THE BIBLE'S CREDIBILITY
Studying the Bible and reading the Bible are two different things. Reading allows one to become aware of what has happened in the past. Reading through the stories of mankind's ancestors in the Bible gives one an understanding, of the events that managed to shape our present day lives. Does this mean the Bible is a history book? It most certainly does. A very strange history book. A book that relates historical facts as they were, without regard to glorifying the Kings and rulers of the nations it reveals. Without overlooking the weaknesses or failures of its prophets.
But more importantly, it relates facts. It relates facts as to prophecy. And contrary to popular opinion, facts that science has only lately discovered. Facts consistently being overturned by the shovel full.
Archaeologists are constantly digging up cities, towns, temples, artifacts and relics of this time gone by. These ancient things related to the Bible, along with other means and forms of mankind's recorded history, verify the words written in the book, which we call the Bible. Things that by their very existence substantiate the stories showcased in this collection of sixty-six books. But is that all?
"NOT BY A LONG SHOT."
Most people believe the word of God and the Bible is synonymous. One and the same! If this is true, it deserves more than just an understanding of its historical value it deserves study. This is because, if it is the word of God, than God exists. If God exists and He has gone to the trouble of speaking to us through his word, wouldn't it be a good idea to understand what he is saying?
A simple reading of the Bible makes it very clear that God is speaking about life and death. It is very clear God is speaking about judging each individual concerning not life as we know it now, nor death as we know it now. But life and death as He knows it and intends it to be.
Now most people say, well, that's for the minister, priest, rabbis, guru, or whoever to figure out. The problem with this is if you rely on others, and any or all of these others are wrong...
SO ARE YOU!
The question here is... why should we listen to others when
God Himself is speaking through His word?
God, through Daniel's writings, named eight world powers in the order that they would appear along with 3400 years of history before it happened. Today looking back over these thirty four hundred years it is obvious the predictions written in the Bible have all taken place. This is not something that evolution, Mother Nature, or any human person or group is capable of doing. Daniel was not capable of doing it either. He was told what to write down. It all came through a dream. When Daniel said [in effect] "I don't understand any of this." He was told not to worry over it; that only the people living in the end time would understand it. Well, WE are now living in that end time. And what Daniel could not understand we can. We can understand because we can relate what has happened, with what the Bible has told us would happen. In short the Bible has proved itself trustworthy in a test of time, in both longevity and its predictions. History is written AFTER it occurs not, as in the case of Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, John, and others who wrote of historical events, BEFORE they occurred. It verifies the past and shows us what to expect in the future.
The Bible is NOT clouded in mystery or myth, but quite logical. It makes sense. And of all the things in the universe, reason tells us God's word, which was written to us and for us, has to make sense.
The New Testament, like the Old Testament, is and has been proven time and time again an accurate document of historical facts. Archaeologist are constantly unearthing proof of nations, names of people, names of kings, evidence of wars, places, cities, temples, events, customs, etc.; that were recorded in the Bible. Translation allows us to understand what was written on these preserved scrolls in our own present day language. A translator is an educated and learned person in both the language being translated and the language it is being translated into. Unfortunately, the accuracy of this can vary with the individuals performing the translation. However, as we shall see, God has preserved his message intact in spite of this.
Interpretation, on the other hand, can be done by anyone. One can even dream up a doctrine and then hunt for a scripture or two that seems to back this man made idea up. That the scriptures referred in this manner would be completely out of context with the rest of the chapter or book does not seem bother them. The dependability of an interpretation depends on the knowledge, reliability and intent of the one doing it. Of course the majority of those interpreting God's word are sincere in their desire to understand. Just the same God has seen to it his message remains intact by enacting a simple process of making the Bible itself the only truly reliable interpreter of His word. Interpretation of any other kind can be related this way.
There is an old story of seven blind men who had never seen an elephant. One touched his leg and perceived the elephant as a tree. Another touched his trunk and perceived it to be like a snake. A third only felt its ear and concluded it was like a palm leaf. Of course none where correct. The elephant was like none of these things. To perceive a true picture each man would have had to examine all of the animal's parts. The Bible is like the elephant. To perceive a true picture, we have to examine all its parts not just a page here or a verse there.
Gods word includes a plan and purpose for the future. That man is a part of that plan is plainly stated throughout the Bible.
Isa 14:26-27 This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations.
27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back? (KJV)
Therefore God has gone to the trouble of giving mankind the instructions he needs to understand and accomplish the purposes that God has included mankind in. This is not only logical it is a rational form of thought. How could God expect man to do what he wants them to do, if He does not give man the information he needs?
Why read the Bible? The answer to that is also a simple matter of logic. If you believe in a Supreme Being and you would like to be counted as one of his people ... than don't you think you had better find out what HE wants you to do; not what someone else... thinks ... he wants you to do. If on the other hand you do not believe in God, or have not read or understood the Bible, then allow me to ask you a simple question. How can you possibly make a rational decision ... about something you have no knowledge of?
The Bible is made up of sixty-six books. It was written over a period of roughly 1500 years by about 34 men. An exception to this is the Catholic Doughy version, which has seventy-two books. However, these additional six books added to the Bible by the Roman Catholic Church are spurious ,or of doubtful origin, which the Church itself admits. Nonetheless, the sixty-six books of all other versions convey God's message quite adequately.
There are many reasons for different versions of the Bible. Mainly the different versions of the Bible came about because of the codices used to translate them from ... some are lengthy in description others assume you already understand what the subject is. Often the language used does not translate well from one tongue to another. Hence, the old saying, "It loses something in the translation."
As an example of language problems there is a translation of the Bible that was written for Eskimos or the Inuet nation. Now sheep are not something that an Eskimo would find roaming past their igloo. In fact, it is not an animal that an Eskimo would be at all familiar with. Therefore the translators when they came to scriptures in the first chapter of John stating "Behold the Lamb of God", they translated the Lamb of God as "Behold, the animal that looks like a baby caribou of God." (Notice that the saying begins to make sense?)
Now if the first Bible you read referred to an animal that looks like a baby caribou, and you had no idea what a caribou was; cross referencing it with most any other Bible would clearly place the image of a lamb in your mind. So in spite of the fact that there is a big difference between a lamb and a caribou the translation does not effect the integrity of the message. The message itself remains the same.
Most of the codices used are incomplete and are completed from others that are complete in that portion. One codex may be physically missing the beginning, another may be missing the end. However, together they make up the complete manuscript.
Are there errors, accidental or deliberate, in the Bible? Yes there are. It has been stated there are as many as 20,000 errors in the King James Version. Most of these have to do with our indexing system and spelling. The verse of one Bible may begin two or three words above or below the verse of another. But in the end it comes down to this. One Bible might use the word 'water' and another might use the word 'aqua,' but they both clearly mean that wet stuff that fills up the oceans.
Scribes sat in candlelight copying verse for verse to make new copies of the Bible. Is it conceivable that they never made a mistake? No it isn't. Although these Scribes had the work they performed checked and rechecked errors did get through. But an error in copying does not effect the original. How can someone point to 20,000 thousand errors, unless they knew what and where those errors were? This can only be done because the errors are not on the originals.
What about deliberate alterations? These also have occurred, and like accidental mistakes they are known. Let me give you an example. Most Bibles use the word day in Gen 2:4 However, since this scripture has to do with creation, the translators of the NIV were apparently confused by it, so they left the word day out. The translators of the Good News Bible were so confused by it they left the whole verse out. Do we have to go back to the originals to clear this up? No, that is not necessary at all. You can clear up anything like this by cross-referencing it with other Bibles. Or you can pick up a concordance and look up the word day. Then the Bible itself will become the interpreter and straighten out the confusion. Which is exactly what we will do later in this text when we look at the subject of time. First lets look at the kind of errors we are talking about. Many have to do with semantics.
The NIV in this verse says, "This is the account of"
The KJV says, "This is the generations of"
The Septuagint Version says, "This is the genealogy of".
Regardless of the semantics of the words; account of, generations of, genealogy of, the meaning or message in Gen 2: 4 is the same. These three different versions are talking about exactly the same thing, the HISTORY of. So it turns out that regardless of errors or semantics, the truth and meaning remains intact. We do have a mighty God indeed.
On the subject of deliberate alterations The King James Version says, "For thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory for ever and ever" at the end of the Lords prayer. This is not found in other Bibles. King James added it, and it is known that King James added it.
Does it hurt to say this in a prayer? Of course not! Christ was giving us a guideline to prayer. Jesus was saying you start out by giving honor to his father, then you acknowledge his Kingdom etc. Christ was not giving us a ritual that we were to repeat like parrots. But was King James wrong in adding it? Yes he was, and you can verify that also by the Bible in Revelation.
However, the real question here, is the integrity of the Bible marred by any of these errors? Absolutely not, which can be proven by checking just a small fragment of the scroll of Leviticus, found at the Dead Sea and comparing it to the Bible on your shelf. God has protected and preserved his words down through the ages. The Bible on your shelf is just as dependable as any on my shelf, or for that matter any you might find laid away in a cave over two thousands years ago.
To check the Leviticus scrolls found at the Dead Sea against your Bible
You could make this scripture by scripture comparison with the Dead Sea Scrolls of the whole book of Isaiah. You can do the same with other books of the Bible such as what they have found of Hosea and you could do it with any of the writings found concerning any of the books that make up what we know as the Bible. You can do the same with any codex that has been preserved.
For those that are not familiar with the term codex, a codex is the earliest writings of the Bible or books of the Bible that are known to mankind. Which now include the books of the old testament found at the Dead Sea, which are well over a thousand years older than any of the other codices man possessed before.
