NSR: Why We Can Trust the Bible
What we do with the Word of God determines how we view Christ. In this episode, Brody discusses the reliability and authenticity of the Bible by walking through questions like how we got the Bible, why are there different translations, and what are the manuscripts of Scripture? In today’s world, there are constant attacks on Scripture, so we need to be confident in the authority of Scripture and know that it can be trusted.
God’s word is pivotal to how we approach both Christianity and life. It is sufficient to guide us through every circumstance. Take time to read the Bible and keep a high view of God’s Word. Let it shape your worldview and become the lens through which you view culture, sexuality, marriage, and every aspect of your life.
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Brody Holloway: In today’s episode, we’re gonna have a conversation about the Bible, and this is just gonna kinda go all over the place, we’re gonna cover everything from the reliability of Scriptures, how we got the Bible translated into our language, what it looks like to translate it into new languages. We’re gonna look at different translations within the English language, the study Bible that I recommend, there are study Bibles that I recommend, things like that. It’s gonna be a super candid conversation, but some really pertinent and important content. So I hope you’ll enjoy this and to kick it off, I’ve got a very special and familiar guest. So y’all, stay tuned.
BH: Welcome to No Sanity Required from the ministry of Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters, a podcast about the Bible, culture and stories from around the globe.0:00:54.6 BH: Alright, so welcome to the show. I got my man, Moses Holloway back, he’s my main man, and thought it’d be good here at the beginning of Season Two to get a little update from Mo. So what you’ve been up to lately Mo?
Mo Holloway: Hanging out with Brody Holloway.
BH: Okay, alright, so Mo’s already messing with the buttons. Who’s Brody Holloway?0:01:27.8 MH: I don’t know.
BH: So been hanging out. What you been up to other than that?
MH: Umm, went deer hunting with you.
BH: Yeah, we did go huntin’. Yeah, we had a big trip. Talk about that. Let’s talk about the hunting trip.
MH: Me and daddy were trying to shoot a deer, but it didn’t came out. We did saw some but it too dark to shoot him that good.
BH: Yeah, and what else did we hunt? We got… Hold on, I got something right here. What else did we hunt, you remember?
BH: Oh yeah, right here, we got the coyote call. Here’s our coyote call. You want me to turn this on and let folks listen to it?
BH: Alright, hold on just a second. Let me get the call set up. Alright, so let’s see, got the call turned on, got it dug out. There you go. Which one are you gonna call first? You gonna do the baby rabbit?
BH: Yeah, what else? What else you got?
BH: The big rabbit. What else?
BH: That’s a pup in distress. So we got… Let’s do a long howl one time, let’s do the big long howl.
BH: Oh yeah, so we did that to locate the coyote…
BH: Yup. And then we… So we hunted coyotes, what else did we do on that trip? That was fun. And Mo, as you can see, Mo’s a real good call manager. He managed our electronic call for calling the coyotes in. So what else did you do on that trip?
BH: You remember we went to Bass Pro shop.
MH: Oh yeah.
BH: And what was your… You said that was your favorite part of the trip. What did you like so much about the Bass Pro shop?
MH: Getting something to eat and riding the John Deere.
BH: Oh yeah. No, you talking about the Ranger, the John Deere, The Polaris Ranger? That was at Hunt Camp. I’m talking about… Remember we went in that store and they had the big aquarium with all the fish?
MH: Oh yeah.
BH: You said that was your favorite thing. That was cool wasn’t it. We got a picture there and then… Okay, so talk about the Ranger, the Polaris Ranger. You loved driving that around, didn’t you? And… We took that thing off road, didn’t we?
BH: What was your favorite… Like, I’m thinking of something, there’s this one really cool thing we did in that, we went across something.
MH: The water!
BH: Oh, it was a river, wasn’t it. It’s like a big creek, but it was more like a… Like a small river, I guess. So that was cool. And then on the way home, we stopped for us for a cool little trip, a little side trip. Where did we stop? You remember? We stopped, we went to a museum.
BH: Not Gorilla, Bigfoot.
BH: In Blue Ridge, Georgia everybody. And if you’ve never experienced this, me and Mo are giving you better than any Yelp review you’ll ever get. We went to the Bigfoot Museum. What did you think of it Mo?
BH: Yeah, it was kind of crazy wasn’t it? So tell everybody, just last thing, give kind of your experience at the museum, what was the museum like, what did we see, what’s in there and what is Bigfoot? Talk a little bit about that.
MH: We just watched movies about it and…
BH: A little film presentation.
MH: Got some pictures. There’s a big John Deere in there?
BH: Yeah, there was, there was a… Mo calls like…
MH: And a computer, it had [0:05:21.9] ____ and we saw bear, deer and coyote and it keep doing that.
BH: That’s right. Yeah, they set these trail cameras up and they had a computer loopin’ the footage from where they’ve set trail cameras up to try to capture footage of Bigfoot, the Sasquatch, but none of that. But those trail cameras picked up a black bear and some deer and some other critters and then he… Mo said something about a John Deere, he calls… Mo calls any like… A Polaris Ranger a Can-Am Side-by-Side. Any Side-by-Side, he calls it a John Deere, ’cause we’ve ridden on those John Deere gators and they had one of those at the Bigfoot Museum, kinda like their, their Bigfoot hunting rig. So, I told Mo on the way in, I said… He was asking me, he was like, “What is this?” “It’s the Bigfoot Museum and here’s what Bigfoot is.” And he said, “Is he real?” And I said, “Let’s go through the museum. And when it’s all done, you decide if you think it’s real.” And at the Bigfoot Museum, we got to listen to… Remember what we listened to, remember when we put those headphones on? You remember that? What was that?
