Learning More About The Bible
The Bible is the Word of God
A) His holy message of purpose & truth.
B) His Self-revelation, His thoughts & His will, in written form.
1) 2 Peter 1:16-21; 2 Timothy 3:16,17.
2) John 17:17; Hebrews 4:12.
Significance of Understanding God
He is creator of all things and has the natural right to govern and dictate our lives (Psalm 2 & 24; Dan. 4).
Proper approach is crucial to understanding God’s will
1) Must have a proper attitude.
2) Must have an appropriate translation of the Bible.
a) Formal Equivalence (word-for-word): When Biblical scholars attempt to translate each word based upon the
word usage at the time of the writing. The intent is to come as close as possible.
b) Dynamic/Functional Equivalence (thought-for-thought): When Biblical scholars translate the meaning of each
c) Paraphrase: A re-statement of a translation in modern terms and vocabulary— often grossly exaggerated.
(Popular Bible Translations List)
Formal Equivalence (word-for-word)
King James Version (KJV) (1611/ 1900)
American Standard Version (ASV) (1901).
New King James Version (NKJV) (1982).
New American Standard Bible (NASB) (1995).*
English Standard Version (ESV) (2001).*
* The ESV and NASB, are your best bet for word-for-word accuracy. I personally prefer the ESV.
Dynamic/Functional Equivalence (thought-for-thought)
New International Version (Dynamic with formal)
Today’s New International Version (Dynamic with formal)
Holman Christian Standard Bible (called "optimal equivalence")
New English Translation (Dynamic with formal)
New Century Version (“Free translation”)
The Living Bible (1972)
The Message (2002)
Dynamic & Paraphrase
New English Bible; Revised English Bible; Good News Bible; New Living Translation; God’s Word Translation; Contemporary— English Version.
Why Bible was written (Purpose of the Bible).
1) To reveal God.
2) To reveal truth.
3) To reveal meaning of life.
4) To reveal mankind.
5) To reveal sin.
6) To reveal Christ.
7) To reveal salvation.
8) To reveal our eternal destiny.
Uniqueness of The Bible
There is significant unity which underlies the entire collection of 66 books in the Bible, which carries through the many centuries during which it was being composed. “These books exhibit a remarkable singleness of purpose and program, most reasonably explained as the operation of a single mind, the mind of the divine Author Himself” -Archer G. Jr.
Of all world religions, only the Hebrew-Christian offers a logically defensible epistemology (science of religious knowledge). The end result of thousands years of human investigation and philosophic inquiry has, apart from the Bible itself, been hopeless disagreement and confusion in the whole area of religion.
It logically follows that human investigation, even with the most careful and scientific methodology, can lead to nothing more solid than mere conjecture when it comes to:
1) The origin of life.
2) The meaning of life.
3) The destiny of the soul.
Man by his own searching cannot find out God; at best he can only conjecture. How then can we know God or His will for our lives? Only if He reveals Himself to us! Unless He Himself tells us, we can never know for sure the answers to those questions which matter most to us as human beings.
Bible presents itself as the written revelation of God:
1) The Bible is a book in which God gives us the answers to the great questions which concern our soul, and which
all the wisdom and science of man are powerless to solve with any degree of certainty.
2) The Bible declares that it is a special revelation from God; it must therefore be acknowledged as the only source
from which to derive a trustworthy knowledge of religious truth.
3) If there be a God, and if He is concerned for our salvation, this is the only way (apart from direct revelation from
God to each individual of each successive generation) that He could reliably impart this knowledge to us. It must
be through a reliable written record such as the Bible declares to be.
We must next ask ourselves the question, What kind of record is this Book going to be?
1) One containing errors of various kinds, or one free from all error?
2) If this written revelation contains mistakes, then it can hardly fulfill its intended purpose: to convey to man in a
reliable way the will of God for his salvation.
3) No doubt, there is truth in every other religious document known to man. If the Bible turns out to be a mixture of
truth and error, then it becomes a book like any other.
Original manuscripts (autographs) of the biblical books.
1) They must have been free from all mistakes, or else they could not have been truly inspired by the God of truth in
whom is no darkness at all.
2) God could never have inspired a human author of Scripture to write anything erroneous or false.
3) To say that God could not use fallible man as an instrument of His infallible truth is as illogical as to insist that an
artist can never produce a valid painting because his brush is capable of slipping.
What about the text of the Bible as we now possess it?
1) Is It necessarily free from all mistakes of every kind? Not when it comes to copyists’ errors, we certainly do
find discrepancies among the handwritten copies that have been preserved to us, even those which come from
the earliest centuries.
2) Some slips of the pen may have crept into the first copies made from the original manuscripts, and additional
errors of a transmissional type could have found their way into the copies of copies.
