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[Taken from the Beginning Papers by Walter R. Dolen
Copyright 1977-2003 by Walter R. Dolen and/or BeComingOne Church]

BP3: Bible Paper

Typical Criticism
Three Tests to Give

bp74 The BeComingOne Papers uses the Bible.  Now to some the Bible is a book of tales, a book so unscientific that it isn't worth the paper it is written on.  I can empathize with this opinion. At one time I held a negative view concerning the Bible. But this is a very biased, unfair, and incorrect view.  It is a view of a mindset. Like other mindsets it is imbedded in brain cells, thus, making it very difficult to change. Just as Ptolemy's geocentric theory of the universe seemed to be very sound to the generations of the past (see "Mindset Paper" [BP2]), today's myths and mistaken theories seem very scientific to today's pop-educated generation. Just because those of Ptolemy's generations believed in his theory, doesn't mean they were stupid. Many were quite smart, but nevertheless quite wrong. They could not recognize their mistake because of their mindset. Irrespective of today's mindsets concerning the Bible, it is a very worthwhile book.

bp75 The Bible is a historical document. Its history goes back to the beginning of mankind. It is an accurate document. Especially in the last hundred and fifty years, archeology has repeatedly confirmed facts recorded in the Bible that previously had no other confirmation. In comparison to other ancient writings, the Bible is by far, let me repeat, the Bible is by far the most accurate historical document in the world, especially considering the size of the Bible.

bp76 The Bible is filled with specific place names, proper names, topographical descriptions, descriptions of ancient customs and nations, descriptions of ancient artifacts, temples, religions, and human behavior. Until the last 150 years the cynics used to call many of the nations, cultures, and customs described in the Bible myth, or just oral traditions that have lost their truth. But archaeological finds have made a mockery out of such outdated skepticism. Mythical books do not have the abundance of specific information as does the Bible. Details after details are abundant throughout the Bible. Today it is ludicrous to call the Bible anything but an accurate historical document. Yet, as a mindset filters a person's perception so does the mindset of anti-Biblical scholars. It is amazing to me how they can ignore the archaeological finds of the last 150 years and still cling to naive views about the Bible. Even this year (1988) as I write I have seen a news story about a group of "scholars" voting on various drafts of a revision on what were Christ's real sayings. They refuse to believe that the words written in the Bible were really spoken by him, and they have the naivete to vote on a new version. This is the height of arrogance, for no other ancient character has more proof for his person or words than Christ. (He Walked Among Us: Evidence for the Historical Jesus, Josh McDowell & Bill Wilson, 1988) There is far more proof of Christ's existence than Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Plato, Aristotle, Homer, etc.

bp77 I have had different mindsets concerning the Bible. First I believed in the Bible because I was reared to believe in it, at least as the church interpreted it for me (the Catholic view). But I never studied it when I had that mindset. Next through reading too many biased liberal books, I concluded that the Bible was of little significance. It was only after I studied the Bible itself and read other pro-Biblical views that I came to a different view: The Bible is a very important book, an accurate book, a historical book, a revealing book, etc.

bp78 Unlike what cynical people biased by their mindset attest, no other document comes close to the legitimacy of the Bible. The Bible has the oldest manuscripts of any other ancient document of its size. The intra-cohesiveness of these old manuscripts prove that today's Bible very closely, if not exactly, reflects the original documents. Remember there were no copy machines when the manuscripts of the Bible were handed down. The information age is a very recent phenomenon. The copying of old manuscripts was done by hand. Because it is almost impossible to copy a document the size of the Bible without some mistakes, there are some variations between the ancient manuscripts and today's, but most of these variations concern different spelling of words or omission of words or concern words or phrases that were added by scribes so as to clarify the meaning of the text. Very little to none of the variations affect the meaning or doctrine derived from the Bible, especially if you believe that the antitypical sense of the Bible is the real sense of it. (see "Duality Paper" [BP4])

bp79 Among other things, the Bible is a book of the history of man and man's relationship with God up to Israel (Jacob), from there a history of Israel up to Christ, and from there a history of the Church of Christ up to around 40-70 AD.  The Bible is mainly concerned with the behavior of mankind and his relationship with God and the coming of the Messiah. In this the Bible is a very different book when compared to most other ancient books, or for that matter contemporary books. The Bible actually thinks there is something called evil in mankind's behavior, and that there is a God or Power that cares about mankind's behavior. The Bible indicates that wrong behavior actually causes grief and death. This is hard for some today to believe. Some who have a humanistic mindset, believe in one form or another that there is no real evil in mankind, but just some form of miseducation. To this mode of thinking it is society who is to blame, not the individual.

