Why it makes sense to trust the Bible -

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Why it makes Sense to Trust the Bible : 

Why it makes Sense to Trust the Bible 1. Documentary Evidence of Old Testament

In this Study we will investigate the following: : 

In this Study we will investigate the following: How can we be sure that the Old Testament (OT) was written when it says it was? How can we be sure that it was preserved accurately? Basically – can we trust it? The Old Testament written from 1400 BC to 400 BC

The Old Testament Evidence : 

The Old Testament Evidence We will look at the evidence of manuscripts: The available manuscripts The Copying Technique of the Scribes The Dead Sea Scrolls Translations of the OT Other Documents Based on the OT

1) The Available Manuscripts : 

1) The Available Manuscripts The Nash papyri contain the 10 commandments and the Shema (Deut 6:4-9) They date from 150-100BC from Egypt Now in Cambridge University Library, UK This is one of the earliest manuscripts apart from Dead Sea Scrolls The Nash Papyri

The Cairo Geniza : 

The Cairo Geniza Geniza is a ‘hiding place’ for documents no longer usable. Periodically these are normally cleared and buried in a graveyard. The ‘cannot’ be destroyed because the name of God is in them. Often a Geniza is in the attic or basement of a synagogue. They can be buried in the ground or in walls. Nearly 200,000 manuscripts discovered, dating from AD870 to 1870. Many OT fragments from the 5th Century onwards Most are in the Cambridge University Library, UK Ben Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo, Egypt, where the Geniza discovered in 1870

The Cairo Codex : 

The Cairo Codex This was copied by Moses ben Asher in AD 895 in Tiberius, Palestine It is a well-preserved book, containing the major and minor prophets Now in Hebrew University, Israel

The Aleppo Codex : 

The Aleppo Codex Full Old Testament from AD 930. Copied by the Masorete Shelomo ben Baya. Now at the Hebrew University in Israel, but a third of it went missing after 1947

Leningrad Codex : 

Leningrad Codex Dates from AD 1010. Probably written in Cairo, by the Masoretes Now in St Petersburg, Russia The Oldest complete OT today, and the basis for today’s Masoretic text (the OT of todays Bible)

The Ketef Hinnom Scrolls : 

The Ketef Hinnom Scrolls Discovered in 1979 in Jerusalem. Two small silver scrolls (amulets) dating from 7th Century BC (the time of Jeremiah/Josiah). The Oldest OT fragments so far discovered. Preserved because they were written in silver. Contains priestly blessing from Numbers 6 v 24-26.

1. Summary of Available Manuscripts : 

1. Summary of Available Manuscripts Apart from the Ketef Hinnon Scrolls, the Oldest complete OT is from AD 1010. There are not the numbers of manuscripts available as there are for the NT, and these are not as close to the date when the OT written (BC 900-400). This gap is about 1500 years! There are two reasons for this: Old copies were destroyed/buried by the Jews when they became damaged Hebrew documents were routinely destroyed during the Jewish persecutions So how can we be sure of the reliability of the OT?

2. Copying Technique of the Scribes : 

2. Copying Technique of the Scribes There was a special profession of people who copied the Old Testament – the Scribes They had highly developed rictuals to ensure that the text was absolutely correct. When these were completed it was considered that the new copy was as good as the old. In fact, the old copies may be torn/worn, so the new copy was considered better.

Scribes Rules for Copying : 

Scribes Rules for Copying They could only use clean animal skins, both to write on, and even to bind manuscripts. Each column of writing could have no less than forty-eight, and no more than sixty lines. The ink must be black, and of a special recipe. They must verbalize each word aloud while they were writing. They must wipe the pen and wash their entire bodies before writing the word “Yahweh," every time they wrote it. There must be a review within thirty days, and if as many as three pages required corrections, the entire manuscript had to be redone. The letters, words, and paragraphs had to be counted, and the document became invalid if two letters touched each other. The middle paragraph, word and letter must correspond to those of the original document. The documents could be stored only in sacred places (synagogues, etc). As no document containing God's Word could be destroyed, they were stored, or buried, in a geniza - a Hebrew term meaning "hiding place." These were usually kept in a synagogue or sometimes in a Jewish cemetery

Rule of Checking : 

Rule of Checking “The Masoretes were well disciplined and treated the text “with the greatest imaginable reverence, and devised a complicated system of safeguards against scribal slips. They counted, for example, the number of times each letter of the alphabet occurs in each book; they pointed out the middle letter of the Pentateuch and the middle letter of the whole Hebrew Bible, and made even more detailed calculations that these. ‘Everything countable seems to have been counted’, says Wheeler Robinson, and they made up mnemonics by which the various totals might be readily remembered” FF Bruce

Slide 14: 

“We have given practical proof of our reverence for our own Scriptures. For, although such long ages have now passed, no one has ventured either to add, or to remove, or to alter a syllable; and it is an instinct with every Jew, from the day of his birth, to regard them as the decrees of God, to abide by them, and, if need be, cheerfully to die for them” Josephus (1st century)

Slide 15: 

Here are 3 scriptural reasons why the Jews were careful with the word of God: “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.” Deuteronomy 4v2 “See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.” Deuteronomy 12v32 “What advantage, then, is there of being a Jew, or what value is there is circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, they have been trusted with the very words of God.” Romans 3v1-2

3. The Dead Sea Scrolls : 

3. The Dead Sea Scrolls These were discovered in 1947 near the Dead Sea They consist of about 40,000 fragments, including many Old Testament books They date from BC 100-150 This is over 1000 years older than previous manuscripts By comparing the Dead Sea scrolls from BC50 with the Masoretic OT from AD1010, we are able to see how accurately the OT has been preserved by the Jews – or not.

Comparison of the Dead Sea Scrolls with our OT : 

Comparison of the Dead Sea Scrolls with our OT The complete Isaiah scroll from the Dead Sea Scrolls (right) was compared with the Masoretic text. Eg Isaiah 53. Of 166 words, only 17 letters different. 14 make no difference to the message (Style and common spelling differences). Three letters added spelling “light” in v11. This word is supported by the LXX and another DSS document This was the general finding of all OT texts discovered

Slide 18: 

The Dead Sea Scrolls allow us to see what 1000 years of copying had done to the text. Parts of all OT books were discovered They confirm that the OT text we have is accurate and reliable You can see the Dead Sea Scrolls.

4) Translations into other Languages from the OT : 

4) Translations into other Languages from the OT Translations from the Hebrew OT can be used to confirm the accuracy of the text. If the translations are comparable with today’s Hebrew text, then this is evidence of the accuracy of the text.

Early Translations from the OT : 

Early Translations from the OT Into Greek – called the “Septuagint”. Translated in 250BC. It is very close to Hebrew text Into Greek – Hexapla. AD 250 Side by side comparison of 5 Greek Texts with Hebrew Into another Hebrew version– the Samaritan Pentateuch (right). Sourced from prob 5th Century BC. It is found to be substantially similar to Jewish Pentateuch

5. Other Documents based on the OT : 

5. Other Documents based on the OT Aramaic Targums (Paraphrases) from about AD 300-500 Mishnah (AD 200) An explanation of the Law. Many quotations from OT (right) Gemara (AD 200 and AD 500) An expanded commentary of the Mishnah Midrash (100BC – AD 300) Doctrinal studies All these studies quote from the original OT and support the accuracy and reliability of the OT

Summary of Documentary Evidence of the OT : 

Summary of Documentary Evidence of the OT The evidence of OT manuscripts: The available Manuscripts - The Copying Technique of the Scribes - The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) - Other Translations of the OT - Documentary Evidence - - Earliest go back to 7th century BC. First complete is 1010 AD - The copying technique preserved the text in very close to its original form - The DSS shows that the copying technique was faithful - Other Early Translations support the correctness of the text - Other Writings confirm that the Hebrew OT Text is accurate We can be confident that the Old Testament is as old as it says and that it is accurate