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Is the New Testament Reliable?. Background and Importance Manuscript Evidence Internal Evidence External Evidence Roadmap.

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Presentation on theme: "Is the New Testament Reliable?. Background and Importance Manuscript Evidence Internal Evidence External Evidence Roadmap."— Presentation transcript:

1 Is the New Testament Reliable?

2 Background and Importance Manuscript Evidence Internal Evidence External Evidence Roadmap

3 Why Does it Matter if the New Testament is Historical? The New Testament makes incredible claims that, if true, place an obligation on YOU! For example, the New Testament claims: Jesus Christ is God All men are sinners, and are worthy of punishment Jesus Christ died to take the punishment for our sins Jesus rose from the dead to demonstrate the defeat of death and sin, and to validate his claim to deity.

4 Why Does it Matter if the New Testament is Historical? If the New Testament claims are not true Christianity is worthless. 1 Corinthians 15:16-17 (NASB) “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”

5 Question How should we use the Bible in apologetics? How should we defend the Bible in apologetics?

6 What are We Trying to Accomplish? When we discuss the reliability of the New Testament we want to: Show that the New Testament can be trusted to give us accurate information about Jesus Christ Defend the most central doctrines of Christianity NOT Prove the inspiration, inerrancy, infallibility, perfection etc., of the Bible We do no have to prove that there are no errors or contradictions in the Bible in order to use it to evangelize

7 How do We Demonstrate Reliability? There are two ways to discuss the reliability of an ancient text: 1. Does our modern New Testament match the original manuscripts? Manuscript Evidence 2. Did the original manuscripts accurately record the historical events? Internal Evidence External Evidence

8 Background and Importance Manuscript Evidence Internal Evidence External Evidence Roadmap

9 Copies of Copies of Copies… Many of the New Testament documents were originally written as letters that were then copied and sent to other churches. These documents were copied over and over again, quickly spreading from Palestine to: Asia Minor Rome Greece North Africa

10 How do We Know the Copies are Accurate? There is a whole field of scholarship dedicated to determining the reliability of ancient manuscripts They use two basic rules: 1. The more copies there are, the more confident our reconstruction can be 2. The earlier the copies are, the more confident our reconstruction can be

11 Ancient Manuscripts

12 The Iliad Number of manuscripts ~1,550 Greek manuscripts ~200 medieval and renaissance manuscripts Time from writing to first copy ~ years

13 The New Testament, How Many? ~5,800 Greek Manuscripts ~18,000 Translations ~10,000 Latin The remainder are Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, Latin, Coptic, etc. ~36,000 to ~1,000,000 Citations

14 The New Testament, How Early? P52 (John Rylands) Earliest manuscript Dated A.D. Only 14 lines

15 The New Testament, How Early? P90 (Oxyrhynchus) Dated 150 A.D. John 18:36-19:1 John 19:1-7

16 The New Testament, How Early? P104 (Oxyrhynchus) Dated 150 A.D. Mat 21:34-37,43,45

17 The New Testament, How Early? P98 Dated 150 A.D. Revelation 1

18 The New Testament, How Early? P77, (Oxyrhynchus) Dated A.D. Matthew 23:30-39

19 The New Testament, How Early? P46, (Chester Beatty) Dated A.D. Romans 5-6,8-15 Hebrews 1-2 Corinthians Ephesians Galatians Philippians Colossians 1 Thessalonians 1,5

20 The New Testament, How Early? P66, (Bodmer) Dated A.D. John 1:1-6:11, 6:35b-14:26, 29-30; 15:2-26; 16:2-4, 6-7; 16:10-20:20, ; 20:25-21:9, 12, 17

21 The New Testament, How Early? P45, (Chester Beatty) Dated 250 A.D. Matt 20-21,25-26 Mark 4-9,11-12 Luke 6-7,9-14 John 4-5,10-11 Acts 4-17

22 The New Testament, How Early? א, ( Codex Sinaiticus) Dated A.D. Complete New Testament

23 The Downside of an Embarrassment of Riches There are >400,000 textual variants That means there are >400,000 different readings of words, phrases, or passages. A single word may have many variant readings The vast majority of variants make no difference to the sense of the text However, there are ~2,000 significant variants 1,438 found in the UBS4 Greek New Testament 400+ additional in Bruce Metzger’s Textual Commentary on the New Testament

24 Significant Textual Variants of the New Testament Mat 1:6; “David” or “David the king” Mark 1:2 “In the prophets” or “In Isaiah the prophet” John 1:18 “The only begotten son” or “The only begotten God” John 1:34 “The Elect One” or “The Elect Son” or “the Son” Romans 6:17 “ καρδιας ” or “ καθαρας ” ment ment

25 What Does the Manuscript Evidence Mean? The Church could not have rewritten the New Testament We can very accurately reconstruct the original text Textual variants do not endanger a single doctrine of Christianity

26 Background and Importance Manuscript Evidence Internal Evidence External Evidence Roadmap

27 Internal Evidence Evidence contained in the text of a document itself that justifies or retracts from their reliability Scholars of ancient texts give the documents the benefit of the doubt