bp80 The Bible starts out describing the CREATION of the heavens and earth, or as we call it today -- the universe.  But what about evolution? Did an intelligent Power (God) create or did evolution create? Contrary to what most schools of today teach, the "creation by God" answer is more scientific than evolution.  Evolution is nothing but a faith -- a faith based on the ludicrous chance that the complex universe somehow evolved.  I know how dogmatic the scientists seem, but if you read their journals you know that they too have dissimilar views on many aspects of life, and that the foundations of many of their views are very slim and in contradiction to each other. Some of today's most celebrated theories are based on a very thin film of evidence and on a very precarious set of conclusions based on this evidence. (see Science Paper)

bp81 There are forms of mysticism in science today as there are in many if not most religions. But because we are not taught to analyze the foundations of branches of science, we have a mindset that cannot perceive the mysticism in science. In fact there is a close parallel between mysticism, science, and religion. Read my Science Papers to understand the slim and biased foundations of much of today's science and its mysticism. See the list of Creation books and organizations in the back of this paper if you want greater details on the evolution versus creation controversy. There is more to the idea of Creation than to the mindlessness of evolution.

Typical Criticism

bp82 The Bible is a mythological book that contains orally transmitted myths that were passed down through generations until about the time of Ezra who compiled most of the Old Testament. Moses did not write five books of the Bible because there was no writing in his day only oral tradition. Etc. Etc.

bp83 This criticism like other similar ones falls flat on its face when we examine archaeological finds of the last century and a half. For example, the Ebla tablets, discovered in the 1970's prove to modern historians that there were writings before Moses at least back to 2000 BC. (see Chronology Papers) In the 1975 season over 15,000 tablets were found. Personal names, geographic names, lists of animals, professions, names of officials, vocabularies, sacrificial systems, rituals, proverbs, hymns, and so forth were found. But most of the tablets dealt with economic matters such as bills of sale, receipts, tariffs, contracts of sale, etc. There were copies of treaties, one was between Asshur and Ebla. Asshur is mentioned in the 10th chapter of Genesis. The language of Ebla was Semitic and the closeness to Hebrew is striking. The vocabularies were the oldest found so far in history, about 500 years earlier than any previously known. There are tablets with case law in it. So this proves that hundreds of years before Moses there was written law. Moses didn't invent law, he merely put it in a Hebrew form. What is unique about Moses's law is the patterns in it and its God. (see God Papers; New Mind Paper; etc.) These tablets name the five cities of the plain mentioned in the book of Genesis of the Bible, proving these cities were not mythological. The tablets reflect the culture of the patriarchal period and even mention people's names that appear in the book of Genesis.

bp84 It is not the Biblical student who is naive, but the critic of the Bible. So-called "higher criticism" of the Bible is out-of-date and a remnant of the pre-archaeological period. This is not to say that every statement made by Biblical scholars is correct. We must be careful in all we read or study. But it is to say that most hostile criticism of the Bible is off base. (see Beld, Hallo, and Michalowski, The Tablets of Ebla: Concordance and Bibliography, 1984; Giovanni Pettinato, The Archives of Ebla, 1981; Clifford Wilson, Ebla Tablets, 1977; etc.)

Three Tests

bp85 There are three tests we can use to determine the reliability of the Bible. (1) Bibliographical Test: Not having the original documents of the Bible, how reliable are the copies we have? (2) Internal Evidence Test: Is the written record credible? (3) External Evidence Test: Does other historical material confirm or deny the material in the Bible?

bp86 Bibliographical TestBibliographical Test. How reliable are the copies we have in regard to the number of manuscripts and the interval of time between the original and the surviving copy? Concerning New Testament manuscripts there are about 22,000 copies of manuscripts with at least partial contents of the New Testament. The closest ancient work next to the Bible is the Homer's Iliad (700?? BC), but it only has about 643 manuscripts. Such works as Aristotle (c. 340 BC) have only about five manuscripts for any one of his works, the earliest copy is dated about 1100 AD, about 1400 years after he lived and wrote his work. The history of Thucydides (c. 460-400 BC) has just eight manuscripts and the earliest copy is from about 900 AD. Pliny the Younger's History has only 7 copies, the earliest copy from about 850 AD. Plato's work has only 7 copies, the earliest from about 900 AD. Livy's work has only 20 copies. Contrariwise the New Testament manuscripts are about 22,000 in number, with one of the earliest (John Ryland MSS) dating from about 130 AD, about a century after Christ. The Chester Beatty Papyri located in the Beatty Museum in Dublin has three manuscripts containing major parts of the New Testament. Two of these papyri manuscripts are dated in the second half of the third century (250-300 AD). But manuscript p46, which was originally dated about 200 AD had since been dated to 100 AD on paleographical grounds. (Biblica 69:2 [1988], pp. 248-257) "Paleography (literally, old writing) is the study of the manuscripts themselves rather than the text they contain. In attempting to date manuscripts, paleographers are especially concerned with the script, i.e., the style of the letters used. We have so many papyri from Egypt that a definite progression in the style of script from one period to the next can be seen." (Darrell Hannah, "New Testament Manuscripts," Bible Review, Feb. 1990, p. 7)

bp87 Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls the oldest Old Testament manuscript was dated about 900 AD. This was about a 1300-1400 year gap from when the Bible was completed. But because of the reverence for the scriptures, the Jewish community went to great levels in making new copies of the Old Testament as accurate and perfect as humanly possible. "Besides recording varieties of reading, tradition, or conjecture, the Massoretes undertook a number of calculations which do not enter into the ordinary sphere of textual criticism. They numbered the verses, words, and letters of every book. They calculated the middle word and the middle letter of each. They enumerated verses which contained all the letters of the alphabet ... These trivialities ... had yet the effect of securing minute attention to the precise transmission of the text; and they are but an excessive manifestation of a respect for the sacred Scriptures...." (Frederic Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, 1941) Because of this meticulous care of the Jewish caretakers of the Bible, it has always been believed the Bible was highly accurate. The Dead Sea Scrolls helped to confirm this belief.

