Christian scholars in their writings, they would quote the New Testament and in their writings (and I documented it on page 54 and 55 of Evidence) I documented 36,289 quotations. For example, Origen alone, in his works, of just the Gospels, quotes it 9,231 times; 349 times Acts, 7,778 times the Epistles, the General Epistles 399 times, Revelation 165 times, giving a total of 17,922 . And you can go back to the early Christian scholars, take their writings, and reconstruct all but 11 verses of the New Testament. So you could just forget the manuscripts! And then, when you exhaust all of them, you still have not exhausted all the evidence for the New Testament.
Because there are lectionaries, and these lectionaries are kind of like Sunday School lessons, for the early church, and they would take the scriptures and divide them up into lessons to use for teaching. And we have 2,135 lectionaries. And you can go back to these lectionaries to study the text of the New Testament. Most people don’t realize that. When it comes to the Bibliographical test for the New Testament, you can hold it in your hand, say the manuscript evidence is there, to establish it’s authenticity.
II. THE INTERNAL EVIDENCE TEST
Dr. Saunders gave three tests for determining the reliability and accuracy of any piece of literature in history. The first test was the bibliographical test. The next test is the internal evidence test.
This uses Aristotle’s dictum from his Poetics, which is this: “the benefit of the doubt is to be given to the document itself, not arrogated (claimed) by the critic to himself.” In other words, in any piece of literature, you always give the author the benefit of the doubt, until it’s proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there’s an absolute discrepancy.
Therefore, “one must listen to the claims of the document under analysis, and not assume fraud or error unless the author disqualified himself by contradictions or known factual inaccuracies.”
Now in the New Testament, this is beautiful. Because no one has been able to show an absolute discrepancy. There’s been some alleged discrepancies, but almost all of them have been cleared up by archaeologists. One of the keys to the New Testament is this: they wrote as eye-witnesses.
Luke 1:1-3: “Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses …” 2 Peter 1:16: “ For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”. 1 John 1:1 ” That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life.” Eyewitnesses.
And then there’s many other portions. Now what is the importance of them writing as eye-witnessess? Very simple. Their testimony was put before the stage of the world; in front of their most severe opponents, they proclaimed their message as eyewitnesses, and they were exposed to criticism and correction by their opponents. That happened to very few people in history. And that adds a tremendous factor to it’s internal reliability, when immediately, it’s opposed by its critics. It was open to falsification. (Because of opposition, they could have changed their tune!) This is why Dr. F.F. Bruce, the Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism at the University of Manchester, says, ” And it was not only friendly eye-witnesses that the early preachers had to reckon with, there were others less well-disposed who were also conversant with the main facts of the ministry and death of Jesus. The disciples could not afford to risk inaccuracies, not to speak of wilful manipulation of the facts which would at once be exposed by those who would have been only too glad to do so. On the contrary, one of the strong points in the original apostolic preaching is the confident appeal to the knowledge of the hearers; They not only said, “we are witnesses of these things”, but also, “As you yourselves also know” (Acts 2:22) Had there been any tendency to depart from the facts in any material respect, the possible presence of hostile witnesses in the audience would have served as a further corrective.”
III: THE EXTERNAL EVIDENCE TEST.
Next test: the external evidence test.
Do other historical materials confirm or deny the internal testimonies provided by the documents themselves?
Le t me rephrase it. What sources are there apart from the literature under analysis, that substantiate it’s accuracy, reliability, and authenticity?
Eusebius , in his Ecclesiastical History III, preserves writings of Papias, the Bishop of Heirapolis (130AD) which Papias got from the apostle John. He said, “the elder, the Apostle John, used to say this also: ‘Mark, having been the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately all that he (Peter) mentioned, whether sayings or doings of Christ, not, however, in order. For he was neither a hearer or companion of the lord; but afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who adapted his teachings as necessity required, not as though he were making a compilation of the sayings of the Lord. So then Mark made no mistake, writing down in this way some things as he (Peter) mentioned them; For he paid attention to this one thing, not to omit anything that he had heard, and not to include any false statement among them.’ ” This was a man of that time, confirming the internal testimony, totally apart from the Scriptures.
