This summer during our Wednesday night classes, the teens at Nichols St. Church of Christ are participating in lessons exploring the validity of the message of the bible and Christianity. It is my firm belief that Christians should be intellectually sound in their belief. We shouldn’t just accept some preacher or teacher’s message just because he or she said it. Instead, we should know for ourselves what we believe and be able to defend that belief.
As a result of studying for the Wednesday classes, I have been reading “The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict” by Josh McDowell. If you haven’t read this, I highly recommend it, though it is a heavy book (literally and figuratively). The information in this article comes primarily from that book.
As books are concerned, the bible is an anthology of sorts. It is a conglomeration of books written by a variety of authors over a 1500 year span of time. It is not uncommon for libraries and publishers to group writings together in an anthology. Many times these writings have a similar subject or time period of origin.
The bible is such a diversely written book that it stands apart as unique among the rest of all literature.
First of all, it was written by over 40 authors from all walks of life: kings, tax collectors, prisoners, rabbis, shepherds, politicians, doctors, poets, musicians, secretaries, fishermen, etc… The men who wrote the bible would not be the kind of people that would normally hang around with one another or even share many of the same circles of influence. Not to mention, these men wrote in different time periods over that 1500 year span of time.
The bible was written on three different continents: Asia, Africa, and Europe. It was written in times of peace and times of war. It was written from the perspectives of joy and despair, courage and fear, confusion and certainty. It was written in a dungeon, on a hillside, in a palace, in the wilderness, while traveling, from inside prison walls, and from the exile of an island banishment.
The bible was written in three languages. Most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, the language of the Israelites. Parts of Daniel and Ezra and even some of the last words of Jesus on the cross were recorded in Aramaic. This was the common language of what we consider as the Near East. The New Testament was primarily written in Koine Greek. This was the common language of the known world during the first century. This Greek language was in the days of Jesus much like English is around the world today – a language spoken by the masses.
As far as the literary style of the bible is concerned, it is extremely diverse. The bible is written in poetry, historical narrative, song, biography, autobiography, prophecy, parable, allegory, didactic treatise, personal correspondence, memoirs, law, and satire. It is an extremely diverse book.
In the process of writing the 66 books of the bible, the authors discuss hundreds of different controversial topics. Given the time span between writers as well l as the various other social distinctions that differ among them, one would think that these hundreds of topics would come with varying opinions on each subject and contradict one another. This is not the case. Each of these subjects is brought with harmony among all the writers.
Lastly, given the breadth of variety in the writing of the book, such an anthology should have no pattern. Each story should be unique and not fit with each other. Maybe a few would fit together when they had been written within the same time period or in the same place, but in the case of the bible all 66 books share the same storyline. The 66 smaller books make up one continuous story that begins in Genesis and still goes on today. In this book there is also one main character that is found throughout – the messiah – Jesus. You can find mention of Jesus in Genesis 1 and Revelation 22.
There is no other book in history that can claim the statistics that the bible holds. There is no other book in history that continues to be bought and reprinted at the rate of the bible.
Does this prove the historical reliability of the bible? Not exactly, but one needs to at first appreciate the uniqueness of the book. Then, we will deal with where it came from and whether or not we can trust it.
Want to experience this scholarly journey with us? You’re invited to my classes. May you ask lots of questions and keep seeking truth, and may it be revealed to you as well.
If you have any comments or questions about this article, feel free to comment at http://www.mrdobbs.org. If you have anything I can do for or pray with you about, feel free to contact me at 245-1611 or at jddobbs@Verizon.net. God bless you all!