bp88 The Dead Sea Scrolls are made up of some 40,000 inscribed fragments from which about 500 books have been reconstructed. They are dated from about 125 BC. A scroll of the Old Testament book of Isaiah was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. According to Gleason Archer the Isaiah scroll "proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95% of the text. The 5% of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling." (Gleason Archer, A Survey of the Old Testament, 1964)

bp89 Internal Evidence Test. When you analyze the Bible itself you must be fair. "The benefit of the doubt is to be given to the document itself, and not arrogated by the critic to himself." You should not assume fraud or error unless you find contradictions of known fact. The biggest problem that the secular intellectuals find with scriptures is God and his supernaturalness. According to their system of thinking any supernaturalness is automatically thrown out. But at the same time the magic of evolution, the cosmic non-intelligent soup that by some miracle created the universe, is not thrown out. This is the result of a mindset, a biased mindset. The writers of the New Testament were eyewitnesses. (Luke 1:1-3; John 19:35; 2Pet 1:16; 1John 1:3; etc) They spoke to others who were eyewitnesses. (Acts 2:22, 26:24-28; etc.) At first they did not believe in Christ's resurrection, and admitted this very thing in their writings. (Mark 16:11; Luke 24:11,25; John 20:24-29) But later they saw the resurrected Christ and believed. (Luke 24:48; John 20:19-20; Acts 1:8, 2:24,32, 3:15, 4:33, 5:32, 10:39,41, 13:31, 22:15, 26:16; 1Cor 15:4-9,15; 1John 1:2) Later many of them died because of this belief. (Acts 7:58-60, 9:1; Heb 11:35-12:1; Rev 6:11) Tradition has it that 11 of the apostles were martyred for their belief. If it was all a lie, if they made it up, why did they allow themselves to die for it? Even when they lived they gained nothing materially from their belief. They must therefore have believed it because they saw the things they wrote about.

bp90 In my studies of the Bible I have nothing but praise for the internal consistency of the scriptures. Immediately before I began to systematically study the Bible I was inclined to not believe in its accuracy. But since you the reader have not studied with me this statement will mean little to you. But Sir William Ramsay, one of the great archaeologists, is another witness to the Bible's accuracy:

bp91 "He was a student of the German historical school that taught that the Book of Acts was a product of the mid-second century A.D. and not the first century as it purports to be. After reading modern criticism about the Book of Acts, he became convinced that it was not a trustworthy account of the facts of that time (A.D. 50) and therefore was unworthy of consideration by a historian. So in his research on the history of Asia Minor, Ramsay paid little attention to the New Testament. His investigation, however, eventually compelled him to consider the writing of Luke. He observed the meticulous accuracy of the historical details, and his attitude toward the Book of Acts began to change. He was forced to conclude that 'Luke is a historian of the first rank ... this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.' " (J. McDowell, He Walked Among Us, p. 110)

Much more could be said on the internal evidence, but we will let other books speak on this matter. (see book lists below)

bp92 External Evidence Test. Does other historical material confirm or deny the testimony in the Bible? For one thing the names and descriptions of kings, cities, geography, customs, events, wars, and so forth are well attested and confirmed by secular findings such as archeology. In our Chronology Papers and others we give evidence of this. The books in our book list below as well as the evidence and books referenced within these books also attest to this. Joseph P. Free, in his Archaeology and Bible History, said "Archaeology has confirmed countless passages which have been rejected by critics as unhistorical or contradictory to known facts." (p.1) Read the many books available on this subject. Don't let your biased secular teachers misguide you.

bp93 The BeComingOne Papers are not primarily attempting to prove that God exists, or that the Bible is a great document. You will have to read elsewhere for this kind of information. The following short list of books will help you in your search. We are not saying these books are perfect or near perfect. But they do contain much reliable information and their footnotes will lead to other books that may help you:

  • Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Vol 1 & Vol 2, 1979
  • F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, 1964
  • Josh McDowell & Bill Wilson, He Walked Among Us: Evidence for the Historical Jesus, 1988
  • Merrill F. Unger, Archaeology and the Old Testament, 1954
  • J. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 1969
  • Jack Finegan, Archaeological History of the Ancient Middle East, 1979

Sometimes a Bible in its front matter has information that may help you.

Click "next" to learn the secret of the Bible by reading the "Duality Papers"

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