The Origin of the Bible

What Is the Bible?
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It has been copied by scribes, many times there were no printing presses , then later translated into English.

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It was the job of scribes to copy out the Old Testament onto scrolls of parchment or animal hides, and later into books. The process of copying was carried out with extraordinary care. For example, several copies of the Old Testament have been found dating from about AD These were produced by a group of Jews known as Masoretes who followed a number of precise rules when copying. However, there are some places in the Old Testament where there appear to have been minor copying errors.

As long as such rules were followed, it was highly unlikely that errors crept in. The first scrolls were discovered in early by three Bedouin shepherds. Eventually, some of the scrolls made their way into the hands of archaeologists and Hebrew scholars who were amazed to find an entire copy of Isaiah which they dated to the first century BC. At that time, this was about years older than the next oldest manuscript of any part of the Bible. About different manuscripts have since been found in this area.

How we got the Bible

There are manuscripts or fragments of every book in the Old Testament except Esther. Several copies of some books were found including Isaiah, Psalms, Deuteronomy and Genesis.

The Origin of the Bible: Human Invention or Divine Intervention?

All the manuscripts are dated between BC and AD Until this discovery, all translation was based on the Masoretic text which is a little over years old. The Dead Sea Scrolls are about years old! Yet when compared with the Masoretic text, there was hardly any difference. Because of their great age, they provide amazing evidence that the Bible has been faithfully copied by scribes for centuries.

So accurate has this copying been, that it provides compelling evidence that God has preserved his word for future generations. When the Isaiah scroll was discovered, the translators of the RSV had already completed their translation of Isaiah. They compared what they had done with the Isaiah scroll and made a total of 13 changes. That is, in only 13 places did they think the Dead Sea Scrolls were more accurate than the later Masoretic text. All changes were minor. Since then, many more manuscripts have become available and have been used in more modern versions such as the NIV. The scrolls are also interesting because they help to date prophecies.

Before the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, some critics said that prophecies about Jesus, such as those in the Psalms and Isaiah, were written after the event. The Dead Sea Scrolls proved that they were true prophecies that predated Jesus, and we know they were fulfilled. Again, this gives further evidence that God inspired the Bible, and preserved it for us to read. Its accuracy is also well supported by the manuscript evidence. In fact, there are thousands of surviving New Testament manuscripts from the first few centuries after Jesus.

When compared with other ancient writings from the time of Jesus and before, the evidence for the New Testament is overwhelming.

Bible Possibly Written Centuries Earlier, Text Suggests

Professor F. Bruce University of Manchester has written: The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater than the evidence for many writings of classical authors, the authenticity of which no-one dreams of questioning. And if the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt.

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Other support for the reliability of the New Testament comes from early believers who quoted it. These quotations can also be used to check the accuracy of the surviving manuscripts. Professor Bruce Metzger has written: Indeed so extensive are these citations that if all other sources of our knowledge of the text of the New Testament were destroyed, they would be sufficient alone for the reconstruction of practically the entire New Testament.

The first English Bibles There are several translations of parts of the Bible into English dating back to the 7th century. However, English has changed so much that we would not be able to understand any of these! John Wycliffe The first translation of the entire Bible into English was in the 14th century by John Wycliffe in Wycliffe did not translate from the Hebrew and Greek but from a Latin edition of the Bible known as the Vulgate. For the first time, the common people could hear the Bible in their own language for the first time.

They quickly realised that the church leaders were astray from the Bible in both what they taught and how they lived. Wycliffe and his followers met with great opposition from the church for their work and many were killed. Forty years after Wycliffe died, his bones were dug up, burned, and the ashes thrown into a nearby river.

Proverbs 6:16

The Bible also tells us how we can have eternal life. This is inexplicable! Archaeology has also refuted many ill-founded theories about the Bible. The recorded content wasn't 20 to 30 years old; it had been refreshed daily for 20 to 30 years. I probably would have appreciated it better if I didn't have a reading deadline. The codex could encompass a much more extensive series of texts than a single scroll could contain.

This was meant to be a lesson for others who might attempt unauthorised translations. In the s, the first printing press was developed by Gutenburg. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of printing for Bible believers. Suddenly, the Bible was widely available to be read by almost anyone who wanted to. William Tyndale Towards the end of the 15th century there was a resurgence of the study of Greek.

By , Greek was being taught at Oxford. He developed a strong desire to translate the Bible into English, from the original languages. Due to Church opposition he was forced to relocate to Hamburg in Germany, where he completed his translation of the New Testament in Bibles arrived in England in , where they were gladly received by the common people, and burned by the Church! Like other accounts of Jesus' healing people, this has a ring of authenticity. If it were fiction, there are portions of it that would have been written differently.

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For example, in a fictional account there wouldn't be an interruption with something else happening. If it were fiction, the people in mourning would not have laughed at Jesus' statement; get angry maybe, be hurt by it, but not laugh. And in writing fiction, would Jesus have ordered the parents to be quiet about it? You would expect the healing to make a grand point.

But real life isn't always smooth. There are interruptions. People do react oddly. And Jesus had his own reasons for not wanting the parents to broadcast this. The best test of the Gospels authenticity is to read it for yourself. Does it read like a report of real events, or like fiction? If it is real, then God has revealed himself to us.

Jesus came, lived, taught, inspired, and brought life to millions who read his words and life today. What Jesus stated in the gospels, many have found reliably true: "I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly. In the early years after Jesus' death and resurrection there was no apparent need for written biographies about Jesus.

Those living in the Jerusalem region were witnesses of Jesus and well aware of his ministry. However, when news of Jesus spread beyond Jerusalem, and the eyewitnesses were no longer readily accessible, there was a need for written accounts to educate others about Jesus' life and ministry. If you would like to know more about Jesus, this article will give you a good summary of his life: Beyond Blind Faith. The early church accepted the New Testament books almost as soon as they were written. The Gospel writers Matthew and John were some of Jesus' closest followers. Mark and Luke were companions of the apostles, having access to the apostles' account of Jesus' life.

The other New Testament writers had immediate access to Jesus as well: James and Jude were half-brothers of Jesus who initially did not believe in him. Peter was one of the 12 apostles. Paul started out as a violent opponent of Christianity and a member of the religious ruling class, but he became an ardent follower of Jesus, convinced that Jesus rose from the dead. The reports in the New Testament books lined up with what thousands of eyewitnesses had seen for themselves.

When other books were written hundreds of years later, it wasn't difficult for the church to spot them as forgeries. For example, the Gospel of Judas was written by the Gnostic sect, around A. The Gospel of Thomas, written around A. These and other Gnostic gospels conflicted with the known teachings of Jesus and the Old Testament, and often contained numerous historical and geographical errors. Soon after, Jerome and Augustine circulated this same list.

These lists, however, were not necessary for the majority of Christians. By and large the whole church had recognized and used the same list of books since the first century after Christ. As the church grew beyond the Greek-speaking lands and needed to translate the Scriptures, and as splinter sects continued to pop up with their own competing holy books, it became more important to have a definitive list.

Not only do we have well-preserved copies of the original manuscripts, we also have testimony from both Jewish and Roman historians. The gospels report that Jesus of Nazareth performed many miracles, was executed by the Romans, and rose from the dead. Numerous ancient historians back the Bible's account of the life of Jesus and his followers:. Cornelius Tacitus A. Christus [Christ], 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 Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian A.