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Theology 101


Title: Theology 101 Author: Jim Shultz Last modified by: Jim Shultz Created Date: 5/1/2006 4:22:01 PM Document presentation format: On-screen Show (4:3) – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Theology 101

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Can I Trust My Bible?Reliability of the Old
New Testament
  • What specific issues have you heard raised
    against the reliability of the Bible as an
    historical document?
  • Why might it be important to establish it as
    historically before getting into defending it
    being Gods Word?

  • Christian Faith is not an irrational leap.
    Examined objectively, the claims of the Bible are
    rational propositions well supported by reason
    and evidence. Chuck Colson
  • Defend the Bible? I would as soon defend a lion!
    Unchain it and it will defend itself. 
  • Charles Spurgeon

Before we begin
  • Do not get bogged down in the details. I am not
    expecting you to remember all of them, but just
    be aware that they exist.
  • Think about questions you would have regarding
    some of these things and think through the
  • It is good to just know that there is support so
    that you dont get tossed by every wind of

Tests of Reliability
  • Bibliographical
  • How many copies?
  • How early are those copies (distance of dates)?
  • External evidence
  • What do other authors say that were writing at
    the same time?
  • What archeological/historical evidence do we have
    for/against the report of this document?
  • Internal evidence
  • What does the document claim to be?
  • Is that message consistent throughout the

Bibliographical Evidence
  • How many copies?
  • How early are those copies?

The Old Testament
  • The Scribes were professionals.
  • They believed they were transcribing the Word of
    God and were therefore very careful.
  • The earliest complete copy of the Old Testament
    is the Massoretic Text, written in Hebrew, from
    around 900 A.D.

The Old Testament
  • When the Massoretes copied a book, they would add
    up the letters and find the middle letter. If it
    didnt match the original, they tore it up and
    made a new one.

The Dead Sea Scrolls
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls comprise thousands of
    fragments from every book of the Hebrew Old
    Testament except Esther, including a complete
    copy of the book of Isaiah. They were found in
    about a dozen caves near Qumran, Israel between
    1949 and 1956. The manuscripts were dated by
    Carbon-14, style of writing, spelling, and
    pottery at between 300 B.C. to 100 A.D. This is
    over 1000 years earlier than the Massoretic text.

The Dead Sea Scrolls
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls agree at a 95 level with
    the Massoretic Text. The remaining 5 is due to
    spelling changes.

The Old Testament
  • The Septuagint or LXX (thought to be translated
    by 70 Jewish scholars in Alexandria)
  • The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Old
    Testament from around 200 B.C. and is what Jesus
    and the New Testament writers quoted from and
    strongly agrees with the Massoretic text.

Conclusion about the OT
  • In his book, Can I Trust My Bible (p. 129-130),
    R. Laird Harris concluded, We can now be sure
    that copyists worked with great care and accuracy
    on the Old Testament, even back to 225 B.C. . . .
    indeed, it would be rash skepticism that would
    now deny that we have our Old Testament in a form
    very close to that used by Ezra when he taught
    the word of the Lord to those who had returned
    from the Babylonian captivity.

New Testament Biographical Evidence
  • The degree of validity for a historical document
    is measured by the number of manuscripts (copies)
    in existence, and the date of the manuscript.
  • How many for Homers Iliad?
  • 643 manuscripts
  • Do we trust Aristotles poetic writings?
  • written is 343BC, and earliest manuscript is
    dated 1100 AD (almost 1400 years).
  • Does anyone doubt the validity of these? Do you
    think this sounds like a large number of
  • New Testament 20,000 manuscripts, and the date
    between the original and the manuscripts is too
    small to be accounted for, according the
    manuscript experts.

