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Is the Old Testament Reliable? (A Short Summary)
by Jonathan Morrow
Can the Old Testament really be trusted? In light of all the recent discussion surrounding the Bible TV show on the history channel, I thought it would be good to discuss the reliability of the Old Testament.
The Old Testament (OT) was originally written in Hebrew (with a few chapters in Aramaic), and it contains thirty nine books written from about 1400 – 400 B.C. Here are some good reasons to believe we possess an accurate OT text.
First the scribes who copied and preserved the text were careful[i] and meticulous. They developed numerical systems to ensure an accurate copy. They counted the number of lines, letters, and words per page of the new copy and then checked them with count of the original. If they didn’t match up, then the copy was destroyed and they started over.[ii]
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Next, archeological discoveries shed light on many of the people, places, and events recorded in the Bible. While archeology doesn’t prove that the Bible is true, it certainly does confirm the historical reliability of the text.[iii] I don’t have room to tell you about all of these exciting discoveries, but you can see pictures and descriptions of many of them in the full-color Archeological Study Bible. There is cause for continued optimism because only about 10% of the biblical sites in Israel have been excavated. Who knows what other biblical treasures lie buried in the sand?
Perhaps the strongest evidence for the reliability of the OT is the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls in 1947 at Qumran. In the summer of 2006 I had the privilege of visiting the site where they were discovered and saw a copy of the famous Isaiah scroll at the Shrine of the Book in Israel. The significance of this discovery cannot be overstated…
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