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The Validity of the New Testament
Some critics of the Bible try to discredit the New Testament by saying that the books of which it consists were written centuries later than Christians claim. These people are either lying or they don't really know their subject. There are two complete Bible in existence that date from no later than 320 AD. One is the Codex Vaticanus, which is in the Vatican Library. The other is the Codex Sinaiticus, which is presently in the Russian Museum in Moscow. It is so called because it was found in an old monastery in the Sinai Desert. These Bibles existed over 1500 miles apart long before the rise of modern transportation. Their existence shows that the New Testament had to have been assembled decades before these Bible were made. The individual books, therefore, had to have been written even earlier.
Furthermore, there is a broad consensus of support from the writings of the Early Church Fathers* for believing that all the books of the New Testament were written by the men to whom they are attributed. There are so many quotes from the New Testament in their writings that if we lost the New Testament completely, we could reassemble all but a few, insignificant verses of it from the writings of the Early Church Fathers.
There is internal evidence within the Gospels to believe that, contrary to what critics and even some "Christian" Bible scholars say, that the first three - Matthew, Mark and Luke - were written no later than 65 AD. This is also true of the Book of Acts, and almost certainly true of the Epistles of Paul, Peter, James and Jude. The Gospel of John, his Epistles and the Book of Revelation, were later, but John wrote them. He was the only Apostle to die a natural death, and he is known to have been very long lived.
For an example of the internal evidence, in Luke 2:21-24, following the Christmas story, there is an account of two specific rituals that Joseph and Mary followed after the birth of Jesus, in obedience to the Law of Moses, as in Leviticus 12. The fact that that story is there, and is in perfect accordance with the Law of Moses, shows that the person who wrote the Book of Luke was closely acquainted with Old Testament Judaism. If a gentile writer in, say, the second or third century, who lived in Greece or Rome had written the Gospel of Luke, he probably wouldn't have known about that. The rituals include a temple sacrifice, and that practice ended in 70 AD. The story is, again, evidence that the Gospel of Luke was written in the First Century, by a person familiar with ancient Judaism.
Overall, the Bible as a whole is authentic and reliable. We have more evidence for the authenticity of the New Testament than for the old. People who say different are speaking from ignorance or deliberate refusal to accept the truth. You can trust the Bible to be what it says it is: The Word of God! The New Testament does in fact contain the New Covenant prophesied in the Old Testament.
* The Early Church Fathers were Christian leaders during the period from circa 100 - 400 AD. They left a considerable body of writing that tells us much about the history of the Bible and the early Church, including what Early Christians believed. Their writings did much (and still do) to shape the theology of Christianity. The study of their writings is by itself a major area of Christian scholarship.
The Truth of the Resurrection
When critics have finished attacking the Bible on scientific or authenticity grounds, the next thing they attack is the doctrine of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is agreed by both Christians and critics that Biblical Christianity stands or falls on whether or not Jesus Christ actually arose from the dead. If He did, then the Christian Faith is probably, even from a skeptics point of view, the one true religion it claims to be. (Skeptics, of course, usually will refuse to believe it, regardless of the evidence.) If He did not, as even St. Paul admitted (in so many words - I Corinthians 15:15-19) then the Christian Faith is worse than worthless.
Rather than deal with arguments against it, we will look at the most notable reason to believe that He did:
If Jesus had not risen from the dead,
there would never have been a Christian Faith.
After the Crucifixion, as the Bible tells us, the disciples were in hiding. When the women from the Tomb told them about the Resurrection, they didn't believe it. Some of them were starting to slip out of Jerusalem in small groups (Luke 24:13). Yet these men went on to change the world. What changed them?
The night before the Crucifixion, St. Peter vehemently denied even knowing Jesus. Yet six weeks later he stood before a large crowd and preached the Pentecost sermon that effectively started the Church. What changed him?
