Even if you are a Christian, it is important to ask yourself on what foundation your faith stands. What role does the Bible play in your faith? How do we know the bible is credible?
In my case, I believed what my church taught me. At some point, I realized that there were contradictions with the Bible. So I asked critical questions. A key experience was when I explained one of these contradictions to a minister of the church. I described to him Paul’s view in the New Testament and asked him how this would fit with the teachings of my church because my Church taught exactly the opposite. Then the minister laughed and said, “Paul didn’t know then what our Apostle F. knows today.” (In the church where I grew up, there are still so-called “apostles” with alleged teaching authority today).
Despite this advice, my questions became more massive until I finally left this church in 2005 due to irreconcilable doctrinal differences. The Bible had won.
In this article, I will explain why you too can trust the Bible. You will find the literature used at the end of this article.
1. The bible: Why your attitude to this book is important
The Bible has always been important to me. Even as a child, I found comfort in it when my parents had a fight. And later, this book changed my life because it helped me to distinguish what is truth and what is not.
In general, you can put it this way:
“If the bible is God’s infallible revelation to us humans, then its value can never be overestimated. Then we possess in it definitive answers that can bring man to complete rest in his struggle for clarity concerning the basic questions of existence. We can then know with certainty, for example, who man is, where he comes from and where he is going. Likewise, it would be possible to know who God is, what he wants, what his standards are, how he acts and how we can have communion with him. We would also have clear ethical guidelines for all areas of human life.
If, however, the Bible is merely a flawed human book, then we would be helplessly exposed to the countless, ultimately never satisfying speculations, conjectures and opinions of human beings.”Roger Liebi: Die Bibel – Absolut glaubwürdig! (CLV 2017) (own translation)
2. The bible: Credible or invented?
A german theologian called F. C. Baur introduced methods of historical science into biblical research and recognized only a small part of the New Testament biblical books as authentic. For example, he dated the remaining books to 150 AD or later, including the four Gospels. Also, he claimed they were written by anonymous authors.
However, a wealth of material proves that the biblical texts were written by eyewitnesses. If this is true, they are historically credible. If you want to look into this more, I recommend the books listed below. I can only provide a few keywords here that are particularly convincing to me.
2.1 Evidence that the Bible was written before 70 AD
There is a persistent rumor that the biblical accounts were written down many years after the events. But this has long since been disproved. I will focus especially on the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Here are some arguments that at least the first three were written before 70 AD. I take this information from the book “Mit Skeptikern im Gespräch” (pp. 50-53) by Mario Wahnschaffe, who quotes A.T. Robinson:
- The destruction of the temple in 70 AD remains unmentioned: Jesus had prophesied this destruction. In conclusion, if the Gospels had been written afterward, it would be obvious to mention the actual destruction as fulfilled prophecy.
- The persecution under Nero 64-65 AD remains unmentioned, on the contrary: the evangelists report neutrally to the benevolently of the Roman authorities.
- The Gospels do not refer to Paul, who had a great influence on Christians through his letters. The Gospels are firmly in the Jewish tradition, which changed later when more and more non-Jewish believers joined the Christian community. This influence is not noticeable in the Gospels.
2.2 Eyewitness reports confirm that the Bible is credible
Here are some more indications that eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels:
- The so-called apostolic church fathers, who lived in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, testified that Matthew and John, as disciples of Jesus, were the authors of the gospels named after them. Mark is attested as Peter’s translator, Luke as Paul’s traveling companion. Luke interviewed many eyewitnesses and then wrote his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles.
- Large parts of the Gospels can be reconstructed from the writings of the Church Fathers because they quoted a lot from them. This shows that the Gospels were already widely distributed very early and were not written down long after the events.
- The oldest surviving original fragment of the Gospel of John is papyrus 52, which contains parts of John 18:31-33 and, on the reverse side, John 18:37-38. The papyrus is dated to around 125 A.D. If we assume that John wrote down his Gospel around 90 A.D., then this copy is only 35 years old. Wikipedia writes: “The significance of P52 is based on its possibly great age. The Gospel of John was probably written in Asia Minor or Palestine. Since it is certainly not the original Gospel, and since a certain period of time was necessary for the work to reach Egypt, the composition of the Gospel of John must be at least a few years before this date of P52. This would bring the date of origin of P52 close to the assumed date of composition of year 90” (Quelle: Wikipedia).
