Why we should believe the Bible
Archaeologists have discovered substantial support about many
details of Jesus' life. Some examples include:
Indirect Resurrection Evidence
Evidence that the people in Jesus' time believed in the resurrection is found on caskets of bones (ossuaries) discovered in a sealed tomb outside Jerusalem in 1945. Coins minted in about A.D. 50 were found inside the caskets, dating the burial within about 20 years of Jesus' crucifixion. Markings are clearly legible, including several statements reflecting knowledge of Jesus' ability to overcome death. Example of writings (in Greek) of hope for deceased loved ones include: Jesus, Help and Jesus, Let Him Arise. The caskets also contain several crosses, clearly marked in charcoal. This is powerful evidence that early Christians believed in Jesus ability to triumph over death. It also ties the idea of victory over death to the cross.
Jesus' Burial Shroud?
A burial shroud (Shroud of Turin) is believed by many people to be the actual burial shroud of Jesus (Matthew 27:59; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53). Items supporting its authenticity are:
1. Test that confirm fiber type and small particles of limestone dust unique to the region.
2. Confirmation of blood, in wounds precisely as indicated in the accounts of Jesus' unique execution.
3. Confirmation of a crucifixion as likely cause of the type of image created: matching a deceased body.
4. Coins on eyes dated about the time of Jesus' crucifixion.
Sir William Ramsay (1852-1916). Sir William Ramsay was, arguably the greatest archaeologist of his day. His archaeological journeys took him to 32 countries, 44 cities, and 9 islands. Throughout some 15 years of intensive study, he concluded that Luke is a historian of the first rank, this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
Any doubt regarding the accurate transmission of manuscripts was erased in 1947
with the discovery of hundreds of scrolls buried in caves for nearly 2000 years.
Many were written before 100 B.C. Comparison of biblical books with recent
Jewish copies shows virtual no change in words or even letters.
The Trustworthiness of the New Testament
1 The New Testament has better manuscript evidence than any other ancient book.
a. There are over 5,000 New Testament manuscripts and portions of manuscripts. By comparison, the majority of classical works have less than 20 manuscripts.
b. The dates of the New Testament manuscripts are close to the original writings. One Gospel fragment (Ryland's) dates about 25 years after the Gospel of John and most of the New Testament (Chester Beatty and Bodmer Papyri) from 50-150 years after the originals. Most classical works date from 700 - 1400 years after the originals.
c. None of the canonical New Testament is lost or missing. By comparison, 107 of Livy's 142 books of history have been lost and about one half of Tacitus's 30 books of Annals and Histories is missing.
2. Good arguments can be given that each of the Gospels was either written by an eyewitness, or significantly influenced by firsthand testimony, as recognized by many contemporary scholars.
3. Even without proving eyewitness authorship, the Gospels measure up well by normal historical standards used in ancient historiography.
4. The Gospel are trustworthy sources, as explained by A.M. Hunter
a. These Christian authors, like their Jewish counterparts, were careful to preserve traditional material.
b. The Gospels are close to eyewitness sources.
c. The Gospel authors were honest reporters.
d. The picture of Jesus presented in the four Gospels is virtually the same (see Archibald M. Hunter, Bible and Gospel, pp. 32-37).
5. The Gospels and Acts exhibit a specific interest in reporting historical facts, not mythology. This is especially the case when the life of Jesus is reported.
6. Contemporary historians frequently opposed the application of radical criticism to New Testament studies. According to A.N. Sherwin-White and Michael Grant, such attacks fail at a number of crucial points (see A.N. Sherman-White, Roman Society, pp. 186-193; Grant, Jesus: An Historian Review, pp. 179-184, 199-201).
a. Numerous ancient works exhibit intentions and methodologies similar to that of the New Testament authors, and yet these ancient works are well accredited as historical works.
b. There are no ancient writings in the category that radical critics place the Gospels.
c. New Testament books such as Acts have been largely confirmed by external test of historicity.
7. The Gospel and Acts were recognized as inspired books almost immediately after being written (see J.B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers).
a. 1 Timothy 5:18 quotes Luke 10:7 and refers to it as Scripture.
b. Clement of Rome (about AD 95) speaks of the Gospel and quotes portions found in all three synoptic Gospels, referring to them as the words of Jesus (Corinthians 13,46).
c. Ignatius (Smyrnaeans 3) and Polycarp (Philippians 2, 7), both writing about AD 115, refer to verses in the synoptic Gospels as the words of Christ.