Three Tests that Prove You Can Trust the Bible
With Flying Colors
There are three tests applied to any piece of historical writing to determine its accuracy and reliability (explained in detail in this week’s 10 minute equipping episode of the Men in the Arena Podcast). No other book in human history measures up to the Bible’s literary accuracy and historical reliability.
Here are the Three Principles of Historicity:
Internal Evidence Test
This test determines whether the original written record is credible and to what extent it is credible. According to Aristotle, “when in doubt, the credit belongs to the text and not the critic of said text.”
It is important to note that all New Testament authors were either eyewitnesses or related direct accounts of eyewitnesses (Luke 1:1-4, 2 Peter 1:16, John 19:35, and Acts 1:3). David Hackett Fischer, History Professor at Brandeis University writes, “The eyewitness testimony of the apostles is the best relevant evidence.”
Why? Because 11 out of 12 of them died for what they believed!
External Evidence Test
This test determines whether historical (secular) data confirms or denies the internal testimony of the documents themselves.
In other words, what outside sources, apart from the literature under analysis, substantiate the documents’ accuracy, reliability, and authenticity?
According to Gary Habermas in his book, Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ, “Ancient extrabiblical sources present a large amount of detail concerning both the life of Jesus and the nature of early Christianity.”
This is the examination of the textual transmission by which ancient documents reach us from the past. Put simply, how many reliable copies do we have?
We don’t possess original first writings (autographs) from antiquity since they were written on papyrus which disintegrates over time, which is why the Bibliographical Test measures original manuscripts (or copies).
According to Wikipedia, Homer’s The Iliad, comes in second in manuscript authority, with a whopping 643 manuscripts in existence. However, as of 2022, more than 25,100 copies of the New Testament manuscripts are in existence, making it the most bibliographically reliable book in human history—by far.
Josh McDowell in his book Evidence that Demands a Verdict said it best; “If one discards the Bible as unreliable historically then he or she must discard all literature of antiquity.”