The Bible is the most widely read book in the world and has been translated into more than 2,500 languages. The Bible was written over a span of more than 1,000 years. The last texts were written down about 2,000 years ago. Can we still trust the content when the Bible is already 2,000 years old? Is the message of the Bible still up to date?
In this article, I would like you to discover why the Bible is a unique book. We will have a look at the reliability of the Bible. And we will dive into some interesting features and scientific discoveries. We will finish by looking at why the Bible has changed the lives of so many people.
Do you want to know the most important message of the Bible? If you want to discover the truth, reading the Bible for yourself is the best way. By writing this article, I hope to make you curious about the message of the Bible that has already changed millions of lives.
Has the Bible Changed Over Time?
The Bible was written thousands of years ago. Before books were printed, the Bible was copied by hand thousands of times. So, you might think that the original message of the Bible has been lost or changed. Some people claim that changes in the message of the Bible have been made deliberately. Therefore, I will present you with some facts that show that the Bible of today still contains the same words and the same message since its origin.
Does the Bible Contain the Message of God?
If the Bible contains the Creator’s message for us, would He allow anyone to change that message? Would He allow the Bible to be changed so it would present a false picture of Himself? If that were the case, the Creator would be fooling us.
It also doesn’t seem logical that God regularly changes His plan with humanity. If you look at nature and the universe, you will see that there are fixed laws of nature and laws that do not change over time. Otherwise, the universe would become chaos. Therefore, you can trust that the Creator is reliable and does not change His plans (1)
Almost all archaeologists and historians agree that the Bible has been passed on in a very reliable way. A huge number of ancient manuscripts have been found. The current text of the Bible is still the same as in the oldest versions that have been found. If mistakes had been made or if the text had been deliberately modified, there would be different versions of the text. That’s not the case.
In 1947, a large number of manuscripts were found in some caves near the village Qumran. These were written in the 1st century BC. These manuscripts included many parts of the Tenach, the oldest part of the Bible. Before this discovery was made, many scholars doubted the reliability of the more recent copies of the Bible. They assumed that the text and message had been modified over the centuries. One of the manuscripts found at Qumran was the Great Isaiah scroll. This copy was 1000 years older than the oldest one available until 1947. It is amazing how accurately this older version matches the 1000-year younger copy. Nothing significant has changed in the text and message in these 1,000 years.
In addition to the Bible, many historical documents mention the stories and characters from the Bible. Over 100 names of Pharaohs, kings, and other people mentioned in the Bible can also be found in inscriptions, records, and histories. (2)
Thousands of Copies
Only a few ancient copies have survived of the writings of ancient classical writers, such as Homer, and books such as the Qur’an, the Bhagavad Gita, and biographies of Gautama Buddha and Alexander the Great. Not a single ancient writing has survived with its original manuscripts, including the Bible. But of the New Testament (the second part of the Bible), more than 5800 (!) complete or partial early copies have been preserved. And there are thousands of copies in other languages as well. Thus, the Bible is the most reliable preserved text of all ancient writings.
The original writings of the Bible have not been preserved. In the first centuries after Jesus had lived on earth, the eyewitness reports (the Gospels) and letters of His followers were frequently copied by many people. These copies could have some minor spelling errors. Also, sometimes a sentence was duplicated or forgotten. But because of the thousands of copies available, the original text can be traced very well.
Most of the differences between the copies are small deviations; still, the original text can be traced easily. Only a handful of texts in most current Bible translations are doubted to have been part of the original text. The most important three are:
- The story of an adulterous woman in John 7,
- The last part of the Gospel of Mark (the last 11 verses of Mark 16)
- 1 John 5 verse 7 where the God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is emphasized
At this point, scholars cannot say for sure if these texts were in the original text. That’s why many modern Bible translations put these texts in brackets or comments next to them. The Bible contains many thousands of texts. The contents of these three small pieces of text have no influence whatsoever on the message of the Bible. Nor do they contradict the rest of the Bible’s message.
Couldn’t God prevent such differences in the Bible? The transcribing was human work. No human being does his job completely flawlessly. So it would be a miracle if the Bible had been transcribed tens of thousands of times without a single error. This would be outright proof of the existence of God and would thereby restrict our free choice.
Apparently, God also chose to allow the original writings to be lost. Had these been preserved, they may well have been given a “sacred status.” They could be used for personal gain or political influence because many copies are available, and everyone can freely get access to the contents of the Bible.
No Central Control
The gospels and letters of the New Testament (the second part of the Bible) were soon copied many times. Therefore, there has never been a moment that one person or an organization has all the copies of the Bible. Nor has there ever been an occasion when the message of the Bible could have been changed. After all, there were already many copies in different locations. This is in contrast to, for example, the Qur’an. At some point, all existing copies were collected by ‘Uthman ibn Affan. He collected all available copies of the Qur’an and determined which version had to be the correct one. All other versions were destroyed (4).