3) It is almost unavoidable that this should have been the case. No one alive can sit down and copy out the text
of an entire book without a mistake of any kind.
4) Granted, then, that errors have crept into our texts as we now have them, how can they serve as a reliable
medium for disclosing God’s will? Are we not right back with the problem of books containing both truth and
There is a great difference between a document which was wrong at the start and a document which was right at the start but was miscopied! One may read a letter from his friend or relative and find in it such common slips as of for or, or and for an, or led for lead and yet by a simple process of correction in the light of the context, he may easily arrive at the true sense intended by the writer. Only if the errors which have gotten into the copies are so serious as to pervert the sense altogether does the message fail in accurate communication. But if the letter came from a correspondent who was confused, mistaken, or deceitful, then the errors and misinformation it contains are beyond remedy and the reader is injured thereby.
10 Most Common Manuscript Errors
1) Haplography—Singular entry of a letter which should have been written twice. (Missippi for Mississippi).
2) Dittography—Writing twice what should have been written once.
3) Metathesis—Transposing of letters or words: Reversing the proper position of letters or words.
4) Fusion—Combining all or part of two words into a single word.
5) Fission—Division of a single word into two words.
6) Homophony—Substitution of one homonym for another.
7) Misreading similar letters—Confusion of one letter for another of similar shape.
8) Omission of an intervening passage due to having a similar ending (such as between two sentences).
9) Omission of an intervening passage from the beginning of two similar sentences.
10) Accidental omission—Loss of a single word or letter.
Dead Sea Scrolls (discovered 1947)- prior to the DSS discovery the oldest MSS of Isaiah was about 900 AD, but in the DSS a complete copy of Isaiah was found and dated at about 100 BC and found to be accurate! This copy of Isaiah contained only minor differences from the later Masoretic text (the text which forms the basis of the modern Hebrew Bible). Most of the differences are simply grammatical (for example, spelling certain words with an extra letter that does not alter the pronunciation).
There are over 5,600 ancient manuscript copies of the New Testament giving it more copies to a degree that dwarfs any other figure of ancient history. And they have a 99% accuracy when compared to each other. There are only 643 manuscript copies of Homer’s Iliad, 49 of Plato’s Tetralogies, and 7 for Aristotle. Thus, the record of the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has more evidence and proof than any other person from antiquity.
How We Got The Bible
The Bible is inspired by God
2 Timothy 3:16-17.
2 Peter 1:20-21.
“The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue.”
-2 Samuel 23:2
1400’s--400 BC (1000 yrs).
New Testament written around.
40’s--100 AD (60 yrs)
Copying The Holy Scriptures
In his book on "How We Got The Bible, Maxie B. Boren describes Jewish law in the Talmud governing how their scribes had to copy the Sacred Text:
No word or letter could be written from memory; the scribe had to have an authentic copy before him and had to read and pronounce aloud each word before writing it.
The scribe had to reverently wipe his pen each time before writing the word God, and was required to wash his whole body before writing the name Jehovah.
Strict rules governed the forms of letters, words, and sections, the use of the pen, the parchment, etc..
One mistake on a sheet condemned the entire sheet! If three mistakes were found on any page, the entire manuscript was condemned and destroyed
Every word and every letter was counted and, under careful scrutiny, if anything was not completely proper the manuscript was condemned and destroyed at once.
Old Testament believers
The revelation of truth and the historical narrative they contain have been validated by Old Testament believers and by the unanimous witness of the Jewish nation.
The Old Testament has been further attested by the New Testament
The foundation of revelation established in the Old Testament supports the structure of truth revealed in the New Testament; likewise the types and prophecies spoken of in the Old Testament are realized and fulfilled in the New Testament. The New Testament is the capstone of the Old Testament revelation.
Strong Internal evidence of Scripture
The theology of the New Testament builds upon and combines with the theology of the Old Testament to authenticate the whole Bible as the Word of God. No other sacred literature in the world presents the doctrine of God, the existence of life, man’s lost condition, and spiritual hope as does the New Testament in harmony with the Old Testament. In this realm, the Bible is unique.
No other literature can compare with it. This is significant considering the fact that most writers of both the Old and New Testaments never met each other, nor did some live during the same time period as others. Some were shepherds, some were kings, some captives in foreign lands, and some were men of great education, others men of little formal training, yet all wrote in such harmony and unity that not one single contradiction has ever been found in their teachings. This gives even greater evidence to the divine inspiration, and authenticity of the Bible!
Stone and clay tablets
Archaeology has uncovered evidence that much writing on such materials was done as early as 2500 BC The very earliest examples of “stone writing” that have been discovered were found in Egypt and date back to near 4000 BC In Babylonia. Inscriptions have been found that date back as far as 3750 BC, at the time of King Sargon I. In Palestine itself “stone letters” have been found dating to 1500 BC.Many of these are preserved in museums and universities throughout the world.
