1. The Bibliographical Test:
Most people, who have yet to believe God’s love and truth from the Bible, do not quickly recognize the power of God’s spoken word with confirming signs in the reality of God’s intervention in the lives of mankind throughout history as recorded in the book known as the Bible.
The great evidence of the uniqueness of the Bible and it’s power, as a book, does not particularly prove that it is the inspired Word of God to many. However, it does challenge a person to seriously consider it’s historical reliability.
Could there be some tests we could scientifically employ to test, not it’s inspiration, but it’s historical reliability? Yes. It’s called the bibliographical test.
The bibliographical test is based on the principle of historiography as explained by C. Sanders, in Introduction to Research in English Literary History. The bibliographical test examines the textual transmission of how it’s documents have reached us.
Sine we do not have the Bible’s original documents, the bibliographical test focuses on the reliability the copies, or manuscripts, that we do have. The amount of copies and it’s time interval between the copies and the original documents are our focus here. Here are some
facts on the manuscripts that we have:
--There are now more than 5,686 known Greek manuscripts of the New Testament.
--There are 10,000 Latin Vulgate manuscripts and at least 9,300 other early versions.
--We have approximately 25,000 manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament in existence today.
Why are these numbers notable? Because no other document comes close to having such numbers. In second place is Homer’s Iliad with only 643 manuscripts that have survived over time.
What can’t be overstated is the fact that in these many New Testament manuscripts it makes it possible to reconstruct the original with virtual complete accuracy. To the skeptic, this is overwhelming bibliographical evidence that attests to the historical accuracy of the New Testament as an accurate literary work of history.
The timing in which the original manuscript was written, and it’s copies written are also part of the bibliographical test. The interval between the dating of the originals and the dating of it’s copies help give accurate evidence of the copies credibility and accuracy.
Greenlee writes in Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism, “…the original writing and the number of extant MSS (manuscripts) is in many instances so small, it is clear that the reliability of the text of the N.T. (New Testament) is likewise assured.”
F.F. Bruce writes: “There is no body of ancient literature in the world which enjoys such a wealth of good textual attestation as the New Testament.”
In summary, the Bible’s great amount of New Testament manuscripts and the amount of confirming copies transmitted during the time of it’s original documents give clear evidence to the accuracy of the Bible’s manuscripts passing the bibliographical test of literature.
So why get into this literary testing? Because the Bible passes the bibliographical tests of historical accuracy. It names people, places and events that have historically been proven to be accurate.
This bibliographical testing might not lead a person to believe in it’s Author (God), however, it can lead a person to see the remarkable structure of the Bible of a collection of 66 books, written by 40 or more different men over a period of 2,000 years, it is clearly one Book, with perfect unity and consistency throughout. The one consistent theme of the Bible, developing in grandeur from Genesis to Revelation, is God’s great work in the creation and redemption of all things, through His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Is this book known as the Bible worthy to be discovered for all it’s value? Absolutely!
2. The Prophetic Messianic Statistical Evidence
from "Statistics And Probability" by: John Funk --raptureready.com)
Professor Peter W. Stoner who authored “Science Speaks” stated that the probability of just eight particular prophecies being fulfilled in one person is 1 in 1017, i.e. 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000). The eight prophecies used in the calculation were:
1. Messiah is to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; fulfilled in Matt. 2:1-7; John 7:42; Luke 2:47).
2. Messiah is to be preceded by a Messenger (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1; fulfilled in Matthew 3:1-3; 11:10; John 1:23; Luke 1:17).
3. Messiah is to enter Jerusalem on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9; fulfilled in Luke 35-37; Matthew 21:6-11).
4. Messiah is to be betrayed by a friend (Psalms 41:9; 55:12-14; fulfilled in Matthew 10:4; 26:49-50; John
5. Messiah is to be sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12; fulfilled in Matthew 26:15; 27:3).
6. The money for which Messiah is sold is to be thrown “to the potter” in God’s house (Zechariah 11:13; fulfilled in Matthew 27:5-7).
7. Messiah is to be silent before His accusers (Isaiah 53:7; fulfilled in Matthew 27:12).
8. Messiah is to be executed by crucifixion as a thief (Psalm 22:16; Zechariah 12:10; Isaiah 53:5,12; fulfilled in Luke 23:33; John 20:25; Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27,28).
This statement was validated by the American Scientific Affiliation. This number has been illustrated as follows:
If we take 1 X 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas, they'll cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one?
