There are some unique and significant facts about the Bible that contribute to its reliability. Together, these facts are true ONLY of the Bible. No other book, ancient or modern, can compare to the Bible. The Bible Is Unique: 1. In Its continuity. 2. In its circulation. 3. In its translation. 4. In its survival. A book of this stature deserves the careful consideration of every thoughtful and intelligent person. It does not prove that the Bible is true; it proves it is UNIQUE. This is the first step in considering the reliability of our Biblical testimony.

WHY THE BIBLE IS UNIQUE:

A. - Unique in its continuity.
Here is a book written over a 1,500 year span, over 40 generations, by over 40 authors from every walk of life including kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, etc. It was written in a variety of places including a wilderness, dungeon, palace, while traveling and in the rigors of a military campaign, during times of war and peace, during moods of joy and despair. It was written on three continents; Asia, Africa, and Europe.
It was written in three languages; Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and yet, when analyzed, the Bible speaks with amazing unity and conformity on hundreds of controversial subjects about which there are hundreds of opposing opinions. Why all this? Very simple! Any sincere individual seeking truth would at least consider a book with these unique qualifications

B. - Unique in its circulation.
To print every Bible, New Testament, and individual portion of the Bible, published up to 1974, one printer would have to produce:

1 copy every 3 seconds
20 copies every minute
1,200 copies every hour
28,800 copies every day
10.5 million every year
NON STOP FOR 245 YEARS

That's enough pages of Scripture to circle the earth end to end over 1,000 times. That's girding the globe! From the Bible societies alone, as of 1974, 2 billion, 582 million Bibles, New Testaments or individual Scripture portions have been printed.

C. - Unique in its language distribution.
The Bible was the first major book in history to be translated into another language. The Septuagent (Greek word for 70), a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament was initiated around 250 B.C. Tradition alleges that it was done by 70 Jewish scholars working independently in 70 separate cubicles. The Bible, to date, has been translated in part or in whole into more than 1,500 languages. The Bible is now available in 95% of the world's languages and dialects.

D - Unique in survival through time.
Ancient writing materials were greatly inferior to those we possess today. Primitive inks, animal skins, quill pens and papyri were the principal means of preserving and transcribing the Scriptures. With papyri and parchment being subject to continual decay, scribes were in the constant process of replacing worn and debilitated copies with new ones. Providentially, a great number of New Testament manuscripts have survived to our day, attesting to the carefulness and accuracy with which the scribes copied the Scriptures. The proportionate amount of New Testament documents having survived through the centuries, compared with other ancient writings, is overwhelming. When the number of surviving manuscripts of Scripture are compared with the number of surviving manuscripts from other books of antiquity, the results are truly astounding.

E. - Unique in the number of early manuscripts available.
The Bible stands unrivaled in its manuscript attestation. No other document of antiquity ever begins to approach such numbers.

 
 

Work of Antiquity

Number of Surviving
 

Manuscripts

Pliny the Younger (History)
Plato (Tetralogies)
Caesar (Gallic Wars)
Tacitus (Annals)
Aristotle
Sophocles
Demosthenes
Homer (Iliad)

New Testament

Manuscripts

7
7
10
20
49
193
200
643
24,633

Homer's Iliad is second among works of antiquity in manuscript authority with 643 manuscripts that still survive. The New Testament alone has 24,633.

The following is a breakdown of the numbers of surviving manuscripts for the New Testament:

  GREEK No. Of Manuscripts  
  Uncials (capital letters)
Minuscules (small letters with no break between words)
Lectionaries (selected portions of Scripture)
Papyri
Recent finds
Total Extant Greek MSS
Latin Vulgate
Ethiopic
Slavic
Armenian
Syric Pashetta
Bohairic
Arabic
Old Latin
Anglo Saxon
Gothic
Sogdian
Old Syriac
Persian
Frankish

67
2,764
2,143
88
47
5,309
10,000 plus
2,000 plus
4,101
2,587
350 plus
100
75
50
7
6
3
2
2
1

 
  F. Unique Through Persecution.

The Bible has withstood the vicious attacks of its enemies as no other book. Seeking to destroy any vestige of its truth, faithful men and women have been tortured, homes and villages burned and churches pillaged by godless skeptics consumed with bitter hatred for God's book.

Ironies of History!

In A.D. 303 Roman Emperor Diocletian issued an edict to destroy both the Christians and their sacred book. In response to the edict, Roman soldiers went throughout the empire, razing churches to the ground, burning the Scriptures, freeing the empire from the hated curse of Christianity and the Bible. Twenty five years later, Constantine, the emperor following Diocletian, commissioned Eusebius to prepare 50 copies of the Scriptures at the government's expense!

