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Title: Can We Trust Our Bibles

Can We Trust Our Bibles?
  • A review and critique of A Es documentary, Who
    Wrote the Bible?

  • In A Es documentary, Who Wrote the Bible?,
    several modern attacks are proposed.
  • This 2-volume DVDs main goal seems to be to cast
    doubt upon the authorship and credibility of the
  • Several popular arguments are briefly explained
    though with little to no documentation and a lot
    of speculation.
  • In our review and critique, time does not permit
    us to consider each and every detail of their
  • Instead, we will focus on the key concepts they
    propose as being problems for the credibility of
    the divine text.

  • The key concepts brought forth in Volume I
  • The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the
    possibility there are more divine texts.
  • The Documentary Hypothesis or JEDP Theory
    concerning the first five books of the Bible
    often attributed to Moses.
  • The question of an accurate textual transmission
    over hundreds and thousands of years.
  • The key arguments brought forth in Volume II of
    this DVD include
  • The Q gospel that Matthew and Luke supposedly
    used as a source and copied from in their
  • The question of legitimate and accurate
    manuscript evidence for the New Testament text.
  • The rejected books of the Bible that were not
    included during the selection process for the
  • This includes several Gnostic texts, the
    Apocrypha and other writings rejected as inspired
    or canonical.
  • We cover this point in our review and critique of
    Banned from the Bible.

Volume I--the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • One of the key ideas this video tries to push is
    we may not have an accurate or complete Bible.
  • Thus, reference is made to the Dead Sea Scrolls
    to suggest there may be missing texts.
  • The video states,
  • One hundred and twenty seven of the documents
    Dead Sea Scrolls represent canonized texts.
    same as modern Bibles, but many of the scrolls
    contain passages that are new and unfamiliar to
    scholars (1 2100).

Volume I--the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • The video goes on to assert The Dead Sea Scrolls
    show our current Biblical text is not accurate,
  • there were in circulation different manuscripts
    of the same book. The book of Samuel is better
    than the book we have longer, more detailed.
    Jeremiah is shorter and more confused (1
  • In addition, it teaches we may be missing certain
    texts saying,
  • The general rule is that the Dead Sea Scrolls
    have encouraged us to accept the validity of the
    Hebrew text which we have BUT to acknowledge the
    fact that there were other texts in circulation
    (1 2250).
  • Is this true?

Contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Classifying the Dead Sea Scrolls
Sectarian Texts
Jewish Literature
(Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha)
Biblical Books
Contents of the Dead Sea ScrollsThe Biblical
(Actual total of 231) is adjusted because in the
Torah some manuscripts preserve portions of
several books and therefore have been double or
triple counted resulting in 8 extra references.
Contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls
The Biblical Manuscripts
Psalms Scroll (1Q10-12)
Samuel Scroll (1Q7)
Biblical manuscripts include whole or fragmentary
copies of every book of the Old
Testament (except for Esther)
Contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls
The Biblical Manuscripts
Paleo-Leviticus (11Q1-2)
Paleo-Exodus (4Q22) Fragment 2
The Contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls
The Biblical Manuscripts
Paleo-Exodus (4Q22) fragment 2
Paleo-Leviticus (11Q1-2)
12 Paleo-Hebrew Biblical Scrolls (written in
pre-exilic script)
The oldest scroll Genesis (4Q12) is in
paleo-Hebrew dated to 250-300 B.C.
Every Book Of Old Testament Represented
Over 1,000 years older than previous manuscripts!
The Significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Aleppo Codex
Isaiah Scroll
AD 900
125 BC
AD 500
AD 1
The Significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Aleppo Codex
Isaiah Scroll
How Do They Compare?
Identical Word-For-Word In More Than 95 Of The
5 variation consisted of obvious slips of the
pen and spelling
The Significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Latest OT Book Written About BC 325
Less Than A Generation Removed (The Generation
Closest To Original)
The Significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Less Than A Generation Removed (The Generation
Closest To Original)
Isaiah 40
7 The grass withers, the flower fades, When the
breath of the LORD blows upon it Surely the
people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower
fades, But the word of our God stands forever.
Volume I--the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • The fact other texts were found is no evidence
    that we are missing inspired texts.
  • In any person or communitys library we would
    expect to find both inspired and uninspired
  • Why should the Essene community in Qumran be any
  • The manuscripts we have found at Qumran do not
    vary in the actual wording of the text.
  • Samuel may have additional text, but it does not
    contradict the Samuel of the Bible.
  • Jeremiah may have less text, but there is no
    contradiction of the text at Qumran with the
    Jeremiah of todays Bible.
  • In fact, the manuscript evidence for accurate
    textual transmission is enhanced by the discovery
    of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
  • In part 2 we will consider how the Dead Sea
    Scrolls have also given more evidence in favor of
    the New Testament.

