iStudyEBS is beginning a 15 week study about Jesus from a book of the Bible.
But why would anyone study the Bible?
Isn’t it just really old mythology?
How can a book written from 2000 to 3500 years ago have relevance to my life?
That’s a reasonable question considering it will require investing 2-3 hours weekly out of your busy life.
As a former atheist and avid student of science I had faith in evolution like my professors who largely discounted the Bible as mythology. It was only when I actually began to read the Bible for myself that I found it to be a very unique book, actually a collection of 66 writings by 40 human authors written over a 1500 year time period. Incredibly, in my scientific background, these books written before the availability of modern communications, were totally consistent and in agreement! Sounded like someone had tweaked the writings to make them agree.
Digging in further, I learned there are four principles of historicity or reliability of ancient historical documents:
- Bibliographical test
- Internal evidence test
- External evidence test
- Archeological proof
Since the original manuscripts, written on papyrus have deteriorated to dust, how reliable are the copies? There are two ways to determine reliability: the number of copies of the original and the time interval from the original to the earliest copy. See chart.
(click on chart to enlarge)
Dead Sea Scrolls
In 1946 a Bedouin shepherd boy was searching for a stray goat when he made the fateful discovery of Hebrew scrolls in a long-untouched cave at Qumran in the northern Dead Sea area of the Judean desert. This discovery led to a systematic archeological investigation with the discovery of a total of 11 caves and several hundred scrolls, an entire library. It included exact copies of almost every Old Testament book dated from 68 C.E. (A.D.) to 300 B.C.E. (B.C.). Before these discoveries, the earliest copy of the Old Testament was 900 C.E. (A.D.). Remarkably, while these O.T. copies were written 1000 years apart, they matched nearly word for word!
Bible skeptics long had argued that Psalm 22 couldn’t have been written by King David c. 1040-970 BCE because that Psalm gives the details of the act of crucifixion. Crucifixion wasn’t invented until around 550 BCE and couldn’t have been know by David. It was an inconvenient truth when a copy of Psa 22 by King David was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls complete with many of the details of the horrible crucifixion death suffered by Christ even including the casting lots for His clothing.
The Bible is the most historically reliable ancient document extant per the bibliographical test.
Internal evidence test shows truth because it provides eye witness testimony. Just a couple of those accounts are from Jesus follower Peter who said “…we were eye witnesses of His majesty” in 2 Peter 1:16 and John saying “…What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you” 1 John 1:3.
External Evidence test comes from what expert witnesses say. For example, Jewish historian Josephus, born in AD 37 in his book Antiquities from the early 2nd century wrote: “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 many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, 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 3rd day…as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day.”
Archaeological confirmations of the truth of the Bible are innumerable. Nelson Glueck, renowned Jewish archaeologist wrote “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference.
In conclusion, if one is intellectually honest, you must admit the Bible passes all the tests of historicity and authenticity. Your investment of time in studying the life of Jesus from the Gospel of Mark will provide unchanging truth upon which you can make solid life decisions.
Please click on our Get Started page to join us in our study!
In His Love,
iStudyEBS Division of Explorer’s Bible Study
iStudy to learn, love and live out the Truth