The Bible

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The primary way that we know about God is through the Bible

  • The Bible itself makes it clear that God’s presence can also be seen in nature itself – e.g. Psalm 8:3-4, Romans 1:19-20
    • This is most prevalent in the beauty and sophistication of nature itself
      • Irreducable Complexity refers to how nothing can be taken apart and simplified
        • e.g. a heart can’t live without a body and a body can’t live without a heart
    • God isn’t actually nature (1 Kings 19:11-12), but it does mean that we have no excuse
  • However, we cannot know more intimately who God is without the Bible
    • We can vaguely understand God’s power and attributes, but not His essence
    • We can discern truths about justice from ourselves, but our human condition interferes with that ability

The Bible is a 66 book compilation written by over 27 authors over 2000 years

  • The Bible is inspired by God through people, not by personal political bias (2 Peter 1:20-21)
  • It’s made of the Hebrew Tanakh (39 books) and the letters of the Apostles (27 books)
    • Old Testament (Tanakh) – all written in Hebrew
      • Torah – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
      • Nevi’im
        • Former Prophets – Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel
        • The 12 Minor Prophets – Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
      • Ketuvim
        • Poetic Books – Psalms, Proverbs, Job
        • Five Scrolls – Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther
        • Others – Daniel, Ezra/Nehemiah, Chronicles
    • New Testament (Letters) – all written in Greek except Acts
      • Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
      • Acts of the Apostles (written in Aramaic)
      • Epistles
        • General Epistles – James, 1st of Peter, 2nd of Peter, 1st of John, 2nd of John, 3rd of John, Jude
        • Paul’s Epistles to various churches: Romans, Corinthians (1st & 2nd times), Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians (1st & 2nd times)
        • Hebrews, written to Jews
        • Pastor’s training epistles to specific people – Timothy (1st and 2nd times), Titus, Philemon
      • The Apocalypse of John, or the Book of Revelation
  • There are other apocryphal works, but they were added until 1546
    • There weren’t many apocryphal works
      • Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch Tobit, Judith, 1st/2nd Maccabees
      • Additions to Esther and Daniel
    • These books are added into the Old Testament, though they’re not part of the Hebrew Bible
    • They are sometimes inconsistent with other truths set forward in other Scriptures
  • There are other works that are clearly ancient Jewish text, and potentially inspired by God, but haven’t made their way into the Bible
    • Enoch and Jubilees have historical and theological significance, but are not part of the Bible due to there not being enough validity for various reasons
  • There are other biblical documents that are clearly not inspired
    • There are many Gnostic writings (Gospel of Peter, Gospel of Judas, etc) written long after the apostles died that are fully inconsistent with the Bible’s message

The Bible’s authenticity is not as crazy as it sounds

  • The Jews, as God’s chosen people (Deuteronomy 7:6-8), have always been extremely meticulous in the transcription of the Old Testament
  • There were hundreds of copies of the books that were finally canonized in the Council of Nicea (325 AD), while all the others weren’t as prevalent
    • On top of that, all the copies that came from halfway across the world were consistent with each other, even across language barriers
  • There have been few to no translation errors in all of the authoritative Bibles of each language
    • Of the discrepancies found between translations, none of them distort the general idea or main concepts of the text
    • Any Bibles that do change general ideas are considered heresy by Christians across the globe (e.g. New World Translation)
    • This is in light of the fact that there’s a spectrum of translation ranging from literal word-for-word to carrying ideas across without matching any language
  • Though the Bible’s authenticity has been attacked constantly since it was canonized, it continues to persist against history
    • Not only did the Bible survive, it thrived with many copies of itself against persecution of its followers, burning and political opposition
  • The ideas set forward in the Bible are consistent with each other, even though they spanned from ancient Egypt to ancient Rome
  • Every supposed contradiction in the Bible can be resolved with one of the following realities
    • There are cultural considerations that the archaeological world affirms are consistent with the Bible’s documentation, even obscure or forgotten traditions and practices
    • Many stated contradictions indicate either/or circumstances, and most can occur simultaneously or at different times
    • Different accounts of the same thing (i.e. the Gospels) can easily come from different eyewitness perspectives
      • This actually proves that collusion isn’t possible, since lies have the same details across witnesses
    • As a pure philosophical work it is technically errant, but as a historical work any small discrepancies are immaterial to the general message as a whole
  • Archaeological evidence consistently and constantly proves its authenticity, even for things that were forgotten as little as 50 years after its writing
  • Many Bible prophecies have been fulfilled already
    • Many Bible passages predicted that Israel would lose its land by being conquered twice, have no official government, then return later in one day (Deuteronomy 29, Hosea 3:4-5, Hosea 6:1, Ezekiel 20:34, Isaiah 11:11-13, Isaiah 43:5-21, Isaiah 66:8, Jeremiah 25:11, Jeremiah 32:44, Luke 21:23-24)
      • Jericho would be rebuilt again by one man whose oldest son would die on starting construction and youngest son would die on completing it (Joshua 6:26, 1 Kings 16:33-34)
      • Israel would have a pure language when formed again (Zephaniah 3:8-10)
      • The shekel would become a currency again (Ezekiel 45:12-16)
      • All the ancient names and settlements would be restored (Ezekiel 36:11, Ezekiel 36:24)
        • The 9 suburbs of Israel were specific about their location and order of construction (Jeremiah 31:38-40)
      • 3 specific cities would remain in ruins (Matthew 11:21-23)
      • Though Edom (now a part of Jordan) was once a fertile area, it was predicted to become a barren wasteland (Jeremiah 49:15-20, Ezekiel 25:12-14)
      • The agriculture and ecosystem would be restored (Isaiah 26:6, Isaiah 35:1-2)
    • Babylon’s fall was predicted, though the city was considered inpenetrable (Isaiah 13:17-22, Jeremiah 51:26,43)
      • When Israel was in exile, Isaiah predicted that Cyrus would overtake Babylon and liberate the Jewish exiles (Isaiah 44:28, Isaiah 45:1,13)
    • This isn’t including the prophecies regarding the coming Messiah, but we’ll get to that later

The Bible has to be taken as it is

  • Adding or removing parts of the Bible is a major transgression (Deuteronomy 12:32, Revelation 22:18)
  • Many people have come to modify the Bible, with varying levels of success
    • However, their efforts never stand the test of time
Next: Who God Is