Islam Revival - Part 2

CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS

In the remaining space it will be impossible to give more than an overview of the evidences for the Christian faith.30 The two areas we will examine are the evidences for the reliability of the Bible and the person of Jesus Christ.

The Reliability of the Bible

For Muslims the Bible is virtually worthless as far as being an authentic revelation from God. They believe it has been totally corrupted and is therefore not trustworthy. However, if we examine the biblical documents, using the same thorough standards any historiographer would use, we discover that its reliability is unimpeachable.

The New Testament documents, for example, have more manuscript authority than any 10 works of antiquity put together. As mentioned earlier, we have over 24,000 manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament dating from before A.D. 350. In comparison, the number two book in all of ancient history for manuscript authority is the Iliad with 643 manuscripts.

Dr. John Warwick Montgomery, dean of the Simon Greenleaf School of Law and a noted theologian, comments on this: "To be skeptical of the resultant text of the New Testament books is to allow all of classical antiquity to slip into obscurity, for no documents of the ancient period are as well attested bibliographically as the New Testament."31

When we turn to the text of the New Testament itself we see that the writers of the New Testament books claimed that they were eyewitnesses, or close associates of eyewitnesses, of the events they narrated.32 We also have excellent external evidence confirming this. Papias, a disciple of the apostle John, confirms the fact that Mark did indeed write the Gospel which is ascribed to him, obtaining his information from the apostle Peter.33 Polycarp, another disciple of the apostle John, taught his own disciple Irenaeus that the men to whom the four Gospels are ascribed were in truth their real authors.34

In addition to these evidences we can also add the findings of modern archaeology. Time after time archaeology has vindicated biblical accounts which had previously been ridiculed as being grossly inaccurate.35 Concerning this, Nelson Glueck, a world-famous Jewish archaeologist, went so far as to say that "it may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference."36

In any responsible examination of the biblical documents the evidence for their reliability comes out positive. Even well-known secular historians accept the biblical accounts as being historically reliable. A.N. Sherwin-White, a non-Christian, accepts without question the essential reliability of the Gospels and the Book of Acts:

For Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming...any attempt to reject its historicity in matters of detail must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted.37

It is very interesting to note that Yusuf Ali, in his widely used English translation of the Qur'an, twice cites Sir Frederick Kenyon as a renowned authority.38 Kenyon, formerly the principal curator of the British Museum, was one the world's greatest authorities on textual criticism of ancient works. Concerning the textual reliability of the Bible, he concluded that "the Christian can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds in it the true Word of God."39