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The BIBLE: History and Accuracy

PART I

The follow is from The Last Trial, by a servant; edited for 2017:

“…On the subject matter of ‘whether the Bible is an archaic book?’

‘…Of course the simple answer is yes and no. Yes it is a very old book; but no, it is not outdated.  Too bad these truths do not satisfy all, so we must once again do as Peter said: ‘be ready to give an answer or make a defense to everyone who asks us to give an account for the hope that we have (1 Pet. 3:15).’

‘…Now, we do not have to argue whether the Bible is ancient, that is a given; what the real questions include: ‘Is it from God’ and ‘Has it been mistranslated or corrupted as many say?    If one was seeking wisdom, or true philosophy, or a pure and true religion, even seeking a foundation for history, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and geography, then the Bible would not only significantly assist their study, but if they were without bias, they would discover that the Holy Scriptures provide the foundation for all truths and sciences; for the very word ‘science’ comes from the Latin word ‘scientia,’ which means knowledge.  The Spirit of God, which convicts our conscience, not only created science but is knowledge, and is able to, as Christ said, ‘teach us all things (John 14:26).’  Likewise, the Holy Scriptures are ‘able to make us wise…’ because ‘they are inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:15-16).’  And even if someone did not believe they were from God, a reasonable seeker of truth could not deny the thousands of facts and useful teachings the Bible offers.  Indeed the Bible is not outdated, it is an unwavering truth; it provides living waters; it is as God Himself, ‘an ever-present help (Psa. 46:1).’

‘…Now, on the translations and how we got the Bible; it is well documented that oral tradition, where stories and testimonies were handed down generation to generation, played a key role.  It is true that there are many differ accounts from differ cultures of the Flood or great deluge.  This does not disprove the Hebrew account, it only supports that there was a flood.  Nevertheless, for perhaps a thousand years oral tradition was responsible for how generations learned their history.’

‘The scriptures are inspired by God, to whom it is no problem to guide and preserve His words.  It is said that the first man Adam kept an account of things.  And Jude confirms that there was an account or Book of Enoch, who was of the seventh generation from Adam and was alive during the lifetime of Adam and Seth, and who was the father of Methuselah, the grandfather of Noah, who died the year of the Flood.’

‘Let me take a minute here.  Years back researching the account of the twelve patriarchs – the sons of Jacob (Israel), I met with one of the most prominent rabbis in the city.  As there are different Christian dominations, there are different types of Jews, such as Orthodox, less than 10% of the Jews in America, who are more fundamental in their faith; then, there are modern and liberal Jews who identify themselves with the Jewish race and Israel, but may not believe that the Torah is inspired by God as handed down, or that all the stories are pure accounts.’

‘Now most Jews, like most contemporary liberal Christians – if there is such a thing – are unequally yoked – they more often than not marry outside their religion.  Anyway, I met with this Rabbi, and he had opened on his desk, the Sefer Ha-AggadahThe Book of Legends from the Talmud and Midrash, which is basically a compilation of various commentaries by Rabbis.  During our conversion he says, ‘Adam and Noah and such men likely did not exist, but were used to hand down the accounts or stories of early history.’  So I asked, ‘At what point in the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible) do you believe the names match real people.’  And he said, ‘Abraham.’ Well understand, if he did not say Abraham, he could not be a Rabbi and would have to give up his faith and his salary.’

‘So given that all Jews, Christians and Muslims, and thus most of the people of the world, and earnest historians alike, believe there was Abraham, I said, ‘You believe in Abraham, but not his father Terah, or ten generations earlier, Noah?’  The point is some pick and choose what legends they believe, and some turn their head away from history; but there is history and there is truth.  Along with the Book of Enoch, the Book of Jasher, and that of the Twelve Patriarchs, there are many other accounts that verify ancient Jewish history.’