- The verification of the texts by historians leads to the conclusion that they are authentic. One way of proving this is that the authors were “familiar with the times and places they were writing about” (Peter J. Williams). Google Maps did not exist at that time. The fact that they knew exactly what was going on proves that the authors were writing at the time of the events and were themselves part of the events. For example, Matthew mentions 90 places that are described exactly. Details can be found in the book by Peter J. Williams on pages 50-86.
- “No evangelist gained all his knowledge from the other gospels, since each gospel contains unique information” (Peter J. Williams p. 52). This refutes the claim of historical-critical theologians that the evangelists copied from each other. Of course, it is possible that they quote each other in some places, but in principle, they are four eyewitness accounts written independently of each other.
Similar research results are available for the Old Testament, but I will not go into them here.
2.2. Writings of the opponents
Tacitus, a Roman historian, reported in 115-117 AD on the great fire in Rome in 64 AD, which was probably instigated by Emperor Nero himself. He writes about the Christians who were blamed for the fire:
“Its namesake, Christ, had been executed by the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius.”From the annals of Tacitus, cited by Peter J. Williams
Pliny the Younger is another Roman witness. He lived from 61/62 to 111 A.D. In a letter to Emperor Trajan, he writes to him about how he should deal with Christians. As a result, we get an insight into the early persecution of Christians and how they were treated:
“For the time being, I used the following procedure with those who were reported to me as Christians: I asked them whether they were Christians. Whoever confessed, I asked a second and a third time under thread of the death penalty; if he persisted, I had him taken away. Because no matter what they said, I believed that obstinacy and stubbornness had to be punished. Others who were under the same delusion, because they were Roman citizens, were marked for transfer to Rome.”Epistulae 10.96, letter of Plinius to Trajan
The fact that most of Jesus’ disciples and many of the first Christians died as martyr’s death is another indication that the accounts of the Gospels, including Jesus’ resurrection, actually happened. Otherwise, this courage would be difficult to understand. Who likes to die for a lie or illusion?
Here is another quote from a satirist of ancient Greece (120-180) who made fun of Christians:
“Of the Christians who venerate Jesus, bend the knee before the Crucified and die for Him.”The works of Samosata: De Morte Peregrini, chapter 11
So we learn about the faith of the first Christians. Such quotations refute speculations that the worship of Jesus Christ developed centuries later and was influenced by the early Catholic Church.
2.3 Objectivity of the writings
Vishal Mangalwadi was amazed when he compared the Bible with other religious scriptures. He found that the Bible reports objectively and realistically about humanity and about leaders. Kings, prophets, and followers of Jesus: no one is glorified, and weaknesses and flaws are exposed. Vishal tells how he began to read the Bible in search of the truth. He agonized through the first books, finally came to the Chronicles in the Old Testament, and his enthusiasm sank “practically to zero”. But besides he made a discovery:
“While our history always highlighted the great and mighty rulers in all their splendour and glory, this Jewish book also reported the wickedness and negative sides of the Jewish rulers. Why?”Vishal Mangalwadi: The book that made your world, translated from German, p. 90
Moreover, he found that the Bible relentlessly reports about the people of Israel, about the priests, prophets, and kings. Besides, he found no glorification of people and came to the conclusion:
“While we interpret literature, it is the other way round with Revelation, because it is SHE who interprets and evaluates us. Revelation is above us, evaluating us and calling us to come back to our senses. Repeatedly in the Bible, the Jews chose evil. But even with such a choice, revelation remained as the overriding standard of truth, enabling self-criticism and change. It exposed the false ideologies that people had erected around the revelation.V. Mangalwadi: The book that made your world, translated from German, p. 91-92
This prophetic custom of criticising one’s own people and self-criticism made the Jews a blessing to the world. Because of the divine revelation, mankind got to know about God’s love and about his judgement. So I understood why the West, despite many phases of moral and intellectual decay, always managed to reform and improve itself with the help of the Bible. … Only the person who bows to a higher authority experiences real change.
