Q & A With Lee Strobel

Lee Strobel answers questions from his readers:

• What’s the evidence for Old Testament?
• Why did God create such a vast universe?
• Are there prophets among us today?

Q. What would you say is the evidence for the Old Testament? I’m really impressed with your research on the New Testament, but I’m very curious about the Old. – Kyle

A. That’s a really important question, Kyle, and I think you’ll be encouraged by the evidence.

It sounds like you’re already aware of the historicity of Jesus and the rich manuscript evidence confirming the reliability of the New Testament, which I discuss in The Case for Christ and The Case for the Real Jesus. So it’s important to remind ourselves of who Jesus is and what he says about the Old Testament.

After all, Jesus is not only the Messiah (also called Christ, meaning “anointed one”), but he is also the God-man, second person of the Trinity (for example, see John 8:58 and John 10:30). And he personally affirmed that some of the most miraculous stories of the Old Testament, such as Noah and the flood (Matt. 24:37-38) and Jonah and the whale (Luke 11:29-32), are historical events.

The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics notes seven specific distinctions that Jesus declared about the Old Testament scriptures: their divine authority (Matthew 4:4,7,10), indestructibility (Matthew 5:17-18), infallibility or unbreakability (John 10:35), ultimate supremacy (Matthew 15:3, 6), factual inerrancy (Matthew 22:29, John 17:17), historical reliability (Matthew 12:40, 24:37-38) and scientific accuracy (Matthew 19:4-5).

Therefore, if Jesus is telling the truth, then the Old Testament is the Word of God. Remember that Jesus confirmed his claim to divinity by rising victoriously from the grave, conquering death and sin (Matthew 28:5-20; Colossians 2:13-15). Further, the Old Testament was ultimately fulfilled in him (Matthew 5:17-18; Luke 24:45-47; Romans 10:4)! Thus Jesus is in an authoritative position to interpret reality.

In addition, we know that the Old Testament occurred “in time and space” because we can visit many of the cities, mountains, rivers and deserts cited in the text – this, of course, in stark contrast to the claims of the Book of Mormon.

The Old Testament manuscripts were also painstakingly preserved. The scribes who copied the scriptures through the centuries spared no effort to ensure an incredibly accurate transmission of the text, with very specific community rules in place for the copyist. For example, if a mistake was made the entire manuscript was to be destroyed and the careful process would carefully begin again (for more details, see A General Introduction to the Bible).

The proof of the reliability of this transmission was confirmed with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1948 and the years that followed. These contained parts of every book of the Old Testament, except Esther. As the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologeticsaffirms:

“With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, scholars have Hebrew manuscripts 1,000 years earlier than the Great Masoretic Text manuscripts (of the tenth century), enabling them to check on the fidelity of the Hebrew text. There is a word for word identity in more than 95 percent of the cases and the 5 percent variation consists mostly of slips of the pen and spelling…. The thousands of Hebrew manuscripts, with their confirmation by the Septuagint (translation of Old Testament into Greek) and the Samaritan Pentateuch, and numerous other cross-checks from outside and inside the text provide overwhelming support for the reliability of the Old Testament text.”

Archeology also attests to specific aspects of the Bible. Though Old Testament scholar Walter Kaiser cautioned that “archeology is not an exact science and shouldn’t be used to prove the Bible,” he nevertheless confirms that “archeology has done much to further the cause of the reliability of the Bible. It has aided in the identification of missing persons, missing peoples, missing customs and settings…

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BibleGateway.com: Q & A With Lee Strobel

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RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:  The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus / The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ / The Case for the Resurrection: A First-Century Investigative Reporter Probes History’s Pivotal Event / More apologetics resources…