Volume I--Question of Textual Transmission
  • A key argument often proposed to cast doubt upon
    the Scriptures is the question of textual
  • Besides the Dead Sea Scrolls, our earliest Old
    Testament manuscripts are hundreds of years
    removed from the originals.
  • This is to be expected as writing materials
    crack, wither and fade away.
  • But, can we expect our Old Testament text to be
    accurate in this situation?
  • Did some add, remove and edit parts of the
    inspired text?
  • A favorite illustration used by skeptics is how
    messages change like when playing the game
  • Lets notice the careful methods used by the
    scribes and copyists of the inspired text.

Volume I--Question of Textual Transmission
  • According to Josh McDowell,
  • In Judaism, a succession of scholars was charged
    with standardizing and preserving the biblical
    text, fencing out all possible introduction of
  • Rabbi Aquiba, from the second century A.D. is
    credited with saying,
  • the accurate transmission of the text is a
    fence for the Torah.
  • F.F. Bruce, Rylands professor of Biblical
    Criticism and Exegesis at the University of
    Manchester, says,
  • the consonantal text of the Hebrew Bible which
    the Masoretes edited had been handed down to
    their time with conspicuous fidelity over a
    period of nearly a thousand years.

Volume I--Question of Textual Transmission
  • Various groups were charged with copying the
    Hebrew text.
  • The scribes between the 5th and 3rd centuries
  • The Zugoth in the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C.
  • The Tannaim until A.D. 200.
  • The Talmudists (A.D. 100-500).
  • The Masoretes (A.D. 500-1000)
  • We want to consider the Talmudists disciplines
    in regard to transcribing the text.
  • Seeing their habits will help us note their high
    regard for the sacred text.

Volume I--Question of Textual Transmission
  • Samuel Davidson describes the rules,
  • A synagogue roll must be written on the skins of
    clean animals, prepared for the particular use of
    the synagogue by a Jew. These must be fastened
    together with strings taken from clean animals.
    Every skin must contain a certain number of
    columns, equal throughout the entire codex. The
    length of each column must not extend over less
    than 48 or more than 60 lines and the breadth
    must consist of thirty letters. The whole copy
    must be first-lined and if three words be
    written without a line, it is worthless. The ink
    should be black, neither red, green, nor any
    other colour, and be prepared according to a
    definite recipe. An authentic copy must be the
    exemplar, from which the transcriber ought not in
    the least deviate

Volume I--Question of Textual Transmission
  • He continues
  • No word or letter, not even a yod, must be
    written from memory, the scribe not having looked
    at the codex before himBetween every consonant
    the space of a hair or thread must intervene
    between every new section, the breadth of nine
    consonants between every book, three lines. The
    fifth book of Moses must terminate exactly with a
    line but the rest need not do so. Besides this,
    the copyist must sit in full Jewish dress, wash
    his whole body, not begin to write the name of
    God with a pen newly dipped in ink, and should a
    king address him while writing that name he must
    take no notice of him.
  • When complete, the Talmudists were convinced they
    had an exact duplicate and gave it equal
  • This helps explain the lack of earlier copies.