The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments were written on stone:
“When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone,
written by the finger of God” -Exodus 31:18.
The Merneptah Stele
(Merneptah Stele Granite slab, over 3 meters (10 feet) high. Cairo Museum, Egypt.)
The Merneptah Stele is an inscription by the Ancient Egyptian king
Merneptah (1213 to 1203 BC). Discovered in 1896 at Thebes, and now housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The text is largely an account of Merneptah's victory over the Libyans and their allies, but the last 3 of the 28 lines deal with a separate campaign in Canaan. Line 27 mentions "Israel" this represents the first documented instance of the name Israel in Ancient Egypt.
The Moabite Stone
Louvre Museum. Paris, France
In A.D. 1868 the famous “Moabite Stone” (Mesha Stele) was found in Dhiban Jordan with the inscription written by King Mesha of Moab, mentioned in 2 Kings 3:4. Describing the victories of Moab over the House of Omri king of Israel (Samaria). With a possible reference to the House of David also.
Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III
British Museum, London, England
King Shalmaneser III (reigned 858-824 BC). The stele describes how Jehu brought or sent his tribute in or around 841 BC.
Jehu severed Israel’s alliances with Phoenicia and Judah, and became subject to Assyria. The caption above the scene, written in Assyrian cuneiform, can be translated: The tribute of Jehu, son of Omri: I received from him silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden vase with pointed bottom, golden tumblers, golden buckets, tin, a staff for a king [and] spears."
Tel Dan Stele
Created 870-750 BC,
Present location: Israel Museum.
The Tel Dan Stele is a broken stele (inscribed stone) discovered in 1993-94 during excavations at Tel Dan in northern Israel. It consists of several fragments making up part of a triumphal inscription in Aramaic, left most probably by Hazael of Aram-Damascus, an important regional figure in the late 9th-century B.C. Hazael boasts of his victories over the king of Israel and his ally the king of the "House of David" the first time the name David had been found outside of the Bible.
Created 690 B.C.
Discovered From 1830
Present location: Final editions in the British Museum, Oriental Institute of Chicago, and the Israel Museum.
(Sennacherib 705 – 681 BC)
"As for the king of Judah, Hezekiah, who had not submitted to my authority, I besieged and captured forty-six of his fortified cities, along with many smaller towns, taken in battle with my battering rams . . . I took as plunder 200,150 people, both small and great, male and female, along with a great number of animals including horses, mules, donkeys, camels, oxen, and sheep. As for Hezekiah, I shut him up like a caged bird in his royal city of Jerusalem. I then constructed a series of fortresses around him, and I did not allow anyone to come out of the city gates. His towns which I captured I gave to the kings of Ashod, Ekron, and Gaza."
This event is recorded in several books contained in Isaiah 33 and 36; 2 Kings 18:17; 2 Chr. 32:9.
British Museum, London, England
The tablet details Nebuchadnezzar's military campaigns in the west and has been interpreted to refer to both the Battle of Carchemish and the Siege of Jerusalem (597 BC).
“In the seventh year (of Nebuchadnezzar-599 BC.) in the month Chislev (Nov/Dec) the king of Babylon assembled his army, and after he had invaded the land of Hatti (Syria/Palestine) he laid siege to the city of Judah. On the second day of the month of Adar (16 March) he conquered the city and took the king (Jeconiah) prisoner. He installed in his place a king (Zedekiah) of his own choice, and after he had received rich tribute, he sent forth to Babylon.”
Timeline Of How We Got The Bible
Old Testament events are written down in Hebrew (portions in Aramaic) over several centuries. God instructed Moses to write the law (Ex. 34:27; Deut. 31:24-26; Jos. 1:1-8). Other Old Testament writers, inspired by God, include leaders, kings, and prophets.
Ezra, a priest and scribe collects and arranges some of the books of the Hebrew Bible – the Old Testament – about 450 BC, according to Jewish tradition.
The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament). It is translated in 250 – 100 BC by Jewish Scholars in Alexandria, Egypt.
Time of Jesus (4BC-AD33)
Jesus quotes the Old Testament (Scriptures) often. He says that He did not come to destroy the Scriptures, but to fulfill them. (See Luke 24:44-45).
Followers of Jesus,
Matthew Mark, Luke John, Paul, James, Peter, & Jude write the gospels, history, letters to other Christians, and the Revelation between 45 and 100. The writers quote from all but eight of the Old Testament books. These writings were copied and circulated so that by about 150 there is wide enough use of them to speak of the “New Testament” (Covenant) See Jer. 31:31-34; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25).