Professor Stoner went on to consider 48 prophecies and says, “… We find the chance that any one man fulfilled all 48 prophecies to be 1 in 10157.
“This is a really large number and it represents an extremely small chance. Let us try to visualize it. The silver dollar, which we have been using, is entirely too large. We must select a smaller object. The electron is about as small an object as we know of. It is so small that it will take 2.5 times 1015 of them laid side by side to make a line, single file, one inch long. If we were going to count the electrons in this line one inch long, and counted 250 each minute, and if we counted day and night, it would take us 19,000,000 years to count just the one-inch line of electrons. If we had a cubic inch of these electrons and we tried to count them it would take us, counting steadily 250 each minute, 19,000,000 times 19,000,000 times 19,000,000 [nineteen million times nineteen million times nineteen million] or 6.9 times 1021 years.
This is approximately the total number of electrons in all the mass of the known universe. In other words the probability of Jesus Christ fulfilling 48 prophecies is the same as one person being able to pick out one electron out of the entire mass of our universe.
Such is the chance of any one man fulfilling any 48 prophecies. Yet Jesus Christ fulfilled not just 48 prophecies, not just 61 prophecies, but more than 324 individual prophecies that the Prophets wrote concerning the Messiah.
3. Evidence For
The Resurrection Of Jesus Christ:
For centuries many of the world's distinguished philosophers have assaulted Christianity as being irrational, superstitious and absurd. Many have chosen simply to ignore the central issue of the resurrection. Others have tried to explain it away through various theories. But the historical evidence just can't be
discounted. A student at the University of Uruguay said to me. "Professor McDowell, why can't you refute Christianity?"
"For a very simple reason," I answered. "I am not able to explain away an event in history—the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
Here are some of the
facts relevant to the resurrection: Jesus of Nazareth, a Jewish
prophet who claimed to be the Christ prophesied in the Jewish
Scriptures, was arrested, was judged a political criminal, and was
crucified. Three days after His death and burial, some women who
went to His tomb found the body gone. In subsequent weeks, His
disciples claimed that God had raised Him from the dead and that He
appeared to them various times before ascending into heaven.
How can we explain the empty tomb? Can it possibly be accounted for by any natural cause?
A QUESTION OF HISTORY
After more than 700 hours of studying this subject, I
have come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is
either one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever
foisted on the minds of human beings—or it is the most remarkable
fact of history .
foundation, Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and has
continued to exert great influence down through the centuries.
The New Testament accounts of the resurrection were
being circulated within the lifetimes of men and women alive at the
time of the resurrection. Those people could certainly have
confirmed or denied the accuracy of such accounts.
The writers of the
four Gospels either had themselves been witnesses or else were
relating the accounts of eyewitnesses of the actual events. In
advocating their case for the gospel, a word that means "good
news," the apostles appealed (even when confronting their most
severe opponents) to common knowledge concerning the facts of the
F. F. Bruce,
Rylands professor of biblical criticism and exegesis at the
University of Manchester, says concerning the value of the New
Testament records as primary sources: "Had there been any
tendency to depart from the facts in any material respect, the
possible presence of hostile witnesses in the audience would have
served as a further corrective."
IS THE NEW TESTAMENT
Because the New Testament provides the primary
historical source for information on the resurrection, many critics
during the 19th century attacked the reliability of these biblical
By the end of the 1
9th century, however, archaeological discoveries had confirmed the
accuracy of the New Testament manuscripts. Discoveries of early
papyri bridged the gap between the time of Christ and existing
manuscripts from a later date.
increased scholarly confidence in the reliability of the Bible.
William F. Albright, who in his day was the world's foremost
biblical archaeologist, said: "We can already say emphatically
that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the
New Testament after about A.D. 80, two full generations before the
date between 130 and 150 given by the more radical New Testament
critics of today."
Coinciding with the
papyri discoveries, an abundance of other manuscripts came to light
(over 24,000 copies of early New Testament manuscripts are known to
be in existence today). The historian Luke wrote of "authentic
evidence" concerning the resurrection. Sir William Ramsay, who
spent 15 years attempting to undermine Luke credentials as a
historian, and to refute the reliability of the New Testament,
finally concluded: "Luke is a historian of the first rank . . .
This author should be placed along with the very greatest of
I claim to be an
historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you
that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of
Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient
history . . .
