Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I've Been Here Before: The Manuscript Argument

This theme/series is something I first started in September of last year, with this introductory article. My idea is simply to transparently show what articles I distinctly remember having a powerful influence on me in my process of investigating truth claims beginning in 2010. Each of these articles will be presented in chronological fashion.

So far, I pointed out the "articles we should not use" link from AiG (at the above blog post) as the first epiphany I encountered, which immediately demonstrated the intellectual honesty of Answers in Genesis. Subsequent to that, I looked at their Statement of Faith. Keep in mind that I wasn't doctrinally reformed at this point. But I could tell they weren't complete crazies, so I decided to tentatively trust their claims, but be ready to question the more extreme assertions. And so I did.

For the next week or two, I spent dozens of hours poring over 'the creationist view' of nearly every secular scientific dogma I'd been exposed to since I was old enough to read. What impressed me most was that I wasn't, largely, told "new information." Instead, the articles used what I already knew, and appealed to my common sense to explain it better. The more I kept reading, the more persuasive it all became. But something began to nag me, and that was that though the point of view was internally consistent, one thing was totally taken for granted in every article: the inerrancy and authority of the Bible. Each article made copious reference to Scripture, but within-article, the interpretation and reliance on those Scriptures was never defended. The implicit argument seemed to be, "IF you believe the Bible is true, and the Word of God, THEN you will logically come to believe what we present in our articles." It was a challenge. I was prepared to believe the Bible is God's Word and inerrant, but now I had to go make sure, and find out for myself.

First, was there enough evidence that the Bible was written when it is said that it was written, and that the original texts say what the modern copies/translations say?

The answer to this comes by way of the Manuscript Argument

That link is dated later than I would have read it, but I recognize the content as something similar/identical to what I actually read in Marc/April 2010.
 Simply put, if we take seriously that other historical documents about other historical figures are truthful in that the events they describe really took place when they say they took place (Herodotus, Caesar, Pliny, Josephus, Aristotle and Plato, etc), then by the same standard of assessment, there is no logical reason to question whether the Bible was actually written at the time period which the Bible's writers indicate that their respective books were written.

And as to whether we can be sure that what the Bible we have now says what the Bible of 70 AD said, if we can believe that what is attributed to Aristotle was written by Aristotle, then we can believe that what is attributed to Paul was written by Paul -- since there are 100 times as many New Testament copies as there are copies of Aristotle's works.

The principle of applying an equal standard of historical scrutiny leads to the confident conclusion that what the Bible says is what the Bible has always said, and that the attributed writers really are the ones who wrote the book, meaning that they were indeed eyewitnesses to their claims.

After demonstrating the historical authenticity of the texts, the next logical question is: does what the texts say, logically contradict, or is it coherent? I dove in headfirst. I went looking for alleged contradictions, making sure to leave no stone unturned. There had to at least be a plausible explanation to resolve each one, in order for inerrancy to be a valid conclusion. And the careful scrutiny of these claims is what I will summarize in the next IBHB article. An address of the many alleged Biblical contradictions.

Stay tuned.

~ Rak Chazak

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