Volume I--Question of Textual Transmission
  • Sir Frederic Kenyon in Our Bible and the Ancient
    Manuscripts writes,
  • The same extreme care which was devoted to the
    transcription of manuscripts is also at the
    bottom of the disappearance of the earlier
    copies. When a manuscript had been copied with
    the exactitude prescribed by the Talmud, and had
    been duly verified, it was accepted as authentic
    and regarded as being of equal value with any
    other copy. If all were equally correct, age
    gave no advantage to a manuscript on the
    contrary age was a positive disadvantage, since a
    manuscript was liable to become defaced or
    damaged in the lapse of time. A damaged or
    imperfect copy was at once condemned as unfit for

Volume I--Question of Textual Transmission
  • Kenyon continues,
  • Attached to each synagogue was a Gheniza or
    lumber cupboard, in which defective manuscripts
    were laid aside and from these receptacles some
    of the oldest manuscripts now extant have in
    modern times been recovered. Thus, far from
    regarding an older copy of the Scriptures as more
    valuable, the Jewish habit has been to prefer the
    newer, as being the most perfect and free from
    damage. The older copies, once consigned to the
    Gheniza naturally perished, either from neglect
    or from being deliberately burned when the
    Gheniza became overcrowded.

Volume I--Question of Textual Transmission
  • Kenyon concludes,
  • The absence of very old copies of the Hebrew
    Bible need not, therefore, either surprise or
    disquiet us. If, to the causes already
    enumerated, we add the repeated persecutions
    (involving much destruction of property) to which
    the Jews have been subject, the disappearance of
    the ancient manuscripts is adequately accounted
    for, and those which remain may be accepted as
    preserving that which alone they profess to
    preservenamely, the Masoretic text.
  • The Masoretes were so careful in their
    transcription that they
  • Counted the number of times each letter of the
    alphabet occurred in each book.
  • Pointed out the middle letter in the Pentateuch.
  • Pointed out the middle letter of the Hebrew
  • Made up mnemonics so the totals could be

Volume IThe Question of Textual Transmission
Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian wrote,
Volume I--Question of Textual Transmission
  • As mentioned earlier, the Dead Sea Scrolls help
    confirm we have a sound text.
  • Gleason Archer says of the Isaiah copies from
    Qumran (the most significant find),
  • proved to be word for word identical with our
    standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of
    the text. The 5 percent of variation consisted
    chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and
    variations of spelling.
  • F.F. Bruce says of the new find,
  • The new evidence confirms what we had already
    good reason to believethat the Jewish scribes of
    the early Christian centuries copied and recopied
    the text of the Hebrew Bible with the utmost

Volume I--The Documentary Hypothesis
  • Volume I spends several minutes proposing what is
    popularly known as The Documentary Hypothesis.
  • The basic theory is that Moses did not write the
    first five books of the Bible.
  • Before explaining the hypothesis, we must
    understand the reasoning behind it.
  • First, many historians have a worldview that does
    not believe in the supernatural (as mentioned in
    the Exodus lesson).
  • Instead, God or gods are used as a tool to
    enforce laws in a primitive, evolving culture.
  • Second, they believe that religion, including
    Israels, evolved over timethey claim we can see
    such evolution in the Pentateuch.

Volume IThe Documentary Hypothesis
Volume IThe Documentary Hypothesis
  • The proponents of this hypothesis believe
  • The religion of Israel followed this evolutionary
  • The writings of the Pentateuch can be separated
    into various documents which prove thisthus
    Moses was not the author.
  • There were at least four different writers who
    compiled the Pentateuch.
  • Ein Exodus 36, God is referred to as Elohim a
    word that represents a polytheistic culture where
    God is simply Creator.
  • Jin Exodus 32, God is referred to as Jehovah,
    when this word is used it represents God as the
    covenant God of Israel.
  • Dthe writer of Deuteronomy, this writing shows
    progress in social organization and an advance in
  • Pall writings dealing with priestly elements
    were added later as the religion evolved to this
    point, it was likely edited by a priest/scribe.

Volume IThe Documentary Hypothesis
  • Their view is stated by William Albright in his
    Archaeology of Palestine and the Bible,
  • The entire school of Wellhausen (those who teach
    the evolution of the Hebrew religion, JRW) has
    agreed on a refusal to admit Mosaic monotheism,
    and a conviction that Israelite monotheism was
    the result of a gradual process, which did not
    culminate until the eighth century B.C.
  • McDowell writes in his chapter on Documentary
  • Monotheism was not considered to have been
    present in the Mosaic age. It was, rather,
    considered to have been a result of the purifying
    effects of the Babylonian exile, and not
    characteristic of Israel until after the sixth
    century B.C.
  • If this theory is true, any statement in the
    Pentateuch that teaches monotheism could not have
    been written by Moses.

Volume IThe Documentary Hypothesis
  • Problems with this theorya refusal to admit
    archaeological evidence.
  • Monotheistic beliefs are evidenced through
    archaeology in the Mosaic age (1500-1200 B.C.).
  • Joseph Free writes,
  • an examination of the archaeological
    inscriptional material shows that a monotheistic
    type of worship of the god Aton came into Egypt
    in the period between 1400 and 1350 B.C.
    Monotheistic tendencies in Babylonia are
    evidenced in the period 1500-1200 B.C. in a
    famous Babylonian text which identifies all
    important Babylonian deities with some aspect of
    the great god Mardukthere is one great god with
    various functions. Monotheistic tendencies also
    appear in Syria and Canaan in this time period of
    the fourteenth century B.C.
  • Archaeology and Liberalism, 334-335.

Volume IThe Documentary Hypothesis
  • We could look at much more archaeological
  • However, we will now look at positive evidence
    for Mosaic authorship.
  • The Pentateuch itself credits Moses as its author
    in several key portions that scholars dispute.
  • Book of the Covenant (Exodus 244,7).
  • Renewal of the Covenant (Exodus 3427).
  • Deuteronomic Code (Deut. 319,24-26).
  • Itinerary of Israel from Ramses to Moab (Num.
  • Song of Moses (Deut. 3219-21).
  • Other Old Testament books credit Moses with
    writing, not just passing on in oral tradition,
    the Pentateuch.
  • Joshua 17-8 831,34 236
  • 1 Kings 23 2 Kings 146 2325
  • 2 Chronicles 2318 254 3016 3512
  • Ezra 618 Nehemiah 81,14 131

Volume IThe Documentary Hypothesis
  • Moses would have definitely been in a position to
    write the Pentateuch.
  • He had
  • The education (Acts 722)
  • Resources (he could have received records of
    pre-Mosaic history from Hebrew and Egyptian
  • Geographical familiarity (had intimate knowledge
    of Egypt, Sinai as seen in the Pentateuch)
  • Motivation (called by God)
  • Time (40 years in the wilderness is plenty of

Volume IThe Documentary Hypothesis
  • The New Testament also confirms Moses as the
    author of the Pentateuch.
  • Mark 1219,
  • Teacher, Moses wrote to us
  • John 117,
  • For the law was given through Moses
  • Romans 105,
  • Moses writes
  • John 545-47,
  • Do not think that I shall accuse you to the
    Father there is one who accuses youMoses, in
    whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you
    would believe Me for he wrote about Me. But if
    you do not believe his writings, how will you
    believe My words?
  • Was Jesus wrong? Denying Moses was the author of
    the Pentateuch has widespread implications!

Can We Trust Our Bibles? (part 2)
  • A review and critique of A Es documentary, Who
    Wrote the Bible?

Volume II--Is There Significant N.T. Manuscript
  • Volume II of this DVD begins by calling into
    question the manuscripts of the New Testament.
  • Two main problems they identify are
  • The original authors did not identify themselves.
  • Only copies of manuscripts exist.
  • John Dominic Crossan, a liberal scholar, uses the
    gospel of Mark as an example.
  • He claims the oldest manuscript we have of Mark
    is from 225 A.D. so we must have,
  • copies and copies and copies and copies and
    copies (2 1000).

Volume II--Is There Significant N.T. Manuscript
  • Josh McDowell writes in The New Evidence that
    Demands a Verdict,
  • The bibliographical test is an examination of
    the textual transmission by which documents reach
    us. In other words, since we do not have the
    original documents, how reliable are the copies
    we have in regard to the number of manuscripts
    and the time interval between the original and
    extant (currently existing) copies? (p.33,34).
  • Thankfully, the New Testament text rests on a
    multitude of manuscript evidence.

Volume II--Is There Significant Manuscript
  • Consider the wealth of extant manuscripts of the
    N.T. that were copied by hand from the 2nd
    through 15th centuries.
  • 5,656 Greek copies alone
  • Over 10,000 Latin Vulgate manuscripts
  • 9,300 other early versions (Ethiopic, Slavic,
    Armenian, etc.)
  • We have nearly 24,970 manuscripts of portions of
    the New Testament in existence today.
  • Compare that to only 643 existing manuscripts of
    Homers Iliad.

Volume II--Is There Significant Manuscript
  • The number of manuscript copies is important.
  • It makes it possible to reconstruct the original
    with a very high accuracy.
  • John Warwick Montgomery states,
  • to be skeptical of the resultant text of the New
    Testament books is to allow all of classical
    antiquity to slip into obscurity, for no
    documents of the ancient period are as well
    attested bibliographically as the New Testament.
  • F.J.A. Hort adds,
  • in the variety and fullness of the evidence on
    which it rests the text of the New Testament
    stands alone among ancient prose writings.

Volume II--Is There Significant Manuscript
  • A common criticism of the New Testament is that
    it is full of errors.
  • Sir Frederic G. Kenyon, who was the director and
    principal librarian of the British Museum, says,
  • besides number, the manuscripts of the New
    Testament differ from those of classical
    authorsin no other case is the interval of time
    between the composition of the book and the date
    of the earliest extant manuscripts so short as in
    that of the New Testament. The books of the New
    Testament were written in the latter part of the
    first century the earliest extant manuscripts
    are of the fourth centurysay from 250 to 300
    years later. This may sound like a considerable
    interval, but it is nothing to that which parts
    most of the great classical authors from their
    earliest manuscripts. We believe that we have in
    all essentials an accurate test of the seven
    extant plays of Sophocles yet the earliest
    substantial manuscript upon which it is based was
    written more than 1400 years after the poets

Volume IIIs There Significant Manuscript
  • Dockery, Mathews, and Sloan write,
  • It must be said that the amount of time between
    the original composition and the next surviving
    manuscript is far less for the New Testament than
    for any other work in Greek literatureAlthough
    there are certainly differences in many of the
    New Testament manuscripts, not one fundamental
    doctrine of the Christian faith rests on a
    disputed reading.
  • Edward Glenny reports,
  • No one questions the authenticity of the
    historical books of antiquity because we do not
    possess the original copies. Yet we have far
    fewer manuscripts of these works than we possess
    of the New Testament.

Volume IIIs There Significant Manuscript
Volume II--Is the Earliest Mark Manuscript from
225 A.D.?
  • This video alleges that Matthew and Luke copied
    quite a bit from Mark.
  • Yet, they also claim that the text of Mark could
    be greatly corrupted.
  • One scholar asserts that our earliest manuscript
    evidence of Marks gospel is from 225 A.D.
  • This is yet another area where the Dead Sea
    Scrolls have helped in critical research.
  • Several finds among the Dead Sea Scrolls have
    made this claim obsolete.

The Dead Sea Scrolls
Earliest New Testament Text
Cave 7s roof and sides have eroded away.
Significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Earliest New Testament Text
Cave 7s roof and sides have eroded away.
Volume II--Is the Earliest Mark Manuscript from
225 A.D.?
  • This fragment contains the words from Mark
  • For they had not understood about the loaves,
    because their heart was hardened. When they had
    crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret
    and anchored there.

