Is The New Testament Historically Reliable?   Leave a comment

This is a small DB posting in my NT class with the main text being Blomberg’s book (which we are to read). Enjoy. 🙂

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Week 5 Discussion Post

 Is The New Testament Historically Reliable?

            Blomberg begins his discussion of this question by briefly discussing three categories of topics that are written about that is “beyond the mainstream of serious, biblical scholarship.”[1] Afterwards, he moves into a discussion regarding textual criticism. This is an area that I enjoy and am fascinated at the staggering numbers presented.

Rightly so, Blomberg states that “the standard starting point for investigating the trustworthiness of an ancient document… asks if we can even be confident we have anything close to what the author of that document originally wrote.”[2] One cannot begin to simply gather documents relating to a subject and label them as authoritative. One must determine if what is contained in the document obtained is close to what the original was. The oldest copy of a book is what is to be compared to; however, in most cases it is centuries later where copies of the original show up.[3] This is one factor, the time frame, in considering the reliability of a given text.

Another factor for consideration is the number of copies of a given text. Blomberg notes there are only “thirty-five of Livy’s 142 books of Roman history.”[4] Story notes that Iliad “has only 643 surviving manuscripts.” He goes further to note that, “the History of Thucydides, the History of Herodotus, Caesar’s Gallic War, Tacitus’ Histories and Annals, and many other ancient documents have fewer than two dozen surviving copies.”[5]

When considering just these two factors when coming to the New Testament manuscripts, the results are overwhelming. Blomberg notes that in the original Greek there are “over five thousand manuscripts and manuscript fragments.”[6] Ryrie agrees noting additionally that this “makes the New Testament the best-attested document in all ancient writings.”[7] Story further notes, “More than 24,000 partial and complete copies of the New Testament are in existence today.”[8] He goes on to state that, “there are over 86,000 early patristic (church fathers’) quotations from the New Testament and several thousand Lectionaries (early church-service books containing selected Scripture readings) dating to the early centuries of the church.[9] The only other closest manuscript in number of copies is Iliadwith 643 copies.

The next area that was of particular interest was Blomberg’s discussion on hard saying and missing topics. He notes there are two pieces of this type of internal evidence that should be looked at. The first is what Blomberg calls “hard sayings.”[10] He gives an example in Luke 14:26 of where Jesus told his would-be followers, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even life itself – such a person cannot be my disciple.” “Such a claim would have scandalized a Jewish audience,” states Blomberg, “that took seriously the Mosaic commandment to honor father and mother, a commandment which Jesus elsewhere himself affirms.”[11] After several more examples, Blomberg lastly notes how Paul when to great lengths to distinguish from Jesus ‘earthly sayings and what Paul believed Jesus was “saying to him as he wrote his letters under divine inspiration.”[12]

Besides the staggering number of manuscripts mentioned above, the next largest area that shows evidence is that of non-Christian writers or outside sources. When discussing the Bible to a non-Christian, it is wonderful to be able to point to sources outside the Bible that point back to the reliability of the Bible. The most “extensive” information from an outside source comes from Josephus. Story states, “Flavius Josephus wrote about John the Baptist and mentioned Jesus by referring to James “the [half] brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ.” [13] More evidence for Jesus, states that Josephus, “has one brief account of Jesus, which is generally agreed to have been rewritten by Christians.”[14] Josephus remained Jewish and would not have named Jesus as the Messiah;[15] however, this is to be expected being an outside source. Wood also notes, “A number of rather obscure passages in the Talmud…”[16] reference Jesus.

While this very brief look at evidence of answering Blomberg’s question, one can see quickly the overwhelming evidence. Blomberg has presented the evidence in a logical progression, and very readable format. One can read through this chapter, slowly and more than once, and have a much better understanding and confidence in the life changing Word.

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Blomberg, Craig L. Making Sense of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic,

2004.

 

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. A Survey of Bible Doctrine. Chicago: Moody Press, 1972.

 

Story, Dan. Defending Your Faith. Grand Rapids, Mich: Kregel Publications, 1997.

 

Wood, D. R. W. and I. Howard Marshall. New Bible Dictionary. 3rd ed. Leicester, England;

Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.


[1] Craig L. Blomberg, Making Sense of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2004), 17.

[2] Ibid, 22.

 

[3] Ibid.

 

[4] Ibid.

 

[5] Dan Story, Defending Your Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997), 38.

[6] Blomberg, 22.

 

[7] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972).

[8] Story, 38.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Blomberg, 43.

[11] Ibid, 44.

[12] Ibid, 45.

[13] Story, 45.

[14] D. R. W. Wood and I. Howard Marshall, New Bible Dictionary, 3rd ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 563.

[15] Blomberg, 47.

[16] Wood, 563-64.

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Posted February 12, 2013 by avv604 in Bible

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