“Another century and there will not be a Bible on earth.” Voltaire 1694-1778 

“The Bible is such a book of lies and contradictions there is no knowing which part to believe…” Thomas Paine 1737-1809

“[The Bible is] a mass of fables and traditions, mere mythology.” Mark Twain 1835-1910 

“Christianity will go, It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first—rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity.” – John Lennon 1940-1980

“If it [the Bible] was written by God, it wouldn’t be so full of loopholes. It wouldn’t be so full of contradictions.” Christopher Hitchens 1949-2011 

Why has the Bible survived over the centuries, especially with so many notable even brilliant critics? 

It is astounding, especially when you factor in Rome’s attempt at wiping out Christians, that it even survived over the centuries. Severe persecution started with Nero in 64 A.D. when Nero used Christians as a scapegoat for the fire that year, which destroyed much of Rome. Christians were rounded up and killed in various ways, from being tossed in the Roman Arena to being used at human torches. 

This kind of oppression and abuse continued sporadically for the next couple of centuries, and rumors of cannibalism and other misunderstood practices of this ‘new religion’ did not help. Christians would also refuse to sacrifice to the Roman gods or worship the Roman Emperor as a God. This fueled further suspicions about Christians and their potential treasonous behavior. 

Then in 303 A.D. the Roman emperor Diocletian ordered three proclamations against Christians because they were poisoning the relationship Roman citizens had with their gods:

  1. Diocletian ordered the destruction of all Christain churches.
  2. The emperor ordered all Christian books, letters, and manuscripts to be destroyed.
  3. He commanded the killing of all Christians. 

Surprisingly, not only did Christianity persevere, the writings of the apostles survived and were compiled into the New Testament. 

When we compare the New Testament to other ancient documents as far as the number of copies, scripture hits it out of the park with the bases full. David Limbaugh, author of Jesus on Trial, wrote concerning the number of copies we had of the New Testament, “In 1999 there were 5,656 and now there are around 5,800. The number of New Testament translations into languages of nearby countries-Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, Latin, Coptic, and others-total about 19,300. When added to the 5,800 Greek manuscripts, there are some 25,000 New Testament manuscripts, a figure that dwarfs the number of manuscripts of any other ancient book. 1

The next closest number of copies we have available of an ancient historical document is the Iliad by Homer, 643 copies. After that, we have about 200 copies from Demosthenes, a Greek statesman and orator. Then we have 8 copies from the Greek historian Herodotus and a total of 7 from Plato. Yet, we never hear of anyone question their accuracy or reliability. 2

Many liberal historians allege the Gospels are unreliable. They claim the disciples would exaggerate the events in their favor, and the New Testament can’t be trusted. Professor Craig Blomberg wrote, “A historian can hold strong views about the significance of certain events and still write reliable history. In fact, partisan proponents of a given point of view are sometimes even more accurate than detached observers; consider, for example, the first impassioned accounts from Jewish sources of the Nazi holocaust that turned out to be more accurate than the reports of the ‘objective’ news media.” 3

The Gospel writers said what they wrote was true, was accurate, had eyewitnesses, and they heard it first hand. 

John 19:35

1John 1:1-2

Acts 2:32

1 Corinthians 15:3-7

They wrote down what they saw and publicly testified to it despite their persecution, which cost almost all of them their lives. John Lennon was wrong and continues to be proved wrong.  

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8


More popular than Jesus by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Sources:
  1. Limbaugh, David. “The Amazing Bible, Part 3: Reliability and Internal Evidence “Jesus On Trial, Regnery Publishing, 2014, pg 213.[]
  2. Geisler, Norman. Turek, Frank. “Do we have early testimony about Jesus” I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, Crossway, 2004, pg 228[]
  3. Blomberg, Craig L, “Newer Methods in Gospel Study” The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, IVP Academic, 2007, pgs 72-73[]
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