The Dead Sea Scrolls
Earliest New Testament Text
Before 68 AD
7Q6AMk.428 7Q15Mark 648 7Q5Mk.652, 53
7Q7Mk.1217 7Q6BA.2738 7Q9Rom 511-12
7Q41Tim.316, 41-3 7Q102Pet.115
7Q8Js.123, 24
Style indicates about 50 AD
Mark 13
(Mark can now be dated to AD 50)
2 And Jesus said to him, Do you see these
great buildings? Not one stone will be left
upon another which will not be torn down.
Destruction of Jerusalem occurred in AD 70
Volume II--Analyzing the Q Source Document
  • This video surmises that Matthew and Luke, since
    they wrote their gospels later, copied from Mark.
  • For the material that differs, they propose that
    Matthew and Luke (who were not the authors) used
    a different source.
  • They call this source Q.
  • This is from the German word Quelle meaning
  • The video claims,
  • No material evidence for the existence of a
    hypothetical Q Gospel has ever been found, yet
    its influence is unmistakable (2 1500).
  • Can you say hypocrites?
  • Earlier, they doubted the authenticity of
    Scriptures because we do not have the originals.
  • Now, they are claiming Matthew and Luke used
    another source even though they have no proof of
    the original!

Volume II--Analyzing the Q Source Document
  • Concerning this attack, consider
  • It is reasonable that these accounts be similar
    since they record the same events.
  • Luke himself mentions that he witnessed and
    received information about Jesus from witnesses
    (Luke 11-3).
  • Many of the early church fathers, those close to
    the time period, give credit to Matthew and Luke
    as authors.
  • Eusebius credits Mark with the gospel of Mark.
  • Papias credits Matthew with writing his gospel.
  • Irenaeus gives credit to Matthew, Mark, Luke and
    John as the authors of the gospels that bear
    their name.
  • The writers often claim to be primary sources
    (Luke 11-3).

Volume II--Analyzing the Q Source Document
  • F.F. Bruce writes in The New Testament Documents,
  • it can have been by no means so easy as some
    writers seem to think to invent words and deeds
    of Jesus in those early years, when so many of
    His disciples were about, who could remember what
    had and had not happened. And it was not only
    friendly eyewitnesses that the early preachers
    had to reckon with there were others less well
    disposed who were also conversant with the main
    facts of the ministry and death of Jesus. The
    disciples could not afford to risk inaccuracies
    (not to speak of willful manipulation of the
    facts), which would at once be exposed by those
    who would be only too glad to do soHad there
    been any tendency to depart from the facts in any
    material respect, the possible presence of
    hostile witnesses in the audience would have
    served as a further corrective.

Volume II--Analyzing the Q Source Document
  • To put it bluntly, it is difficult to analyze the
    Q document when it does not exist!
  • Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are referred to
    within Scripture and in history.
  • Yet, no Q document is ever mentioned.
  • The purpose for supposing such is to attack the
    credibility of the New Testament.
  • Its a what if argument that is pointless
    unless physical evidence actually exists.
  • If a critic uses Q as a source document to
    question the Bibles authorship, ask him to show
    you his source!

  • In our study we have examined several of the
    arguments made in Who Wrote the Bible?
  • In a short amount of time, we have made some
    headway in being more assured that
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls confirm we have an accurate
  • The theories and hypotheses of scholars have some
    glaring holes and a lack of real evidence.
  • The textual transmission and manuscript evidence
    proves we have a well-preserved and uncorrupted
  • It is my hope that you have a more firm
    conviction that you can trust the Bible you read.
  • May you read it often, thoroughly and honestly as
    faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word
    of God.

Sir Walter Scott once wrote, Within that awful
volume lies The mystery of mysteries Happiest
they of human race To whom God has granted
grace To read, to fear, to hope, to pray To lift
the latch, to force the way And better had they
neer been born, Who read to doubt, or read to