Understanding the Value of God's Word
The Bible is comprised of 66 separate writings or books. It was written over a period of approximately 1400 to 1800 years by more than 40 authors from various walks of life. While many of the authors are identified, some remain unknown.
The Bible is divided into the Old Testament, comprised of 39 books, and the New Testament, comprised of 27 books. The Old Testament, the Bible of the nation of Israel, was divided into three segments: the Law or Torah, the Prophets or Nebi'im, and the Writings or Kethubim.
Although the Old Testament was written in Hebrew and Aramaic, it was translated into Koine (common) Greek around 250-100 B.C. This translation is referred to as the Septuagint or the LXX. It contains the same books as the Hebrew Old Testament, but the order and breakdown of the books was changed to the from now used in the Old Testament.
While the Old Testament was originally written in two Semitic languages, Hebrew and Aramaic, the vast majority of it is in Hebrew. The New Testament was written in Koine Greek, the popular language used throughout most of the Mediterranean world in the time of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, a few Aramaic phrases are found in the New Testament because Aramaic was the vernacular of the people of Israel. Jesus and His disciples spoke Aramaic as well as Koine Greek. Much of the Old Testament was translated into Aramaic, and these works are referred to as the Targums.
HOW WAS THE BIBLE WRITTEN AND TRANSLATED?
The Bible itself tells us how it was written: "All Scriptures is inspired by God" (2 Timothy 3:16). Men "moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God" (2 Peter 1:21). The Greek world for inspired, theopneustos, means "God-breathed." The Holy Spirit carried men along, moving and guiding them as they wrote in their own words what God wanted them to say. Thus we have verbal inspiration, because the words of the original text were inspired by God. And because all Scripture was given by inspiration we have plenary inspiration, which means total or complete inspiration. Every part of the Bible is inspired. The Bible does not merely contain the words of God, but it actually is the Word of God. Thus the original writings, often called autographs, are infallible-without error. This concept is called the verbal, plenary inspiration of the autographs.
In early history, writing was done on stone, clay tablets, leather (animal skins), and papyrus scrolls. The autographs were probably written on papyrus. Papyrus, made from the inner bark of a reed plant, was formed into a paper-like material which was glued together and rolled into a scroll. Normally the writing was done on only one side of the scroll, so that as it was read it was unrolled with one hand and rolled up with the other. The scrolls were kept in a cylindrical box called a capsa.
According to the Jewish Talmud, the Scriptures were to be copied only on the skins of what God deemed as clean animals, such as sheep, calves, and goats. Parchment (dried animal skin) was costly but more durable and permanent than papyrus.
The Accuracy of the Copies
Eventually the scrolls were replaced by the codex. The codex (plural codices) was made from folded sheets, quires, which were stitched together like a book. Copies of the Old Testament were transcribed by hand under the strictest measures. The men who copied the manuscripts were called scribes. If one error was found the entire copy was destroyed. Thus the accuracy of the Old Testament is phenomenal. This accuracy has been confirmed by the multiple number of copies, by the Septuagint, and by the Dead Sea Scrolls.
More than 5000 ancient Greek copies of all or portions of the New Testament have been found. Although there are minor variances in the copied manuscripts, none affect doctrinal issues.
The same omnipotent Sovereign who inspired men to write the Word of God led other men to recognize that these were the books which would comprise the canon of Scripture. The canon is the group of books which are recognized to be inspired by God. This group comprises the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament canon of 39 books was fairly widely accepted in the days of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself, who is one with the Father always affirmed and never contradicted the Old Testament. Revelation, the last of the New Testament books to be written, was completed before the end of the first century A.D. By A.D. 367 Bishop Athanasius compiled the first known list of the current 27 books of the New Testament.
The Hebrew /Aramaic and Greek copies of the 66 books of the Bible are the basic of the translations made in the various languages of the world. A translator will study the original words of these copies, determine what those words mean, and then select the best way to faithfully transmit the meaning of the original words in their context into the language of their translation. This is called a primary translation.
A secondary translation occurs when a translation is made from a primary translation of another language, say English, into a third language. Thus a secondary translation is not made from a copy of the original language but from a second language from the original language (the primary translation).
How do we know the Bible is what it claims to be - The Word of God?
Believing the Bible is ultimately a matter of informed faith. You either believe what the Word of God says about itself about itself or you don't. You either believe the testimony of Jesus Christ regarding the Word of God or you don't.
There are several areas of objective evidence that test and support the veracity of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the autographs.
First, there is bibliographic evidence for the Bible's authenticity. No other ancient writings have as much manuscript evidence as does the Bible. Aside from 643 copies of Homer's works, which were written about 850 B.C., the other classical works written between 450 B.C. and 10 B.C. have anywhere from 3 to 20 copies each, but the New Testament has about 14,000. And not only is there more than an ample quantity of copies of the Bible, but the quality of the biblical manuscripts surpasses that of other manuscripts as well. This is largely due to the Jews' extreme caution in the translation and preservation of the manuscripts.
The passage of time is also a factor. The Dead Sea Scrolls, which date from 200 B.C. to A.D. 68, greatly reduce the time span between the writing of the Old Testament books to our earliest existing copies of the Old Testament. The time span between the autographs of the New Testament ans its existing copies is between 100 and 200 years, a very low figure.
Second, there is internal evidence for the authenticity of the Bible. The Bible not only claims to be the Word of God, but it also states that not the smallest letter or stroke will pass away from the law (the Old Testament) until all is accomplished (Matthew 5:17, 18). Many of the writers claimed to be eyewitnesses who wrote what they saw, heard, or experienced. Although over 40 different authors wrote 66 separate books over a time span of almost two millennia, there are no contradictions in what they wrote. Also, what was written in the Old Testament, sealed and canonized, is often seen fulfilled in the New Testament. Thus there is the internal evidence of fulfilled prophecy, some of which is being fulfilled even in our time.
