How can you believe the Bible is accurate?

A lot of people would be happy to say that the Bible is an interesting book to read but would argue that you cannot take it as the defining set of guidelines and truth for life because it is not historically accurate. Some people will say that the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) contradict themselves all the time. Often when you ask people to point out those contradictions they won’t be able to point you to anywhere in particular, because there’s just this vague idea that there are contradictions. But there is a reasonable explanation for any such “contradiction”; scholars have written books called harmonies, which provide such explanations.

But if someone tells you that they think the Bible is more like a novel than history one option is to focus on the historical reliability of the 4 gospel accounts and other New Testament books. The New Testament was written so closely after the events depicted:

  • Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written at the very most between 40 and 60 years after Jesus’ death (Mark most likely in the 70s, Matthew and Luke in the 80s, and John in the 90s). This is extremely early in terms of ancient biography
  • Some of Paul’s letters were written even earlier (15-25 years after Jesus’ death) and provide an outline of all the key gospel events—his birth, miracles, teaching, crucifixion and resurrection.

This means that the biblical accounts of Jesus’ life were circulating within the lifetime of hundreds (possibly thousands) of eyewitness who had been present at those events (Paul even says so in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, cf. Luke 1:1-4). American Pastor and Author Tim Keller, in The Reason for God, argues that they could not write such things in a public document (the gospels and New Testament letters were designed to be read out loud in public places) unless the public—both supporters and opponents—would agree with rather than dispute these claims.

There’s more about the topic of the Bible in the Little Black Book also called The Bible.

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