Is the New Testament Accurate and Reliable?
Many people wonder if today’s Bible matches that of the original.
o The fact is there are over 24,000 surviving ancient manuscripts. More than any other ancient work.
o When the text of these manuscripts are compared, they show a remarkable textual reliability.
o Forty of the Greek manuscripts date back before 300 AD, several date to the second century. One portion of the Gospel of John dates to
circa 110 AD (as a point of reference, Jesus was crucified around 32 AD).
“At present, we have more than six thousand manuscript copies of the Greek New Testament or portions thereof. No other work of Greek
literature can boast of such numbers… Furthermore, it must be said that the amount of time between the original composition and the next surviving
manuscript is far less for the New Testament than for any other work in Greek literature.”
Philip W. Comfort, Bible Researcher
When researchers analyze historical documents, they use several criteria to determine accuracy. Below we walk through each criterion and
evaluate how the Bible stands.
Was the author in the position to know what they where writing about?
All of the New Testament was written by either those who witnessed the events first-hand or recorded direct eyewitness accounts.
Do the writings contain specific, often irrelevant material? Accurate first-hand accounts often contain specific details, to the point that they
The gospel accounts include massive amounts of details that do not add any relevance to the account. A few examples from the Resurrection
account are below:
o John ran faster than Peter to the tomb.
o Peter entered the tomb first.
o The cloth covering Jesus was folded up and placed by itself.
Does the writing contain material that might cast a negative image on the writer or heroes of the story?
The New Testament contains several instances of information that casts a shadow on the apostles. A few examples are below.
o The Gospel of Mark is written on Peter’s eyewitness account yet tells us that Peter denied the Lord three times.
o Women were the first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. In that culture the testimony of women was not seen as reliable.
o Through-out the entire gospels the disciples are described as full of doubt.
Is the document reasonably self-consistent?
There are no contradictory accounts in the New Testament teachings.
Would the authors of the document have a motive for fabricating what they wrote?
The writers of the New Testament had no reason to fabricate what they wrote. In fact they had everything to lose (family, friends, even their
Are there other sources that confirm material in the original work?
There are several historical documents which mention the existence of Jesus and his followers.
Archaeology has shown many of the events, places, and people of the New Testament are consistent with history.
o Many of the cities mentioned in the New Testament accounts have recently been found in archeological projects. These cities include the
towns of Capernaum, Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Tiberias.
o Several sites described in the New Testament have been rediscovered recently. These include the Pool of Bethesda, the Pool of Siloam, and
o Mentions of many of the individuals of the New Testament accounts have been found. These include Pontius Pilatus and King Herod.
o The New Testament account mentions a census taken that required all men to return to the city they were originally from. The record of
these types of census was unproven until recently when a official government order from 104 AD was found describing the practice as law.
When Were They Written
The entire New Testament was written before 150 AD with many of the books completed much earlier.
o Experts date Mark as the earliest gospel at 68 AD
o Matthew is believed to be written between 70-85 AD
o Luke is usually placed in the 80-95 AD timeframe
o The rest of the New Testament is believed to have been written between 51-150 AD
o Some scholars believe that all of the gospels were written before 70 AD as Jesus prophesized the destruction of the Jewish Temple, which
did occur in 70 AD. These scholars believe the gospels would have mentioned this fact if they were written after the destruction.
Most of the New Testament was written while first-hand witness to Jesus’ miracles and resurrection were still alive. If the events that are
described in the gospels are not true those who knew better had the ability to speak out against their reliability.
“ After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen
asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:6
Now slam the site you liberal heathens, but as this one site states and I ahve seen it many times elsewhere, the New Testament is one of the most well
documented ancient books that we DO have.
Archaeology and the New Testament
Now lets see some of the evidence,
There is an ongoing debate among scholars regarding the historical accuracy of the Bible. Some feel that the Bible is a fictitious work and should be
read as a work of literary fiction. Others feel it is an accurate historical work divinely inspired by God. Archaeology has played a major role in
determining the trustworthiness of the Bible. In a previous article, we discussed archaeological confirmations of the Old Testament. In this one, we
will look at the archaeological discoveries that have confirmed the historical accuracy of the New Testament. There is a great deal of evidence
outside of the Bible that confirms the account of Jesus as written in the Gospels.
