Historical Evidence

The Christian Counter Project
Witnessing Viewpoints Series, Number Two

KNOWING WHY YOU BELIEVE: EVIDENCE AND THE BIBLE

Much has been said about the reliability of Scriptures, both in the Old and New Testaments. What we need to do is to pinpoint what we mean when we say that “the Scriptures are reliable.” We also want to substantiate our own belief that the Bible is the Word of God, authoritative and God’s revelation, complete in its original texts.

Throughout our society, we have come to rely on different kinds of evidence. Evidence supporting the reliability of the Scriptures lies in many of these kinds of evidence.

1. Scientific Evidence

Scientific evidence is the kind of evidence that is used to study natural events. This kind of evidence is characterized by noting that the outcome of a particular set of controlled variables is both consistent and repeatable. An example of this is the property of gravity. Objects fall, and this can be demonstrated over and over again, and it happens in a consistent manner. An example of what is NOT scientific evidence is the supposition that intermediate species exist to bridge the gap between man and ape. We cannot repeat the circumstances that would lead to the confirmation of this kind of evidence, and the inference of intermediate forms is subject to personal interpretation, so it would not be considered scientific evidence.

2. Historical Evidence

Historical evidence is the kind of evidence that implies that an event occurred sometime in the past, and there is some kind of record that we may rely upon, demonstrating or purporting that such an event existed. Historical evidence requires either a written, oral, or natural record of what happened. The written record of social events, the orally transmitted stories told by many tribal peoples, and archaeological and geological finds can all be considered valid historical evidence. An example of what is NOT historical
evidence is the interpolation of data. An example is when statistical data is correlated and used to estimate the trend of some type of action or result. The estimation is not historical evidence, although the base data may be.

3. Testimonial Evidence

Testimonial evidence is evidence given by one person to another. It may sometimes rely on historical evidence. A personal testimony is an example of this. The autobiography of Billy Graham is also an example. It may also be that the testimonial evidence is given by the subject matter itself.

4. Subjective Evidence

This can really be referred to as personal conclusions. This kind of evidence is very often discounted, unless some record of credibility exists in the subject giving the evidence. This may easily turn into testimonial evidence.

Scientific Evidence And The Bible

Because of the nature of Scriptural writings, it is often hard to imagine scientific evidence for the reliability of Scriptures. However, when coupled with testimonial evidence, we find that Scriptures are reliable. How so?

The testimonial evidence of the Bible implies a rational and intelligent order to our world. This is demonstrated by the consistency of what we have come to know as “natural laws.” The wonder and intricacy of naturally occurring and repeatable wonders serves as the evidence for a rational and intelligent
creator. Our own being, complex and wondrous as it is, gives evidence that is repeatable.

This implicit testimonial evidence, and also explicit testimonial evidence, show that scientific truth supports Scriptural claims in some way. (Rom 1:19-20) Scientific evidence is usually not used alone to support the reliability of the Scriptures.

Historical Evidence And The Bible

Historical evidence is by far the richest and most abundant source of testimony in favor of Scriptural reliability.

Concerning the New Testament, consider the following:

-> There are more than 5500 original writings in Greek.

-> Two major manuscripts exist, written within 250 years of the events of the New Testament. Codex Vaticanus, AD325 and Codex Sinaiticus, AD350.

-> Over 18000 transcriptions from the times of the early Greek manuscripts exist. (These are translations into other languages.) What they say is consistent with what is contained in the Greek writings.

Contrast this to:

-> Caesar’s “Gallic Wars”, only existing copy was from 1000 years after it was written.

-> The copy of the Odyssey, 2200 years after it was written.

-> Herodotus’ Histories: only 8 copies exist.

What Others Have Said About The Scriptures

“The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater than the evidence for many writings of classical authors, the authenticity of which no one dreams of questioning.” — F.F. Bruce

“And if the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt” — F. F. Bruce

“The interval between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established.” — Sir Frederick Kenyon

Testimonial Evidence and the Bible

The Bible has contained its own evidence.

“But the Word of the Lord abides forever.” (1 Peter 1:25)

“All Scripture is God-breathed, …” (2 Tim 3:16)

“For no prophecy was made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:21)

Subjective Evidence and the Bible

Your own testimony is subjective evidence for the Bible.

Selected bibliography.

Blomberg, Craig; The Historical Reliability of the Gospels; IVP; 1987

Larson, Bob; Larson’s Book of Cults; Tyndale House; 1986

Little, Paul; Know Why You Believe; IVP; 1968

Presented by:
The Christian Counter Project
P.O. Box 957215
Hoffman Estates, IL. 60195

Copyright 1989 The Christian Counter Project

Reproduction permitted only if text is intact, not within the body of any other text, and is not sold for gain or profit.  Copyright notice must appear on all transmissions, and must include the notation “Reprinted by permission of the Christian Counter Project.”

August 1989

Rev A

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