What is the historical argument for the Bible?

1.              The Gospels are reasonable historical documents – primary source material.  All scholars (even non-Christians) admit that Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written within 50 years after Christ’s death, and John within 65 years of Christ’s death.  The objector can check this in any encyclopedia.

2.              In the Gospels, Christ claims to be God in human flesh.

Matthew 11:27

27All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

John 12:45

45When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me.

John 10:30

30I and the Father are one.

Matthew 16:13-17

13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.

john 5:16-18

16So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. 17Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” 18For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

John 8:58

58“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

3.              In all four Gospels, Christ’s bodily Resurrection is described in great detail.  Christ’s Resurrection proves His claim to Deity (Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20).

4.              If Christ is God, whatever He says is true.

5.              Christ stated that the Old Testament was infallible (Matthew 5:17-19) and that the New Tetament (written by Apostles or close associates of Apostles) would be infallible (John 14:26-27; John 16:25-15; Acts 1:21-26)

John 14:26

26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

John 16:25-15

15All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.

16“In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”

17Some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”

19Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 20I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

25“Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.

Acts 1:5-8

5For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

6So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

7He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

6.              The New Testament and the Old Testament contain religious, philosophical, and ethical absolutes; these thus take on the character of divine or “natural” law, and remain valid even if vast numbers of human beings – or entire societies – are foolish enough to ignore them.

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3 Responses

  1. Hello again, time for one more before bed… you have 6 points above, and i would address each individually…

    #1) The bible indeed is as reasonable a primary source as most others of the day, but there is a huge caveat here: Given the literacy levels and reliance on oral transmission of information, no source not present at an event can be considered wholly reliable, let alone faultless. Look at the modern myths that have attributed literally thousands of sayings to such people as JFK, MLK,Jr, even Will Rogers that are totally false. These attributions are only 40 or fewer years old, and from a time with near universal literacy, voice recordings and even computers. To imagine that writers 30 – 65 years after the time of Jesus had more accurate information is difficult to believe, and impossible to support.

    #2) The success of any work of fiction is in its’ believability. One trick writers have used since the dawn of time is to include a lot of actual facts, so that the fiction part gains credit by association. Tom Clancy knows this. All of his political thrillers contain amazing levels of factual data about military and political systems used by the USA and Russia. Robert Heinlein’s science-fiction stories contain accurate cultural, historical and technological details. This doesn’t make these stories true.

    The Bible contains a lot of cultural, historical, and technological fact. It correctly describes the use of period technology, and period political systems. It lists a lot of people who can be verified to have lived, and many of their deeds, which can also be verified. This in NO way gives the supernatural claims any more credence than one of Heinlein’s or Clancy’s plot-lines.

    #3) All of them consistently writing about the resurrection does not “prove” it to be true.

    Modern Sci-Fi/Fantasy writers often “share” a world… They will all create characters and stories within the same imaginary universe. They go to great pains to make sure that their stories all mesh with reasonable continuity. Having the 4 gospels agree only shows that A) The authors were conscientious about continuity, and B) All the writings that disagreed were left out of the final bible.

    #4) Even when the form of an argument is valid, a false premise will invariably lead to a false conclusion. Your whole logical structure is based on a huge, unproven, “if.”

    #5) There are so many places where Jesus could have been more honest with even his own followers. Acts 1:7-8 is weasel-language, a cop-out, if you will.

    When the answer to a question is a variation of, “Shame on you for even asking!” or “You’re too stupid to understand.” my only response must be, “Please answer the question, or admit you don’t know, and quit bothering me.”

    #6) This is similar to my response to point #2… Just because the bible contains some legitimate wisdom doesn’t give it ownership of that wisdom. The writing of David Eddings (Sci-Fi/Fantasy) have his characters using many wise old sayings. That doesn’t mean Eddings invented those words. I myself spout wisdom daily, but I didn’t think it up, I just pass it along. Claiming that all of the rules in the bible came from God doesn’t make it true. In his book, The Elements of Moral Philosophy, James Rachels’ last chapter definitively proves that you do not have to have a supernatural source for a system of ethics. God can lay no claim to any moral absolutes that do not deal solely with man’s relationship to him (not having any other gods, making false idols, etc).

