| A (Not So) Brief Defense Christianity |
- Are the Biblical Documents Reliable? - Introduction
Survival Course Manual
A (Not So) Brief Defense of Christianity
SECTION II: ARE THE BIBLICAL DOCUMENTS RELIABLE?
How do we know that the Bible we have today
is even close to the original? Haven't copiers down through the
centuries inserted and deleted and embellished the documents so
that the original message of the Bible has been obscured? These
questions are frequently asked to discredit the sources of
information from which the Christian faith has come to us.
- Three Errors To Avoid
- Do not assume inspiration or
infallibility of the documents, with the intent of attempting to
prove the inspiration or infallibility of the documents. Do not say
the bible is inspired or infallible simply because its claims to
be. This is circular reasoning.
- When considering the original
documents, forget about the present form of your Bible and regard
them as the collection of ancient source documents that they
- Do not start with modern
"authorities" and then move to the documents to see if the
authorities were right. Begin with the documents themselves.
- Procedure for Testing a Document's Validity.
In his book, Introduction in Research
in English Literary History, C. Sanders sets forth three tests
of reliability employed in general historiography and literary
criticism. These tests are:
It might be noteworthy to mention
that Sanders is a professor of military history, not a theologian.
He uses these three tests of reliability in his own study of
historical military events.
We will look now at the
bibliographical, or textual evidence for the Bible's
- Bibliographical (i.e., the
textual tradition¾from the original document to the copies
and manuscripts of that document we possess today
- Internal evidence (what the
document claims for itself)
- External evidence (how the
document squares or aligns itself with facts, dates, persons from
its own contemporary world).