Is it merely another book? ...

The Bible: some evaluations of its worth

H. G. Wells: "...the [Bible] is the Book that has held together the fabric of western civilization... it has unified and kept together great masses of people... it is the handbook of life to countless millions of men and women, it has explained the world to the mass of our people and has given them moral standards and a form into which their consciences could work"

Matthew Arnold: " will find one English book and one only where... perfect plainness of speech is allied with perfect nobleness; and that book is the Bible" [On translating Homer]

Ronald Reagan: "I never had any doubt about [the Bible] being of divine origin...point out to me any similar collection of writings that has lasted for as many thousands of years and is still a best-seller worldwide"

Woodrow Wilson: "When you have read the Bible you will know it is the Word of God, because you will have found it the key to your own heart, your own happiness and your own duty"

Daniel Webster: "If we abide by the principles taught by the Bible, our country will go on prospering"

Theodore Roosevelt: "A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education"

Thomas H Huxley: "The Bible has been the Magna Charta of the poor and the oppressed"

Samuel T Coleridge: "For more than a thousand years the Bible collectively taken has gone hand in hand with civilization, science, law - in short, with the moral and intellectual cultivation of the species; always supporting and often leading the way"

Patrick Henry: "There is a book [i.e., the Bible] worth all other books which were ever printed"

Sir Frederick Kenyon: "...the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established" [Handbook To the Textual Criticism of the NT]

"It cannot be too strongly asserted that in substance the text of the Bible is certain: especially is this the case with the New Testament. The number of manuscripts of the NT, of early translations from it, and of quotations from it in the oldest writers in the church, is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or other of these ancient authorities. This can be said of no other ancient book in the world". [Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts]

"It is true (and it cannot be too emphatically stated) that none of the fundamental truths of Christianity rests on passages of which the genuineness is doubtful". [ibid.]

Philip Schaff: "There are 200,000 variants in 20,000 manuscripts (MSS) which are confined to 10,000 places and of which only 400 affect meaning - only 50 of significance. In not one of these [50] is a single article of faith or practice which is not abundantly sustained by other and undoubted passages, or by the whole tenor of Scripture teaching" [Companion To the Greek New Testament]

The Dead Sea Scrolls: Discovered in 1947 and later in caves, there are some 40,000 fragments of 500 scrolls predating known MSS by a thousand years

- in one chapter of Isaiah: only one word differed from later MSS

- in the Book of Kings: not one consonant differed. The odds for this are 1:750,000,000,000!

In contrast. there are extant only 643 MSS [manuscripts] of Homer's Iliad. Yet these have twenty times the number of instances where the original words are in doubt.

There are only 10 MSS of Caesar's Gallic Wars, and 20 copies of Livy's Roman History. Tacitus has 2 MSS extant. All are about a thousand years younger than the Bible MSS.

Eusebius (b.263) quotes Papias, [who may have seen] the apostle John: "Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately all that [Peter] remembered, whether sayings or doings of Christ... So Mark made no mistake, writing down in this way some things as [Peter] mentioned them; for he paid attention to this one thing, not to omit anything that he had heard, nor to include any false statement among them' [Ecclesiastical History] Irenaeus (c. 180, student of Polycarp) confirms the apostolic origins of the Gospels [Against Heretics III]

Sir William Ramsay (d. 1939, originally a skeptic) "Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, he is possessed of the true historic sense... in short this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians" [The Bearing of Recent Discoveries on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament]

Nelson Glueck (Jewish archaeologist): "It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference" [Rivers in the Desert]

Peter James: "...Egyptian chronology may be wrong by some 250 years and that a completely new picture of Biblical archaeology can be developed which at last restores harmony between the historical and stratigraphical records". [Centuries of Darkness 1991]

F. F. Bruce: "...if the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond doubt" [New Testament Documents P.15]

F. F. Bruce: "...the margin of doubt left in the process of recovering the exact original [NT] in truth remarkably small" [NeW Testament Documents, p.19]

F. F. Bruce: "The NT was complete or substantially complete about 100 A.D., the majority of the writing being in existence twenty to forty years before this." [N T D p.12]

F. F. Bruce: "One thing must be emphatically stated. The NT did not become authoritative for the Church because they were formally included in a canonical list: on the contrary, the Church included them in her canon because she already regarded them as divinely inspired" [N T D p.27]

The Bible speaks of the faith once delivered to the saints!

To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.

For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Volume 1 Issue 1, January/February 1997. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.

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