Silverton Evangelical Church

"The Bible has been changed so much, we don't know what it originally said"


our take on it

Isn't the Bible embarrassingly out of date? Hasn't it all been changed?

 Here are four things we'd point out...

 Lots of versions - same story

 There are lots of different versions... but that doesn't mean different teachings   Sometimes people assume that because there are so many different translations of the Bible, they all say different things. No, they don't. Because the Bible was originally written in ancient languages, different versions simply bring out the flavour of words and phrases that we don't have in English, and so bring us closer to the accurate original meaning. When people claim that the Bible's meaning is impossible to understand nowadays, that's a tell-tale sign that they've never actually read it.

 We have so many manuscripts that none of the New Testament is in doubt  For the second half of the Bible, the New Testament, we have 5000-6000 different early manuscripts. That's a staggering total, and there's no other book from 2000 years ago that has anything like the same number of copies! Are there differences between them? Yes, minor ones - the way names are spelled, the order of words in a sentence, and trivial stuff like that - but that's all. There's no difference between the manuscripts that casts any doubt on any important story, or claim, or statement anywhere in the book. We're certain of pretty much every word that was originally written.

 Great copying... over centuries

 The Qumran caves where the Scrolls were discovered

 Since the Dead Sea Scrolls, we have staggering confirmation of the Old Testament too  In 1947, one of the greatest manuscript finds ever was made in some desert caves south of Jerusalem. The Dead Sea Scrolls turned out to be a fantastic library containing several copies of nearly all the Old Testament books - and they were centuries older than the earliest copies we'd known up until that point. So had the books changed over the centuries, as they had been copied, recopied and copied again? No, they hadn't. The text we already had was shown to be remarkably accurate.

 The best way to find out is to read it for yourself... So many people assume the Bible is a ragbag of disconnected fragments, or a weird collection of riddles and obscure sayings you can interpret in a million different ways. Not true. Read it, and you'll find a message you can actually make sense of. Start with one of the Gospels, maybe the Gospel of John or Luke. Read on into Acts and get the story of the early church. Then look at some of the letters (Philippians, maybe, or Colossians) and eavesdrop on the first Christians talking to one another. It's fascinating, and you'll soon find your way around. If you'd like somebody to help you with it... just ask.

 Read it... you can make sense of it

IS THIS A FULL ANSWER?  Of course it isn't. It's just a bunch of provocative points

to get you thinking - and arguing. If you want to carry on the conversation, just get in touch!



A few questions to mull over. Take your time.





1. A whiteboard video is an interesting way of doing it, but the technique makes this 15-minute video "Why Should I Trust the Bible?" pretty compelling.

Why should I trust the Bible?


2. REQuest is a website that was originally designed for school pupils (hence the "R.E." bit). But it actually offers some of the crispest and most reliable evidence in this area you could hope for. Their three-and-a-half minute video "Is the Bible reliable?" gives you a clear, info-packed introduction to the subject. Click some of the other links on the page too, for even more...  If you want more than this, Matt Whitman's Ten-Minute Bible Hour regularly gets rave reviews from atheists because he's fair, unbiased and clear. He actually does 30 minutes on "How We Know Jesus and the Early Church Existed", but he doesn't waste a minute; it's all great stuff.

The REquest video clip


3. There's a whole page of fascinating resources at BeThinking on "Bible reliability" - over fifty of them - on everything from whether the documents have been altered, right through to why Derren Brown doesn't believe the Bible any more. Videos, articles, the lot. Keep clicking the "Show More" button at the foot of the page and you'll see dozens of fascinating paths to explore.  

Loads of interesting material on BeThinking

 4. One of the biggest churches in New York, packed with university students and professors, is led by author Tim Keller. His award-winning book The Reason for God is based firmly on the idea that the Bible can be trusted, and when it was on the New York Times best seller list he was invited to Google's Californian HQ as part of the "Talks@Google" series to present his ideas to some of the sharpest brains in the world. The talk he gave is on YouTube.

Tim Keller interrogated at Google

your next move?