    The bible contains a lot of good advice, such as half of the Ten Commandments. Rules against killing, stealing, lying, and cheating on your spouse are just plain old good social engineering. But even if half of the Commandments are good advice, it doesn’t make the other half true or even desirable. Only on its’ own merit can each rule (or Commandment) be judged. Truth either is or is not… something doesn’t become truer merely by being next to something that is definitely true…

    Thank you for the opportunity to stretch my brain a little,
    Pax,
    ~Edward~

    • I’m sorry its taken me so long to approve this. I’ve been extra busy lately. I don’t have time to address this, but I promise I will

  2. Edward,

    You wrote,

    #1) The bible indeed is as reasonable a primary source as most others of the day, but there is a huge caveat here: Given the literacy levels and reliance on oral transmission of information, no source not present at an event can be considered wholly reliable, let alone faultless. Look at the modern myths that have attributed literally thousands of sayings to such people as JFK, MLK,Jr, even Will Rogers that are totally false. These attributions are only 40 or fewer years old, and from a time with near universal literacy, voice recordings and even computers. To imagine that writers 30 – 65 years after the time of Jesus had more accurate information is difficult to believe, and impossible to support.

    I think you misunderstand what historical means.

    Let us look at the definition of historical.
    from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/historical+

    his-tor-i-cal [hi-stawr-i-kuhl, -stor-]
    –adjective 1. of, pertaining to, treating, or characteristic of history or past events: historical records; historical research.
    2. based on or reconstructed from an event, custom, style, etc., in the past: a historical reenactment of the battle of Gettysburg.
    3. having once existed or lived in the real world, as opposed to being part of legend or fiction or as distinguished from religious belief: to doubt that a historical Camelot ever existed; a theologian’s study of the historical Jesus.
    4. narrated or mentioned in history; belonging to the past.
    5. noting or pertaining to analysis based on a comparison among several periods of development of a phenomenon, as in language or economics.
    6. historic (def. 1).

    —————————————————————————

    Origin:
    1375–1425; late ME < L historic(us) historic + -al 1

    Related forms:

    his-tor-i-cal-ly, adverb
    his-tor-i-cal-ness, noun

    Synonyms:
    3. documented, authentic, factual, attested.

    Note the synonyms.

    If something is considered historical, it is considered accurate from the point of view of the author. In at least one case, the book of Luke, research of eyewitnesses was done and preserved in writing. In at least two of the books, Matthew and John, the originator of the writings are directly attributed to eye witness accounts. Mark is said to have been Peter’s scribe for the events relayed therein.

    The Gospels were written either by the apostles or by close associates of the apostles who were present at the events described – hence the terms reasonable historical documents and primary source material. They are considered trustworthy.

    #2) The success of any work of fiction is in its’ believability. One trick writers have used since the dawn of time is to include a lot of actual facts, so that the fiction part gains credit by association. Tom Clancy knows this. All of his political thrillers contain amazing levels of factual data about military and political systems used by the USA and Russia. Robert Heinlein’s science-fiction stories contain accurate cultural, historical and technological details. This doesn’t make these stories true.

    The Bible contains a lot of cultural, historical, and technological fact. It correctly describes the use of period technology, and period political systems. It lists a lot of people who can be verified to have lived, and many of their deeds, which can also be verified. This in NO way gives the supernatural claims any more credence than one of Heinlein’s or Clancy’s plot-lines.

    Except Heinlein and Clancy did not write claim what they wrote to be historic. The people who were present at the time of the writing would have disagreed vehemently had what was written not been accurate. The people who wrote the New Testament were often attacked or put to death for what they said. Perhaps one person might be deluded in believing what they wrote even if it was not true. But for so many to have put their lives at risk for what they taught and wrote, and for the stories to have been so close to each other leaves one with no doubt as to the veracity of the claims in the New Testament.

    You are free to disagree. But I suggest you are not looking for a reason to believe, but reasons to not believe. And that’s OK, but don’t fool yourself.