E. M. Blaiklock
Professor of Classics
The New Testament witnesses were fully aware of the
background against which the resurrection took place. The body of
Jesus, in accordance with Jewish burial custom, was wrapped in a
linen cloth. About 100 pounds of aromatic spices, mixed together to
form a gummy substance, were applied to the wrappings of cloth about
the body. After the body was placed in a solid rock tomb, an
extremely large stone was rolled against the entrance of the tomb.
Large stones weighing approximately two tons were normally rolled
(by means of levers) against a tomb entrance.
A Roman guard of
strictly disciplined fighting men was stationed to guard the tomb.
This guard affixed on the tomb the Roman seal, which was meant to
"prevent any attempt at vandalizing the sepulcher. Anyone
trying to move the stone from the tomb's entrance would have broken
the seal and thus incurred the wrath of Roman law.
But three days later the tomb was
empty. The followers of Jesus said He had risen from the dead. They
reported that He appeared to them during a period of 40 days,
showing Himself to them by many "infallible proofs." Paul
the apostle recounted that Jesus appeared to more than 500 of His
followers at one time, the majority of whom were still alive and who
could confirm what Paul wrote. So many security precautions
were taken with the trial, crucifixion, burial, entombment, sealing,
and guarding of Christ's tomb that it becomes very difficult for
critics to defend their position that Christ did not rise from the
dead. Consider these facts:
FACT #1: BROKEN ROMAN
As we have said, the first obvious fact was the
breaking of the seal that stood for the power and authority of the
Roman Empire. The consequences of breaking the seal were extremely
severe. The FBI and CIA of the Roman Empire were called into action
to find the man or men who were responsible. If they were
apprehended, it meant automatic execution by crucifixion upside
down. People feared the breaking of the seal. Jesus' disciples
displayed signs of cowardice when they hid themselves. Peter, one of
these disciples, went out and denied Christ three times.
FACT #2: EMPTY TOMB
As we have already discussed, another obvious fact
after the resurrection was the empty tomb. The disciples of Christ
did not go off to Athens or Rome to preach that Christ was raised
from the dead. Rather, they went right back to the city of
Jerusalem, where, if what they were teaching was false, the falsity
would be evident. The empty tomb was "too notorious to be
denied." Paul Althaus states that the resurrection "could
have not been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, for a single
hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a
fact for all concerned."
Both Jewish and
Roman sources and traditions admit an empty tomb. Those resources
range from Josephus to a compilation of fifth-century Jewish
writings called the "Toledoth Jeshu." Dr. Paul Maier calls
this "positive evidence from a hostile source, which is the
strongest kind of historical evidence. In essence, this means that
if a source admits a fact decidedly not in its favor, then that fact
Gamaliel, who was a
member of the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin, put forth the
suggestion that the rise of the Christian movement was God's doing;
he could not have done that if the tomb were still occupied, or if
the Sanhedrin knew the whereabouts of Christ's body.
Paul Maier observes
that " . . . if all the evidence is weighed carefully and
fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of
historical research, to conclude that the sepulcher of Joseph of
Arimathea, in which Jesus was buried, was actually empty on the
morning of the first Easter. And no shred of evidence has yet been
discovered in literary sources, epigraphy, or archaeology that would
disprove this statement."
FACT #3: LARGE STONE
On that Sunday morning the first thing that impressed
the people who approached the tomb was the unusual position of the
one and a half to two ton stone that had been lodged in front of the
doorway. All the Gospel writers mention it.
There exists no
document from the ancient world, witnessed by so excellent a set of
textual and historical testimonies . . . Skepticism regarding the
historical credentials of Christianity is based upon an irrational
Those who observed the
stone after the resurrection describe its position as having been
rolled up a slope away not just from the entrance of the tomb, but
from the entire massive sepulcher. It was in such a position that it
looked as if it had been picked up and carried away. Now, I ask you,
if the disciples had wanted to come in, tiptoe around the sleeping
guards, and then roll the stone over and steal Jesus' body, how
could they have done that without the guards' awareness?
FACT #4: ROMAN GUARD GOES
The Roman guards fled. They left their place of
responsibility. How can their attrition he explained, when Roman
military discipline was so exceptional? Justin, in Digest #49,
mentions all the offenses that required the death penalty. The fear
of their superiors' wrath and the possibility of death meant that
they paid close attention to the minutest details of their jobs. One
way a guard was put to death was by being stripped of his clothes
and then burned alive in a fire started with his garments. If it was
not apparent which soldier had failed in his duty, then lots were
drawn to see which one wand be punished with death for the guard
unit's f ailure. Certainly the entire unit would not have fallen
asleep with that kind of threat over their heads. Dr. George Currie,
a student of Roman military discipline, wrote that fear of
punishment "produced flawless attention to duty, especially in
the night watches."
