Is the Old Testament Reliable?
by Chad Gross
The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew (with a few chapters penned in Aramaic). It contains thirty-nine books written from about 1400-400 B.C. The scribes who copied and preserved the text were careful and extremely thorough. Effective safeguards were implemented as part of a painstaking process to ensure the accurate transmission of the text. Scribes developed numerical systems to insure an accurate copy: they counted the number of lines, letters, and words per page of the new copy and then compared it to the original. If differences were present, the copy was destroyed; they had to start over.
The strongest confirmation for the reliability of the Old Testament text came with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 at Qumran. Until that time, skeptics clung to the hope that an older text would be found that would demonstrate that the text had been significantly altered and corrupted. However, the opposite happened. For example, an entire manuscript of Isaiah was found dating to approximately 75 B.C. When Old Testament scholars compared it with the earliest existing copy of Isaiah know at that time (dating to A.D. 1008-09), the results were staggering. They concluded ninety-five percent of the text had been copied and passed down accurately over a period of almost 1,100 years! The other five percent- comprised of mere slips of the pen- consisted only of misspelled words and absent letters.
While many skeptics have dismissed the historicity of various Old Testament figures, places, and events, archaeological discoveries continue to vindicate the biblical record and silence its critics. Some of the key biblical figures attested by discoveries include…