Reading the Bible – part 2
For some of the historical events recorded in the Bible, there is archaeological evidence, others not so much. For example, there is evidence of a sudden destruction of Jericho, but it doesn’t seem to fit the right time frame for Joshua’s conquest. Sometimes archaeology raises more questions than it answers. Plus there are Christians trying to make dates fit the biblical accounts, while atheists are trying to make sure they don’t! While archaeology discoveries are fascinating, it is essential that our faith rests on our relationship with God, regardless of the latest findings.
Christianity claims that at a certain point in history, Jesus was born, lived, claimed to be God, died and rose again. His followers wrote letters soon after these events where they quoted names of actual people and places; leaving behind a great mass of information that could be checked. These ancient versions of the text were quickly and widely distributed.
Accounts of Jesus’ life are quoted in histories outside of biblical accounts. Many academics who wouldn’t profess Christian faith nevertheless regard The New Testament as a reliable history of the time and believe the contents have been faithfully recorded from common knowledge.
The New Testament authors believed they saw miracles. These authors wrote about what they had seen and heard within a short space of time from when the events happened. If incidents have been added later or were an exaggeration of well-known events, the people of the day would have known, and Christianity would have lost creditability. Christians can be confident that the Gospels are reliable accounts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
The 27 books chosen to form the New Testament wasn’t done quickly or lightly. Of course, without a printing press, there wasn’t any urgency to create a canon, except that the churches sought a consensus on which letters were considered authoritative. The criteria chosen, was they had apostolic authorship, that is written by Jesus’ disciples or their close associates and showed evidence of their first-century origins. The books chosen had already earned the recognition of the early church as being inspired by God.