Lesson 1: Why Study the Bible?
WHY SHOULD we want to study the Bible in the 21st century? What is the Bible? How shall we study it, in order to understand…
Preface: This course is based upon the personal correspondence course initially developed in 1954 that began under the direction of the late C. Paul Meredith in the old Radio Church of God. Various portions have been updated for the 21st century (though much of the original writing has been retained). It also has more scriptural references, as well as information and questions not in the original course. Unless otherwise noted, scriptural references are to the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright Thomas Nelson Publishing, used by permission. The KJV, sometimes referred to as the Authorized Version is also often used. Additionally, Catholic-approved translations such as the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) are sometimes used as are other translations.
IS THERE proof OUTSIDE the Bible that the events described in Scripture really happened – that its great characters actually lived?
Where is the PROOF that Joseph was in Egypt? – that Abraham and his ancestors really existed? – that David was actually king of Israel? – and, above all, that Christ and the apostles were known by their Jewish and Gentile contemporaries?
And where is the PROOF that the inspired Word of God has been accurately preserved for us today – especially since there are so many different modern translations?
Yes, WHERE IS THE PROOF?
It’s time we studied the proof of HISTORY and ARCHAEOLOGY to further prove the Bible is FACT, and not fable.
It will probably SHOCK YOU to know what many religious leaders personally think and publicly say about the Bible! Here is what Harry Emerson Fosdick, a noted American minister, wrote in his book, “The Modern Use of the Bible”:
“We know now that every idea in the Bible started from primitive and childlike origins …” and that it is an “impossible attempt to harmonize the Bible with itself, to make it speak with unanimous voice, to resolve its conflicts and contradictions …” (pages 11, 24).
Why did Dr. Fosdick write this? Was he convinced that there was no proof of the inspiration of the Bible? OR WAS HE OVERLOOKING THE PROOF – AND NEGLECTING THE TRUTH?
Of the earlier writings in the Bible, he further says: “But we do not need to apologize for their crudities …. Their lack is a lack of maturity ….”
Today it is shocking to realize that the religious leaders believe the Bible is primitive, childlike, crude, immature – a book of fables and myths instead of the inspired TRUTH of GOD!
Dr. James Moffatt, who produced a famous English rendering of the Bible, says in his introduction to the Bible that many of its books are “notes by disciples, worked up into literary papers which have been repeatedly edited, sometimes by pious collectors.”
To this learned man the earlier portions of the Bible stemmed from “the natural desire to gather up the primitive traditions of the people.”
Yes, here is one of the foremost biblical scholars declaring that the Bible has a natural origin in human TRADITIONS! – implying that it is NOT backed by FACT! What made him believe such an idea? Was he without proof of the inspiration of Scripture?
Surely, if there were proof for the inspiration of the Bible, these learned men would not have overlooked it – would they? … OR DID THEY FACE THE EVIDENCE AND REJECT IT?
Now read what Dr. Edgar J. Goodspeed, who also translated the Bible, says about the Scriptures in his book, “How to Read the Bible.” He says you should remember this about the first twelve books: “It is man’s first attempt to organize his knowledge of his past into what we would call an outline of history.” He disregards even the POSSIBILITY that God could have INSPIRED the men who wrote the Bible!
When we read Genesis, Dr. Goodspeed would remind us that:
“Genesis is a great encyclopedia of HEBREW thought, and its solutions of the great problems that confront the human mind. Its great achievement was that it unified it all as the work of one supreme being ….” (p. 39).
Do you catch what this means? The Bible is the work of MAN only – MAN’S attempt to organize historical knowledge, the Hebrew MAN’S solution to the world’s moral problems – MASQUERADING as though it were from a supreme being!
This is exactly the view of most educated people! The Bible is, according to this misguided philosophy, the inspiring record of MAN’S search for a concept of God – not the INSPIRED record of GOD’S revelation to man of essential knowledge man needs to know, but would not otherwise be able to obtain!
Concerning God’s law, Dr. Goodspeed says that it “perpetuates the old legal practices taken over from the Canaanites after the conquest …” and represents “… various stages of primitive legislation….” In other words, Dr. Goodspeed believes mortal, carnal human beings formulated the Ten Commandments and all of God’s statutes and judgments!
As for the remainder of the Bible, he believes “The Book of Joshua is the LEGENDARY story of the conquest of Canaan” and that the Book of Ruth “belongs to Israel’s FICTION, rather than to its history, and should be among its TALES and STORIES” (p. 51).
SHOCKING UTTERANCES SUCH AS THESE ARE THE PRODUCT OF HUMAN REASON! To the natural mind the Bible is merely a book of tales and stories, and fabulous solutions to the question of human origin and destiny.
But what PROOF do these men have for propounding the concept that the Bible was fraudulently written by Hebrews who only “claimed” divine authority for their merely human utterances?
Have these men been able to DISPROVE the Bible? – to disprove the existence of its great characters – to disprove the occurrence of its outstanding historic events?
NO! FOR HAD THEY BEEN ABLE TO DISPROVE THE BIBLE, THEY WOULD HAVE DEMONSTRATED THEIR “PROOF” LONG AGO!
The RELIGIOUS LEADERS of this world are responsible for souring the average man-onthe-street against the Bible. What else can the average person believe when religious leaders, who are SUPPOSED to know the Bible, declare the Bible a pious fraud! The religious leaders are the Bible’s WORST ENEMIES!
Of course the Bible is read from the pulpits. It is continually being translated anew, but ITS TEACHINGS HAVE BEEN REJECTED! ITS solutions to the world’s ills have been repudiated WITHOUT BEING TESTED!
People are being persuaded to TAKE FOR GRANTED WHAT THE CHURCHES SAY ABOUT THE BIBLE. THEY HAVE ASSUMED THAT THE BIBLE TEACHES HUNDREDS OF CONFLICTING IDEAS, just as Dr. Fosdick wrote, and that the BIBLE IS the cause for the hundreds of disputing sects and denominations. But they have NOT BEEN WILLING TO EXAMINE THE BIBLE FOR THEMSELVES to learn what it actually does say! If they did, they would be mightily surprised!
The reason people have willingly believed fables about the Bible is that they sincerely do NOT WANT TO DO WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS! They WANT to believe fables! “THEY WILL NOT ENDURE SOUND DOCTRINE, BUT ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN DESIRES, BECAUSE THEY HAVE ITCHING EARS, THEY WILL HEAP UP FOR THEMSELVES TEACHERS; AND THEY WILL TURN THEIR EARS AWAY FROM THE TRUTH, AND BE TURNED ASIDE TO FABLES.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Note well that people AS A WHOLE will just naturally not ENDURE the truth!
People sincerely WANT to serve their OWN lusts. They want to be in ignorance of God’s law and way of life! They do not want the astounding proof that the Bible is true, that it is inspired – that it can be proved right!
As Jeremiah the prophet was inspired to write: “An appalling and horrible thing is come to pass in the land: the prophets prophesy in the service of FALSEHOOD, and the priests bear rule at their beck and call; and My people love to have it so” (Jeremiah 5:30-31, Moffatt).
No wonder so many are deceived today. Most religious leaders just won’t preach the truth! So let us now understand what the Bible REALLY IS.
The Bible is the written revelation of the Creator God for mankind. IT CONTAINS THE ABSOLUTELY VITAL KNOWLEDGE THAT EVERYONE NEEDS DESPERATELY TO UNDERSTAND – but which would be inaccessible by any NATURAL means.
In the Bible, God speaks with authority to us through its writers. THE BIBLE, THEN, POSSESSES SUPREME AUTHORITY OVER OUR LIVES SINCE IT COMES FROM OUR OWN SUPREME CREATOR. The Bible repeats hundreds of times: “Thus says the LORD, In Scripture, God speaks in the first person – “I” – and challenges us to test Him to PROVE whether He speaks the truth. (Isaiah 44:6-9.)
Without the Bible we can NEVER UNDERSTAND THE LESSONS OF THE PAST, THE MEANING OF THE PRESENT, AND THE GOAL OF THE FUTURE.
Scripture, when rightly understood, GIVES A RATIONAL MEANING for man’s existence and the causes of our world’s ills. It explains exactly why this world experiences wars, sicknesses and suffering.
There are hundreds of religious, political and economic “cures” in the world, but none of them reaches the cause of earth’s problems. Only GOD’S MIND IS great enough to know the TRUE answers. No book BUT HIS BIBLE can explain the laws that eternally regulate human life and human affairs – LAWS which, when violated, bring the penalties of sickness, war and death.
Only the Bible is able to point the way out of impending chaos!