Finally, there is an abundance of external evidence that supports the Bible's infallibility. When the Bible speaks on matters of history or science, it speaks accurately. There were times when it was supposed that science or history contradicted the Bible; however, later it was discovered that all the facts had not yet been uncovered.
More recent archaeological evidence has affirmed the history of the Bible in a multitude of ways as it speaks regarding rules, nations, languages, battles, customs, geographic locations, tragedies, and other events. Extra biblical writings also affirm what the New Testament teaches about the historicity of Jesus Christ and other New Testament characters.
Have you accepted the Bible as the inerrant Word of God, profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, that you may be adequate, equipped for every good work? (2 Timothy 3:16). As you study the Bible, you will discover that it is a supernatural book ... the very words of life.
1. Written in a period of 1,600 years.
2. Written along 60 Generations.
3. Written by more than forty authors of all the social classes, including: Kings, Peasants, Philosophies, Fishermen, Poets, Statesmen, Erudite, etc.
4. Written in several places: in an island, in a hill, in full war etc.
5. Written in several times: time of war and of peace.
6. Written under several states of spirits: in joy, suffering, bitterness, delights etc.
7. Written in three continents: Asia, Africa and Europe.
8. Written in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
9. Compound for 66 books, Bible means Library.
10. The Bible was the first book translated.
11. It has already been translated into over 2000 different languages and dialects.
12. The first book printed.
13. The Bible has been translated and turns to translate more than any another existent book.
14. Thirty Societies are now specializing in its publication, and over 30.000.000 copies are printed annually.
15. The British Bible Society publishes every hour more than 2.000 copies.
16. Each part of the Bible you only can explain with the entire Bible.
17. Now is the bestseller book in the Word.
18. The unbelievers have been refuting and attacking this book, and however at the present time remains like a rock.
19. Voltaire said that in 1,950 this book would be extinguished, today where he said this declaration it a building of the United Biblical Society.
20. The Bible was the first book that was led to the external space in microfilm. The astronauts read Genesis 1: 1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”
1. The Oldest Bible translation in the world.
2. Made in Alexandria, Egypt.
3. In the reign of King Ptolemy Philadelphia of Egypt
4. Some time before 200 B.C
5. By 70 elders of Israel who were brought to Alexandria.
6. Fragments of the LXX have been identified among the texts known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in 1947.
7. The LXX thus become the "authorized version" of the relay Gentile churches.
8. The LXX helps scholars to reconstruct passage mis copied.
9. The LXX was based on a Hebrew text much older than most surviving Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament.
10. The LXX substantiates the genuineness of the Hebrew text.
Overview of the Bible
The Bible is God's Word
Apart from any theory of inspiration;or any theory of how the Bible books come to their present form; or how much the text may have suffered in transmission at the hands of editor and copyists; apart from the question of how is to be interpreted literally and how much figuratively, or what is historical and what may be poetical; if we will assume that the Bible is just what it appears to be, and study its books to know their contents, we will find there a Unity of Thought indicating that One Mind inspired the writing and compilation of the whole series of books; that it bears in its face the stamp of its Author; that it is in a unique and distinctive sense The Word of God.
There is a present-day view, held rather widely in certain intellectual circles, that the Bible is a sort of age-long story of man's effort to find God> a record of man's experiences reaching after God, gradually improving his idea of God by building on the experiences of preceding generations. In those passages, so abundant in the Bible, in which it is said that God spoke, God according to this view, did not really speak; but men put their ideas in language professing to be the language of God, while in reality it was only what men imagined about God. The Bible is thus reduced to the level of other books, and is made to appear, not a Divine book, but a human book, pretending to be Divine.
We reject this view utterly, and with abhorrence. We believe the Bible to be, not man's account of his effort to find God, but rather an account of God's effort to reveal Himself to man: God's own record of His dealing with men, in His unfolding revelation of Himself to the human race: the Revealed Will of the Creator of Man, given to Man by the Creator Himself, for Instruction and Guidance in the Ways of Life.
The books of the Bible were composed by human authors: and it is not even known who some of these authors were. Nor is it known just how God directed these authors to write. But it is asserted that God did direct them; and these books must be exactly what God wanted them to be.
There is a difference between the Bible and all other books. Authors may pray for God's help and guidance; and God does help and guide; and there many good books in the world which unmistakably God has helped the authors to write. But even so, even the most saintly of authors hardly presume to claim for his books that God wrote them. But that is claimed for the Bible. God Himself superintendent and directed and dictated the writing of the Bible books, with the human authors so completely under His control that the writing was the writing of God. The Bible is God's Word in a sense that No Other Book in the World is God's Word.
It may be that some Bible utterances are "ancient thoughtforms" for ideas that we would now express in a different way; for they were expressed in language of ancient times. But even so, The Bible contains precisely the things that God wants mankind to know, in exactly the form in which He wants us to know them. And to the end of time the Dear Old Book will remain the one and only answer to humanity's quest for God.
The Bible composed by many authors, over a period of many centuries, yet One Book, is, in itself, the outstanding Miracle of the Ages, bearing aloft its own evidence of its Superhuman Origin.
Everybody ought to Love the Bible. Everybody ought to be a Regular Reader of the Bible. Everybody ought to strive to Live by the Bible's teachings. The Bible ought to have Central Place in the Life and Working of Every Church; and in Every Pulpit. The Pulpit's one business is the simple expository teaching of God's Word
(Halley's Bible Handbook. p.22, 23)