Reliability of the Biblical Documents
Two things that the Probe Ministries article [link found below] adds to my knowledge of Biblical authority and inerrancy are the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the bibliographical evidence of the New Testament in comparison to other ancient literature.
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 by a young Bedouin goat herdsman has rightly been described as the most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century. These scrolls which date back to 100 B.C. contain portions of Scripture from a variety of Old Testament books including an entire copy of the book of Isaiah. Their primary value is found on the part of Biblical scholars being able to compare them with the 10th century A.D. Massoretic Hebrew texts. Due to the fact that there is very little variation between the Qumran documents and the texts preserved in the tradition of the Massoretes, it can be reasonably determined that the Massoretic scribes were just as meticulous in copying other Biblical texts which cannot be compared with the material found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Therefore we can be confident that the Old Testament texts from which we get our English Bible translations are trustworthy, without error, and authoritative.
The bibliographical evidence of the New Testament in comparison to other ancient literature drives us to the conclusion that if such secular manuscripts are accepted as credible documents of antiquity then we must also accept the Biblical documents as authentic. Interestingly enough, the writings of secular authors like Xenophon, Herodotus, and Tacitus are not taken into question even though the lapse between the events and the earliest manuscripts are far greater than even the oldest biblical manuscripts. Despite the evidence that is overwhelmingly in support of the credibility of the New Testament, there are multitudes who scoff at the simple-minded fundamentalists who, as they say, blindly believe the Bible. On the other hand, to reject the authenticity of classical antiquity is never considered as it would be far too audacious of a claim. Everyone is biased even though many are not willing to claim such an assertion.
Mr. Williams’ article, “Are the Biblical Documents Reliable?”, is very helpful in that it gives objective support in favor of the reliability of the Biblical manuscripts. These facts not only bolster the confidence of faithful believers but also poise a challenge that even the most ardent skeptic would have trouble mounting a reasonable argument against. The archaeological discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the bibliographical evidence in support of the New Testament in comparison to other ancient literature drives us to the conclusion that the Bible that we now hold in our hands is worthy of our most devoted trust. It is trustworthy because it is without error and therefore authoritative to every area of our lives. The Bible is indeed the Word of God and certainly is our first and final authority for all matters of faith, what we should believe, and practice, how we should live.