‘…ok – getting back on track, today’s Christian Bible is actually made up of 66 different books; the Old Testament consisting of the Hebrew Bible make up of 39 books.  Originally many of those books were on one scroll.  And the Bible was not written by one man, but by more than forty men, including kings, prophets, scribes, and disciples of Jesus Christ.

Now, about 2,400 years after the first day, or about 1,300 BC, God moved upon Moses to write down His commands and as well as the history of mankind, including the first generations, and of the creation of the world.  And Moses gave these accounts to Joshua before Israel crossed into the Promised Land.  And in that land ‘Joshua built an altar to the Lord God… and had a copy of the laws of Moses written (Joshua 8:30-32).  Joshua ‘wrote’ an account of his days ‘in the book of the law of God (Josh.24:26).’  And after Joshua, the Judges of Israel preserved the laws of Moses and certain events of their lives were recorded.  And about 400 years after Moses, David became the greatest King of Israel and most noble king ever given to the world.  King David wrote many Psalms, but more importantly, he preserved the Holy Scriptures, of which he said he ‘meditated in… and kept (Psa. 119:48, 56); even ‘charging Solomon his son to keep the Lords statutesas written in the law of Moses (1Kings 2:1-3).’

‘And Solomon, with wisdom from God wrote many Proverbs.  Now, the judges of Israel, the kings and priests of Israel kept copies of the laws of Moses, ‘the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord (2Kings 22:8; 23:2)’ as during the reign of King Josiah. Certain men kept the ‘scrolls of the chronicles of the kings of Judah (2Kings16:19),’ and the chronicles of history and the laws of Moses, and all that was copied and preserved; and these things were ‘taught to their children,’ and ‘told to the following generation (Deut.11:19; Psa. 48:13; 78:5); ‘for God is our God …and guide even unto death (Psa.48:14),’ ‘with us always, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matt. 28:20).’

‘And the works of the prophets were written and preserved, so even today we have in the Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible; the Torah, the Nevi’im, and the Kethuvim, which is why they often called the Hebrew Text ‘TANAKH.’

‘This is an acronym from the first letters of the Masoretic Text’s three divisions: the Torah, or ‘Teaching,’ the first five Books of Moses – Genesis to Deuteronomy; Nevi’im, or ‘Prophets,’ the writings of fifteen prophets, which include the accounts of Joshua, and Samuel, as well as the Judges and Kings of Israel; and the Ketuvim, ‘Writings,’ include Psalms, Proverbs, and historical events and stories, such as of Job, Daniel, Esther, and include the Chronicles and the prophet Daniel.  The Hebrew Bible was virtually complete 200 years before Christ.’

‘And about 350 years before Christ, or about 3,400 years from the creation of man, the Second Temple was constructed and stood for over 420 years, or for almost twenty generations, when it was destroyed by Titus, who became a Roman emperor.  The Temple was constructed about 20 years before Nehemiah and the elders of Israel restored the wall of Jerusalem, and ‘read the book of Moses to the people (Neh. 13:1).’

‘Now the Hebrew Bible, parts being over 4,000 years old, remained nearly perfectly consistent for all its translations for all the years of the world.  In 1947, a couple of years after World War II ended, the Dead Sea Scrolls, written between 2nd century BC and 1st century AD, were discovered and proved the consistency of the Hebrew Text; and that in no significant way was the Text corrupted.  Likewise, the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, has been preserved for almost 2,260 years.  A significant piece of the Septuagint written between the 1st and 4th centuries, called the Chester Beatty Papyri, still exist today.’

‘More significantly, the Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus, each contain nearly the entire Old Testament copied during the 4th century.   These scrolls were pasted down among the priest and scribes; for example, the famous Rabbi Hillel, who died about 10 AD, handed down his scrolls to his grandson Gamaliel, who influenced the apostle Paul, who likewise had scrolls and books, from which he taught others and handed down copies (Acts 22:3; 2 Tim. 4:13).