Old Testament Apocrypha: Evidence derived from 1st Century writers Philo & Josephus indicates the Hebrew canon did not include the Apocrypha. Earliest translations: 200-300 Latin, Coptic (Egypt), and Syriac (Syria).
Church Fathers. Accept the writings of the Gospels & Paul’s letters as canonical (The word “canon” is from the Greek word kanon. It was derived from the Semitic, Assyrian, and the Hebrew language. It was first borrowed from the Sumerian language and originally meant a “reed.” It came to mean figuratively anything straight and upright. In its Greek form it is used to describe a rule, a standard, and a model).
The New Testament Books are collected and circulated throughout the Mediterranean about the time of Constantine, the Roman emperor who legalizes Christianity in 313. By 400 the standard of 27 books is accepted in the East and West.
Jerome (A Biblical scholar) starts translating the Scriptures into Latin in 410 and finishes 25 years Later. This translation, called the Latin Vulgate, remains the basic Bible for many centuries.
The Masoretes are special Jewish scribes entrusted with the sacred task of making copies of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) approximately 500-900. They develop a meticulous system of counting the number of words in each book of the Bible to make sure they have copied it accurately. Any scroll found to have an error is buried according to Jewish law.
Christianity Reaches Britain before 300, but Anglo-Saxon pagans drive Christian Britons into Wales (450-600). In 596, Augustine of Canterbury begins evangelization again.
Caedmon, an illiterate monk & poet, retells portions of Scripture in Anglo-Saxon (Old English) poetry and song (676). Aldhelm of Sherborne, 709, is said to have translated the Psalms.
Bede, an English monk and scholar, makes an Old English (Anglo-Saxon) translation of portions of Scripture. On his deathbed in 735, he finishes translating the Book of John. Alfred The Great, King of Wessex (871-901) translates portions of Exodus, Psalms, and Acts.
Aldred, Bishop of Durham, inserts a gloss in the Northumbrian dialect between the lines of the Lindisfarne Gospels (950).
Aelfric (English Monk) (955-1020) translates portions of the Old Testament.
Normans conquer England (1066) and make French the official language. No English translation work produced until the 1300s.
First English Bible is translated from Latin in 1382 and is called the Wycliffe Bible in honor of priest and Oxford scholar John Wycliffe. During his lifetime, Wycliffe had wanted common people to have the Bible. He also criticized a number of church practices and policies. His followers derisively called Lollards (meaning “mumblers”), included his criticisms in the preface to the Wycliffe Bible. This Bible is banned and burned. Forty years after Wycliffe’s death, his bones are exhumed and burned for heresy.
In 1408, in England it becomes illegal to translate or read the Bible in common English without permission of a bishop.
World’s First Printing Press with movable metal is invented in 1455 in Germany by Johann Gutenberg. This invention is perhaps the single most important event to influence the spread of the Bible.
The Gutenberg Bible is the first book ever printed. This Latin Vulgate version is often illuminated by artists who hand paint letters and ornaments on each page. AD1500-1555 Erasmus, a priest and Greek scholar, publishes a new Greek edition and more
accurate Latin translation of the New Testament in 1516. His goal is that everyone be able to read the Bible, from the farmer in the field to the weaver at the loom. Erasmus’ Greek text forms the basis of the “textus receptus” and is used later by Martin Luther, William Tyndale, and King James translators.
Martin Luther translates the New Testament into German in 1522.
William Tyndale, priest and Oxford scholar, translates the New Testament from Greek (1525), but cannot get approval to publish it in England. He moves to Germany and prints Bibles, smuggling them into England in sacks of corn and flour. In 1535 he publishes part of the Old Testament translated from Hebrew. In 1536, Tyndale is strangled and burned at the stake. His final words are “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.” Tyndale is called the “Father of the English Bible” because his translation forms the basis of the King James Version. Much of the style and vocabulary we know as “biblical English” is traceable to His work.
The Coverdale Bible is
translated by Miles Coverdale (1535) and
dedicated to Anne Boleyn, one of King Henry VIII’s wives. This is the first
complete Bible to be printed in English.
The Matthew’s Bible, translated by John Rogers under the pen name “Thomas Matthew,” is the first Bible published with the king’s permission (1537). Printed just one year after Tyndale’s death, its New Testament relies heavily on Tyndale’s version, and even has a tribute to him on the last page of the Old Testament. Tyndale’s initials are printed in 21/2-inch block letters. Later Thomas Cromwell, advisor to King Henry VIII, entrusts Coverdale to revise Matthew’s Bible to make the Great Bible. The Great Bible (1539) is placed in every church by order of Thomas Cranmer, archbishop under King Henry VIII. This Bible is chained to the church pillars to discourage theft.
