Leonard: Is the Bible mythical or historical?
This is the second part of a two-part series looking at the historical accuracy of the Bible.
I wrote Part 1 of this in February and then last month put my thoughts on paper with regards to the virus (I’m tired of saying its name). Without going into it, I’ll sum up Part 1 in these few words: the Bible has been shown to be historically accurate, lining up with other near Middle Eastern books of antiquity. In other words, there is really no doubt that what the Bible records is in any way false.
Another fascinating fact about the historicity of the Bible is that is was written over a period of 1,500 years by 40 authors, containing 66 books, written in three languages, and yet it has one consistent theme: that there is a God who loves us and sent his son to show us who he is and what he is like.
Many of the authors never knew each other and some had never even heard of each other, yet the consistency of the main storyline shines through all 66 books. This points to what the Bible calls “inspiration,” ultimately saying that God is the author and that he carried men along by the Holy Spirit. But that’s another column for another day.
Where I want to go today is the issue of prophecy and fulfilled prophecy. The Old Testament ends with 16 different Jewish prophets (Isaiah-Malachi), many of whom made some very specific prophecies about future events and ultimately, a very specific Person (with a capital P) and the events surrounding his life. I am talking about the Jewish Messiah (which translates to the word “Christ” in Greek, which translates to the term “Anointed One” in English). We must put some emphasis on the word “One,” as opposed to two or three, to get the full understanding of this translation.
In Genesis 3:15, a male singular pronoun is used about a specific man who would come in the future and have a victorious battle against the enemy, Satan, who showed up in the garden. A few chapters later, in Genesis 12, God narrows the lineage of this “One” to being of Abraham’s lineage. In 2 Samuel 7:14, it gets narrowed to King David’s lineage (and yes, David is a descendant of Abraham). In Micah 5:2 we are told to look to Bethlehem for his birth. In Isaiah 53 we are told to look for his suffering for the sins of others. He would be “sold out” for 30 pieces of silver, buried with the rich, silent before his accusers, called a Nazarene, heal the sick, upon death have his clothes be gambled for, be rejected by his own people, live before the fall of Jerusalem (70 AD), and on and on and on.
For centuries these things were future events but as this “Anointed One’s” time drew near, the future became the present and thousands of people saw the prophecies fulfilled in real-time. Now, millennia later, we can easily look back at them and see how Jesus fulfilled those prophecies and is very clearly the Anointed One/ Messiah/ Christ. In his book, “More Than A Carpenter,” Josh McDowell writes, “Some scholars believe there are more than 300 prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament. These prophecies are specific enough that the mathematical probability of Jesus fulfilling even a handful of them, let alone all of them, is staggeringly improbable, if not impossible.”
There are hundreds of Messianic prophecies in the Hebrew scriptures that foretell specific information about God’s promised Messiah. Peter Stoner, once the Chairman of the Departments of Mathematics and Astronomy at Pasadena University, looked at the statistical probability of one man fulfilling even a handful of them.
In his book, “Science Speaks,” Stoner revealed that the chance any one man might fulfill just eight of those Messianic prophecies in the Old Covenant is one in one hundred quadrillion — one in 10 to the 17th power, or one in 100,000,000,000,000,000. Put another way, “Suppose we take this same number of silver dollars and lay them across the state of Texas (they would cover the state 2 feet deep). Now mark one of the silver dollars and stir them all. Once this is done we blindfold someone and have him choose just one silver dollar. Those are the same odds as Jesus fulfilling these prophecies.”
Stoner did the same calculations for the fulfillment of 48 prophetic passages about the Messiah. The odds of one man fulfilling all 48 are 1 in 10 to the 157th power. That’s the numeral one followed by 157 zeroes!
And so I conclude part 2 of “Is the Bible mythical or historical.” We must follow where the evidence leads and be honest with ourselves intellectually. All of the evidence points to the Bible being historically accurate without even a hint of mythology.
The verifiable people, places, and events recorded line up with over 23,000 archaeological digs, as well as other historical documents (from other civilizations). Also, there are no discrepancies from the historical record so there is little need to think or assume that the people, places, or events that are not verifiable are false.
After all, if there is a God who loves us, don’t you think he would want to clearly let us know about himself and would provide a historical document in which He would have recorded the many things He said and did years ago? Me too.
Scott Leonard is the area director for Search Vail Valley. You can reach him at email@example.com