‘As far as the New Testament, the twenty-seven books, they were written between about 40 to 70 AD; and written by at least eight disciples of Christ.  Moreover, to this day, we have preserved a fragment of Chapter 18, from the Gospel according to John, which was copied around 100 AD by second generation Christians.  And by 200 AD, the New Testament was written in different languages.  Also, certain other letters were included as appendixes, such as the Didache, the Shepherd of Hermas, and Clement’s letter to the Romans.  Many church fathers of the second century gave testimony of Jesus Christ and quoted the scriptures in their works, including Justin Martyr, Polycarp, Irenaeus, and Clement of Alexandria, who headed a Christian Bible School in North Africa.’

And not long after Constantine legalized Christianity in 313, the Bible was codified into the books we accept today.  In 410, Jerome began translating the Scriptures into Latin, although others had previously translated portions into Latin.  In 1380, John Wycliffe produced the first English New Testament translation, and a generation after the printing press in 1456, the Bible was translated by Erasmus into Greek and Latin; then by Tyndale in English; by Luther in German; by Lefevre in French; and by others into nearly every language spoken by European Christians.  Published in 1611, the original King James Bible contained the Apocrypha.   It was written in Early Modern English, in Jacobean style, with Gothic style typeface.’

‘Now, as you think about the integrity of our God-inspired scriptures, consider that the man inspired renowned Roman historian Tacitus wrote his Annals about 116, and the only remaining manuscript was copied about 850.   Josephus’ work from 80 AD is verified by a 400 AD Latin version and nine Greek versions from about 1000 AD.   And   Homer’s Iliad, written around 800 BC, was translated thousands of times, but the earliest remaining versions are from about 200 AD, which is about 1,000 years after the original work.  And the earliest copies we have of Plato’s works are from about 900 AD, which is about 1,200 years from the original writing.  And of Aristotle’s writings, only five copies from about the 12th century survived, and they are 1,400 years from Aristotle.’

‘Remember we have fragments of the Bible less than 30 years from the original.  Before Muhammad was born and the Muslims ever dreamed of saying our Bible was corrupted, there were thousands of manuscripts which all give witness of the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and Salvation of those who believe.   We have over 20,000 pre-10th century copies in existence.  Furthermore, over 98 % of the New Testament remains pure whether one translates from the Textus Receptus, Codex Sinaiticus, or Codex Vaticanus.”

PART II

BOOKS OF THE BIBLE and CODIFICATION

Though the Bible mentions the Book of Jasher and the Book of Enoch, and there are unreliable translations of a Book of Adam and other works, the first books of the Bible were first past down by oral tradition; then later by scrolls.  And the 39 books of the Protestant and Catholic Old Testaments were less in the Hebrew Scrolls because Kings and Chronicles were not divided.  Also some accept other books called Apocrypha as notable works usually somethings placed after the Old Testament and before the New Testament as in the 1615 King James table of contents in the featured image.  The Apocrypha has important history such as in the Maccabees; however, it does not rise to the level of ‘inspired scripture’ as the other books.  The Protestants and Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Churches typically follow the Hebrew Bible’s Old Testament.

As for the New Testament, nearly every one of its 27 current books were mentioned by the Early Church bishops such as Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Origin and Tertullian.   All of the books of the New Testament were written in the first century AD.  The earliest complete biblical codices / codex (‘book;’ used for ancient manuscripts) contain other books in their appendixes.

