Tuesday, August 15, 2017. The bible is a fantastic book. Do we know it? What do we know about it and what is our idea on how it was written. When you explore the history of the biblical texts, it is highly amazing! The texts go back thousands of years …
Fantastic Sources …
The biblical sources are far better preserved than anything we know from the ancient world! When you explore these things, it is really fantastic. There are so many more manuscripts on the New Testament than on any other source of that time - by far more, factor 5, or 8, or 10 more. And the oldest pieces of evidence we have are much closer to the New Testament than any other source we have. We have even evidence of the Old Testmaent coming from the time of Christ itself. It is nearly unbelievable!
Today, in particular with a critical and scientific mind, we can say that what we have in our hands with the bibles you can buy in many bookstores around the world is with very good precision what was written nearly 2000 years ago. The spirit, which we find for example in the first letter of John, captures the facts quite well:
1 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. (from 1 John 1)
Realiable Tradition …
There ist 1) the argument, that the biblical manuscripts have been preserved very well from the early beginnings. That means what we have today is what was written down when it was written down.
2) Second, when we search into the time when the biblical books have been written, we find that the New Testament must have been written between AD 50 and AD 100. The letters seem to come from a very early period. Parts of the gospels must have been fixed in writing at that time as well. Then, the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have been composed some time between 60 and 95. That was between 30 and 60 years after the crucifiction, with many people still eye witnesses of these events.
We know that the biblical texts have been passed down well, and that they have been written by eye witnesses and their friends within their life-time. But is it reliable what they wrote? So 3) we need to discuss the reliability of the testimony. We can at least say that most if not all of these witnesses were willing to die for their witness, that they believed in the truth of what they said and that they were willing to be put to death keeping their testimony. That is a quite strong observation.
Finally, still this does not say that they were right. They could have been drawn into some kind of philosophy - just the faith of some people does not proof that the content of their faith is reality. So we need to look into the facts themselves. We need to look into the message. 4) And when the message is plausible, when the message describes reality, we can gain more confidence into what it tells us. Does it fit? Is it true in its description of reality. And yes, the more you study the biblical statements about mankind, about man and God, about ethics, about life, about freedom … the more you learn about your own life and about others around you. The message itself is fantastic and breathtaking in its wisdom, depth and truthfulness. (Roland Potthast) ... more texts