Yet humansreject its solutions as out of date in this digital information age. Its truth they do not want to know. That’s WHY “THE LORD HAS A CONTROVERSY WITH THE NATIONS” (Jeremiah 25:31). EVER SINCE THE BEGINNING OF HUMAN LIFE, GOD HAS HAD A CONTROVERSY WITH HUMANITY. HUMAN BEINGS BY NATURE REFUSE TO FOLLOW HIS WAY OF LIFE. Humans think their ways are better. Humans assume that they know more than God.
Yes, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of DEATH” (Proverbs 14:12). Humanity avoids acknowledging God as Supreme Ruler. People hide their eyes from plain evidence, and label Scripture falsely as myth and tradition.
Everyone today demands proof! People have a chip on their shoulders, so to speak. They want someone to prove whether the Bible REALLY is true. Christ said this challenging attitude would reach its climax in these last days of human civilization – just before man with his scientific ingenuity could blast all human life out of existence (Luke 18:8; Matthew 24:22).
Of course it is right that we should prove it! And there is proof – proof of the most amazing kind – proof that would astound the public if the theologians were to publicly confess it! But the world is wilfully ignorant of it.
Believe it or not, the world ALREADY KNOWS OF THE PROOF but, having been deceived, is unwilling to accept it. It has SEEN the proof, FELT it, DUG it up, READ it and even PUBLISHED it! But humanity, deceived by superstition and vain religious traditions, has REJECTED the proof because it does not want to believe and SURRENDER ITS WILL to the Bible.
This lesson of the Study the Bible Course is the fourth in a series demonstrating the proof of God’s existence and the inspiration of His revelation. We have already studied the proof of creation, with the astounding confirmation of a pre-Adamic catastrophe and the tangible evidence of the flood in Noah’s day. This is visible proof for those who have eyes to see. But the world as a whole has closed its eyes to truth and wilfully “abide in darkness” (John 12:46). We have also covered the proof of prophecy – the supreme evidence that only a living, active God could have written the Bible and brought about the present fulfillment of its prophecies.
Only the wilfully ignorant would reject the evidence of creation and prophecy. But, sadly, the world is filled with them! It has rejected both.
The mass of evidence is overwhelming. It is so great the Bible Study Course cannot begin to contain it all. But this mass of evidence has created a paradox. Just as the world publishes and sells the Bible, but does not believe it, so it also discovers, publishes and sells the evidences of biblical inspiration WITHOUT BELIEVING THEM!
The world has not only turned the truth upside down, but it has also turned the PROOF upside down – making right SEEM wrong and true proof SEEM disproof.
To help you see and understand this amazing evidence, make sure your Bible is in front of you. Also have several sheets of paper, and a pen or pencil so you can WRITE DOWN THE ANSWERS and your own comments. There are not many questions asked you in this lesson because we are giving you the proof of God’s inspiration of the Bible directly from the HISTORICAL RECORDS themselves.
You need to summarize these NEW PROOFS for yourself, in your own words. That is the best way to REMEMBER them!
These proofs confound the atheist. These proofs demonstrate once and for all time that the biblical record is inspired of God and true!
Are you ready to begin?
Heretofore, we have presented the evidence of creation and of science. Now we come to the most important test of biblical inspiration.
The Bible contains a record of HISTORICAL EVENTS that cover a period of over 4,000 years of human experiences. LITERALLY THOUSANDS OF STATEMENTS, FOR WHICH HISTORICAL EVIDENCE REMAINS, PERMIT US TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE BIBLE IS THE TRUTH – or whether it is a record of myths and fables that were inaccurately gathered centuries after their occurrence and “made to appear” as the work of a Supreme Being, as Drs. Moffatt and Goodspeed declare.
Is Bible history true? Let’s REALLY PROVE whether we can depend on the Bible for the TRUTH!
1. Does the Bible record that a great flood occurred in Noah’s day which destroyed almost all life from the earth? Genesis 7:1, 6, 21, 22.
COMMENT: If the nations stem from one family, as the Bible teaches, we ought to expect all nations to have ancient TRADITIONS about the flood.
In the previous lesson we proved the GEOLOGICAL evidence of a flood in the days of Noah. Critics may dispute the time (because they reject Bible chronology), but they know the RECORD IS there for everyone to see. That they cannot deny! But if Noah and his family escaped the flood’s destructive forces, it is not demanding too much if we seek for confirmation among all nations that the flood preceded the founding of present nations.
What is the history of testimony – testimony which men have dug up, translated, printed and circulated for public consumption?
Here are the facts which anyone can know: The AMERICAN INDIANS in both North and South America preserved legends of the Flood in which a few escaped by means of a boat and repeopled the earth.
The NATIVES of GREENLAND maintained that all men were once drowned and that a man and woman became the ancestors of all now living.
The POLYNESIANS from the South Pacific contend that a flood overwhelmed all but eight people.
CHINESE traditions speak of their civilization as having been founded by a man, together with his three sons and daughters, who escaped a devastating flood.
EGYPTIAN and other AFRICAN traditions preserve similar accounts.
The GREEKS pictured their “Noah” as building an Ark to escape the waters, after which he sent out a dove twice before setting foot on earth again.
The ancient BABYLONIANS and ASSYRIANS have preserved for us on clay tablets wordfor-word accounts of the same traditions among them – traditions which are exact in many details!
Think for a moment – IF the Flood had not occurred, would all these peoples have preserved these records of the Flood? Certainly all people would not have been deceived into believing the Flood had happened if it had not happened! The old Radio Church of God reported that, “You may find this unanimous testimony of ancient nations in the International Standard Encyclopaedia, article ‘Deluge’ and in summary form in Halley’s Bible Handbook.” If you would like a larger list of Flood world stories to look into here is a link: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/flood-myths.html.
Thus, for the Flood of Noah we have the actual geological evidence AND the testimony of many ancient peoples who remembered the catastrophic results. The only reason the testimony is not believed today is that man is unwilling to believe what God says! He would rather believe the evolutionary fairy tale that everything has continued the same since the beginning of time.
Knowing these facts, some skeptics assert that the biblical record came from Babylonian tradition rather than fact. The EVIDENCE IS JUST THE OPPOSITE! The Babylonian record we have was nearly all found in the Library of Ashurbanipal (around 650 B.C.), long AFTER Moses’ record of Noah’s Flood. The sane explanation is many peoples preserved their OWN accounts. Of these accounts only the biblical record is without contradiction and filled with rational simplicity.
So the Book of books is right after all. The SCRIPTURE STANDS VINDICATED. It is INSPIRED. IT IS TRUE ON EVERY COUNT!
Did Abraham and his ancestors REALLY live or are their lives fables?
What PROOF have we that Abraham’s relatives – Terah and Nahor, Haran, Serug, Reu, and Peleg – were actually HISTORICAL FIGURES? YOU will find them named in Genesis 11.
Do you know what is often taught today? Here are two quotations that will amaze you if you have understanding:
“The patriarchs of the sagas in GENESIS are LEGENDARY heroes artificially connected with Israel.” And again: “Through Moses, Jehovah (Hebrew: YAHWEH) became the god of Israel … Jehovah was originally the god of a sacred mountain (Sinai or Horeb).” (From Langer’s Encyclopedia of World History.)
Today I think most archeologists would argue that there is no direct archeological proof that Abraham, for instance, ever lived. (Archeology of the Hebrew Bible. Nova, PBS, November 18, 2008)
So let us examine more proof.
Is God a superstition and the Bible a legend? – or is God the Creator and the Scriptural record historically true? One or the other of these ideas is TOTALLY UNTRUE!
Which is it?
COMMENT: The PROOF has shocked thousands! Here are the facts reported many decades ago:
During the years 1934 to 1939, excavations were methodically conducted at ancient Mari on the southwestern bank of the Euphrates River near ancient Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq).
WHAT DO YOU SUPPOSE THEY FOUND?
ANCIENT TOWNS AND CITIES IN MESOPOTAMIA WERE NAMED AFTER EVERY ONE OF THE PATRIARCHS!
Unearthed records of 3,000 years ago speak of the “city of Nahor” (named after the Old Testament patriarch Nahor) mentioned in Genesis 24:10. It was located near the city of Haran which still exists to this very day! Who said those men are legendary?
“Beside the definite location of the patriarchal cities of HARAN and NAHOR in northwestern Mesopotamia, hardly less clear indications of Hebrew residence in this region appears in the names of Abraham’s forefathers, which correspond to the names of towns near Haran: SERUG (Assyrian SARUGI), TERAH (TIL TURAKHI, ‘Mound of Terah,’ in Assyrian times) … REU also corresponds to later names of towns in the Middle-Euphrates valley. PELEG, for example, recalled later Paliga on the Euphrates just above the mouth of the Habur.” (From Unger’s “Archeology and the Old Testament”)
The Elba tablets, which are about 4000 years old, mention Abraham as well as the terms Sodom and Gomorrah according to David Noel Freedman (see also his paper, “The Ebla Tablets and the Abraham Tradition, BYU, 1978).