The Gospel of Mark tells of a young man who fled naked from the scene of Jesus' arrest - a very shameful thing at the time. Some scholars think the man was Mark himself - he is known to have been one of the youngest of Jesus' disciples. If so, why does he tell us this? Is it perhaps a subtle testimony to how much he had been changed? By what?
What had changed them all was the fact that they had seen Jesus alive after He died on the Cross. There is unwitting support for this idea from one of Christianity's most vicious critics; Hugh Schonfield, author of best-selling book, "The Passover Plot". In that book, written to discredit the Resurrection,
Schonfield admits that there wouldn't have been a Christian Faith if the disciples didn't really believe that Christ had arisen from the dead!
But the theory he puts forward to explain this is at least as hard to believe as the Resurrection. He says, in essence, that an imposter convinced the disciples that he was Jesus risen from the dead. This is not as plausible as it sounds. It isn't easy for an imposter to fool a person who really knows the person being impersonated. Schonfield probably didn't know this. Here is a true story that illustrates this point.
The Impersonation of "Monty"
In the months before the D-Day invasion in World War II, Allied intelligence went to great lengths with counter-espionage and disinformation efforts - successfully - to make the Nazis believe that the invasion would take place anywhere but Normandy. Part of their efforts was making it appear that an invasion of southern France was planned. They carried out several ingenious, carefully planned and executed hoaxes to accomplish this. One of these hoaxes involved the impersonation of British Field Marshal Bernard Law "Monty" Montgomery.
"Monty" was the most popular officer in the British military. The Allies wanted the Germans to think he was planning an invasion of southern France. But he was too busy with preparations for the real invasion to take part in the hoax. So what they did was find a professional actor who closely resembled Monty. The actor followed Monty around for two weeks, watching everything he did, even how he shaved, and learned to impersonate him.
Now understand this: a professional actor knows how to study a real person if he is going to portray that person on stage or screen. He can change the way he talks to make himself sound more like the person he is portraying. (This is a vocal skill that in the theater world is called "dialects".) He can also apply makeup to increase the resemblance. So this guy's impersonation of Monty would have been good!
With his "training" complete, the bogus Monty was sent on a tour of Allied bases in the Mediterranean region. The idea was that "Monty's" high-profile "presence" there would make Nazi spies think the real Monty was planning the invasion of southern France. All went well until one day he gave a speech to a group of officers, one of whom had served with the real Monty. After the meeting, that officer took the bogus Monty aside and said to him,
"That was a great speech, Sir.
Now would you please tell me one thing:
Who the bleep are you?"
The officer who knew the real Monty saw right through the impersonation.
Now Hugh Schonfield wants us to believe that a person who probably didn't even know Jesus well, and without theatrical training, could fool a group of men who had lived with Him for over three years? To be successful, he would have had to have been close enough to Jesus for the disciples to have gotten to know him too, which is self-contradictory. No way that would have worked! If the disciples were sure that Jesus arose from the dead, then the only rational explanation is that He in fact did. There is no other realistic possibility.
It is worthwhile to note how much they believed it. Of the original 11 original Apostles (what the disciples were called after they were chosen by Jesus [Luke 6:13] ) who remained faithful, 10 died violent martyr's deaths (the exception being St. John). Of these, 9 died with no other Apostles near them (the exception being James the Elder). But none of them ever denied the truth of the Resurrection. Not even Thomas, who died with no other Apostle within a thousand miles of him (in India). The same is true of St. Paul, who met Jesus through a vision on the road to Damascus. No imposter fooled him!
Such is the evidence that the only rational, intellectually honest conclusion that one can come to after serious examination of the facts is that Jesus Christ arose from the dead. And because He did, the Christian Faith is in fact the one true religion it claims to be.
Of course, the story of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ could still be true, but, in theory, the teachings of the Christian Faith aside from that could be false. There is compelling reason to believe that the teachings of Christianity are true. We will deal with some of those reasons in the following page,
The Validity of the Christian Faith
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Contact Author, William D. Brehm