When people first start exploring the Bible, Old and New Testament, they encounter many puzzling events and accounts that not only seem unlikely, but ridiculous. For example, you often hear people say that the Bible is full of contradictions, and you can read for yourself that Matthew mentions only one angel at Jesus’ tomb, but Luke says there were two. Two different versions that don’t agree, so at first glance someone would naturally think this is one of dozens of errors in the Bible, but if you take another look and give these accounts another consideration, you might think differently. For example, Matthew does only mention one angel, but he did not say there was only one. Luke, according to many scholars and historians, wrote in great detail and accuracy suggesting that some accounts of other Gospel writers may not be as complete as others. An incomplete account of an event is not an inaccurate account. Other supposed contradictions would include how many blind men greeted Jesus near Jericho. Matthew says two and Mark mentions one. Another is if the centurion outside Capernaum asked Jesus to heal his servant, or was it someone else? Matthew says it was the centurion, while Luke says it was some Jewish elders, and then some friends. Looking at these examples, you can again see that the accounts could be considered simply incomplete as opposed to inaccurate. Another view of all the supposed contradictions would actually suggest a more truthful and accurate account of the events surrounding Jesus. Jim Wallace wrote Cold-Case Christianity, and as a former atheist and homicide detective, he fully understands how witnesses can misrepresent events. Had the Gospel writers accounts meshed perfectly, then it would be obvious they had conspired to portray a particular view of Jesus. Wallace wrote, “Unless you’ve worked a lot with eyewitnesses and have become familiar with the nature of apparent contradictions in eyewitness accounts, it’s easy to assume that people are lying, (or are mistaken), simply because they don’t agree on every detail…” He went on to say, “While we might complain about two accounts that appear to differ in some way, we would be even more suspicious if there were absolutely no peculiarities or differences.”
Another common misconception suggests that the various versions of the Bible, the number of times it was copied, and the age of the accounts after the events, would allow for an immeasurable number of errors to creep into the manuscripts. In the book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, Norman Geisler and Frank Turek share that the New Testament has nearly 5,700 Greek manuscripts. You will also find more than 9000 manuscripts in other languages such as Latin and Arabic, creating a total of about 15,000 complete Bibles. As to when the Gospels were written, liberal professors and historians would suggest hundreds of years later, but the evidence is overwhelming that Mark, Luke, and Paul wrote within 30 years of Jesus resurrection. The next most supported ancient document is the Iliad by Homer with only 643 manuscripts, and the earliest surviving copy is over 500 years later than the original.
Some of you may have heard of Anne Rice, who wrote a popular and successful series of horror erotica vampire books in the 1980’s and 1990’s selling nearly 100 million copies. She was an atheist for years, but in the late 1990’s returned to her faith in Christianity. She began doing extensive research on Jesus and the research of liberal historians. She said, “Conclusions were reached on the basis of little or no data at all… The whole case for the non-divine Jesus who stumbled into Jerusalem and somehow got crucified… that whole picture which floated around the liberal circles I frequented as an atheist for thirty years – that case was not made. Not only was it not made, I discovered in this field some of the worst and most biased scholarship I’d ever read.”
The eyewitness testimony, early testimony, accurate and reliable testimony, overwhelming circumstantial evidence, archeological evidence, and the accuracy of Bible prophecy clearly supports the trustworthiness of the Scriptures.
2 Peter 1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.