In this modern skeptical age, many people have been totally mis-informed about the Bible. Attacks on the Bible as God’s Word are everywhere, and myths about the Bible abound in today’s culture. Here are five common myths about the Bible you may have heard, and the startling truth you need to know about them:
Myth #1: The Bible has been copied so many times, it’s like the telephone game, all we have are copies full of errors and so we don’t have the original.
The Truth: If there is any text we can be sure we have reliable copies of, it’s the Bible. The reliability of copies of an ancient text depend on both the number of manuscripts and the time separating the earliest manuscripts from the original. A lesser, but still important factor is the care taken when they were copied.
The New Testament leaves all competitors way behind in both the large number of manuscripts discovered and the short time interval between the originals and the earliest copies. We have about 26,000 New Testament manuscripts, the earliest of which date only 25-50 years after the time of the originals. The nearest competing ancient document, Homer’s Iliad, has 643 manuscripts separated by 400 years. The average ancient document has about 20 copies discovered and time intervals of a minimum of 400 years, often over 1,000. Yet we trust and do history with these other ancient documents. If we can’t trust the New Testament, we should be thousands of times as skeptical about the other ancient authors.
We have about 3,000 manuscripts of the Old Testament, and evidence that it was very meticulously copied by Jewish scribes. When the ancient Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, dated about 125 B.C. was compared to Old Testament manuscripts dated about 1000 years later, there was about 98% agreement between them, showing the accuracy of the copying. Not at all like the telephone game!
Why isn’t the New Testament like the telephone game? First, they were not trying to make mistakes, they were copying what they believed to be the very Word of God! Second, there were multiple lines of transmission so textual critics can cross compare, since with multiple lines of copying they were not likely to all err in the same place. Third, in the telephone game you can’t check with someone up the line, but with New Testament you can compare earlier manuscripts with later ones. Finally, the New Testament documents were transmitted in writing. If you did that with the telephone game, the message passed on would be much more accurate, but the game would be rather boring!
Expert textual critics who have analyzed the manuscripts and the variant readings among them, are convinced that we indeed have the original New Testament contained within these manuscripts.
Myth #2. Characters in the Bible, such as Abraham, Joseph, Moses, or David were not real people , but simply legends.
The Truth: Critics always argue from a lack of evidence and arguments from silence, which in archaeology are usually notoriously weak. As evidenced by hundreds of discoveries over the last century, the science of archaeology has turned out to be a great friend and ally of the Bible against its most persistent critics. It should also be pointed out that archaeological proof has its limits. We may not find detailed proof of personal, private events in the Bible. Such events may not have left traces that could be reasonably expected to remain thousands of years later. But what we do find confirms the biblical record powerfully.
King David was once thought to be a myth, but discovery of the Tel Dan Stela in 1993, with the inscription “House of David”, along with two other subsequent discoveries, caused the skeptics to have to eat their words. (See article: Was King David a Myth?
What about Abraham or Joseph, or the other Bible patriarchs?
Although we might not expect to find personal references to such men in the archaeological records we can verify that the political, historical and social conditions fit their life and times in history.
Other specific evidence supporting the accounts of Abraham includes:
Kenneth Kitchen refutes the modern claim that the patriarchs were legendary: “We are compelled, once and for all, to throw out Wellhausen’s bold claim that the patriarchs were merely a glorified mirage of/from the Hebrew monarchy period. For such a view there is not a particle of supporting factual evidence.”
For evidence about Moses and the Exodus, see Is there Evidence for The Exodus from Egypt?
When all these factors and more are taken into account, the so-called contradictions are no longer an obstacle to belief in the Bible as God’s Word.
Myth #4. The Resurrection is just hearsay and Christians don’t need to believe in a literal resurrection anyway.
First, the resurrection of Christ is absolutely essential to Christianity. According to Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 : “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1Cor 15:19) Also we would still be in our guilt and sin (v. 17) and Paul and all the apostles would be liars (v.15.) Without the resurrection, the Christian faith is in vain (v. 14).
Second, the resurrection of Christ is among the most rigorously supported historical events. There are facts supporting the resurrection that are so strongly attested to that the majority of scholars believe them, regardless of whether they are conservative or critical. Five of these facts are:
Jesus’ death by crucifixion: evidenced by five non-Christian sources in addition to the Gospels: Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, Mara Bar-Serapion and the Talmud.
The conversion of church persecutor Paul, evidenced by
The conversion of James, the skeptical brother of Jesus, evidenced by
The empty tomb, believed by about 75% of scholars, evidenced by:
 Kenneth A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 2003, 344-345.
 Ibid., 348-350.
 Ibid., 323-324.
 Ibid., 337-338.
 Ibid., 325.
 Ibid., 325-326.
 Ibid., 338-339.
 Ibid., 341-343.
 Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 177.
 Ibid., 177-178; also Price, The Stones Cry Out, 100-102; also Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament, 319-323.
 Price, The Stones Cry Out, 97.
 Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament, 371-372.