Voltaire, the noted French skeptic and infidel who died in 1778, predicted that in one hundred years from his time Christianity would be swept from existence and passed into history. But what has happened? Fifty years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society moved into his house and used his printing press to produce thousands of Bibles to be distributed worldwide! Voltaire has passed into history; not the Bible!

G. - Unique Through Criticism.

A more subtle attempt in destroying the Bible is the undermining of the Bible's veracity and trustworthiness. Through destructive textual criticism many theologians and critics relegate the Bible's content and message to authors and times completely outside the setting of the reputed events. They have gone so far as to divide one verse into three authorships! By casting aspersions upon its integrity, critics have attempted to annul the Bible's influence through "the assured results of higher criticism".

The "assured results" are no longer so assured. Interestingly enough, the original basis for the "Documentary Hypothesis" (dividing the authorship of the Pentateuch among four anonymous writers) and other higher critical schemes have been conclusively disproved by archaeology. This does not seem to dissuade the higher critic. He still teaches the "assured results" as factual.

 
 

Kingdom of Ebla

 

A significant archaeological find that relates to Biblical criticism is the recently discovered Kingdom of Ebla discovered in Northern Syria by two professors from the University of Rome. Archaeologists, since 1974, have unearthed more than 17,000 tablets from the Ebla Kingdom era which offers solid evidence in support of Biblical truth.

CRITICISM:

Proponents of the "Documentary Hypothesis have taught that the period described in the Mosaic narrative was a time prior to all knowledge of writing. Therefore, the Pentateuch, of alleged Mosaic authorship, was compiled around 400 B.C., or 1,000 years after Moses. (More Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Arrowhead Springs, Calif.: Campus Crusade for Christ, 1975; pp. 67-70)

NEW FIND:

The Kingdom of Ebla tablets show that not only did writing exist in Moses' day, but that 1,000 years before Moses laws, customs, and events were recorded in writing,

CRITICISM:

Critics have held that the various use of the names for God (i.e. Jehovah, El Shaddai, Elohim, etc.) indicates more than one author. Genesis would then be a compilation of the memoirs of two or three authors, each of which gave different names to God. According to the critics, no author would be so inconsistent as to use differing names for God in the same narrative! (More Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Arrowhead Springs, Calif.: Campus Crusade for Christ, 1975; pp. 117-131)

NEW FIND:

At the Kingdom of Ebla site, a Cannanitish text was discovered dated at the same time in which Moses and the patriarchs lived. This text used 5 different names for God in a single narrative.

CRITICISM:

The higher critics have taught that the Priestly code and moral legislation recorded in the Pentateuch were far too developed to have been written by Moses. The Israelites were considered too primitive at that time to have written them. It wasn't until the first half of the Persian period (538 - 331 B.C.) or some 1,500 years after Moses, that such detailed legislation was recorded. (More Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Arrowhead Springs, Calif.: Campus Crusade for Christ, 1975; pp. 62-67)

NEW FIND:

At Ebla, tablets containing law codes were discovered, demonstrating that other civilizations at the time of Moses possessed elaborate judicial proceedings and case law. Many were very similar to the Deuteronomic law code which critics have claimed as originating at a very late date.

CRITICISM:

Critics have claimed that the 5 cities of the plains as recorded in Genesis 14 did not exist, and the kings and events listed were fictitious and historically unreliable. (More Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Arrowhead Springs, Calif.: Campus Crusade for Christ, 1975; pp. 79-83)

NEW FIND:

The Ebla archives refer to all five cities of the plains and on one tablet the cities are listed in the exact same sequence as Genesis 14:8 with the exact same spelling (Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar). Furthermore, these five cities and their kings were made to pay tribute to the Kingdom of Ebla.

QUOTABLE QUOTE:

States leading scholar Bernard Ramm:
"A thousand times over, the death knell of the Bible has been sounded, the funeral procession formed, the inscription cut on the tombstone, and committal read. But somehow the corpse never stays put. "

"No other book has been so chopped, knived, sifted, scrutinized, and vilified. What book on philosophy or religion or psychology or belles lettres of classical or modern times has been subject to such a mass attack as the Bible? with such venom and skepticism? with such thoroughness and erudition? upon every chapter, line and tenet?"

For all these centuries of relentless attacks on the Bible, it is still loved by millions, and studied by millions.

Protestant Christian Evidences. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1957), pp. 232, 233.

The Bible is unique: Having no like or equal.

Admittedly, this does not prove that the Bible is the Word of God but it does factually show the Bible is unique. It takes us one giant step forward in considering its reliability and trustworthiness. Any person honestly seeking for truth would certainly consider a book with these astounding qualifications. Particularly as the weight of evidence of all other factors continually mounts, to the point where the possibility of these unique manuscripts being the source of special divine "Revelation" is compelling, and beyond all probability.