Pastor Greg sometimes encounters people who think Christians are crazy for believing in God. Perhaps you do too? They ask things like, “Why would anyone become a Christian? Why should anyone place their faith in Jesus Christ – a man who lived over two thousand years ago? Can you prove that Jesus is real? Can you prove that He is God?” The Apostle Peter, in 1 Peter 3:14-15 was writing to those who were being persecuted for their faith at varying degrees, up to and including imprisonment and martyrdom. Peter reminded us that we need to be ready to give an answer to our critics. With gentleness and reverence, we are to be able to give a defense (apologia) to everyone who asks us to give a reason for the hope we have in Christ. We need to know and communicate the evidence for our faith when people demand that we PROVE IT! Christian apologetics is both the science and art of defending our faith by using reasons and evidence. Pastor Greg will spend most of June and July teaching us some evidence for our faith.
apologia (απολογία) ~ “defense”
… sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence … ~ 1 Peter 3:15
THREE PRIMARY RELIABILITY TESTS FOR ANCIENT DOCUMENTS
1) The Bibliographic Evidence Test
2) The Internal Evidence Test
3) The External Evidence Test
1) THE BIBLIOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE TEST
GOOGLE TRANSLATE EXPERIMENT
ENGLISH: I stuck my head out of the door to see if it was raining.
ICELANDIC: Ég stakk höfuðið út um dyrnar til að sjá hvort það væri að rigna.
RUSSIAN: Я высовываю голову из двери, чтобы посмотреть, идет ли дождь.
FRENCH: Je passe la tête par la porte pour voir s’il pleut.
Literally: I pass the head through the door to see if it is raining.
BACK TO ENGLISH: I go through the door to see if it’s raining.
Conclusion: Google Translate understands context and English idiom.
No television preacher has ever read the Bible. Neither has any evangelical politician. Neither has the pope. Neither have I. And neither have you. At best, we’ve all read a bad translation—a translation of translations of translations of hand-copied copies of copies of copies of copies, and on and on, hundreds of times. ~ Critic Kurt Eichenwald
We have almost 26,000 copies of the ancient writings of our New Testament. When we combine both the Old and New Testament, we have more than 66,000 ancient manuscripts and scrolls! Many written within 100 years of Jesus’ Resurrection, some within 25 years! The accuracy level between copies is incredible!
Homer’s Illiad: Only 1,757 known manuscript copies. The oldest surviving written 500 years after Homer wrote the original.
Aristotle: Only 49 ancient manuscript copies. The oldest was still written over 1,400 years after Aristotle’s death.
2) THE INTERNAL EVIDENCE TEST
In the event of an apparent inaccuracy or discrepancy, the benefit of the doubt must be given to the document not to the critic. ~ Aristotle
A CONTRADICTION IN PAUL’S CONVERSION ACCOUNTS?
And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. ~ Acts 9:7
And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. ~ Acts 22:9
IN CONTEXT, CORRECTLY TRANSLATED? – NO CONTRADICTION
The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. ~ Acts 9:7
And those who were with me saw the light, to be sure, but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me. ~ Acts 22:9
ἀκούω – akouó (GREEK)
1) To not be deaf – to be able to physically hear.
2) To listen to and consider what is being said.
3) To comprehend and understand what is being said.
3) THE EXTERNAL EVIDENCE TEST
There is indeed no probability that we shall find manuscripts of the Hebrew text going back to a period before the formation of the text which we know as Masoretic. We can only arrive at an idea of it by a study of the earliest translations made from it… ~ Sir Frederic Kenyon (1947-1948)
THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS ~ Discovered 1947-1948
Manuscript copies of Old Testament books 1,000 years older than any previously known to be in existence. Almost exact, letter for letter.
We have given practical proof of our reverence for our own Scriptures. For, although such long ages have now passed, no one has ventured either to add, or to remove, or to alter a syllable; and it is an instinct with every Jew from the day of his birth to regard them as the decrees of God, to abide by them, and, if need be, cheerfully die for them. Time and again ere now, the sight has been witnessed of prisoners enduring tortures and death in every form in the theaters, rather than utter a single word against the Laws and the allied documents. ~ 1st Century A.D. Jewish Historian, Flavius Josephus
THERE ARE 22 SPECIFIC, HISTORICAL REFERENCES IN LUKE 3:1-2
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. ~ Luke 3:1-2
Luke names thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities, nine islands and hundreds of other very specific details in the Book of Acts. Thirty-two Biblical personalities are also recorded in other historical writings totally apart from the Bible.
“Pontius Pilate, the Prefect of Judea has dedicated the people of Caesarea Temple in honor of Tiberius.” ~ Discovered in 1961 on a plaque on a stone at the Tiberium in Caesarea ~ (Proof positive of Pilate’s existence outside of only literary sources before.)
1964-1968 ~ Ebla ruins discovered – thought to be a mythical civilization and proven that it existed for 800-1,000 years as a great civilization, 1,000 years before the time of Moses.
THE EBLA TABLETS ~ 17,000 cuneiform fragments assembled into 2,500 complete tablets. Proved at least two distinct languages were being written with complexity 1,000 years before Moses. Critics had doubted Moses authorship of the Pentateuch because they said there was no written language yet in Moses’ time. Hebrew names and Biblical cities referred to by Moses also appear in the Ebla Tablets. Moral and priestly code complexity assumed to have only come about 400 years after Moses’ time were already being described in the Ebla Tablets. 1,400 years earlier than critics assumptions!
THE HITTITES ~ Mentioned over fifty times in Scripture. For centuries, critics said it was a myth since there was no other literary or archaeological evidence.
1876 ~ A.H. Sayce discovers other literary evidence in Egpyt.
1906 ~ Ruins of the Hittite Civilization are discovered.
They existed for nearly 500 years!
When we put the Bible to the tests of Bibliographic Evidence, Internal Evidence and External Evidence, we find that the Bible passes this test as well or better than any other ancient document. The Bible has proven its reliability many times over and we can trust it to reveal the truth to us. ~ Pastor Greg Scott
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR ALOHA GROUPS & PERSONAL STUDY
1) Which evidence test is the most compelling to you? Why?
2) Have you ever heard the statement that the Bible can’t be trusted because it has been translated in and out of hundreds of languages?
3) Now that you know the truth, how will you respond to someone when you hear this myth in the future?
4) When you heard how many ancient Bible manuscripts we have compared to other ancient writing were you surprised to hear such a large difference? Why or why not?
READ: Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9 (Use as many translations as you can.)
1) Do you agree with Pastor Greg’s assessment that there is no contradiction between these two verses and his explanation? Why or why not?
2) Aristotle said: In the event of an apparent inaccuracy or discrepancy the benefit of the doubt must be given to the document not to the critic. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
READ: Luke 3:1-2
1) Pastor Greg also mentioned the rest of the Book of Luke contains many more very specific details about locations and people. Why do you think Luke was so specific in including all of these details?
1) When you hear about archaeological discoveries like the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Kingdoms of Ebla and the Hittites, does that boost your faith in what you have read and been taught about the Bible? Or does it not really change your confidence level?
2) Do you feel like knowing some of this information will help you when being faced with a critic of Christianity? Why or why not?
3) Pastor Greg closed his message with his conclusion about the reliability of the Bible. It is listed here in the message notes. Read is conclusions again. You agree or disagree? Why?