    #3) All of them consistently writing about the resurrection does not “prove” it to be true.

    Modern Sci-Fi/Fantasy writers often “share” a world… They will all create characters and stories within the same imaginary universe. They go to great pains to make sure that their stories all mesh with reasonable continuity. Having the 4 gospels agree only shows that A) The authors were conscientious about continuity, and B) All the writings that disagreed were left out of the final bible.

    But again, you miss the point that all the authors put their lives at risk, and indeed, were killed, for what they taught and wrote – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, James, Paul (formerly Saul who persecuted the early church). Just because there is continuity does not negate the fact that they were true. The similarities in what was taught lend credence to the veracity of the claims.

    The very fact that the authors died for what they wrote shows they at least believed what was written.

    The fact that so many others who were there at the events of which were written did not argue, but also died for claiming that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah also shows they believed what was written.

    As for some things being left out of what was compiled to be the New Testament, as far as I know, the letters that were not included were not supportable as having been written by an apostle or by a close associate of one. That was one of the criteria of inclusion in the New Testament.

    Another criteria was that it could not be in opposition to what had already been accepted to have been written by God. Some manuscripts were in obvious disagreement with what God had already written.

    #4) Even when the form of an argument is valid, a false premise will invariably lead to a false conclusion. Your whole logical structure is based on a huge, unproven, “if.”

    Actually, it is not. Its just that you choose to not accept the truth.

    #5) There are so many places where Jesus could have been more honest with even his own followers. Acts 1:7-8 is weasel-language, a cop-out, if you will.

    When the answer to a question is a variation of, “Shame on you for even asking!” or “You’re too stupid to understand.” my only response must be, “Please answer the question, or admit you don’t know, and quit bothering me.”

    Jesus did was not dishonest. Jesus was ambiguous at times. Those who were led by God, and wanted to know the truth, would understand. Those who were not, would not understand. The same is true today.

    As for Acts 1:7-8, Jesus was not dishonest there either. He was clear – it was not something God wanted them to know at that time. *shrug* Its no different than a child asking his parents about sex. You don’t go into details with a 2 year old. People who do not trust Christ have no understanding of certain things.The same is true for new believers. It is only as they mature in the little things that they can begin to understand deeper issues.

    There are times when someone is not ready to hear an answer to a question, and there are times when its not time for that person to have an answer to a question. Both are reasonable reasons to not give an answer you think you would prefer.

    #6) This is similar to my response to point #2… Just because the bible contains some legitimate wisdom doesn’t give it ownership of that wisdom. The writing of David Eddings (Sci-Fi/Fantasy) have his characters using many wise old sayings. That doesn’t mean Eddings invented those words. I myself spout wisdom daily, but I didn’t think it up, I just pass it along. Claiming that all of the rules in the bible came from God doesn’t make it true. In his book, The Elements of Moral Philosophy, James Rachels’ last chapter definitively proves that you do not have to have a supernatural source for a system of ethics. God can lay no claim to any moral absolutes that do not deal solely with man’s relationship to him (not having any other gods, making false idols, etc).

    There is a difference between containing wisdom and containing absolutes. The Bible contains absolutes. God is the author of wisdom. He created all things, including the laws that govern the universe as well as those which can be found through out societies accross time, language, and culture.

    Examples include: do not steal and do not murder people. Even aboriginal tribes have such laws – of course, they sometimes would define people as those who belong to their tribe. But the essence of the truth is there, if warped.

    To ignore those absolutes is folly.

    The bible contains a lot of good advice, such as half of the Ten Commandments. Rules against killing, stealing, lying, and cheating on your spouse are just plain old good social engineering. But even if half of the Commandments are good advice, it doesn’t make the other half true or even desirable. Only on its’ own merit can each rule (or Commandment) be judged. Truth either is or is not… something doesn’t become truer merely by being next to something that is definitely true…

    Whether you understand, or like, or accept, what God has written does not change the facts. Nor does it negate what God has written. You can elevate yourself to judge God and what He has written, or you can humble yourself and learn. The choice is yours.

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