I was hesitant to go out on a limb and take on the bible for this round of ABC Wednesday since it’s such a controversial topic. But all of you that took time to comment were very encouraging. So this week B is, of course, for bible. As I said last week, it’s the #1 best selling book of all time…but the least read. And of those who read it, even less understand the literary genres ranging from historical documentation to Hellenistic biography to poetry to allegory. Symbolism is rampant through its pages. How can you NOT be confused while reading it most of the time? The Christian bible is 66 “books,” written by a number of people spanning more than 3,000 years. Yet between the covers, all the books work in perfect unity and consistency when you look at the finished product.
Many of you have issues with the bible. How do I know it’s true? It’s just stories written and collaborated by a bunch of men with an agenda. There’s no way to authenticate it since we don’t have the originals.
We don’t have original manuscripts for Aristotle, Julius Caesar or Plato, yet no one disputes the authenticity of those ancient writings. Original manuscripts don’t exist for the writings of Socrates or Josephus. Come to think of it, nothing we consider ancient text has an original to compare to for compete authenticity. Why is the bible treated differently?
There are about 5,000 ancient copies of the New Testament written in the Greek language, with 10,000 more copies in other ancient languages dating back to the second century. There are papyrus fragments of Scripture dating to 130AD. Archeologists have documented versions of all four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles and the letters from Paul to the early third century. Revelation is believed to have been written as early as 70AD. And there are complete volumes of the New Testament dating as early as the 4th century. That’s a pretty wide time frame for a bunch of men with an agenda to have collaborated. In other words, for you DaVinci Code followers, all these documents predate Constantine.
Plato wrote between 427-347BC. The earliest copy recorded dates to 900AD. That’s 1200 years after the original. There are 7 ancient copies in existence.
Aristotle wrote between 384-322BC. The earliest copy recorded dates to 1100AD.That’s a 1400 year gap. There are 49 ancient copies in existence.
The New Testament part of the Christian bible was written between 50-100AD. The earliest copy recorded dates to 130AD. That’s within one generation of the originals. And there are 5600+ ancient copies in existence.
But math aside, the most important thing about the bible is that it’s a story about US…you and me. Inside its cover, we find murderers, liars, adulterers, thieves and cowards…and that’s just among God’s chosen people. Don’t believe me? Check out the book of Genesis for an interesting read on dysfunctional families. You’ll find all sorts of character flaws; jealousy, anger, scheming, hatefulness to each other, drinking too much. Many times their stories don’t have happy endings. The people in the bible are a reflection of us and our messy lives. Their emotions are our emotions; their struggles are our struggles; their fears are our fears; their flaws are our flaws.
But, also within it’s covers is the story of repentance, forgiveness, redemption and restoration for those who put their trust in God…even reformed murderers, liars, adulterers, thieves and cowards. It’s a love story. One where God seeks a relationship with his creation…who seems to wants anything but…and puts a plan in place to accomplish just that.
And then there’s the acronym: BIBLE
Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth