"People do not like to think. If one thinks, one must reach conclusions. Conclusions are not always pleasant."
- Helen Keller
1.1 Are the historical manuscripts reliable?
Introduction to investigating the Bible
"There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry."
- J. Robert Oppenheimer
"The supernatural is the natural not yet understood."
- Elbert Hubbard
This line of reasoning will be our basis for arguing the authority the Bible; an argument that begins with having reliable source manuscripts. But just how reliable are those manuscripts? In other words, How do we know if what we read in the Bible today is that which was actually written long ago?
This is a very good question; one which is complicated by language barriers, textual variations among multiple copies of the same passages, and the existence of various translations of the Bible. In order to answer this question, we need to first investigate the integrity and authenticity of those early writings.
1.2 What is the scientific method of investigation?
Lawyer-turned-Christian-author Josh McDowell writes that there are two basic methods of investigation. One, the scientific method, involves creating a controlled situation where the subject can be repeated with data drawn and hypotheses made. This method is valid for proving laws of physics and mechanical principles, but it is largely incapable of determining the historicity of past events.
The scientific method, as an example, can predict how long after conception a child will be born by studying pregnancies and the variables involved. However, the scientific method cannot repeat your particular birth to prove to me, or to anyone else, that it was truly you who were born.
1.3 What is the legal method of investigation?
If your birth cannot be experimentally reproduced to scientifically prove it's really you standing before me, or before a passport officer or county clerk, then just how do they go about determining your age and who you are?
In each of these latter cases, the legal method of investigation is employed. The legal method of analysis acquires knowledge of the past based upon written or oral testimony, and then determines its historical accuracy.
The legally acceptable proof of our existence in the above cases could be a birth certificate or driver's license. Similarly, once we authenticate the integrity and veracity of Scripture, it too then becomes a legitimate source of information about the past. The next page begins this investigation.
Introduction to Veracity
Introduction to Divinity
Introduction to Authority
WHY THIS CHAPTER?
An overview of the first of four divisions methodically evaluating the Bible.
In short, how to tell if what we read today is that which was actually written long ago.
1. The scientific method.
2. The legal method.