FACT #5: GRAVE CLOTHES
TELL A TALE
In a literal sense, against all statements to the
contrary, the tomb was not totally empty—because of an amazing
phenomenon. John, a disciple of Jesus, looked over to the place
where the body of Jesus had lain, and there were the grave clothes,
in the form of the body, slightly caved in and empty—like the
empty chrysalis of a caterpillar's cocoon. That's enough to make a
believer out of anybody. John never did get over it. The first thing
that stuck in the minds of the disciples was not the empty tomb, but
rather the empty grave clothes—undisturbed in form and position.
FACT #6: JESUS'
Christ appeared alive on several occasions after the
cataclysmic events of that first Easter . When studying an event in
history, it is important to know whether enough people who were
participants or eyewitnesses to the event were alive when the facts
about the event were published. To know this is obviously helpful in
ascertaining the accuracy of the published report. If the number of
eyewitnesses is substantial, the event can he regarded as fairly
well established. For instance, if we all witness a murder, and a
later police report turns out to he a fabrication of lies, we as
eyewitnesses can refute it.
OVER 500 WITNESSES
Several very important factors arc often overlooked
when considering Christ's post-resurrection appearances to
individuals. The first is the large number of witnesses of Christ
after that resurrection morning. One of the earliest records of
Christ's appearing after the resurrection is by Paul. The apostle
appealed to his audience's knowledge of the fact that Christ had
been seen by more than 500 people at one time. Paul reminded them
that the majority of those people were still alive and could be
questioned. Dr. Edwin M. Yamauchi, associate professor of history at
Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, emphasizes: "What gives a
special authority to the list (of witnesses) as historical evidence
is the reference to most of the five hundred brethren being still
alive. St. Paul says in effect, 'If you do not believe me, you can
ask them.' Such a statement in an admittedly genuine letter written
within thirty years of the event is almost as strong evidence as one
could hope to get for something that happened nearly two thousand
years ago." Let's take the more than 500 witnesses who saw
Jesus alive after His death and burial, and place them in a
courtroom. Do you realize that if each of those 500 people were to
testify for only six minutes, including cross-examination, you would
have an amazing 50 hours of firsthand testimony? Add to this the
testimony of many other eyewitnesses and you would well have the
largest and most lopsided trial in history.
Another factor crucial to interpreting Christ's
appearances is that He also appeared to those who were hostile or
Over and over
again, I have read or heard people comment that Jesus was seen alive
after His death and burial only by His friends and followers. Using
that argument, they attempt to water down the overwhelming impact of
the multiple eyewitness accounts. But that line of reasoning is so
pathetic it hardly deserves comment. No author or informed
individual would regard Saul of Tarsus as being a follower of
Christ. The facts show the exact opposite. Saul despised Christ and
persecuted Christ's followers. It was a life-shattering experience
when Christ appeared to him. Although he was at the time not a
disciple, he later became the apostle Paul, one of the greatest
witnesses for the truth of the resurrection.
If the New Testament
were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would
generally be regarded as beyond all doubt.
F. F. Bruce
The argument that
Christ's appearances were only to followers is an argument for the
most part from silence, and arguments from silence can be dangerous.
It is equally possible that all to whom Jesus appeared became
followers. No one acquainted with the facts can accurately say that
Jesus appeared to just "an insignificant few."
that Jesus was bodily resurrected in time and space by the
supernatural power of God. The difficulties of belief may be great,
but the problems inherent in unbelief present even greater
advanced to explain the resurrection by "natural causes"
are weak; they actually help to build confidence in the truth of the
THE WRONG TOMB?
A theory propounded by Kirsopp Lake assumes that the
women who reported that the body was missing had mistakenly gone to
the wrong tomb. If so, then the disciples who went to check up on
the women's statement must have also gone to the wrong tomb. We may
be certain, however, that Jewish authorities, who asked for a Roman
guard to be stationed at the tomb to prevent Jesus' body from being
stolen, would not have been mistaken about the location. Nor would
the Roman guards, for they were there!
resurrection-claim was merely because of a geographical mistake, the
Jewish authorities would have lost no time in producing the body
from the proper tomb, thus effectively quenching for all time any
Another attempted explanation claims that the
appearances of Jesus after the resurrection were either illusions or
hallucinations. Unsupported by the psychological principles
governing the appearances of hallucinations, this theory also does
not coincide with the historical situation. Again, where was the
actual body, and why wasn't it produced?