1st, the most common one used,
Historical Confirmation of Jesus
The first evidence comes from the four Gospels which, themselves, are proven to be accurate. Outside the biblical text are several witnesses as
well. Jewish historian Josephus (37 A.D.–100 A.D.) recorded the history of the Jewish people in Palestine from 70 A.D. to 100 A.D. In his work
Antiquities, he states:
Now there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men
as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the gentiles. He was the Christ and when Pilate, at the
suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him. For he appeared
alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of
Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day.
Although he mentions Jesus in a sarcastic way, Josephus confirms the facts that Jesus did do many great miracles, drew a following, was crucified, and
was proclaimed alive on the third day.
2nd, one I did not know of
Pliny the Younger, Emperor of Bythynia in northwestern Turkey, writing to Emperor Trajan in 112 A.D. writes:
They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang an anthem to Christ as God, and bound themselves by a
solemn oath not to commit any wicked deed, but to abstain from all fraud, theft and adultery, never to break their word, or deny a trust when called
upon to honor it; after which it was their custom to separate, and then meet again to partake of food, but ordinary and innocent kind.
And this one is even better,
One of the most important Romans historians is Tacitus. In 115 A.D. he recorded Nero's persecution of the Christians, in the process of which he
wrote the following:
Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators,
Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, . . . but even in Rome.
And for dearest marg the doubter and scoffer, You ask it is importnt when the Bible is yet again proven right. Well it just shows that it can be
Accuracy of the Gospels
The accuracy of the Gospels has been supported by archaeology. The names of many of the Israelite cities, events, and people described in them have
now been located. Here are a few examples.
The Gospels mention four neighboring and well-populated coastal cities along the Sea of Galilee: Capernaum, Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Tiberias. Jesus
performed many miracles in the first three cities. Despite this testimony, these cities rejected Jesus and therefore were cursed by Him (Matt.
11:20-24; Luke 10:12-16). These cities eventually disappeared from history and their locations remained missing for centuries. Their demise fulfills
the prophetic condemnation of Jesus.
Only recently has archaeology recovered their possible locations. Tell Hum is believed to be Capernaum. (A "tell" is a mound or elevated land that
has arisen by repeated and long-term rebuilding of the same site. Layers of civilizations can be found at different strata). The locations of
Bethsaida and Chorazin still remain unconfirmed, but the present site at a tell 1.5 miles north of the Galilean shoreline is believed to be Bethsaida,
while Tell Khirbet Kerezah, 2.5 miles northwest of Capernaum, is thought to be Chorazin.
Another famous one, history seems to catch up with the Bible at times
Matthew 2 states that Jesus was born during the reign of Herod. Upon hearing that a king had been born, the frightened Herod ordered all children
under the age of two to be killed. His slaughter of innocents is consistent with the historical facts that describe his character. Herod was
suspicious of anyone whom he thought may take his throne. His list of victims included one of his ten wives, who was his favorite, three of his own
sons, a high priest, an ex-king, and two of his sister's husbands. Thus, his brutality portrayed in Matthew is consistent with his description in
And so we wondered was pilot even real? Did he wash his hands of this innocent murder? Did he even exist?
Well the Bible told us for 2000 years that he did, and science catches up, after the fact that it had already been said that it was fiction, well
Evidence for Pontius Pilate, the governor who presided over the trial of Jesus, was discovered in Caesarea Maritama. In 1961, an Italian archaeologist
named Antonio Frova uncovered a fragment of a plaque that was used as a section of steps leading to the Caesarea Theater. The inscription, written in
Latin, contained the phrase, "Pontius Pilatus, Prefect of Judea has dedicated to the people of Caesarea a temple in honor of Tiberius." This temple
is dedicated to the Emperor Tiberius who reigned from 14–37 A.D. This fits well chronologically with the New Testament which records that Pilot
ruled as procurator from 26–36 A.D. Tacitus, a Roman historian of the first century, also confirms the New Testament designation of Pilate. He
writes, "Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our
procurators, Pontius Pilatus. . . ."
Dis the Romans even crucify?Then why to man that had done nothing wrong by Pilots own admission? Did it even happen?
Confirmation Regarding the Crucifixion
All four Gospels give details of the crucifixion of Christ. Their accurate portrayal of this Roman practice has been confirmed by archaeology. In
1968, a gravesite in the city of Jerusalem was uncovered containing thirty-five bodies. Each of the men had died a brutal death which historians
believe was the result of their involvement in the Jewish revolt against Rome in 70 A.D.