In the second century AD, various copies of the eyewitness reports (Gospels) and letters were combined into the Bible as we know it today. There has not been a final meeting of people who determined the text and composition of the Bible. By examination of manuscripts and their contents, it was determined over time which writings belonged in the New Testament (the second and final part of the Bible).
A Unique Message with Tremendous Impact
What makes the message of the Bible so special? Why is the Bible different from all other books?
1. The uniqueness of God
Many religions describe a God far away who created the world. Most religions teach us to do our best to honor and please our Creator. The Bible also shows that the Creator is a mighty God – that He is also concerned about each individual. God loves the people He created. He even loves us so much that He came to earth to save us from our destruction. The people who put their trust in Him He even call His children.
2. Divine inspiration
The authors of the Bible refer to it many times when they speak the words of God. They claim to pass on divine inspiration and the message of God. That signifies something when you consider that their message did not often meet with people’s appreciation. Many of the writers of the Bible were even killed because of the message they brought.
3. The unity of the Bible
The Bible was written over a period of more than 1,000 years by 40 different authors. Despite this long period and a large number of writers, there is a clear unity in the content and message of the Bible. The main theme will show up when you read the Bible. It is about the love that God, our Creator, has for His creation. Also, about how we respond to His love. It’s about how we often ignore the way God wants us to live.
4. Predictions that become reality
The first part of the Bible (the Old Testament) is full of predictions about a Savior. Someone who will save people from the consequences of their rebellious and shameful behavior. In the second part of the Bible (the New Testament), we see many of those predictions become a reality. You could think that these predictions come true by chance or by manipulation. But the vast number of predictions makes it impossible. Take, for example, the birthplace of the Savior (Jesus Christ). Six hundred years before His birth, the prophet Micah mentions Bethlehem as the birthplace.
At the bottom of this page, you will find some websites that list prophecies that became a reality during the life of Jesus.
5. Scientific discoveries.
The Bible is not a scientific textbook. But the Bible does contain descriptions of the universe and nature. It also contains rules that are good for our health and hygiene. Many of these descriptions do not fit into the worldview and knowledge of the time they were written down. Thanks to current scientific and medical knowledge, many of these precepts have been proven to be good for our well-being
In the Bible, there are laws that deal with hygiene. You might consider that these are rituals invented by people. But they had never heard of viruses and bacteria in ancient times. Yet God orders the clothing of lepers to be burned. Not until recently do we have discovered that Leprosy can survive on fabric or clothing for many weeks, and thus clothing can be highly contagious. The leprosy patient had to be quarantined and had to cover his mouth. (Also, do you see the similarities with modern Corona measures?)
In the books of Moses, there are very strict rules of hygiene that seem quite normal to us. Nowadays, it is customary to wash your hands regularly; until the nineteenth century, this was not a custom in many countries.
The story of Adam and Eve received much criticism in the 18th century. At that time, it was assumed that man could not have originated from a single ancestor. However, recent studies in human genetics have shown that it is very plausible that every human being is descended from a single primal mother. (4)
6. Words that change lives
What makes the message of the Bible most special is that it has changed the lives of billions of people. We may realize that we cannot make up for our sins and disrespectful behavior ourselves. This may lead to a profound sense of shame and regret. Thankfully, God is loving. Despite our behavior, He wants to invite us to His presence. He even wants to join us in His family. Many people have put their trust in God and embraced the forgiveness of their sins by Jesus Christ. In doing so, they entered a hopeful future.
7. Nothing stops Jesus’ followers from telling the good news
Christianity is the only religion where from the beginning, followers are tortured because of the message they spread. Many of the first followers of Jesus Christ were martyred and killed. After the fire in Rome in 64 AD, the followers of Jesus were blamed. Emperor Nero thus caused thousands of followers of Jesus Christ to be horribly murdered, crucified, and burned. They were used as living torches to light up the streets. Followers of Jesus are still haunted by people even today.
Despite the horrific beatings, this does not stop followers of Jesus Christ from sharing the good news with other people.
To discover if the Bible contains the living words of our Creator, you will have to read the Bible yourself. I hope the message of our Creator’s will touch your heart.
Or if you entered the website at this page:
More information (English):
Websites about the prophecies of the Bible
(1) (Jesus said:) But even the smallest part of a letter in the law cannot be changed. It would be easier for heaven and earth to pass away. (Luke 16:17).
(2) See also Historical proof of the Bible
(4) Bukhari Vol. 6, Book 61, Hadith 510