England’s Queen Mary bans Protestant translations of the English Bible. John Rogers and Thomas Cranmer are burned at the stake. Later some 300 men, women and children are also burned.
The Geneva Bible Exiles from England flee to Geneva, Switzerland, and in 1560 print the Geneva Bible, a complete revision of the Great Bible with the Old Testament translated from Hebrew. The Geneva Bible contains theological notes from Protestant scholars John Calvin, Beza, Knox, and Whittingham. It is the first Bible to use Roman type instead of black letter. This is the Bible of Shakespeare and the one carried to America by the Pilgrims in 1620. The 1640 edition is the first English Bible to omit the Apocrypha.
Bishops Bible A new translation begins under Queen Elizabeth in 1568. It is translated by several bishops of the Church of England in answer to the Geneva Bible. Rheims-Douai Bible was translated into English from Latin Vulgate by Catholic scholar Gregory Martin, while in exile in France (New Testament in 1582/Old Testament in 1609).
King James Version or Authorized Version King James I of England commissions 54 scholars to undertake a new Bible translation. Over the next six years, six teams of scholars using the Bishops Bible and Tyndale’s Bible, as well as available Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, complete the new version in 1611. The King James Version (also called the “Authorized Version,” even though King James never gave the finished version his royal approval) is revised several times. (The edition used today was revised in 1769.) It is the most popular Bible for more than 300 years.
Older Manuscripts Discovered!
Between 1629 and 1947, several of the earliest known copies of the Bible are found. Codex Alexandrinus, a copy of the New Testament from 400, perhaps the best copy of the book of Revelation, is made available to western scholars in 1629.
Codex Sinaiticus (earliest complete copy of the New Testament, copied in 350) is found in St. Catherine’s Monastery near Mt. Sinai.
The Revised Version (1885) In 1870, scholars in England decide to revise the King James Version to reflect the findings from the manuscripts discovered during the two previous centuries. Their goal is to use better Hebrew and Greek texts and to retranslate words based on new linguistic information about ancient Hebrew.
(earliest and probably best copy known of the New Testament from 325) is released to scholars in 1889 by the Vatican Library.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, found in a cave in 1947 by a shepherd, contain the oldest known copies of portions of the Old Testament. These copies were made between 100 BC and AD 100. A Scroll of Isaiah that is part of the Dead Sea Scrolls is the oldest complete manuscript of any book of the Bible (copied around 100). The copies of Isaiah discovered in the Qumran caves prove to be remarkably close to the standard Hebrew Bible, varying slightly in the spelling of some names. They give overwhelming reliability of the Masoretic copies.
Proving The Historical Existence of Jesus Without The Bible
(37 – 100), was a 1st-century Roman
Jewish historian of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War which resulted in the Destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in 70. His most important works were: The Jewish War (c.75) and Antiquities of the Jews (c. 94).
What He Said About Jesus
“Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works—a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”
Later Josephus writes:
“But the younger Ananus who, as we said, received the high priesthood, was of a bold disposition and exceptionally daring; he followed the party of the Sadducees, who are severe in judgment above all the Jews, as we have already shown. As therefore Ananus was of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus was now dead, and Albinus was still on the road; so he assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ,whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as law-breakers, he delivered them over to be stoned.”
Cornelius Tacitus was a Roman Historian who lived from 55-120AD. In 115 AD, Cornelius Tacitus wrote the following passage that refers to Jesus (called “Christus,” which means “The Messiah”) in book 15, chapter 44 of The Annals after a six-day fire burned much of Rome:
“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.”
Pliny The Younger
(61 AD – 112 AD)
Was a lawyer, author, and magistrate of Ancient Rome. Pliny is known for his hundreds of surviving letters, which are an invaluable historical source for the time period. Many are addressed to reigning emperors or to notables such as the historian, Tacitus.
Pliny himself was a notable figure, serving as an imperial magistrate under Roman emperor, Trajan (reigned AD 98–117). Pliny was considered an honest and moderate man, consistent in his pursuit of suspected Christian members according to Roman law, and rose through a series of Imperial civil and military offices.
In his correspondence with the emperor Trajan (Epistulae X.96) he reported on his actions against the followers of Christ. He asks the Emperor for instructions dealing with Christians and explained that he forced Christians to curse Christ under painful torturous inquisition:
“They were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and bound themselves to a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft, adultery, never to falsify their word, not to deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of a meal–but ordinary and innocent food."
