What sets the Bible apart from other “scriptures?” One thing is how they were put together, namely, under the authority of multiple eyewitnesses. Jesus was not some “mythical figure” who was made-up, he was a historical figure (here is a delightfully snarky post on the so-called “mythical Jesus”)
If you’ve ever been in court or had the misfortune to be involved in a car accident, you will know the importance of firsthand testimony. That testimony becomes more valuable when there are multiple sources, and they all agree. That’s essentially what we have the the NT.
I came across a great post by Timothy Paul Jones just the other day. I read it after I had already posted mine about how the NT was formed, but I think they complement each other well. You’d definitely benefit by going back to read both.
One of the main reasons that we can trust the NT is because of who wrote it:
- First Hand. The NT claims to be written by those who actually witnessed the events.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
- Multiple Witnesses. The early Church highly valued the witness of the Apostles (cf. Acts 1:21-26; 15:6—16:5; 1Cor 4—5; 9:1-12; Gal 1:1-12; 1Thess 5:26-27) because they were “first hand” account, but there were also many of them. This just builds the reliability of their message, it really did happen as they have recorded it. And though it was not always the actual Apostles writing down the books, they were written under their authority (their “watchful eye” if you will).
- From the Time of Jesus. In the second century the Church recognized that books written in their day were not Scriptures: “…[A 2nd century book] is counted neither among the prophets (for their number has been completed) nor among the apostles (for it is after their time).” The NT was written in the time of the Apostles. Many wish to state that the NT was written hundreds of years after the Apostles, but we have found many manuscripts that prove that is simply not true. I’ve said before that 18 Greek manuscripts from less than 150 years of Jesus’ ministry make up over 40% of the NT, and the latest “buzz” comes from Prof. Dan Wallas of DTS who has been talking about a new fragment of the Gospel of Mark. Currently, the oldest Mark fragment is called “P45” (c. AD200–250), but this new fragment, according to Wallace, will predate P45 by 100-150 years. This would place it in the first century and be the oldest of its kind.
- There is Nothing Else Like It! There is no other “sacred text” with the history and attribution of the NT. When you look at the the NT (the Gospels in particular), within the kind of writing that they are (see Mike Licona’s new book), they make the NT the most reliable ancient document that we have. Those who take issue with the historical reliability of the NT are setting a standard that does not exist except for their preexisting skepticism of the Bible itself. It’s completely non-objective, they begin with the belief that the NT isn’t good enough, so they proceed to set the bar higher than the Bible. When you look with an objective eye (and, no one can be 100% objective), the NT passes the “historical test” with flying colors.
What about you?
Why do you trust the NT? Do you believe the NT is “historical,” and what does that mean to you?