The scoffers will still overlook these records and claim that the Bible is a book of legends. Their time of RECKONING IS around the corner and fast approaching! The Bible does not lie. But many so-called scientists cannot recognize the truth (1 Timothy 6:20), even when it is in front of them (cf. 2 Timothy 3:7).
For decades doubters have laughed at the “romance” of Joseph. What PROOF IS there that Joseph was raised to be second in command in Egypt? Certainly if there were seven long years of terrible famine and Joseph was the only one who forewarned them of it – there ought to be a record somewhere!
COMMENT: Is there such a HISTORICAL record? – or is the Bible a myth, a product of Jewish folklore?
THE ANSWER is found in the reign of Amenemhet III of Egypt’s so-called Twelfth Dynasty. Amenemhet took great trouble to study the level of the Nile and carried out a great many irrigation works. He greatly enlarged the capacity of Lake Moeris in the Fayum. To the lake he CAUSED a new canal to be made. This canal is called the “BAHR YUSUF” by the Egyptians. The meaning of BAHR YUSUF IS “THE CANAL OF JOSEPH” – of course it is, for JOSEPH supervised the construction of it for this king! Seven years of terrible famine were soon to arrive!
Near Lake Moeris the King had a great “Labyrinth” built. It was an immense structure spreading over many acres. It served as general headquarters for the government and as a center of administration for the distribution of government provisions and storage for the 20% that was collected during the years of plenty (Genesis 41:34) to be used in the years of famine. Its existence and timing is consistent with the biblical account of Joseph’s recommendation to store 1/5 of the produce during the years of plenty:
In the 5 th century BC, Herodotus wrote that the labyrinth was “situated a little above the lake of Moiris and nearly opposite to that which is called the City of Crocodiles” (‘Histories’, Book, II, 148).
The City of Crocodiles (Crocodilopolis) was an ancient city in the Heptanomis, on the western bank of the Nile, between the river and the Lake Moeris, southwest of Memphis. Just south of the site of Crocodilopolis, at the entrance to the depression of the Faiyum Oasis, sits Hawara, an archaeological site that is home to the pyramid of Amenemhat III, the last king of the 12th dynasty (c 1855-1808 BC). (Hollaway A. The Lost Labyrinth of Ancient Egypt – Part 3: Uncovering its Location. September 4, 2014)
But what about the record of a FAMINE for seven years?
“My heart is in great anxiety,” said King Zoser of so-called Dynasty III, “for in my time the Nile has not overflowed for a period of SEVEN YEARS. There is scarcely any produce of the field; herbage fails; eatables are wanting. Every man robs his neighbor … the children cry, the young people creep along … the people of the courts are at their wits’ end. The store-houses were built, but … all that was in them has been consumed,” he laments (from Barton’s “Archaeology and the Bible”, p. 305).
This information comes from what is called the Famine Stela. A stele/stela is an upright stone slab or column typically bearing a commemorative inscription or relief design.
The late Dr. Hoeh’s article Who Built the Great Pyramid? claims Amenemhet III (Upper Egypt) and king Djoser/Zoser (part of Lower Egypt) ruled concurrently during Joseph’s time (Amenemhet III 1741-1692 BC & 7 years of famine 1727 to 1720 BC). While there is controversy associated with the date of this, it is of possible interest when you compare this with Genesis 41:29-32 and 47:13-27.
Genesis also preserves the story of Jacob’s entrance into Goshen in Egypt, and of Israel growing into a nation of 2 ½ million men, women and children in a little over two centuries. Where is the RECORD that Israel actually lived in Egypt for this time? Doubters say there is no record – history says there is!
Yet, we quote from Weigall’s “History of the Pharaohs”, Vol. 2, pp. 129-130:
The base of a figure … inscribed with the king’s name [that is, with Amenemhet III’s name] has been found at Tell el-Yehudiyeh, ‘The Jew’s Mount,’ a place some 20 miles northeast of Cairo, on the direct route to the ‘Land of Goshen,’ the Wady Tumilat …. It seems to have been founded in the reign of Amenemhet III, and may have been from the start an Asiatic settlement, where, possibly, Joseph’s RELATIONS took up their residence.
Of course it was! The Bible says so! (Some verses related to the Land of Goshen are in Genesis 45:9-10; 47:27.) It is just one more link in the thrilling tangible proofs of history – proofs that the Bible means what it says.
It should be stated that one reason that many cannot locate Joseph (or Moses for that matter) is that the mid-13th century B.C. date that is most often pointed to as the date of the Exodus by improper experts’ is off by about 2 centuries as they think Ramesses II was the pharaoh then. The exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt actually occurred in the mid 15th century, around 1446 B.C.
According to certain readings of an inscription on the “Merneptah Stela,” the ancient Israelites already occupied the land of Canaan during the 1213-1203 B.C. reign of Merneptah (Jürgen von Beckerath, Chronologie des Pharaonischen Ägypten, Mainz, (1997), pp.190). The “Merneptah Stele” was discovered in 1896. It tells of a battle, shows people dressed like Canaanites, and tells of Egypt’s destroying seed of Israel. This seed would likely be grain as Egypt did not destroy all of Israel then.
Anyway, the Merneptah Stele basically means that idea that the Exodus happened during the time of Ramses II impossible.
Ramesses II allegedly reigned until 1213 B.C. and the Bible shows that the children of Israel wandered for forty years in the wilderness (Numbers 14:34-35; 32:13) before settling in the land of Canaan. It would make no sense that a defeated Ramesses II could have reigned for at least 30 years (40 years, less the ten of Merneptah) after experiencing the plagues and loss of armies as described in the account in the Book of Exodus.
But errors from ‘experts’ compounded by other errors has prevented them from teaching the truth. The scripture, “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7) comes to mind.
What about King David?
Nearly all skeptics have doubted portions of the story of David’s rise to fame under the Benjamite King Saul. What PROOF have we?
COMMENT: Surely if David were so great a general, his reputation would have spread far and wide even to the Euphrates River which finally became the border of Israel. And if the tribe of Benjamin were PREDOMINANT among the Israelites in their struggle against the Philistines, it ought to be mentioned.
What is the historical evidence?
The late Dr. Herman Hoeh wrote that archaeological disregard of King David was wrong:
Saul and David in Archaeology
But the strongest evidence against the modern interpretation of archaeology was discovered by the French at Mari on the Euphrates River. There it was discovered that during the lifetime of Hammurabi — who was mistakenly dated by historians in the time of Abraham — the Benjamites were in control of Palestine and men like David were famous! (See Werner Keller’s The Bible as History, pages 49-52).
From the tablets found at Mari, we read these clear words: “The year in which Landulim went to Hen and laid hands upon the territory of the Benjamites,” and “The year that ZimriLim killed the Davidum of the Benjamites.”
Of course! Under King Saul, a Benjamite, the tribe of Benjamin was dominant. Gentile nations regarded all Palestine as the land of the Benjamites. And David was the greatest of all the generals of the Benjamites (I Samuel 18:7; 21:11). David’s fame spread so far and wide that the Gentiles called all the generals of Israel Davidum, or “Davids” — men like David — just as the world’s “great” Roman Caesars gave their name to the Kaisers of Germany and the Czars of Russia.
How were the historians and archaeologists to interpret these astounding discoveries? Were they to date Hammurabi properly to the time of Saul and David? Not at all! Rather, they cleverly assumed that Benjamites were in Palestine long before Benjamin was born — that the name of David was famous for nearly a thousand years before David was born! They hoped thereby to keep their interpretations of the king lists and reject the Bible. Human reasoning was used to escape the AUTHORITY vested in the laws of the Bible! (Archaeology Proves the bible true! Plain Truth, September 1963, p.47)
Here is where the Benjamites are mentioned and their generals are called “DAVIDUM” or DAVIDS! King Saul was a Benjamite (1 Samuel 9:21) and had made David the charge of the leaders of his army (1 Samuel 18:5).
Just as the world’s “great” Roman CAESARS gave their name to the KAISERS of Germany and the CZARS of Russia, so David’s fame spread so far and wide that Gentiles called the officers and generals of Israel “Davids” – men like David! And Benjamin’s fame spread so far that for a time that tribe gave its name to all of Israel as Ephraim and Judah later did.
How do the critics of the Bible get around this plain record of history in David’s day? By saying that the Benjamites were in Palestine southwest of the Euphrates before Benjamin was even born – and 750 years before David lived there were leading generals who bore the title of “David.”