Not only was Pliny aware of Jesus Christ, he also provides description of the activities of the early church. In a later writing he details persecution against Christians:
"Even this practice, however, they had abandoned after the publication of my edict, by which, according to your orders, I had forbidden political associations. I therefore judged it so much more the necessary to extract the real truth, with the assistance of torture, from two female slaves, who were styled deaconesses: but I could discover nothing more than depraved and excessive superstition. In the meanwhile, the method I have observed towards those who have denounced to me as Christians is this: I interrogated them whether they were Christians; if they confessed it I repeated the question twice again, adding the threat of capital punishment; if they still persevered, I ordered them to be executed. For whatever the nature of their creed might be, I could at least feel not doubt that contumacy and inflexible obstinacy deserved chastisement. There were others possessed of the same folly; but because they were Roman citizens, I signed an order for them to be transferred to Rome.”
Not only did Pliny not follow the Christian faith, he was torturing Christians and threatening death against them. And he even records that under threat of execution (just for believing in Jesus Christ as God) the early church members refused to deny their faith in Jesus. This is remarkable evidence of Jesus’ existence outside of the Bible.
Julius Africanus and Tallus
Julius Africanus (160 – 240) was a Christian traveler and historian of the late 2nd and early 3rd century AD. He is important chiefly because of his influence on Eusebius, on all the later writers of Church history among the Fathers, and on the whole Greek school of chroniclers.
Julius Africanus quotes the writings of Tallus, who was a first century non-Christian historian. In his Chronicles, Africanus quoting the historian Tallus, explains the reason for it being so dark during the day time on the day of crucifixion of Jesus Christ:
“An eclipse of the sun unreasonably, as it seems to me (unreasonably of course, because a solar eclipse could not take place at the time of the full moon, and it was at the season of the Paschal full moon that Christ died.” Julius Africanus, Chronography, 18.
The importance of this quote is two fold as it shows: 1) Non-Christian proof of Jesus’ existence and 2 ) Yet another confirmation of the Bible’s account of Jesus’ crucifixion. The Bible states in reference to the time Jesus was put on the cross: “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour” (Mt. 27:45). The “sixth hour” is noon and the ninth hour is 3:00PM. Amos also mentioned this (Amos 8:9).
Tallus was trying to explain the odd occurrence of the sky being dark at noon during the crucifixion of Jesus as an eclipse. Africanus also quotes the secular scholar Phlegon, a Greek Historian who lived in the 2nd century AD and also wrote of an eclipse occurring on the day Jesus was crucified. This again provides proof from a non-Christian source that confirms the account of Jesus being a real person who lived as well as confirming the account of His crucifixion straight from the Bible.
Lucian of Samosata
Lucian (Born 115-125? AD) was a well-known Greek satirist and traveling lecturer. More than eighty works bear his name. He mocked Christians in his writing, but at the same time provided evidence that Jesus really did exist:
“He was second only to that one whom they still worship today, the man in Palestine who was crucified because he brought this new form of initiation into the world.” Having convinced themselves that they are immortal and will live forever, the poor wretches despise death and most willingly give themselves to it. Moreover, that first lawgiver of theirs persuaded them that they are all brothers the moment they transgress and deny the Greek gods and begin worshiping that crucified sophist and living by his laws. They scorn all possessions without distinction and treat them as community property. They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time.”
Even though Lucian does not mention Jesus by name, there is no doubt he is speaking of the Jesus as he confirms: 1)That He was crucified in “Palestine” (the name of Israel at that time). 2) He Had followers who believed in eternal life, and that they were all equal in Jesus Christ. Lucian even mentions that Christians deny all other gods.
This again is all in accordance with the Bible’s clear statements about the Christian faith and provides even more evidence from outside of the Bible that Jesus, the “man in Palestine” did really exist.
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus
commonly known as Suetonius (69/75 – after
150), was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian
order in the early Imperial era. His most important
surviving work is a set of biographies of twelve successive
Roman rulers, from Julius Caesar to Domitian, entitled
De Vita Caesarum. The
description of his writings states: The emperor Claudius reigned 41 to 54 AD.
Suetonius reports his dealings with the eastern
Roman Empire, He reports that the emperor expelled the
Jews from Rome, since they “constantly
made disturbances at the instigation of Christ” (see Acts 18:1-2).
The name appears in manuscripts of Suetonius as Chrestus, a form also used by the Roman historian Tacitus to refer to Christ. Skeptics will point to the different spelling to say “that’s not Jesus he’s talking about!” but again, with the totality of evidence, it’s very obvious that followers of Jesus in the Roman Empire were persecuted by Roman authorities. So it certainly falls in line with the other historical accounts.
The Bible is Historical Proof That Jesus Existed
There is a great logical fallacy among Bible skeptics, atheists and those who like to challenge Christianity that says when discussing the historical aspects of the Bible “you can’t use the Bible as proof that Jesus existed. You must use non-Bible sources!”
“Why not?” The four Gospels of the Bible are bibliographical accounts of the life of Jesus. The normal objective measure of the reliability of historical documents is: 1) The number of available copies of ancient manuscripts and 2) the time span between the original version and the date of those copies still in existence today. When examined under this standard, the Bible proves to provide a treasure trove of proof and evidence that Jesus really existed.