The inscription identified one individual as Yohan Ben Ha'galgol. Studies of the bones performed by osteologists and doctors from the Hadassah
Medical School determined the man was twenty-eight years old, stood five feet six inches, and had some slight facial defects due to a cleft right
What intrigued archaeologists were the evidences that this man had been crucified in a manner resembling the crucifixion of Christ. A seven-inch nail
had been driven through both feet, which were turned outward so the nail could be hammered inside the Achilles tendon.
Archaeologists also discovered that nails had been driven through his lower forearms. A victim of a crucifixion would have to raise and lower his body
in order to breathe. To do this, he needed to push up on his pierced feet and pull up with his arms. Yohan's upper arms were smoothly worn,
indicating this movement.
John records that in order to expedite the death of a prisoner, executioners broke the legs of the victim so that he could not lift himself up by
pushing with his feet (19:31-33). Yohan's legs were found crushed by a blow, breaking them below the knee. The Dead Sea Scrolls tell that both Jews
and Romans abhorred crucifixion due to its cruelty and humiliation. The scrolls also state it was a punishment reserved for slaves and any who
challenged the ruling powers of Rome. This explains why Pilate chose crucifixion as the penalty for Jesus.
And what of the time of death? Well the curtain ripped. What else?
Historian Thallus wrote in 52 A.D. Although none of his texts remain, his work is cited by Julius Africanus' work, Chronography. Quoting Thallus on
the crucifixion of Christ, Africanus states, "On the whole world, there pressed a most fearful darkness, and the rocks were rent by an earthquake,
and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down." Thallus calls this darkness, "as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the
So can this Book be trusted? I would argue YES! And the evidence supports this.
The second source of external evidence comes from archaeology. Middle Eastern archaeological investigations have proven the Bible to be true and
unerringly accurate in its historical descriptions. Nelson Glueck, a renowned Jewish archaeologist, states, "No archaeological discovery has ever
controverted a biblical reference.''(2)
Dr. William Albright, who was not a friend of Christianity and was probably the foremost authority in Middle East archaeology in his time, said this
about the Bible: "There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of the Old Testament."(3)
Here are a couple of examples of the historical accuracy of the Bible. A good example is found in Genesis 14. The Bible speaks of Abraham's victory
over Chedorlaomer and five Mesopotamian kings. For years, the critics stated that these accounts were fictitious and many people discredited the
Bible. In the 1960s, however, the Ebla tablets were discovered in northern Syria. The Ebla kingdom was a powerful kingdom in the twentieth century
B.C. The Ebla tablets are records of its history. Thousands of tablets have been discovered. What is important is that many of these tablets make a
reference to all five cities of the plain proving the Genesis 14 account to be accurate.(4)
Another example is the story of Jericho recorded in the book of Joshua. For years skeptics thought the story of the falling walls of Jericho was a
myth. However, in the 1930s, Dr. John Garstang made a remarkable discovery. He states, "As to the main fact, then, there remains no doubt: the walls
fell outwards so completely, the attackers would be able to clamber up and over the ruins of the city." This is remarkable because city walls fall
inward, not outward.(5)
The March 5, 1990 issue of Time magazine featured an article called, "Score One For the Bible." In it, archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon claimed
Jericho's walls had fallen suddenly. Many scholars feel this was caused by an earthquake which may also explain the damming of the Jordan.
Additionally, grain was discovered, which shows the city was conquered quickly. This find adds credence to the biblical account. Further study by
Brian Wood found the date of the fall of Jericho to match the Bible's date.(6)
Here are just two great examples of archaeology authenticating the historical reliability of the Bible. No book is as ancient, and at the same time,
as convincingly accurate as the Bible.
Indestructibility and archaeology are two external evidences for the Bible.
But not to worry folks, I didnt even mention that the biggest of all is Prophecy, but that is a whole section in itself......but it is the one that I
ahve studied the most!
Believe! For your Redemption draws neigh!
Its not hard to figure out, He has plainly told you and you will be held accountable for your actions, when you deny Him, He will deny you!
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of
God's one and only Son.
John 3:19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
John 3:20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
John 3:21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."