BUT THEIR MISINTERPRETATION OF HISTORY WILL NOT STAND, for the RECORDS of those times contain statements that “Yahweh is God.” God REVEALED Himself by the name “YAHWEH” or “The Eternal” or “Lord” at the time of the Exodus (Exodus 6:3). The Gentiles could have known of God’s name only through contact with Israel, and at a time when Israel was expanding to the Euphrates River toward Mari! And when was that? – IN THE DAYS OF SAUL AND DAVID! (See 2 Samuel 8:3-10).
It should also be noted that the inscription “House of David” has been found on the Tel Dan Stele (9th century B.C.) and Mesha Stele (9th century B.C.) (Wood BW. The Tel Dan Stela and the Kings of Aram and Israel. Associates for Biblical Research, May 4, 2011).
This is conclusive proof that the Bible was correct and so-called ‘experts’ were wrong.
Often, scholars, in their human “wisdom,” have reasoned around the clear, plain, simple evidence of history in order to destroy the authoritative record of the inspired Word of God!
Perhaps the most disputed book in the Bible is Daniel. Critics have placed its writing 400 years after the actual time of Daniel. Certain critics plainly declare it a forgery, masquerading under the name of Daniel (whose very existence they also question!).
You need to know what falsification the learned men of this world have attributed to the Bible. Says Driver, a DISBELIEVER, in his book “Modern Research as Illustrating the Bible”:
“There was NO SIEGE of Babylon by Cyrus … he … entered it without striking a blow … the account of Herodotus … of the waters of the Euphrates having been diverted by Cyrus, and his troops then entering it while the inhabitants were feasting, is a romance; … Belshazzar also was never king of Babylon … Nor is there any room for ‘Darius the Mede,’ as king of Babylon.”
This is the intellectual nonsense that some teach. The Bible tells the TRUTH about the fall of Babylon. Let’s examine!
COMMENT: Here are the facts, exactly in order as they occurred, preserved in the writing of Xenophon.
Xenophon, the Greek historian who wrote the “Cyropaedia” in the fourth century before Christ, says that:
“when Cyrus reached Babylon” in 539 B.C. he dug channels for the dispersal of the water in the river Euphrates which ran under the gates of Babylon. Then he and the Medo-Persian army secretly entered the river bed, climbed stealthily through the gates along the river and rushed to the palace “when he heard that there was a festival in Babylon, in which all the Babylonians drank and revelled the whole night.” Upon reaching the palace where Belshazzar had seen the handwriting on the wall, they “burst in, and, pursuing those who fled, and dealing blows amongst them, came up to the king, and found him in a standing posture with his sword drawn … [they] mastered him.”
SO BELSHAZZAR THE KING IN BABYLON WAS KILLED THAT NIGHT EXACTLY AS DANIEL SAID.
Then, when peace had been restored, Cyrus determined to see his father in Persia. “When,” wrote Xenophon, “they came to Media, Cyrus turned aside to visit [his uncle] Cyaxares. When they had embraced each other, Cyrus first told Cyaxares that there was a private house, and palaces, set apart for him in Babylon; that when he came thither” — when Cyaxares would go to Babylon — “he might take up his abode in his own home.”
Who was this Cyaxares? He is believed to have been the one known as DARIUS the Mede! DARIUS the Mede, the uncle of Cyrus, “received the kingdom” while Cyrus returned to Persia to see his own father.
History again proves the Bible is true. Darius the Mede DID receive the kingdom from Cyrus. It was while Cyrus was with his father in Persia that his uncle Darius WAS “made [TEMPORARY] King over the realm of the Chaldeans”! (Daniel 9:1)
Most people take the existence of Jesus of Nazareth for granted. They have never stopped to PROVE whether the New Testament gospel records of Jesus are REALLY true! Have you ever PROVED whether Jesus actually lived?
Decades ago, people were confronted with a daring book entitled “Jesus – God, Man or Myth?” by a professed atheist, Herbert Cutner. According to its publisher, this book is:
“the result of extensive research [and] proves that Jesus never lived. The non-historical character of the Bible Jesus is established,” claims the publisher, “by carefully-sifted data that will surprise those who have given little thought to the subject.
“The cumulative evidence that Jesus is an INVENTED character,” concludes the write-up, “is presented with telling force and the book shows also that the Jesus, the man who went around ‘doing good,’ was no … flesh-and-blood man …. “
These are bold statements! But what of the proof? How HONEST have atheists and critics been with the facts of history?
If the facts of history prove Jesus did live, if His contemporaries and enemies give evidence of His message and of His miracles – then no atheist, no agnostic, no modernist doubter has any excuse!
What PROOF IS there, OUTSIDE THE BIBLE, that Jesus lived? That he performed miracles? that He brought Good News – the Gospel – to the world? That He was condemned to death under the Roman governor Pilate? And chose apostles? And what PROOF IS there that He was born of a young virgin?
The Bible, of course, states these as facts. But can we BELIEVE the Bible? What proof OUTSIDE of the Bible itself is there that Jesus was a historical figure? Certainly of all people the Jews ought to know! Let’s see.
COMMENT: There are more early records that Jesus existed than probably anyone in the ancient world.
Yet, some ‘experts’ refuse to accept the evidence.
Of course, if Jesus did not exist, the Jews would have had no reason to reject Him! ALTHOUGH THE JEWS DISLIKED CHRIST, THEY WERE FORCED BY THE VERY CIRCUMSTANCE OF HIS POWER TO INCLUDE RECOGNITION OF HIM IN THEIR RECORDS.
What do the Jewish RECORDS admit?
What do atheists purposely overlook when they pretend to deny the reality of Jesus the Christ?
Jesus is often mentioned in the Jewish Talmud! The Talmud is a record of Jewish debates, doctrines, stories and traditions covering a period from before the birth of Christ to the centuries immediately following. These references have been known in detail by many scholars. Jesus Christ is never mentioned by name, excepting perhaps once or twice, where He is said to have been an idolator who worshipped a brickbat (Sanh., 107B). He is scornfully called “that man” or “Son of Pandera,” or “dead dog,” and “the hanged one,” “the sorcerer,” “Balaam,” and “Seducer.”
The Jewish Encyclopedia tabulates the places where Jesus is mentioned in the Talmud. This encyclopedia terms as a mere “subterfuge” the attempt of atheists to run from these references which apply to Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus is sometimes called, in the Talmud, “Son of Pandera” at times to hide the fact that He was born of a young virgin! Two talmudic-era texts that explicitly associate Jesus as the son of Pantera/Pandera are: “Jacob … came to heal him in the name of Jesus son of Pantera” (Tosefta Hullin 2:22f) and “Jacob … came to heal him in the name of Jesus son of Pandera” (Qohelet Rabbah 1:8(3)).
“Pandera” – a word meaning panther or leopard – is an anagram (a word made by transposing letters) for the Greek word “parthenos” meaning “virgin”! The Jews twisted Jesus’ virgin birth to make it appear that He was figuratively the son of a panther or leopard! – for the Greek word “panther” is PANTHER which the Jews corrupted by Jewish idiom into PANDERA.
Those are really references to Jesus’ virgin birth! But modern theologians, like agnostics and atheists, persist in rejecting it!
The miracles of Jesus were not denied by the Jews. INSTEAD, THE JEWS WHO SAW JESUS PERFORM THOSE MIRACLES SAID HE LEARNED SORCERY IN EGYPT – which is merely another way of stating what we read in Matthew 12:24:
Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.
The Talmud records Jesus’ healing of the blind, the hurt, and the leprous. It also mentions His walking on the sea! There is also a full list of references to Jesus’ mother, the virgin Mary. These events are therefore here PROVED to be historical FACT – they are recorded by Jesus’ own enemies!
Jesus not only lived, but the Jews, in the Talmud, are witness to His miracles! Let the ignorant atheist deny that!
The Talmud subtly calls the gospel which Jesus preached an “avengil,” meaning a “blank paper.” They did not want to use the original word “evangel,” meaning good news. They did not like the good news of the Kingdom which Jesus brought. They did not want the Kingdom of God to rule over them – to tell them what to do!
Here are a couple of quotes about Jesus from Jewish sources:
Epitome from Church History of Agapius
At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good and he was known to be virtuous. And many from among the Jews and other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive. Accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah concerning who the prophets have recounted wonders.
On the eve of Passover Yeshua was hanged. For forty days before the execution a herald went forth and cried, “He is going to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Anyone who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.” But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of Passover. – Sanhedrin 43a
Yeshua is a reference to the one commonly called Jesus in English.
Now there is an unusual Jewish artefact that perhaps should be mentioned.
This artefact has been called Gabriel’s Revelation, Hazon Gabriel (the Vision of Gabriel), or the Jeselsohn Stone. It has also been described as “Dead Sea Scroll on a stone.” It is a three-foot-tall (one metre) stone tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew text written in ink, containing a collection of short prophecies written in the first person and dated to the late 1st century BC.