In the Leningrad Codex (oldest complete Hebrew Bible) the books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles and Ezra and Nehemiah were each in one scroll or manuscript.  The Aleppo Codex is another Hebrew Bible  ancient manuscript.   The Codex Sinaiticus (4th century AD) used Greek text of the Septuagint Old Testament and Greek New Testament translation.  The Sinaiticus included the Epistle of Barnabas and The Shepherd (of Hermas).   It was found in the Monastery of Saint Catherine on Mount Sinai and came into control of the Russian’s – translated and cared for by Tischendorf; who was an acquaintance of the British translator Samuel Tregelles.   The Codex Vaticanus (4th century AD) written on fine parchment in three columns with 40 lines per page primarily followed the Septuagint Old Testament and included the Apocrypha (Esdras, Canticle, Wisdom, Judith, Tobias, Baruch – but did not have the books of Machabees), as well as the Epistle of Clement – would was a ‘co-worker’ of Paul (Philippians 4:3).    The Codex Alexandrinus (about 400 AD) also included the Apocrypha including the Maccabees and added to its appendix 1 Clement and 2 Clement.

There are more than 200 ancient New Testament manuscripts that pre-date the Qur’an.   We have about 24,000 copies of early version manuscripts.   The earliest copies of the Greek historian Tacitus works are about 1000 years old and almost 1400 years old for the works of Aristotle.   However, there is a fragment of the book of John a generation from the original writing of the Apostle John.  John Rylands Papyrus 52 Fragment of John’s Gospel is displayed at the John Rylands University Library of Manchester.

In 367 AD, it is said by some biblical historians that a letter by Athanasius (bishop of Alexandria – Egypt) listed the 27 books in the New Testament canon for the first time.   Then in 397, the Third Council of Carthage set forth the list of our 27 books of the New Testament.  They also included 46 books of the Old Testament – including what we call the Apocrypha.

That Carthage Council stated as translated from Latin, “…The Canonical Scriptures are these: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua the son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, two books of Paraleipomena (Chronicles), Job, the Psalter, five books of Solomon, the books of the twelve prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezechiel, Daniel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, two books of Esdras, two books of the Maccabees. Of the New Testament: four books of the Gospels, one book of the Acts of the Apostles, thirteen Epistles of the Apostle Paul, one epistle of the same [writer] to the Hebrews, two Epistles of the Apostle Peter, three of John, one of James, one of Jude, one book of the Apocalypse of John. Let this be made known also to our brother and fellow-priest Boniface, or to other bishops of those parts, for the purpose of confirming that Canon. because we have received from our fathers that those books must be read in the Church. Let it also be allowed that the Passions of Martyrs be read when their festivals are kept.”

About 400, Jerome translated the Bible into Latin; and his ‘Latin Vulgate’ was the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church for over 1,500 years.  However, others such as Bede (c.735 – the Gospels in English) and Wycliffe (14th century) made translations.   In 1455, Gutenberg printed the first Latin translation on his new Printing Press.  Less than a century later the Reformation follower and the Bible was printed in every major Christian language of the time.

In 1516, Eramus made a Greek New Testament translation which was used by Tyndale, Luther and the King James translators.  In 1522, Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German.  In 1525, William Tyndale, who was burned to death, translated the N.T. into English, which was used significantly by the King James translators.  Tyndale gave us new words like ‘mercy seat and scapegoat’ and the current form of ‘Jehovah’ – the English ‘J’ from the Hebrew ‘Y.’  The 1560 Geneva Bible followed the Great Bible of 1539 and spelled Jesus Christ – Iesvs Chrift’ – with the French ‘I’ and ‘f’ looking ‘s.’     In 1604, King James I of England commissioned the translation of an official English Bible which was finished in 1611.  The first edition also used ‘Iesvs’ for ‘Jesus,’ and included 14 books of the Apocrypha between the Old Testament (39 books) and the New Testament (27 books).

 

PART III

Some Reformation and English Bibles

In 1522, Luther completed the New Testament in German; the complete German Bible was finished in 1534.  Jacques Lefevre completed a French New Testament in 1523.  In 1525, Zwingli finished the Swiss Zurich New Testament, and completed the entire Zurich Bible by 1531.

In 1525, William Tyndale translated the New Testament in English, but moved to Germany, because he could not get approval to publish it in England.  In 1535 he completed the Old Testament, and the next year was hunted down and burnt at the stake – his final word, ‘Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.’

