Claims That the Bible Is Too Old to Be Accurate or Useful

What do you say to someone who says the Bible cannot be true because it was written so long ago and has been translated by too many people into too many languages? Is there any way to be sure that we still have a handle on the message these ancient writings were originally meant to convey?

Our answer has two parts. First, truth and falsehood are not chronologically determined. In other words, a statement is not less true for having been made a long time ago. Nor is it more true for having been made more recently. Quite the contrary sometimes. It’s a fallacy, then, to assert that the Bible is false just because it’s old. There’s no necessary connection between the age of a document and its factual reliability.

Second, it’s true that the Bible has been translated into many different languages. But this has nothing to do with the truthfulness of the Hebrew and Greek texts on which those translations are based. If we run into a problem with clarity or accuracy in one of the modern versions (whether English, German, Spanish, Russian, or Japanese), all we have to do is go back and check it against the original (or find a knowledgeable scholar who can). It’s not as if the intention of the writer has been lost in some dim, distant, and mysterious past.

It’s important to add that we have great confidence in the accuracy of our Hebrew and Greek texts, thanks in large part to the science of textual criticism. If you haven’t heard this term before, it refers to the exacting process of comparing and evaluating the small variant readings found in the thousands of biblical manuscripts now in our possession (including the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Oxyrhynchus papyri, and a vast number of other New Testament fragments). Amazingly, the vast majority of these manuscripts are unified in their testimony. Where minor differences exist, it is the task of the textual critic to examine the evidence and decide which of the variants is most likely to preserve the words of the original writer.

If you think it might be helpful to discuss these ideas at greater length, call us. Our staff of pastoral counselors would love to speak with you over the phone.


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