Posted by: Tim | November 7, 2009

That’s a Good Question #5 – Isn’t the Bible a human book full of contradictions and errors?

This is the fifth “That’s a Good Question” article on Christian Apologetics, which appeared recently in the Three Hills Capital. As always, you are welcome to leave your comments below.

That’s a Good Question #5

Isn’t the Bible a human book full of contradictions and errors?

The Bible is the world’s all time best-selling book, with distribution numbering in the billions. Christians believe that it is the divine, inerrant Word of God, produced by human authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But is this a credible claim? Is the Bible a reliable book? Or is it simply a human book full of errors and contradictions? Before we answer these questions, let’s do a brief overview of the Bible.

The Bible is a collection of sixty-six books: thirty-nine books in the Old Testament and twenty-seven books in the New Testament. These books were written over a period of about fifteen hundred years, from about 1450BC to 100AD, by forty different authors, on three continents. The authors came from all walks of life, and their professions include doctor, king, shepherd, government leader, fisherman, tax collector, and religious leader. Despite this great diversity of history, authorship and geography, the Bible displays unity in its story, message and teachings.  The central character in the Bible is Jesus Christ, with the Old Testament looking forward to Him and the New Testament announcing Him and describing how the message about Him spread.

The Bibles we read in English are modern translations from ancient Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts which have been copied by hand from earlier copies. Since the originals no longer exist, some think that our translations are based on corrupted, unreliable copies. However the science of Textual Criticism actually shows the opposite to be true. Using techniques that are comparable to solving a giant jigsaw puzzle or working backwards through a giant maze to the beginning, textual scholars have been able to determine the original words with a high degree of accuracy. We have over fifty-seven hundred ancient manuscripts, with the earliest fragment (five verses from the gospel of John) dated within twenty-five to fifty years of the original. For comparison, the next best attested ancient writing is Homer’s Iliad, with only six hundred and forty-three manuscripts, and the earliest is dated five hundred years after the original.  For Plato we have just seven manuscripts, and the earliest is dated twelve hundred years after the original.

Archaeology has also provided good evidence for the reliability of Scripture. For example, the discovery of the Dead Seas Scrolls in 1948 revealed ancient Old Testament manuscripts dating from about 100BC, with some being one thousand years older than the next oldest manuscripts! Scholars found that the copying of the Old Testament over this one thousand year timeframe had been amazingly accurate. Of great significance was the finding of prophetic books such as Isaiah that contains accurate prophecies about Jesus, in manuscripts dated over one hundred years before His birth.

Moving from manuscripts to the actual content of the Bible, many contend that it is full of contradictions. In my own reading and study of the Bible, I have had questions and come across things that initially appeared to be contradictions. Sometimes I have been able to find a solution through further Bible study, prayer, and common sense. At other times I have used the work of scholars who have researched the question or alleged contradiction in detail.  Time after time, my confidence in the Bible has been justified as I have found good answers that give reasonable explanations.

Maybe you have questions about the Bible, or concerns about alleged contradictions. I encourage you to investigate your concerns, and if you would like some help finding answers, I welcome your questions. I think you will find that there are good answers, and that the Bible is indeed reliable. You may also discover the transforming power of God’s Word, and your life may never be the same.

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Responses

  1. […] #5 Isn’t the Bible a human book full of contradictions and errors? […]

  2. […] I wrote an article about the same subject about a year ago. I’ve pasted an excerpt below, and you can read the whole thing by clicking here. […]

  3. […] The autobiographical text […]

  4. […] The autobiographical text […]


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