History was never my strong suit and it was a subject I never enjoyed. Still, I remember learning about Julius Caesar, and the names Plato and Aristotle have a familiarity. I’m sorry to say that if you asked me anything specific about these three I would be hard pressed to come up with one fact about each. What I do remember, though, is that whatever my teachers tried to teach me, I was taught as fact and accepted what they said as fact. This was happening at the same time that I somehow came to the conclusion that the Bible was not fact.

What’s interesting about this is that based on verifiable historical evidence – that is actual copies of documents, the New Testament is significantly – and I mean significantly – more reliable and accurate than everything we have about Caesar, Plato and Aristotle, and a ton of other ancient writers I don’t remember learning about in history class. Reliability and accuracy of an ancient document is determined largely by the number of copies found (each of which might be fragments of the whole or the whole document) and the length of time between the writing of the document and our oldest copy of it. Let me give you a taste of the difference between the New Testament and some of these other ancient documents:

Plato was a Greek philosopher and mathematician who lived approximately 427-347 BC. Wikipedia describes him as “one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy.” Our earliest copy of his writings is dated 900 AD – about 1200 years after they were written. We have a total of 7 copies.

Aristotle was a student of Plato and a teacher of Alexander the Great. He wrote on a wide variety of subjects between 450 and 385 BC. The oldest manuscript we’ve found is from 1100 AD – also about 1200 years after they were written. We have 10 copies of his writings.

Julius Caesar lived from 100 to 44 BC. Much of what we know about his life were from his own writings. The earliest copy we have is from 900 AD, 1000 years after they were written. We have 10 copies.

The New Testament was written between 50 and 100 AD. The earliest copy we have is from approximately 130 AD. That’s less than 100 years after it was written. We have fragments from the Gospel of John that could have been one of the first copies. We have approximately 5,800 ancient manuscripts from the New Testament.

I accepted as fact ancient writings for which we have ten or less copies, the oldest of which were made 900 or more years after the original was written yet I doubted the veracity of a document for which there are 5,800 copies, the oldest of which was made less than a generation after the original was written.

I think that’s what the Bible would call deceived. I’m thankful that God opened my eyes to the Truth of His Word.

For more on the subject, check out these resources:

Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry


Special thanks to Bible Study Magazine, Nov & Dec 2009 issue

And if you’re really interested in the subject watch Josh McDowell, author of Evidence that Demands a Verdict, present evidence about the validity of Scripture in this video.

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