Essentially, it has a claim that Gabriel says that the “prince of princes” will rise after three days. Some believe that this shows that Jews could have understood about Jesus’ resurrection before His birth and thus, the resurrection idea was not something that had no place in Judaism (e.g. Bronner E. Ancient Tablet Ignites Debate on Messiah and Resurrection. New York Times, July 6, 2008).
COMMENT: JOSEPHUS, the non-Christian Jewish HISTORIAN of the first century, also admits the historicity of Jesus and His disciples, as he does also of John the Baptist. He calls John the Baptist “the good man” (Antiquities of the Jews, xviii:5, 2). Scholars recognize the genuineness of Josephus’ account about the death of James, “the brother of Jesus who was called Christ” (Ant., xx:9, 1).
Here are two fuller quotes from the Jewish historian Josephus (first century):
Antiquities 18.3.3 Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day.
Antiquities 20.9.1 But the younger Ananus who, as we said, received the high priesthood, was of a bold disposition and exceptionally daring; he followed the party of the Sadducees, who are severe in judgment above all the Jews, as we have already shown. As therefore Ananus was of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus was now dead, and Albinus was still on the road; so he assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as law-breakers, he delivered them over to be stoned.
Did the Romans know that Pontius Pilate gave sentence for the crucifixion of Jesus? Says Cornelius Tacitus around 115 A.D., in Annals, XV, 44:
Annal. 15, 44…Christians…Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius. But the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea where the mischief originated..(Annals of Tacitus. As cited in Giles JA. Heathen records to the Jewish scripture history:containing all the extracts from the Greek and Latin writers, in which the Jews and Christians. James Cornish, 1856, p. 105)
So, secular sources from those that did not claim to believe in Jesus reported about Him.
Here is a quote from Suetonius. He discusses that around 49 A.D., the Roman Emperor Claudius banished all Jews from the city of Rome (this seems to be an incident also mentioned in Acts 18:2):
“He expelled the Jews from Rome, on account of the riots in which they were constantly indulging, at the instigation of Chrestus” (The Lives of the Caesars, Bk. V, 25).
Chrestus is believed to be a slang and derogatory reference to Christ. Suetonius was not a Christian and referred to Christians as holding to “a novel and mischevious superstition” (Life of Nero, 16.2, as cited in Bock DL. Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods. Baker Academic, 2002, p. 48).
There is the PROOF Jesus lived!
This was not a Christian writing, but a pagan Roman historian who hated everything Christian! Tacitus had access to the government records. He had the PROOF Christ was crucified!
In the early 21st century, something called the James’ Ossuary was announced to the world (an ossuary is a chalk box that was used for containing the bones of the dead. This particular one is claimed to be dated from the 1st-century.
It contains an interesting Aramaic inscription:
Ya’akov bar Yosef akhui di Yeshua
This translated as “Jacob (or James), son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” While the dating of the inscription is hard to absolutely prove, this item, if genuine, is clear proof that Jesus existed and had at least one brother.
James (Ya’akov) is mentioned in the Gospel accounts as a brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55). The book of Acts reveals that he was at one time the leader of the Jerusalem church and the moderating host of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. James also wrote the Book of James. He is also spoken of a number of times in the writings of Josephus.
THERE IS THIS EVIDENCE OUTSIDE OF THE BIBLE – EVIDENCE THAT JESUS WAS BORN OF A VIRGIN – THAT HIS MIRACLES DID HAPPEN – THAT HE DID PREACH THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM – THAT HE DID CALL DISCIPLES – THAT HE DID HAVE BROTHERS!
These actual facts OUTSIDE THE BIBLE have been recorded by contemporary non-Christian historians. They stand as irrefutable proof that the person Jesus Christ is NOT a myth and that the New Testament record is TRUE!
Consider also what the Apostle Peter wrote:
15 Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. 16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. (2 Peter 1:15-16)
The Bible is true and proper archaeology agrees. We are NOT following clever fables.
Critics today challenge the accuracy of copies of the Bible in their original Hebrew and Greek languages. Can we be sure that the Bible has not been corrupted? How can we know that it still is the REVELATION of God to man? Has it been so changed and corrupted by myth since the original writing as to be highly doubtful, if not altogether altered?
We must understand the answers to these questions before we can really acknowledge the Bible as the foundation of truth.
Here are the facts:
For years the critics claimed the Hebrew Bible was of no authority. “A late and altered form of earlier Hebrew writings,” they claimed!
Then came the year 1947.
In the summer of ’47 a sheer coincidence led to the discovery of the oldest manuscripts of the Bible so far known. Among a collection of literary works found in a cave in Wadi Qumran on the north side of the Dead Sea, a 23-foot leather scroll was found to contain the complete text of the book of Isaiah in Hebrew! Expert examination of the document revealed beyond doubt that this Isaiah text dated from about 100 B.C.
This COPY of Isaiah, now about 2000 years old, called the Great Isaiah scroll, is unique proof of the reliability of the Holy Scriptures that have been handed down to us. The text in all fundamentals AGREES with what we have in our PRESENT-DAY BIBLES! The only differences are minor spelling changes and misplaced words, changes that represent the carelessness of unofficial scribes who copied that text of the book of Isaiah.
In other words, the present Masoretic Hebrew text, which is a continuation of the official Old Testament Hebrew, is far superior in preservation to the unofficial copy of Isaiah made 2000 years ago. Furthermore, we have the wonderful knowledge that the ancient scroll of Isaiah, just like the printed copies of Isaiah in any modern-day Bible, whether Hebrew, Greek, English or German, has the SAME 66 CHAPTERS of our present-day text.
Until this find, the oldest and fullest Manuscript in Hebrew was the Codex Petropolitanus, dating from about 916 A.D. This proves how accurate the Jews have been in copying, generation after generation, the books of the Old Testament. HOW CAN ANYONE DENY THAT GOD IS GIVING DIVINE PROTECTION TO THE BOOK WHICH CONTAINS HIS COMMANDS AND REVELATIONS TO MAN!
Between 1947 and 1955 additional manuscripts were located in other caves near the Dead Sea. In these scrolls were 19 books of the Old Testament – all telling the same story as the Isaiah Manuscript! At least 10 caves with materials were located.
Notice the following that were found in Cave 1 and Cave 2 according to BiblicalArchaeology.org:
Contents found in Cave 1
1Q14: Pesher Micah
1Q15: Pesher Zephaniah
1Q16: Pesher Psalms
Through whom has God preserved His authoritative written Word accurately?
Jesus said: “till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). Has this happened? Was Jesus right? Or has the Law – the Old Testament – been hopelessly lost and corrupted?
Luke quotes Jesus as saying: “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail” (Luke 16:17). Modern critics assume Jesus was wrong. They think the Old Testament has not been accurately preserved. But they are wrong!
1. Has the Bible been hopelessly corrupted? Can we ever be sure what the words of Jesus really were? Matthew 24:35, KJV; Mark 13:31, KJV and Luke 21:33, KJV.
COMMENT: What words those! – “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but MY WORDS SHALL NOT PASS AWAY”!
Jesus’ words – the very words recorded by the apostles in the New Testament – shall NOT pass away!
Of course, the MODERN CRITICS prefer to think of Jesus as saying: “Heaven and earth CANNOT pass away, but my words SHALL PASS AWAY!” But these critics are wrong! Jesus is right. His words have not passed away. The critics have merely been unwilling to look for His words where He said they could be found! They have, instead, looked elsewhere so that they WOULD not find Jesus’ words.
Notice where we ought to look for the authoritative text of the Old Testament. Read it from the Revised Standard Version which the modern critics have themselves translated: “Then what advantage has the Jew?”
Yes, what special duty did God give to the Jew? Notice:
“Much in every way. To begin with, THE JEWS ARE ENTRUSTED WITH THE ORACLES OF GOD. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every man be false, as it is written, ‘That Thou mayest be justified in Thy WORDS …’” (Romans 3:1-4, RSV).
2. To whom were the ORACLES of God, the written record of God’s revelation delivered through Moses and the prophets – the Old Testament – committed? Romans 3:1-2,RSV.
COMMENT: The JEWS have preserved the Old Testament. But what if the Jews did not believe and did not practice the things written in the law, the prophets and the psalms? What if the Jews became divided into Orthodox and other sects? Does their rejection of the truth nullify the faithfulness of the written Word of God which they are required to preserve from generation to generation?
“God forbid,” declared the King James Version. “By no means,” reiterates the Revised Standard Version.
So the Jews – by the very admission of these critics – HAVE preserved the Old Testament faithfully!