A large number of archaeological finds confirm that the Bible is credible. Here are just a few references:
- Historians have studied the Gospel of Luke. One of these historians, W.M. Ramsay, writes: “Luke’s history is unsurpassed in credibility.” Just one example: Luke names a total of 32 countries, 54 cities, and 9 islands without error (Norman L. Geisler: Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, p. 47, quoted in “The Facts of Faith”, pp. 158-160)
- A very extensive topic is biblical chronology. Archaeologists found nothing in the rock layers where they suspected remains of the Jewish culture of antiquity. They took their cue from the Egyptian chronology of antiquity and searched the rock strata based on it. The Egyptologist and agnostic David Rohl was the first to doubt this chronology and provided an alternative, new Egyptian chronology. The fascinating thing is that if you consider this alternative chronology, you suddenly find the hitherto missing remains of Jewish settlement in Israel.
- For a long time, there was no extra-biblical evidence that Pontius Pilate really existed, until in 1961 a stone slab was found in Caesarea with the inscription “Tiberius – Pontius Pilate – Prefect of Judea”. Here is a picture of this stone slab:
Do you know websites in the English language or Youtube videos about this topic? Please comment on this article so that I can refer to them.
Many people know the prophecies of Nostradamus from the 16th century. Amazing fulfilments have already been interpreted into these prophecies. Wikipedia writes: “Typical features of his prophecies are the almost complete lack of concrete time specifications and names and a very metaphorical language, which in the manuscript probably did without punctuation at all, which makes the prophecies mysterious to our time and always allows for new interpretations.” This is also how today’s soothsayers prophesy. In contrast to this, the prophecies of the Bible are quite different: they are concrete, detailed, and verifiable.
An expert in the study of fulfilled prophecies of the Bible is Roger Liebi. He writes:
“In Jesus of Nazareth, over 300 statements from the Old Testament were fulfilled. These prophecies are very specific predictions that were demonstrably fulfilled:
– The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem as a descendant of King David (Micah 5:1),
– appear in Jerusalem as a prince in the year 32 (Daniel 9:25).
– and finally be rejected by the masses of his own people (Isaiah 53:2-3 and 49:7),
– he would be killed (Daniel 9, 26)
– by having his hands and feet pierced. (Psalm 22:17)
– As a result, Jerusalem and the Jewish temple would be destroyed by an enemy nation (Daniel 9:26).
– The Jewish people would lose their own land and be scattered worldwide (a.o. Deut. 28, 64 ff.).
– The return of the Jews to their land was also prophesied many times in the Old Testament and was fulfilled in 1948. We can be curious when the remaining prophecies of the Bible will be fulfilled, because the already fulfilled prophecies are the guarantee that the remaining fulfilments will also come true exactly.Roger Liebi in: “Die Bibel – Absolut glaubwürdig! page 75, translated
2.6 Is the Bible credible? I do think so
That is clear to me. Now I’m interested in your opinion. Which arguments do you like best? Have they convinced you? Do you think the Bible is credible? If not, why not? I look forward to your comments on this article.
Annex 1: Literature
Of course, I have researched this information from many helpful books. There is much more evidence for the credibility of the Bible in them.
- Liebi, Roger: Die Bibel – Absolut glaubwürdig! (CLV 2017 free of charge in German language)
- Linnemann, Eta: Biblical Criticism on Trial (Kregel Academic, 2001)
The former biblical critic and student of Bultmann explain the thought presuppositions of the historical-critical method and what to think of it.
- Mangalwadi, Vishal: The Book that Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization (Thomas Nelson, 2012)
- McDowell, Josh: The new evidence that demands a verdict (Thomas Nelson, 1999)
- McDowell, Josh: Die Bibel im Test (CLV, 9. Auflage 2002 free of charge in German language)
- Schwander, Matthias: Quellensammlung zur historischen Glaubwürdigkeit der Bibel (CV Dillenburg, 3. Auflage 1994), only in German language
- Tribelhorn, Thomas B.: “My professor says, the bible is a myth” (CrossHouse Publishing, 2010)
The focus here is on archaeology.
- Wahnschaffe, Mario: Mit Skeptikern im Gespräch – Schwierige Fragen an die Bibel (CLW Selbstverlag Bonn, 2019), only in German language.
Concentrated information on biblical criticism and answers to it.
- Williams, Peter J.: Can we trust the gospels? (Crossway, 2018)
- Israel-Pilatus-Tafel-Caesarea: Own picture
- Papyrus-52: Wikipedia (gemeinfrei)