Do you know that Christians believe that Jesus is actually God?
What do you think about this Jesus guy? Who is He? Jesus himself asked his followers, “Who do you say that I am?” (See, for example, Matthew 16:15.) You might think this is a pointless discussion because this all took place 2000 years ago. Some people think there’s really no way to know for sure who Jesus is or if He even existed.
There is actually some very compelling evidence we can use to investigate this claim by Christians. The challenge for you is, are you willing to check out the evidence with an open mind?
I have a question for you: Where do we find the most information about the life of Jesus? You probably answered, “in the Bible.” And you would be correct.
“But wait,” you say. “Isn’t the Bible just an old, dusty history book full of fairytales and myths?”
That seems to be the word on the street these days but let’s have a look at the evidence for ourselves and see where it leads us. If we really want to know if Jesus is fact or fiction, we must first know if the source for information about the life of Jesus can be trusted.
The experts who actually do the research on these historical documents have come up with some amazing discoveries about this book known as the Bible. Here are some of the conclusions from the experts themselves:
First, the Bible has thousands more copies than any other ancient writings. “What’s so great about that”, you might ask? Good question. Since there are no originals of any ancient documents, the experts want to know how many copies were made throughout the centuries up until the time of printing press in the 1400s. The more copies you have, the better. That’s because it’s easier to determine how the original writing looked by comparing all the different copies.
Second, the handwritten copies of the Bible which exist today were written much earlier—closer in time to the originals—than the manuscript copies of other ancient writers, like Aristotle, Plato, or Homer. No, we’re not talking about Homer Simpson here. We’re talking about the ancient author who wrote about the Greek gods in the famous Iliad. “So what?” you might say. Why does it matter that the copies were earlier? Good question.
As Sherlock Holmes used to say, “Elementary, my dear Watson.” The answer is that the closer the copies are to when the original was written, the better chance there is that the copy was accurately reproduced. Makes sense, right?
Lastly, the experts want to know how accurate the copies are of any historical document. This is a no brainer, right? If there are loads of errors and changes to a document over the centuries, then what we hold in our hands today for that document simply can’t be trusted.
So, how does the New Testament in the Bible stack up against other ancient documents? After extensive research by the experts, the New Testament was found to have been transmitted by copy throughout the centuries with a 99.8% accuracy. Wow! No other ancient document even comes close to this kind accuracy.
The next time you are asked to read an ancient historical book by a teacher or a professor ask yourself this question: “How do I know that what I’m holding in my hands today is actually what the original author wrote?” I think you would find the evidence to be shockingly thin.
In the case of the Bible, the evidence says overwhelmingly that this ancient book can be trusted as real history. Now that’s amazing! Now that we know the Bible is reliable, we will use this trustworthy source in a future post to look at the person of Jesus and find out what He claimed for Himself—and whether He backed up any of His claims.