28 Positive Internal Evidence The New testament was written as history “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” Luke 1

29 Positive Internal Evidence It contains unsympathetic depictions of its heroes Peters denial (John 18:15-27, Luke 22:54-62, Mark 14:66-72) Paul rebukes Peter (Galatians 2:11-21) The disciples are generally shown in a poor light

30 Positive Internal Evidence It contains difficult or embarrassing teaching Mark 6:5 Mark 13:32 Jesus baptism The empty tomb was discovered by women

31 Positive Internal Evidence It is claimed to be written in some cases by relatively unknown people Matthew, Mark, and Luke were relatively unknown

32 What Does the Internal Evidence Mean? The New Testament was written as history It contains unsympathetic depictions of its heroes It contains difficult teaching It is claimed to be written in some cases by relatively unknown people Therefore, it is unlikely to be a fabrication

33 Background and Importance Manuscript Evidence Internal Evidence External Evidence Roadmap

34 External Evidence External evidence is evidence outside the text that corroborates or contradicts the text. For example Archaeology Non-Biblical manuscript evidence

35 Archeology ● Nazareth Inscription (1 st slab of marble found in Nazareth) “Ordinance of Caesar. It is my pleasure that graves and tombs remain undisturbed in perpetuity for those who have made them for the cult of their ancestors... If, however any man lay information that another has either demolished them, or has in any other way extracted the buried, or has maliciously transferred them to other places... against such a one I order that a trial be instituted... In the case of contravention I desire that the offender be sentenced to capital punishment on charge of violation or sepulture.”

36 Archaeological Accuracy of Luke-Acts Instances where Luke was once believed to be mistaken: Luke 3:1 says Lysanias was the tetrarch of Abilene and scholars disagreed A corroborating inscription was later found Acts 17:6 uses the word politarchs, scholars could not find any other use of the word We have now found over 35 inscriptions using the word

37 Archaeological Accuracy of Luke-Acts Henry J. Cadbury noted that Acts correctly placed: 32 countries 54 cities 9 islands The Book of Acts in History

38 Archaeological Accuracy of Luke-Acts ● Sir William Ramsey, after evaluating the credibility of the Gospel of Luke – Luke is an historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact and trustworthy; he is possessed of the true historic sense... In short, this author should be placed along with the very greatest historians.

39 Archaeological Accuracy of John Instances where Luke was once believed to be mistaken: John 5:1-15 john describes the pool of Bethesda with five porticoes, scholars did not believe such a place existed The pool of Siloam John 9:7 Jacobs well 4:12 The Jaffa Gate where Jesus appeared before Pilate

40 Extra-Biblical Manuscript Evidence Tacitus: first century roman historian, “To get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures of a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular.”

41 Extra-Biblical Manuscript Evidence Flavius Josephus-a Jewish revolutionary who transferred his allegiance to Rome to save his life “At this time there was a wise man named Jesus. His conduct was good and [He] was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who became his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.” “He [Ananias] convened a meeting of the Sanhedrin and brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus, who was called the Christ, and certain others. He accused them of having transgressed the law and delivered them up to be stoned.”

42 Extra-Biblical Manuscript Evidence Thallus- In 221 A.D. Julius Africanus quotes an historian named Thallus concerning the darkness recounted by Luke 23:44-45 “On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History calls, as appears to me without reason an eclipse of the sun.”

43 Extra-Biblical Manuscript Evidence Pliny the Younger-a Roman administrator, wrote a letter to Emperor Trajan describing Christian worship in 112 A.D. “They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang an anthem to Christ as God, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to commit any wicked deeds, but to abstain from all fraud, theft or adultery, never to break their word, or deny a trust when called upon to honor it; after which it was their custom to separate, and then meet again to partake of food, but food of an ordinary innocent kind.”

44 Extra-Biblical Manuscript Evidence Emperor Trajan- wrote in response to Pliny “No search should be made for these people; when they are denounced and found guilty they must be punished; with this restriction, however, that when the party denies himself to be a Christian, and shall give proof that he is not (that is, by adoring our gods) he shall be pardoned on the ground of repentance, even though he may have formerly incurred suspicion.”

45 Extra-Biblical Manuscript Evidence Lucian-a second century Greek author who wrote against Christianity “The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account… You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.”

46 From the External Evidence We Know Jesus was a Nazarene He was considered wise He was killed on Passover He was crucified by Pilate He was believed to have risen 3 days laer His enemies recognized his miracles and called them “sorcery” His followers rejected polytheism, lived moral lives, and worshiped Jesus

47 Background and Importance Manuscript Evidence Internal Evidence External Evidence Conclusion

48 We know from the evidence The modern New Testament is very close to the original documents The church did not alter the New Testament The New Testament contains many historically verifiable details, and has shown to be quite accurate in the recounting of these details The basic story of the New Testament is corroborated by extra- Biblical documents The New Testament claims to be historical The New Testament is internally consistent


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