Good morning readers.
For those of you who dont know, I am currently a college student and a few weeks ago in my speech 101 class we were asked to write an informative speech. The assignment had no restrictions, we could write about anything as long as we kept it within 5 minutes in length and had at least 3 sources. Now I dont attend a Christian or private college, just my local community college. I thought about writing about cyclist rights on the road (because I love cycling) but then I though, well, I could write something that people might actually care about, something that I am more passionate about. My pastor has been going through a series titled “Life Questions” where he is giving some answers to some of the big questions people have such as, Is the bible true?, why did Jesus have to die?, Why should I be a part of the church? and a few more. So I decided to give a speech about the Reliability of the New Testament manuscripts. It was something he discussed in the first 2 weeks of the series and it honestly is what brought me to be a believer in Jesus Christ when I was seeking. It was a hard thing to make myself do, speaking out about your faith isn’t exactly that easy when you live in Los Angeles and attend a public college, really its not easy anywhere. But I decided to do it. As soon as the thought of writing a speech about the New Testament manuscripts came in my mind I thought it would be too hard to ignore it and let it go. Today, I want to share that speech with you because I thought some of you may find it interesting and it would be great if someone who is seeking found this article. This speech is basically my testimony, it is what I was looking for when I was trying to get answers about life and God 5 years ago. I pray that if you are already a believer in Jesus Christ that the information may ground you even more in your faith and I pray that this would make someone at least think. You see, in my class I printed out 20 copies of my notes and told them that if they were interested they could take my notes and that if no one took them I wouldn’t be offended. All 20 copies were taken. No one has come up to me to ask anything else but I know that when you hear something, anything about Jesus, its hard to ignore that information and I know that it makes people really think about who He is or about their lives and what they believe. I’m not sure what God will do but I did my part with His help, my pastors help and my husbands help. We will not always see miracles and people coming to Christ before our eyes like we would like, but do not be discouraged by that because God is bigger than us! He sees all and is able to work miracles through our small acts, He is doing things that we could never even imagine. If anyone would like a copy of the notes I gave to class e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a copy. I have also attached a graphic below. Enjoy and if you have any feedback I’d love to hear it!
The Reliability of The New Testament Scriptures
A few years ago I began to ask some of the big questions about life. Such as, Why are we here? Is there a God? How can I know that God exist? Growing up I heard things about God that sounded much like a fairytale to me. I was a skeptic, I didn’t buy into what I heard about God. I wanted facts, historical evidence and answers to my questions. So I decided to do some research of my own. I had heard and read about many other religions but I wanted to know more about Christianity. I wanted to know if this Jesus person that Christians talked about was real. Even our calendar is based off his life, dividing time before and after him. What I found was an overwhelming amount of ancient resources that were written by eye witnesses close to when the events actually happened. I even found some secular writings by well known historians. For the next few minutes I will talk to you about the reliability of the new testament Bible and will focus on some questions I had and hopefully you have as well. We will look at the amount of ancient resources, how long after the events they were written and even look at a writing by a well known historian.
Lets start with question #1. How many documents are actually available? Josh McDowell , a well known author and speaker says in his book, More Than a Carpenter that there are over 20,000 new testament manuscripts in existence. Now, how many of you have heard of Cesar’s Gallic War? How about Plato? Aristotle? Well they are all recognized historical figures and events. But most of them, along with many other historical events and figures only have about 20-50 manuscripts about them available, yet no one doubts their existence. So we have 20,000 new testament manuscripts compared to 20-50 documents that we have on many historical events and people. Sir Frederic George Kenyon was a British paleontographer and biblical scholar who when speaking about Greek and Roman writers says, “scholars are satisfied that they have the true text of the greek and roman writers yet our knowledge of their writings depends on a mere handful of manuscripts, whereas the manuscripts of the new testament are counted by the thousands.”
Lets move on to question #2. How long after the events took place were these documents written? Ancient Manuscript Scholars agree that the earliest documents we have of the new testament date back to 40-100 A.D. Compare this to the gap between documents that we have about some of the historical figures I mentioned earlier which is an average of 1,000 years. Jesus lived until about 30 A.D., this means the these documents were written by people from the same generation as Jesus. Another thing I’d like to point out is that there were hundreds of eyewitnesses, some of the the earliest documents we have are the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John who all knew Jesus personally.
Next I’d like to share with you evidence for Jesus outside of the Bible. Josephus was born in 37 A.D. just a few years after Jesus execution. He is the best known ancient Jewish historian and was well educated in biblical law and history. He wrote this about Jesus, “At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.”
In closing, today I told you about the amount of ancient manuscripts we have about the new testament compared to the amount of documents we have about some historical events and figures, I told you about the time gap between the writings about Jesus compared to the time gap between writings about other historical events and figures and I shared with you a writing by a well known jewish historian who wrote about Jesus. I hope that I have provided you with a new perspective on The Bible and Christianity. I’d like to end with a quote by one of my favorite speakers Dr. John Lennox, a professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. “Faith is not a leap in the dark; it’s the exact opposite. It’s a commitment based on evidence… It is irrational to reduce all faith to blind faith and then subject it to ridicule. That provides a very anti-intellectual and convenient way of avoiding intelligent discussion.”
Bulletin Cover (click image to view full size)