Some of the earliest manuscript fragments of the New Testament are the John Rylands Fragment, Cheste Beatty Papyrus and the Bodmer Papyrus which were written between 50-100AD. Copies of these papyri were reproduced in 125-200AD, meaning that the time span between the originals and the copies still in existence today is 29 years to 130 years, putting all these manuscripts being written anywhere from 50--100 years after the death of Jesus Christ.
Some argue: “These manuscripts were written years after Jesus died. There’s no way they could be reliable!” But any
expert on ancient documents would disagree. Let’s look at some of the more famous and universally accepted historical documents and see how they match up with the Bible:
Plato — Plato wrote his works from 427-347 BC. The earliest manuscript copy of Plato’s writing in existence today was written in 900 AD. That is over 1,300 years after Plato’s death! And there are only 2 copies of these manuscripts in existence.
Julius Caesar — One of the most celebrated and trusted historical figures. Caesar lived from 100-44 BC and the earliest manuscript copy of his writings dates back to 900 AD, putting our best evidence of Caesar ever existing 1,000 years after his death. And there are 10 copies of ancient manuscripts of Caesar’s Gallic Wars.
If one questions the Bible based on when it was written, being “translated so many times,” (we still have the same Greek manuscripts today) and still question whether Jesus existed, then one must also be really sure that Julius Caesar and Plato were completely fictional characters and never really existed.
Homer — Homer, who historians are not even sure ever really existed even today, is credited with writing the Iliad in 900 BC. The earliest manuscript copy of the Iliad dates to 400 BC. Meaning the only proof of Homer or the Iliad being accurate is from 500 years after the death of Homer. Additionally there are 643 copies of ancient manuscripts of the Iliad written over the centuries that when compared against each other by experts have a 95.3 consistency and accuracy, making it one of the most reliable and proven documents of antiquity. That is of course, until you compare it to the New Testament. The New Testament manuscripts date to less than 100 years after the death of Christ.
Additionally there are over 5,600 ancient manuscript copies of the New Testament giving it more copies to a degree that dwarfs any other figure of ancient history. And they have a 99% accuracy when compared to each other. The evidence is not even comparable. And it all points to Jesus Christ. The record of the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has more evidence and proof than any other person from antiquity.
Overview Of The Bible (At A Glance)
OLD TESTAMENT (39 Books)
Pentateuch (5 Books of Law)
Gen. -Beginnings (life, marriage, sin, nations, languages, Jews)….Gen. 1:1. (1446—1406 BC)
Exo. -Exit from Egypt / law of Moses….Exo. 15:11. (1446—1406 BC)
Lev. -Jewish priesthood duties….Lev. 11:44; 17:11. (1446—1406 BC)
Num. -2 censuses / wilderness wanderings begin….Num. 32:23b. (1446—1406 BC)
Deut. -Moses repeats the law / obedience stressed / wanderings end….Deut. 8:3b. (1446—1406 BC)
History (12 books)
Josh. -Conquest of Canaan….Josh. 24:15. (1300s BC)
Judg. -Military leaders of Israel / sin, servitude, supplication, salvation….Judg. 17:6. (1400 —1000 BC)
Ruth -Proselyte during Judges / Kg. David’s great-grandmother….Ruth 1:16. (1350—1000 BC)
I,II Sam. -Last Judge / Israel’s first (God — appointed) kings….I Sam. 3:9. (1100—931 BC)
I,II Kgs. -Kings of Israel and Judah / origin of Samaritans….II Kgs. 17:22, 23-41. (561—539 BC)
I,II Chr. -Kings of Judah / origin of instrumental music in worship….II Chron. 29:25f. (450—400 BC)
Ezra -Restored Moses’ law after Babylonian captivity….Ezra 7:10. (400s BC)
Neh. -Rebuilt Jerusalem’s walls after Babylonian captivity….Neh. 13:31b. (400s BC)
Esther -Jewish queen of Persia who saved Jewish nation….Esth. 4:14. (400s BC)
Poetry or Wisdom (5 books)
Job -Faithful in sufferings….Job 13:15 (Jas. 5:11). (Unknown)
Psa. -The righteous are victorious….Psa. 1:1-2. (1000—450 BC)
Prov. -Wisdom for living….Prov. 1:7; 3:5-6. (900s—700s BC)
Eccl -How to enjoy life / life’s purpose….Eccl. 11:9; 12:13-14. (900s—500s BC)
S of S. -What (a) true love is….Song of Sol. 2:4; 6:3; 8:7. (900s—500s BC)
Isa. -Messianic statesman (to Judah’s kings before B. captivity)….Isa. 7:14; 53. (701—681 BC)
Jer. -40 yr. Plea for Judah’s repentance (arrival of B. Captivity)….Jer. 6:16. (626—582 BC)
Lam. -Jeremiah’s lament over Judah’s fall to Babylon….Lam. 3:40. (586 BC)
Ezek. -Explains to Judah her fall to Babylon….Ezek. 18:20. (593—571 BC)
Dan. -Prophet to Babylon & Persian kings….Dan. 4:17. (605—535 BC)
Hosea -Wed harlot to show Israel’s idolatry (before B. captivity)….Isa. 7:14; 53. (752—722 BC)
Joel -Locust plague foretaste of judgment / Pentecost prophecy….Joel 3:14; 2:28f. (Unknown/ after 586 BC?)