Most updated evidence shows that we have 5,366
manuscripts dating less than 40 years from the
original writing.
New Testament
The number of manuscripts of the New Testament,
of early translations from it, and of quotations
from it in the oldest writers of the Church, is
so large that it is practically certain that the
true reading of every doubtful passage is
preserved in some one or the other of these
ancient authorities. This can be said of no other
ancient book of the world. (Sir Frederick
Kenyon, The Bible and Archaeology, Harper, New
York, 1940, p. 55)
New Testament
The interval, then, between the dates of
original composition and the earliest extant
evidence becomes so small as to be in fact,
negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt
that the Scriptures have come down to us
substantially as they were written has now been
removed. Both the authenticity and the general
integrity of the books of the New Testament may
be regarded as finally established. (Sir
Frederick Kenyon, The Bible and Archaeology,
Harper, New York, 1940, p. 288)
Canon of the Bible
  • Internal witness of the Spirit
  • Apostolic in origin or sanction
  • Usage by the Church (at that time)
  • Content of the letter (and how it agrees with
    other works)
  • Spiritual and moral effect
  • Attitude of the early church
  • No evidence that we have missing books as is
    sometimes suggested

Biographical Evidence
  • Why might this information be important?
  • Were you familiar with this information before?
  • If not, how might this impact your faith?

External Evidence
  •  What do other authors say that were writing at
    the same time?
  • What archeological/historical evidence do we have
    for/against the report of this document?

External Evidence
  • If a document contradicts history, we know it is
    false (like the Book of Mormon).
  • History and our understanding of it help us to
    understand the future and the things we must
    know. The Bible must stand true in light of
    history if it is to be considered true.
  • Why is this necessary?
  • Have you heard evidence for/against the Bible?

External Evidence
  • No archaeological discovery has ever
    controverted a biblical reference. Scores of
    archaeological findings have been made which
    confirm in clear outline or exact detail
    historical statements in the Bible. Nelson
    Glueck (Jewish Archaeologist).
  • In actuality, a lot of what we know about history
    is drawn from the Bible.
  • Even more, many archaeologists setting out to
    disprove the Bible have become Christians as a
    result of their findings.

External Evidence Archaeology
  • Archeology is an inexact science dealing with
    fragmentary evidence from unrepeatable events.
    Therefore interpretations depend heavily on prior

  • The Ebla Tablets were found in Syria in 1974 and
    are composed of over 16,000 clay tablets dating
    to 2580-2450 B.C., the oldest written material
    known. They confirm names like Ur, Sodom,
    Gomorrah, Baal, Adam, Eve, and Noah.
  • The creation account speaks of one God who
    created the heavens, moon, stars, and earth as
    well as the concept of creation out of nothing.

  • The Tower of Babel is confirmed from tablets from
    Iraq that confirm a king of Ur built a ziggurat
    (2000 B.C.) to worship a moon god that was
    destroyed, the men scattered, and their language
    made strange.
  • Archeology has also shown that the names, places,
    and customs of the patriarchs are as Genesis
    relates them.
  • Sodom and Gomorrah have been identified and
    evidence of intense heat and earthquake activity
    destroying the cities has been found.

Saul, David, and Solomon
  • Sauls fortress at Gibeah has been excavated.
  • A coin was recently excavated in Jerusalem that
    contained the inscription, The House of David.
  • A small ornament found in a shop in Jerusalem in
    1979 was inscribed Belonging to the Temple of

The Captivities
  • 26,000 Assyrian tablets affirm every Old
    Testament reference to an Assyrian King including
    Sennacharib and his failure to capture Jerusalem,
    including that thousands of his men died and the
    rest were scattered.
  • Records found in ancient Babylon affirm the
    treatment of the Hebrew royal family, Belshazzar,
    and Cyrus decree allowing the Jews to rebuild
    the Temple (Ezra 11-4).

The New Testament
  • The fragment of John 18 from 125 A.D.
  • Lukes meticulous history has been verified even
    in places that it was originally thought he got
    it wrong.
  • Unique places in Jerusalem from Johns Gospel
    have been located such as the Pool of Bethesda,
    Pool of Siloam, and Jacob's Well.
  • The census of Luke 2 is not known specifically
    but such censuses were taken at that time and the
    right rulers are mentioned for that time.