Irenaeus was bishop of Lyons in AD180. He was a student of Polycarp. Polycarp was the Bishop of Smyrna. Polycarp was martyred in 156 AD. This man had been a Christian for 86 years. He was a disciple of the Apostle John. Polycarp wrote this about Irenaeus, who was his disciple: “According to Gregory of Tours, he (Irenaeus) converted almost the entire population of Lyons, and sent other missionaries to other parts of pagan Europe.”
Now Irenaeus in his book Against Heresies says this: “So firm is the ground upon which these Gospels rest, that the very heretics themselves bear witness to them, and, starting from these [documents], each one of them endeavours to establish his own particular doctrine.” In other words, the very opponents of Christianity, way back at that time, did not question the reliability and the accuracy of the documents, but they decided with those very documents to produce their own heresies. Now if they could have put a wedge into its reliability or accuracy , they would have, that would have been much stronger than building their own doctrines to refute things, to show that it wasn’t reliable. They couldn’t do it. Way back then the scholars had to start with the various texts, and work from it.
Irenaeus goes on to say that “Matthew published his gospel among the Hebrews in their own tongue, when Peter and Paul were preaching the gospel in Rome and founding the church there.”
That was about the time of the Neronian persecution. “Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, himself handed down to us in writing the substance of Peter’s preaching. Luke, the follower of John, set down in a book the Gospel preached by his teacher. Then John, the disciple of the Lord, who also leaned on his breast, himself produced his gospel, while he was living at Ephesus in Asia.”
Extra-Biblical sources! And as extra-Biblical sources, we can go into archaeology as a confirmation. Archaeology has confirmed the accuracy of the New Testament.
Archaeology has confirmed the accuracy of the New Testament.
Remember yesterday, in The Uniqueness of the Bible I shared Sir William Ramsey went over there to refute the reliability of the Scriptures and after 15 years of trying to do it he became a Christian and he came to the conclusion that Luke is unsurpassed in history in his accuracy. And that’s saying a lot, from a man like that. For example, John 19, it talks about the Pavement where Jesus was tried. But apart from the Bible absolutely nothing― secular literature, Jewish literature at that time, maps of Jerusalem, everything― no such thing as a Pavement. So as I say, look, it’s myth. It’s just an error. It’s just dressing up the account. So as I say, “you don’t trust the New Testament, do you?” You know, not many years ago they were digging in that area and they found out that there was such a place as the Pavement. What had happened, is that when Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD the Romans built barracks on the Pavement. And then on top of that some other buildings were built, after they were destroyed. And most of the archaeologists just went back to the barracks foundation. Well, some other archaeologists got a little nosier and they went back further and they found the Pavement. They’ve even got the dimensions of it now. And they even found the place where Herod lived, (right near there) and held court.
The assured results of Higher Criticism!
And then they said, “Uh, Oh, we’ve found the Pavement.”
In John it talks about the pool of Bethesda― five porticos? They said, “Look, there’s no reference apart from the New Testament. Nothing. Nothing in Jewish literature, secular literature, maps of Jerusalem, stories― so it must be a myth. So a guy was digging around the Church of St. Anne and he discovered the Pool of Bethesda. Guess how many porticoes it had: four? No! Just like the Bible says: five porticoes. Archaeology has confirmed the scriptures.
William F. Albright , who was one of the top archaeologists― any archaeological book you will read, they will quote Albright― passed away not long ago― he made the statement, “That every archaeological discovery has confirmed the Scriptures.” Elsewhere he wrote, ” The excessive scepticism shown towards the Bible by important historical schools of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, certain phases of which still appear periodically, has been progressively discredited. Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy oif innumberable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the Bible as a source of history.”
Dr. Nelson Glueck, the renowned Jewish archaeologist, wrote: “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference.” And that’s saying a lot, from him! He touches on a lot of it in Streams in the Desert, his book.
CONCLUSION (Josh McDowell):
” I believe that if any man says, that the authenticity and the accuracy of the New Testament is not established, then he would have to throw out all literature of antiquity― unless he was very dishonest, and used two different tests, one for the Bible and one for secular literature. ”
NEXT: Josh McDowell’s NEXT Lecture deals with the reliability of the Old Testament
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