What about the so-called “Deuterocanonical Books”?
While the Bible clearly teaches, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17), apparently the Orthodox (and Roman Catholic) Church apparently believes that the Hebrew Old Testament needed to be corrected and expanded.
As their own literature admits, the Romans finally listed the ones they accepted in one place in 1546 and the Orthodox apparently did not officially finalize their list until about 100 years later!
And they took what Greek-speaking Jews, called Hellenists (as opposed to the Hebrews of Palestine), preferred.
But other writings of these groups admit that it was the Palestinian Christians (those initially based from Jerusalem, and those that would have relied on the canon of the Palestinian Jews) that kept the faith “in purity” (Eusebius, Church History, Book IV, Chapter 5). Even their saint and doctor Jerome was opposed to putting the deuterocanonical books in the Latin Vulgate Bible, but was pressured to (e.g. Jerome, The Preface on the Book of Judith).
It should be noted that the New Testament makes it clear that the original disciples were Palestinian Hebrews and not from the Hellenists (e.g. Acts 6:1-2). Paul was not a Hellenist either (Acts 9:26-29).
Church of God Bishop/Pastor Melito of Sardis listed the books of the Old Testament (and he seems to be the first one to call it the Old Testament) in the second century and he included the books that we in the Continuing Church of God consider to be part of the Old Testament and he did not include any of the so-called “deuterocanonical books”— and this is admitted by The Catholic Encyclopedia.
The following is from the Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God:
THE HOLY BIBLE The Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God. As commonly divided, it is a collection of 66 books, with 39 from the Hebrew scriptures (The Old Testament Canon) and 27 from the Greek Scriptures (The New Testament Canon). Scripture is inspired in thought and word and contains knowledge of what is needed for salvation (2 Timothy 3:15-17; Matthew 4:4; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Scripture is truth (John 17:17) and is infallible and inerrant in its original manuscripts (John 10:35).
We in the Continuing Church of God are following the Apostle Jude’s admonition “to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). The Roman and Eastern Orthodox churches clearly are NOT doing this as they adopted books that their early leaders knew were not part of the true canon.
The 39 books that are in the Old Testaments that those in the COGs and Protestant Churches use are the correct books of the Old Testament. Only the antinomian Justin Martyr, and those that supported some of his heresies or the heresies of others, claimed that the Christian Church would use different books than the Palestinian Jews. And, of course, those in the true Church of God (as well as most Protestants), never accepted this.
Now consider the New Testament. It was offered first to the Jews. But the Jews rejected the New Testament – refused even to accept its Author. What did God, in His wise foreknowledge, do? He revealed His New Testament message to the Gentiles and especially the Greeks for a very great purpose.
Perhaps it should be added that there is a passage in the Old Testament that predicts a New Testament as it shows that the disciples would essentially finalize the Bible. Notice:
16 Bind up the testimony, Seal the law among my disciples (Isaiah 8:16).
While other portions of this article have shown that various of Christ’s disciples were involved, the above verse suggests that there would be no additions “to the law and to the testimony” (an expression for the Bible, see Isaiah 8:20), after those disciples were gone. Isaiah is thus indicating that the original disciples would have finalized the New Testament–that would include people such as Peter, Paul, and John.
Their successors like Polycarp of Smyrna, later quoted or referred to books of the New Testament that we in the Continuing Church of God use (as do the Greco-Roman-Protestants).
Now let us see what has happened. We find that some modern critics refuse to accept the valid manuscripts which the Greeks have preserved! They have done the same with the true text of the Old Testament! OVER 95% OF ALL NEW TESTAMENT MANUSCRIPTS HAVE BEEN PRESERVED IN THE GREEK LANGUAGE.
These were the manuscripts basically used in the King James Version and the New King James Version, and certain other translators.
Some critics in their OWN wisdom, turn away from these in their Revised Standard Version to the corrupted 5% of Greek copies found in Egypt and the Latin world. These spurious manuscripts originated under Samaritan, Egyptian and Roman influence at the hands of the conspirators who secretly followed Simon Magus (see Acts 8). They wanted to decide for themselves how the Bible should read.
Some critics claim, in their pompous wisdom, that out of these contradictory and corrupted manuscripts – no two of which agree closely on many important verses – they can derive a New Testament text! All they have done is discover how the Greek New Testament had been corrupted in Egypt and Rome by the conspirators out of Samaria who followed Simon Magus.It is time we “come out of Egypt!” How many times God has had to call His people out of Egypt! And still, like the children of Israel, people want to “turn back again into Egypt” (Acts 7:39, KJV).
SOME CRITICS ARE MERELY FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE EARLY CONSPIRATORS, like the “Church Father” Origen, who tried to “correct” the New Testament in their OWN “wisdom.”
Other critics claim that the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic. Usually, those who insist on this do so because they believe that ‘sacred names’ are important as pretty much all of the ‘sacred name’ arguments are nullified if the New Testament was written in Greek. Linguistic scholars who have studied the Greek writings of the New Testament have basically concluded that they do NOT show the type of signs that a translation would have, thus the New Testament was originally written in Greek (though some notes probably came from Hebrew and/or Aramaic.
For centuries, during the Middle Ages, the only Bible mainly accessible to Western Europe was the Latin Vulgate Bible. It was originally the work of the scholar Jerome, who prepared it for the Church of Rome.
1. What is modern Babylon – Rome called? Revelation 17:5.
COMMENT: Rome has preserved the Latin translation of the Bible. Italy is not the homeland of the inspired Greek New Testament.
Jerome attested to the corruption of the Latin translations of his day. Notice what Jerome reveals:
“If we are to glean the truth,” Jerome said, “from a comparison of many, why not go back to the original Greek and CORRECT THE MISTAKES introduced by INACCURATE TRANSLATORS, and the BLUNDERING ALTERATIONS of confident but ignorant critics, … all that has BEEN INSERTED OR CHANGED by copyists” in the Latin (Jerome, “Vulgate Preface”, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 6).
For nearly 14 centuries the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible dominated the Western World. IN A FEW INSTANCES SOME GREEK NEW TESTAMENT TEXTS CONTAINED ADDITIONS FROM THE LATIN VULGATE WHICH THESE SCHOLARS TRANSLATED INTO GREEK. A striking example is 1 John 5:7 which occurs in no early Greek manuscript. Nor was it in the original Latin Vulgate.
Now lest any Catholics have a different view, although the CHANGED version of the Latin Vulgate contains a version of this, the Codex Amiatinus (Codex Amiatinus. Novum Testamentum Latine interpreter Hieronymo. Epistula Iohannis I V:6-8. Constantinus Tischendorf, Lipsiae. 1854), which is believed to be the closest to the original document that Jerome originally translated, also does not have this as The Catholic Encyclopedia states
Codex Amiatinus The most celebrated manuscript of the Latin Vulgate Bible, remarkable as the best witness to the true text of St. Jerome…(Fenlon, John Francis. “Codex Amiatinus.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 21 Apr. 2012 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04081a.htm> )
Note: Yes, I personally read the Latin in the Codex Amiatinus and compared it to the changed version and more modern version of the Latin Vulgate which differs from the early version in that the modern version adds “in caelo, Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus. Et hi tres unum sunt. Et tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra:” (Latin Vulgate.com).
Furthermore, “Verse 7 is nonexistent in the Eastern Peschitta” (Roth AG, Daniel BB. Aramaic English New Testament, 5th edition. Netazari Press, 2012, p. 658)–in other words, it is also not in the primary Aramaic version of the New Testament.
So when did the extra statement get put in? Notice what seems probably to be the most accepted view:
the earliest manuscript, codex 221 (10th century), includes the reading in a marginal note which was added sometime after the original composition. Thus, there is no sure evidence of this reading in any Greek manuscript until the 1500s; each such reading was apparently composed after Erasmus’ Greek NT was published in 1516. Indeed, the reading appears in no Greek witness of any kind (either manuscript, patristic, or Greek translation of some other version) until AD 1215 (in a Greek translation of the Acts of the Lateran Council, a work originally written in Latin)… The Trinitarian formula (known as the Comma Johanneum) made its way into the third edition of Erasmus’ Greek NT (1522) because of pressure from the Catholic Church. After his first edition appeared (1516), there arose such a furor over the absence of the Comma that Erasmus needed to defend himself. He argued that he did not put in the Comma because he found no Greek manuscripts that included it…
In reality, the issue is history, not heresy: How can one argue that the Comma Johanneum must go back to the original text when it did not appear until the 16th century in any Greek manuscripts? (Wallace DB, professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. The Textual Problem in 1 John 5:7-8. http:// bible.org/article/textualproblem-1-john-57-8 viewed 04/21/12)
Basically, what seems to have happened is that a monk put a personal note related to his interpretation of the ‘three’ mentioned in the first part of 1 John 5:7. One or more scribal monks after him, inserted his note actually in the text. It was NOT inspired by God.