Amos -Foretells Israel’s fall to Assyria / ‘famine’ of God’s word….Amos 5:21-24. (760—753 BC)
Obad. -Foretells Edom’s total destruction….Obad. 1:10-11, 16. (586 BC)
Jonah -Preaches repentance to Nineveh….Jonah 4:2. (783—753 BC)
Micah -Samaria & Jerusalem’s judgment / Messiah’s birthplace….Mic. 1:5; 5:2. (738—698 BC)
Nahum -Nineveh’s doom...Nah. 1:14; 3:19. (663—612 BC)
Hab. -Judah’s doom by wicked Chaldeans (Babylon)...Hab. 1:2-6; 2:4. (609—598 BC)
Zeph. -Judah’s doom due to wicked reigns of Manasseh & Amon….Zeph. 3:1-2. (641—628 BC)
Hag. -Exhorts to finish Temple rebuilding….Hag. 1:2-4; 2:9. (520 BC)
Zech. -Exhorts to renew the Covenant / future king, priest, shepherd & salvation…Zech. 4:10; 9:9; 13:1
Mal. -Exhorts to keep Law till Messiah / John & Christ’s coming….Mal 4:4. (400s BC)
NEW TESTAMENT (27 Books)
Life of Christ (gospel—4 books)
Matt. -Written for the Jews / Jesus is the Messiah….Matt. 1:1; 16:13-16. (60 AD)
Mark -Written for the Romans / Jesus is the Son of God w/power….Mk. 1:1. (50s AD)
Luke -Written for the Greeks / Jesus is man’s example/Savior….Lk. 19:10. (60—62 AD)
John -Written for the World / Jesus is Deity….Jn. 1:1, 14; 20:30-31. (85—95 AD)
History (1 book)
Acts -First 30 yrs. Of the church (in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and then the world….Acts 1:8, 8:4. (60—62
Paul’s Epistles (13 books)
Rom. -The obedience of faith….Rom. 1:5, 16-17; 16:25-26. (57 AD)
I Cor. -Local church problems….I Cor. 1:10-11. (55—56 AD)
II Cor. -Solving local church problems….II Cor. 7:10; 13:5. (56 AD)
Gal. -Salvation through gospel faith, not Moses’ law….Gal. 1:6-9; 5:4. (50 AD)
Eph. -God’s eternal plan/purpose: the church….Eph. 1:8-10; 3:10-11, 21. (60—62 AD)
Phil. -The Joy of Christianity….Phil 1:21; 4:4, 13. (60—62 AD)
Col. -Christ: the world’s only hope for glory….Col. 1:28; 3:1-4. (60—62 AD)
I,II Thes. -The great apostasy and Christ’s return….I Thes. 4:13f; II Thes. 2:3. (50—54 AD)
I,II Tim. -Local church duties/instructions (elders, deacons, preacher)….I Tim. 3:14-15; II Tim. 2:15. (64—68 AD)
Titus -Elders/Preacher responsibilities...Titus 1:5-11; 2:1. (64—65 AD)
Phile. -Converted runaway slave returns to his master….Phile.1:11-12. (60—62 AD)
General Epistles (8 books)
Heb. -A better Covenant & High priest….Heb. 8:6. (60—69 AD)
Jas. -Christianity in practice….Jas. 2:24. (40s AD)
I Pet. -The hope worth suffering for….1 Pet. 4:16. (64—68 AD)
II Pet. -False teachers & the truth….II Pet. 3:16-17. (64—68 AD)
I Jn. -The Christian & sin….I Jn. 2:1; 3:9. (85—95 AD)
II Jn. -Treatment of false teachers….II Jn. 9-11. (85—95 AD)
III Jn. -Treatment of truth teachers…. III Jn. 8. (85—95 AD)
Jude -Contend for the faith….Jude 1:3. (60s—80s AD)
Prophecy (1 book)
Rev. -The everlasting victory of Christians….Rev. 12:11. (90—96 AD)