Often times comparing a verse against many versions will make a subject crystal clear. It also makes any kind of error stand out. The difference in one version from another is not that one is saying one thing and the other something different. They are all saying exactly the same thing using the language and vernacular of the time when that version was translated. To illustrate this comment the King James Version uses the word "hell" 54 times in the New Testament. The New King James Version uses the word "hell" 30 times. The New International Version uses it 13 times and New American Standard Version uses it 14 times. Yet all four versions have all 54 verses in them and all say exactly the same thing conveying precisely the same message.
(For a detailed explanation of hell and the 54 verses mentioned, click >>HERE<<
Today I could make a statement such as, "Fred is a really crazy guy." This could mean that Fred is a funny person. A bundle of fun, or that he does silly things, or that he makes me laugh along with other connotations connected with today's usage of the word crazy. In Christ's time, "Crazy" meant that person was literally insane, mentally deranged. Understanding the usage of words in different times is the business of a translator. However, lets use the Bible itself to illustrate the point. Let's go back to:
A} Gen 2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens (KJV)
B} Gen 2:4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens-- (NIV)
A above} is a translation from the King James Version.
B above} is a translation from the New International Version.
Compare them. Aren't they both saying the same thing? God ... created the heavens and the earth.
However, the codices used for the King James Version have a little more information saying "in the DAY that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens." This gives us important information on another subject ... Time.
Wait a second! ... Everybody knows the earth was created in six days?
This is apparently what confused the translators of the NIV and the Good News Bible Version. As was said before the translators of the NIV were confused by this word day here and left it out. The translators of the Good News Version were so confused by it they left the whole verse out. Was this word "day" an error we didn't know about? Hardly! Exactly the same kind of language is used again in the first verse of chapter 5.
Gen 5:1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; (ASV)
Do we have some kind of conflict here? Not at all! It means we have to look elsewhere in the Bible for an explanation. How do we go about this? Well, we could start at the beginning and read through the whole Bible. But aside from this being very laborious we would probably miss what we want answered. It is much easier to use a concordance for this purpose.
When we look up the word "Day", in a concordance, we find every scripture that uses the word "Day" listed one after another. If you take the time to go through them all, you'll find some very interesting things about the usage of that word within the Bible. Most of the time it is referring to 24 hours but not always.
2 Pet 3:8 But do not forget this one thing dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. (NIV)
2 Pet 3:8 But beloved be not ignorant of this one thing that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. (KJV)
Notice above that "do not forget" and "be not ignorant" can have two different meanings on their own . Nonetheless, they convey exactly the same message in both the scriptures above.
In the message of the above scriptures, Peter is telling us that in relation to mankind, God equates a thousand years as being the same as one day to him. This is also telling us is that each creative day is at least a thousand years long. I say at least, because there is a Biblical reason to believe that each day was longer than a thousand years. Remember a thousand years equaling a day is to how God relates His time to mankind. But that is not saying how long a period He considers his own day to be. Everyone knows the Bible tells us that God rested on the seventh day, but you will not find a scripture anywhere in the Bible that says ... there was an evening and a morning a seventh day. The reason for that is because that seventh day has not ended yet.
Still tracing the word day in a concordance, we find Peter in the book of Hebrews, in the fourth chapter, tells us we are still in God's rest day. Therefore, reason tells us this means each creative day would have to be at least six thousand years long. Why? Because the calendar tells us we are into the sixth thousandth year of the seventh day. That would make a total, so far, of THIRTY SIX thousand years for creation, on the earth. I say "so far" because we don't know how long each of God's days lasts, because His day of rest is not over yet. God knows when His next day begins, and Christ knows, and probably the angels know, but we don't. And the truth of the matter is it isn't important to our existence. Interesting yes! Important no! Just the same, in relation to the rest of God's Word, this one little word "day" has unfolded a wealth of information. Information coming from God's own interpretation from His own word the Bible.
Let's look even further. Strong's Hebrew dictionary defines day as:
3117 yowm (yome);
From an unused root meaning to be hot; a day (as the warm hours), whether literal (from sunrise to sunset, or from one sunset to the next), or figurative (a space of time defined by an associated term), [often used adverb]:
It turns out that the original Hebrew written in Gen 2:4 used the word "Beyowm" distinguishing the word as an adverb. Clearly marking it as being used to define a space of time. Just as we might say "In George Washington's day." Or, "In the day of the dinosaur." The very word "Beyowm" here represents an undefined space or period of time in relation to the topic it is being used with. Now in the first case above "In George Washington's day." that figurative day represents roughly 67 years. In the second case "The day of the dinosaur." represents over 150 million years.
So how long was each creative day? The truth is we have no idea. Nor, for that matter do we even know that each day was the same space or length in time. What we do know from all this is that these creative days were NOT 24 hours long.
If you look at the decay rate of argon, which is present in the rocks of the earth, you will find that the earth is roughly 4 ½ billion years old. Which does not work out well with a day that lasts only 24 hours. But it fits like a glove with the word "Beyowm". A day, which the Bible is telling us, represents a given space or period of time.
You might notice something else here. The provable facts of science are again verifying the words of the Bible.
As my father used to say:
SON OF A GUN, JEHOVAH... IS RIGHT AGAIN!
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