The Protestant and Catholic Bibles that have the added words are relying on very late documents that were not considered to be original. Some, of course, have ignored the truth about the origin of 1 John 5:7-8 and wish to believe that because early heretics seem to have possibly referred to it (one popular online source falsely claims that Tertullian, who followed the heretic Montanus, quoted the omitted words in Against Praxeas–this is not true as I have read that writing).
The Greek texts of the early Reformation printers were vastly superior to the Latin versions previously circulated. From these Greek texts the early English translations came including the renowned King James Version of 1611 VERY FEW BASIC ERRORS APPEAR IN THE KING JAMES VERSION – though it is by no means a perfect or clear translation.
But the work of the early printers was not continued. Critics – English and German – gradually ceased to search out the official Greek text preserved in various parts of Greece, PARTICULARLY IN MOUNT ATHOS where the bulk of New Testament manuscripts are still located. Instead, they have turned away from the bulk of these accurate New Testament manuscripts of Greece to the corrupted texts of Rome and especially Egypt! These faulty texts have been used for many translations of the Bible over the decades-– and especially in the Revised Standard Version and the New English Translation. There are also more recent ‘translations’ which do not attempt to literally translate the biblical texts into English, but instead provide a ‘paraphrased’ translation. While paraphrases can sometimes help with conceptual understanding, they are generally not reliable enough when it comes to certain points of doctrine.
It should also be noted that the current Latin Vulgate that many use is the Challoner version—and that is NOT the same as the version that Jerome wrote. Jerome’s account makes it clear that Hebrews 4:9, for example, is referring to the need for Christians to keep the seventh-day, whereas the changed Challoner version does not.
Do you realize that God sets the pattern for translations in His own Word?
Few have recognized it, but the Bible gives us the principles of translation in the New Testament especially. Let us see how:
1. First, turn to the Ten Commandments which God Himself uttered and wrote. They are recorded in Exodus 20. Notice the command against adultery in Exodus 20:14, KJV: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
Now turn to Deuteronomy, the fifth chapter. Forty years had elapsed since God uttered the Ten Commandments. Moses is now repeating the Law of God, under inspiration, to the people. How is Moses inspired to WORD this command? Verse 18, KJV. Write both scriptures down for comparison.
COMMENT: DO YOU notice it? THE WORDING IS DIFFERENT, BUT THE MEANING IS THE SAME! The meaning would not have been the same, however, if Moses had said:
“Thou shalt not commit adultery unless your mate is unfaithful”!
Here we have proof in scripture itself that it is not wrong to use different words, provided the MEANING IS not corrupted. That is one reason for slight changes in both Hebrew and Greek originals – changes which make the meaning equally CLEAR!
2. Now let us turn quickly to the NEW TESTAMENT for an example. How DID JESUS HIMSELF REWORD THE ORIGINAL INSPIRED HEBREW TEXT, BUT RETAIN THE SAME MEANING? Write in full the contrasting verses of Mark 7:6-7 and Isaiah 29:13.
COMMENT: Once again the inspired wording is different, but the MEANING remains identical. Jesus did not translate the Hebrew word for word, yet His meaning is the same. That is why you find the various writers of the Bible – particularly the gospel writers – expressing the same thoughts in different words.
The Bible is God’s Revelation for man, delivered through inspired men for mankind to preserve INTELLIGIBLY!
Yet another example is worth our consideration. Open your Bibles to Romans 3:10-12 and compare these verses with Psalm 14:1-3. Write them down. Here again the meaning is not lost although different words are freely used.
Apart from Hebrew translations into the Greek in the New Testament, there are no perfect translations. Many people, it seems, come to cherish one particular translation so much that they assume it must be inspired and without error. Every translation has its FLAWS, its provable mistranslations, and its misinterpretations. These faults are due to the fact that God has never used scholarly translators as inspired translators since the days of the apostles.
Here are two fundamental reasons for flaws which you need to remember about translations into any language from the original:
(1)SCHOLARS ARE NOT ALWAYS PERFECT IN THEIR UNDERSTANDING OF THE ORIGINAL TONGUES and (2) most scholars and ministers on translation committees DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE PLAN AND PURPOSE OF GOD. They have been taught that Scripture does not mean QUITE what it says. Hence they interpret and translate the Bible according to their OWN VIEWPOINT. INCORRECT MEANINGS ARE READ INTO the inspired original.
Nevertheless, EVERY VERSION IS ACCURATE ENOUGH to be a reasonably faithful rendering of the Word of God.
The skeptic will ask, of course, about the many doubtful readings especially those which have been put into the FOOTNOTES of the Revised Standard Version. The facts are that many INSPIRED verses have been put incorrectly into the footnotes of this version because the scholars who worked on this version followed the ancient Egyptian scribes and copyists who overlooked or carelessly left out these phrases and even whole sentences in the copies they were reproducing. This is the one great weakness of this version. But it remains a fact that 95% of the manuscripts are preserved by the Greeks and retain every one of the deleted sections! The deletions are preserved in the King James Version and often in the American and English Revised Versions.
Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53 through 8:11, which are put in the footnotes in the Revised Standard Version, ought to be in the text. Read these verses carefully. Also Matthew 27:49 ought to have added to it: “And another took a spear and pierced His side, and out came water and blood.” This is left out of both the King James and the Revised Standard Versions. It is in the Moffatt Translation and in the original inspired Greek.
There is insufficient space in this lesson to proceed further, but these illustrations give us some indication of the OVERWHELMING ACCURACY of both Old and New Testaments. No other written work has ever been preserved as accurately as the Bible – and the marvel is that it has been preserved primarily by its enemies, those who do not really believe what the Bible says! The enemies of Christ have been made responsible for preserving the Book that is a witness against them!
One final question should be answered with regard to the preservation of Scripture. Do we have ALL the Bible?
The testimony of history itself is that NONE of the Old Testament has been lost since the days of Christ. For nearly two thousand years, through persecution and war, the Jews have PRESERVED THE OLD TESTAMENT EXACTLY as God intended! The same books composing the Bible in Jesus’ day are used today in the synagogues and in the churches.
But what about the Catholics having seven more books (the Apocrypha) added to the Old Testament than do the Jews and Protestants? Are these added books part of the Bible – or are they spurious?
The official authority of God for the Old Testament was vested in the Priesthood and the officially appointed Scribes in Palestine (Matthew 23:2). This Priesthood never accepted the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha are uninspired books written by unconverted men. These books contain definite errors, plus a measure of truth – just as all HUMAN books do. The apostles never quoted from the Apocrypha. They never referred to these seven added books as inspired. Even the Catholic Church did not accept them until about 398 A.D., at the Council of Carthage 300 years after the Bible was completed in the days of the apostle John!
The Greek Bibles used by the inspired New Testament Church under the guidance of the apostles did not contain the Apocrypha. These uninspired books apparently were not added until after 315 A.D. according to the admission of the Catholic bishop Cyril of Jerusalem. Here is proof that THE APOCRYPHA WAS NEVER APPROVED BY CHRIST OR THE APOSTLES. The Bible WAS COMPLETED in the days of the apostles!
Now, while many believe that because of the Latin Vulgate Bible by Jerome, that the Catholic Church gave the world the Bible, those who espouse that view overlook the question of where Jerome got parts of his information.
Based on records in Latin and other languages, Scholars Ray Pritz and the Catholic Priest Bagatti both concluded that Jerome got some of his information on the Bible from the Nazarene Christians and from various synagogues (Pritz, pp. 49-53; Bagatti, Bellarmino. The Church from the Circumcision. Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi, 13 Maii 1970. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari, 14 Junii 1970. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970. Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1971, pp. 84-85).
It is a fact that Jerome did deal with “Nazarene Christians” who kept the Sabbath, etc. (Jerome. Letter 112 to Augustine, Chapter 4). Jerome also wrote that he was friendly with at least one of the believing Hebrews that seemed to assist him as he wrote:
Ad quam edomandam, cuidam frati, que ex Hebræis crediderat, me in disciplin dei, ut post Quintiliani acumina, ciceronis fluvios… (Jerome, Epistula CXXV, Chapter 12. Patrologia Latina (22, 1079; alternatively, 22, 941; J. P. Migne, c. 1886, p. 1079)
Thus, it is logical to conclude that Jerome got some of his information from people who held to Church of God doctrines.
Therefore, then it would appear that the claim that the Roman “Church gave the world the Bible” as many in the Church of Rome believe, neglects to mention that their church most likely got knowledge of the books of the Bible from those in the true Church of God, also known as the Nazarenes in Asia Minor and in Jerusalem!