In 1543, Francisco de Enzinas, finished his Spanish New Testament translation at the home of Melanchthon.  At the urging of Martin Bucer, Enzinas went to England, where Thomas Cranmer appointed him to teach at Cambridge.  The Catholic Church opposed all non-Latin Vulgate translations until after 1963 and Vatican II.

Geneva Switzerland was the home of many reformers who sought freedom and protection – among them was Theodore Beza and John Calvin.  About 1558, William Whittingham (supporter of John Knox and brother-in-law of John Calvin) and Myles Coverdale (completed first complete English Bible in 1535), with several another English clergymen exiled by Mary I, began translating and compiling what would be called the Geneva Bible – completed about 1560.

The Geneva Bible, from the vast majority from Tyndale’s Bible, would be used by Oliver Cromwell, John Knox, John Bunyan and even William Shakespeare.  It was carried to America on the Mayflower and a copy Governor Bradford’s is in Pilgrim Hall Museum.

The facsimile copy i purchased in Plymouth is The Annotated New Testament 1602 Edition of the Geneva Bible (The Pilgrim Press).   It includes commentary and states, “the effect of the Geneva Bible was to safeguard the advance of the Reformation by placing text and commentary together.  The Geneva Bible became the most popular Bible in England and America and remained so until about 1640, when the less popular King James Version (1611) finally gained wide acceptance. …Beza succeeded Calvin … Beza’s notes  became extremely popular…

PART IV

BIBLE ACCURACY

See the following web link for a 2016 Video article on the accuracy of the Bible.

http://www.aol.com/article/2016/09/23/expert-claims-recent-discoveries-prove-historical-accuracy-of/21477622/

The AOL News article entitled Expert claims ‘recent discoveries’ prove historical accuracy of the Bible states, “Dr. Brant Pitre in The Case for Jesus digs into the biblical and historical evidence of Jesus Christ to answer some major questions: Were the four Gospels really anonymous?  Are the Gospels folklore?  Or are they biographies?  Were the four Gospels written too late to be reliable? …What is the evidence for the Resurrection?  Pitre …claims to ‘pull the rug out from under a century of skepticism.’  The video from the above link explains that literacy was more wide spread than previously thought and that the Old Testament may have been written (as opposed to Oral Tradition) early than taught.   Israel Finkerlstein, Prof. of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University states, “we discovered… literacy goes down in the chain of command in the kingdom of Judea all the way down to the deputy quartermaster of the fortress.  The meaning is there was some sore of educational system in Judea…”

Another Article

The Institute for Creation Research in their article Biblical Data is Historically Testable (posted 9/25/16) writes, “The Bible has become a significant source book for secular archaeology, helping to identify such ancient figures as Sargon (Isaiah 20:1); Sennacherib (Isaiah 37:37); Horam of Gazer (Joshua 10:33); Hazar (Joshua 15:27); and the nation of the Hittites (Genesis 15:20). The biblical record, unlike other “scriptures,” is historically set, opening itself up for testing and verification.

Two of the greatest 20th-century archaeologists, William F. Albright and Nelson Glueck, both lauded the Bible (even though they were non-Christian and secular in their training and personal beliefs) as being the single most accurate source document from history. Over and over again, the Bible has been found to be accurate in its places, dates, and records of events. No other “religious” document comes even close.

The 19th-century critics used to deny the historicity of the Hittites, the Horites, the Edomites, and various other peoples, nations, and cities mentioned in the Bible. Those critics have long been silenced by the archaeologist’s spade, and few critics dare to question the geographical and ethnological reliability of the Bible.

The names of over 40 different kings of various countries mentioned in the Bible have all been found in contemporary documents and inscriptions outside of the Old Testament, and are always consistent with the times and places associated with them in the Bible. Nothing exists in ancient literature that has been even remotely as well-confirmed in accuracy as has the Bible.”

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