  • While there is much in the Bible that has not
    been specifically confirmed by archaeology,
    nothing has been found that unequivocally refutes
    any statement in the Bible.

Other Authors
  • The early historian Eusebius preserved writings
    of Papias, the bishop of Hierapolis in 130 AD,
    which explain the Apostle John telling of the
    attention taken by Mark in his job of interpreter
    of the Apostle Peter.

Other Authors
  • Irenaeus, the bishop of Lyons in 180 AD wrote
    about how Matthew published his gospel among the
    Jews in the Hebrew language, while Peter and Paul
    were preaching and founding churches. He further
    tells of Mark writing his gospel from the
    teachings of Peter, Luke writing his gospel from
    the teachings of Paul and that John wrote his
    gospel while living at Ephesus in Asia.
  • Archaeology has confirmed many portions of
    Scripture, with the largest confirmation being
    the book of Acts. A. N. Sherwin-White is a
    classical historian and he writes
  • "... for Acts the confirmation of historicity is
    overwhelming". He further writes "... any attempt
    to reject its basic historicity even in matters
    of detail must now appear absurd. Roman
    historians have long taken it for granted."

  • What difference does external evidence make?
  • What challenges lie in trying to both understand
    and explain this?

Internal Evidence
  • What does the document claim to be?
  • Is that message consistent throughout the

Internal Evidence What does the Bible claim for
  • The Old Testament
  • The Old Testament claims to be God speaking over
    3800 times.
  • Jesus referred to the Old Testament as
    authoritative. (Matt.5 17-19)
  • Jesus and the apostles quoted from the Old
    Testament as their authority. (Matt. 19 4,5 II
    Tim 3 16-17 1 Pet. 110,11)

Internal Evidence What does the Bible claim for
  • The New Testament
  • Hebrews 11-2 makes clear that Jesus authority is
    on a par with the Old Testament.
  • HEB 11 In the past God spoke to our forefathers
    through the prophets at many times and in various
    ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to
    us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all
    things, and through whom he made the universe.
  • Paul declared that his message was specifically
    from God. (2 Thess. 215 1 Cor. 417 Gal.

Consistency of the Message
  • The Bible was written over a period of at least
    1500 years (time of the exodus 1400 BC to NT
    times AD 100) by around 40 authors from many
    locations (Israel, Babylon, Sinai, Greece,
    Turkey, and Italy) covering controversy, problems
    and disagreements, yet unified in its overall
  • However, it would be ridiculous to claim the fact
    that the Bible says it is the Word of God to be
    the pivotal argument for its authority.

Is the Bible an Historically Reliable Document?
  • Certainly the Bible is the most accurate and
    attested document of the ancient world. To reject
    it as Gods Word is far more likely due to
    personal bias than the evidence.
  • - Ray Bohlin, PhD

Roadblocks to Reliability
  • Genre
  • Backwards Interpretation
  • Original Manuscript Inspiration
  • Misunderstood Infallibility
  • Paradoxes

  • It is helpful for us to learn that the Bible is
    historically accurate, that it is internally
    consistent, that it contains prophecies that have
    been fulfilled hundreds of years later, that it
    has influenced the course of human history more
    than any other book, that it has continued
    changing the lives of millions of individuals
    throughout its history, that through it people
    come to find salvation, that it has a majestic
    beauty and a profound depth of teaching unmatched
    by any other book, and that it claims hundreds of
    times over to be Gods very words. All of these
    arguments and others are useful to us and remove
    obstacles that might otherwise come in the way of
    our believing Scripture. But all of these
    arguments taken individually or together cannot
    finally be convincing.
  • Wayne Grudem

Questions Archaeology
  • What is convincing?
  • What are some thoughts you have?
  • What questions do YOU have?
  • Where should we go from here?

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