DID JESUS SWOON?
Another theory, popularized by Venturini several
centuries ago, is often quoted today. This is the swoon theory,
which says that Jesus didn't die; he merely fainted from exhaustion
and loss of blood. Everyone thought Him dead, but later He
resuscitated and the disciples thought it to be a resurrection.
Skeptic David Friedrich Strauss—certainly no believer in the
resurrection—gave the deathblow to any thought that Jesus revived
from a swoon: "It is impossible that a being who had stolen
half-dead out of the sepulchre, who crept about weak and ill,
wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening and
indulgence, and who still at last yielded to His sufferings, could
have given to the disciples the impression that He was a Conqueror
over death and the grave, the Prince of Life,
For the New Testament
of Acts, the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. Any
attempt to reject its basic historicity, even in matters of detail,
must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for
A. N. Sherwin-White
Classical Roman Historian
an impression which
lay at the bottom of their future ministry. Such a resuscitation
could only have weakened the impression which He had made upon them
in life and in death, at the most could only have given it an
elegiac voice, but could by no possibility have changed their sorrow
into enthusiasm, have elevated their reverence into worship."
THE BODY STOLEN?
Then consider the theory that the body was stolen by
the disciples while the guards slept. The depression and cowardice
of the disciples provide a hard-hitting argument against their
suddenly becoming so brave and daring as to face a detachment of
soldiers at the tomb and steal the body. They were in no mood to
attempt anything like that.
The theory that the
Jewish or Roman authorities moved Christ's body is no more
reasonable an explanation for the empty tomb than theft by the
disciples. If the authorities had the body in their possession or
knew where it was, why, when the disciples were preaching the
resurrection in Jerusalem, didn't they explain: "Wait! We moved
the body, see, He didn't rise from the grave"?
And if such a
rebuttal failed, why didn't they explain exactly where Jesus' body
lay? If this failed, why didn't they recover the corpse, put it on a
cart, and wheel it through the center of Jerusalem? Such an action
would have destroyed Christianity—not in the cradle, but in the
THE RESURRECTION IS A
Professor Thomas Arnold, for 14 years a headmaster of
Rugby, author of the famous, History of Rome, and appointed to the
chair of modern history at Oxford, was well acquainted with the
value of evidence in determining historical facts. This great
scholar said: "I have been used for many years to study the
histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of
those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the
history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of
every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great
sign which God bath given us that Christ died and rose again from
the dead." Brooke Foss Westcott, an English scholar, said:
"raking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say
that there is no historic incident better or more variously
supported than the resurrection of Christ. Nothing but the
antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the
idea of deficiency in the proof of it."
REAL PROOF: THE
But the most telling testimony of all must be the
lives of those early Christians. We must ask ourselves: What caused
them to go everywhere telling the message of the risen Christ?
Had there been any
visible benefits accrued to them from their efforts—prestige,
wealth, increased social status or material benefits—we might
logically attempt to account for their actions, for their
whole-hearted and total allegiance to this "risen Christ
As a reward for
their efforts, however, those early Christians were beaten, stoned
to death, thrown to the lions, tortured and crucified. Every
conceivable method was used to stop them from talking.
Yet, they laid down
their lives as the ultimate proof of their complete confidence in
the truth of their message.
WHERE DO YOU STAND?
How do you evaluate this overwhelming historical
evidence? What is your decision about the fact of Christ's empty
tomb? What do you think of Christ?
When I was
confronted with the overwhelming evidence for Christ's resurrection,
I had to ask the logical question: "What difference does all
this evidence make to me? What difference does it make whether or
not I believe Christ rose again and died on the cross for my sins!'
The answer is put best by something Jesus said to a man who
doubted—Thomas. Jesus told him: "I am the way, and the truth,
and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John
On the basis of all
the evidence for Christ's resurrection, and considering the fact
that Jesus offers forgiveness of sin and an eternal relationship
with God, who would be so foolhardy as to reject Him? Christ is
alive! He is living today.
Learn how to be
saved at: Salvation
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