This seems to be indirectly acknowledged by some modern scholars. Notice a 21st century account by Gerd Theissen:
Therefore we can advance the hypothesis that above all those writings entered the canon on which the Christian communities of Asia Minor and Rome could agree. (Theissen G, Translated by John Bowden. Fortress introduction to the New Testament. Fortress Press, 2003, p. 178)
Taking this a step further, even those who later compromised in Asia Minor apparently recognized that they knew of the complete canon and thus they (and probably others) influenced the Church of Rome.
Therefore, since the true Church of God in Asia Minor originally had the New Testament canon (as the last books of the New Testament were written in Asia Minor and not Rome), it should be realized that the New Testament canon was originally finalized in Asia Minor and then basically later accepted by Rome. And, the Roman Catholic Church knows its leaders had concerns about these books for centuries:
THE CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT DURING THE FOURTH, AND FIRST HALF OF THE FIFTH, CENTURY
In this period the position of the deuterocanonical literature is no longer as secure…Alexandria, with its elastic Scriptures, had from the beginning been a congenial field for apocryphal literature, and St. Athanasius, the vigilant pastor of that flock, to protect it against the pernicious influence, drew up a catalogue of books with the values to be attached to each. First, the strict canon and authoritative source of truth is the Jewish Old Testament, Esther excepted…Following the precedent of Origen and the Alexandrian tradition, the saintly doctor recognized no other formal canon of the Old Testament than the Hebrew one; but also, faithful to the same tradition, he practically admitted the deutero books to a Scriptural dignity, as is evident from his general usage…
THE CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE FIFTH TO THE CLOSE OF THE SEVENTH CENTURY
This period exhibits a curious exchange of opinions between the West and the East, while ecclesiastical usage remained unchanged, at least in the Latin Church. During this intermediate age the use of St. Jerome’s new version of the Old Testament (the Vulgate) became widespread in the Occident. With its text went Jerome’s prefaces disparaging the deuterocanonicals, and under the influence of his authority the West began to distrust these and to show the first symptoms of a current hostile to their canonicity…
The Latin Church
In the Latin Church, all through the Middle Ages we find evidence of hesitation about the character of the deuterocanonicals. (Reid, Canon of the Old Testament. The Catholic Encyclopedia).
Also notice that even Athanasius in the fourth century really did not consider that the deuterocanonical books were actually scripture, and that Jerome in the fifth century made disparaging comments about them. And even into the Middle Ages, the RCC was not sure if the deuterocanonical books were on a par with scripture!
Thus, while the many of the GrecoRoman churches knew which were and were not the true books at least as late as the fourth and fifth centuries.
Additional books somehow came to be accepted by them, there were NOT part of the original faith, which true Christians are to earnestly contend for (Jude 3).
So when were these books actually adopted?
The Catholic Encyclopedia also states:
The protocanonical books of the Old Testament correspond with those of the Bible of the Hebrews, and the Old Testament as received by Protestants. The deuterocanonical (deuteros, “second”) are those whose Scriptural character was contested in some quarters, but which long ago gained a secure footing in the Bible of the Catholic Church, though those of the Old Testament are classed by Protestants as the “Apocrypha”. These consist of seven books: Tobias (Tobit), Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, I and II Machabees, and three documents added to protocanonical books, viz., the supplement to Esther, from x, 4, to the end, the Canticle of the Three Youths (Song of the Three Children) in Daniel, iii, and the stories of Susanna and the Elders and Bel and the Dragon, forming the closing chapters of the Catholic version of that book…The ancient Greek Old Testament known as the Septuagint was the vehicle which conveyed these additional Scriptures into the Catholic Church. The Septuagint version was the Bible of the Greekspeaking, or Hellenist, Jews, whose intellectual and literary centre was Alexandria (see SEPTUAGINT). The oldest extant copies date from the fourth and fifth centuries of our era…The most explicit definition of the Catholic Canon is that given by the Council of Trent, Session IV, 1546…The order of books copies that of the Council of Florence, 1442, and in its general plan is that of the Septuagint (Reid, Old Testament Canon).
Thus, it took until 1546 for these books to be completely adopted by the Roman Catholic Church.
But why then?
Here is the view of one writer:
There is a mistaken belief among some that the Apocrypha books were part of the Bible, and that these were rejected by the Protestant Reformers. On the contrary, the Apocrypha books were never a part of the Old Testament Canon. Thus there is no question of the Reformers dropping out some books from the Canon. Rather, it is the Roman Catholic Church which ADDED these books to the Canon by a proclamation made at the Council of Trent…
With the Protestant Reformation, many of the Reformers challenged the Catholic church to prove their doctrine by supporting these from the Canon. To their dismay the Roman Catholics discovered that many of their doctrines are not derived from the Canon. At the same time they realized that at least some of these erroneous doctrines are supported by the Apocrypha. Thus for their survival it became necessary to add the Apocrypha to the Canon.
In 1545 the Roman Catholic Church convened what is called the Council Of Trent. Here they passed numerous resolutions, including many curses against the Protestant Believers. In April 1545 the Council declared that the Apocrypha are also part of the Bible. Thus for the first time in history the Apocrypha books were ADDED by the Roman Catholic church to the Bible. This was done in order to justify their doctrinal errors (for which support was available only in the Apocrypha), and also to oppose the Protestant believers. The first Vatican Council held 1869-70 reaffirmed the decision of the Roman Catholic Church to add the Apocrypha to the Canon. Historically and theologically the Apocrypha was never part of the Canon (Philip Johnson C. Reliability Of The Canon. Indus School of Apologetics and Theology Textbook No -004A1, version used in 2006).
The Roman Catholics were not the only ones to adopt those so-called deuterocanonical books. The Orthodox Church did as well. However, their scholars admit that they are not on the same level as the other books they consider to be scripture:
The Orthodox Church…as…its authoritative text for the Old Testament, it uses the ancient Greek Septuagint. When this differs from the original Hebrew (which happens quite often), Orthodox believe that the changes in the Septuagint were made under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and are to be accepted as part of God’s continuing revelation…The Hebrew version of the Old Testament contains thirty-nine books. The Septuagint contains in addition ten further books not present in the Hebrew, which are known in the Orthodox Church as the ‘Deutero-Canonical Books’. These were declared by the Councils of Jassy (1641) and Jerusalem (1672) to be ‘genuine parts of Scripture’; most Orthodox scholars…consider that the Deutero-Canonical Books, although part of the Bible, stand at a lower footing than the rest of scripture (Ware T. The Orthodox Church, p.200). http://www.cogwriter.com/ otcanon.htm )
The same may be said of the so-called “Lost Books of the Bible.” These books were never lost because they were NEVER A PART OF THE BIBLE. They are outright FRAUDS! They are spurious – uninspired – and full of errors!
Some, will point to the so-called Book of Enoch. They will point out a reference to something Enoch said that is in Jude 14 which is also in the Book of Enoch. Well, Enoch could not have written more than perhaps part of the first chapter of that book (if he wrote anything at all). The Book of Enoch contains absurd claims such as, “these giants were about 11,000 feet tall or a little over 3 kilometers high!” It was never part of the Bible. There are also absurd statements in many other ‘lost books.’ Also, the book called 2 Enoch is believed to not have been written until after Jesus was born.
But what about the New Testament? Is it complete? Here again the testimony is the same – THE NEW TESTAMENT HAS BEEN PRESERVED EXACTLY! The early Greeks recognized no other New Testament books than we have today. No New Testament book has been lost.
Some erroneously believe that it was the Church of Rome that prevented the ‘Gnostic gospels’ and other noncanonical books to be part of the New Testament for reasons of power and control. Well, nearly all of the Gnostic accounts were not written until the second century, and normally with names of apostles falsely claimed to be their writers. While we have evidence that the false Gospel of Peter was accepted as legitimate by the churches of Rome and Alexander, we see that it was a Church of God leader, named Serapion of Antioch, that denounced that book in the early 3rd century. Hence, there was definitely Church of God influence for the Greco-Romans to not accept other books that should not have been part of the New Testament.
The word of God was not destroyed and the Bible we accept in the Continuing Church of God with its 66 books, is correct and proper.
If you want an illustration of God’s intervention to preserve His Word, turn to Jeremiah 36, beginning with verse 23. King Jehoiakim had an entire scroll of the Word of God cut with a penknife and consumed by a fire. Certainly burning the only copy of the Word of God would destroy it if anything would! – he thought. (Write down these verses.)
But what happened? Did it perish forever? No! Read the account in Jeremiah 36:32.
You can depend on the Bible. IT IS THE INSPIRED WORD OF GOD IN PRINT! It carries absolute authority.
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