MH: About talking about the Bigfoot and… Or glowing light and what… The people camping and the glowing light and they were trying to not let him in.
BH: Yeah, he was trying to get in.
MH: At the window.
BH: And then that one thing you could listen to him callin’, like that somebody had recorded his calls. Remember he was screaming out in the woods or something. So at the end of the day, after we did our trip to the museum…
MH: And also, she… The person who worked there said there gonna be a little bit screaming.
BH: Yup. She did. She warned us. So after our tour through the Bigfoot Museum in Blue Ridge, Georgia, what is your decision? Do you think Bigfoot’s real or no?
MH: No, I don’t listen about that.
BH: When we came out, I said, “Alright, give me your honest assessment.” And he said, “I don’t think it’s real.” So I’m not saying what I believe we’re gonna… That’s gonna be for another episode, but Mo has decided after all the evidence was weighed in that Bigfoot is not…
BH: Yeah so, there’s a lesson here, and that is study the evidence, examine the evidence, examine the claims, and determine if something’s real, which sets perfectly up for this episode. So as Mo rolls out of here, we’re gonna roll into the manuscripts of Scripture, Bible… We’re gonna do an overview of Bible translations, how do we know we can trust the Scripture, the reliability of Scripture, and then what translation do you use and how do you choose and which ones are good and which ones are not. And it’s gonna be a fun conversation. Mo, anything you wanna say to folks?
MH: Happy New Year.
BH: Happy New Year.
BH: Is that the button you wanted?[laughter]
BH: That’s probably more like it. You good? You gotta get back to school work. It’s Wednesday that we’re recording on Wednesdays, on Wednesdays, they’re not in school, they go Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. Wednesdays, stay at home and work online day, so Mo gotta get back to the desk. Alright, tell everybody bye.
BH: So I wanna start off… Well, first off, Mo’s a hoot, and I think people are becoming more and more endeared to him, he’s such a fun little guy. And pray for Moses, He’s… I feel like the Lord’s starting to change his heart a little bit and starting to give him some clarity in terms of understanding the Gospel, and so just praying for that. He’s the last of my five kids and the only one that’s not yet made a true profession of faith. He’s eight years old and just excited to see what God has in store for that little guy. He’s got such a cool heart and he’s gone from being just a handful of mischief to being a pretty thoughtful kid, and so I hope you all pray with us, see what the guy… See what the Lord has in store for him. I’m excited, but…0:09:28.2 BH: So we went to that Bigfoot Museum, and I thought that’d be fun to talk about, and it was pretty funny, but what struck me was how many people really, really, really believe firmly in Bigfoot. And I remember years ago… This goes back to 2006, I think. At Snowbird, we had this theme, this emphasis that came out of a sermon I did about the reliability of… Like proofs of the resurrection, the reliability of Scripture, evidence for the miracles of Jesus, things like that. And in that I used the illustration of Bigfoot, like you can believe in Bigfoot all you want, but bottom line is, what is the evidence that he’s real. And we talked about examining the evidence and things like that, and it turned into a whole series of skits and songs, and we had a T-shirt made. It was great. I’ve thought about bringing it back ’cause it’s a completely new generation of campers.
BH: But that whole conversation around Bigfoot has to do with, Is there reliable proof? Is there evidence? I was talking to a guy the other day about it, and he said, “Yeah, my question is, why have we never found a baby one?” I’ve heard that argument, and it’s a good question, I guess. But when it comes to the Bible, and especially in this season where we’re gonna be talking a lot about proofs for the resurrection and evidence that supports Jesus’ claims to be God, things like that, we’re gonna get into some apologetics this season.
BH: Also, we’re talking about the deconstruction of faith and progressive Christianity. We’ve already addressed a little bit of that in the first couple of episodes, and some more episodes are gonna come where we’re gonna address progressive Christianity and just kind of what the dangers of that are. And we looked at the other extreme of Christianity, where we create sort of a human messianic figure, which is what a lot of evangelicals did with Donald Trump, like, man, this is the guy that’s gonna lead us to the new Promised Land or whatever, and just not realistic and not biblical and not healthy. So we’re gonna tackle a lot of that, but for us as Christians, I believe this conversation begins with the Bible, like the Scripture as we have it, can we trust it? Are the words that we have and the pages of Scripture reliable? It’s been stated and restated that the Bible is the best-selling book in history, nothing has ever sold anything close, and that each year it’s… I’ve heard this, I don’t know if this is true, but I’ve heard people say every year the Bible is the number one seller in the world in literature, and so whether that’s exactly accurate or not, I don’t know, I don’t have any…
BH: I don’t have any sources for that, but I hear that stated a lot, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s true. I know Greg and Kelby, were they’re serving in East Africa right now, they are working to distribute 20,000, 20,000 study Bibles to people in that part of the world, and that’s just one project in one place. So, without a doubt, the Word of God is very important from a literary standpoint, from the standpoint of literature, but it’s also for us as Christians. It’s so pivotal to how we approach Christianity. The Scripture says, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our Lord will stand forever.” And we believe the Word of God will stand forever, and that we believe as a ministry, as Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters, I believe as a pastor, and most of our listeners believe that the Word of God is authoritative, it’s sufficient, and it’s perfect in terms of the content that God gave us through the Scriptures. But a lot of people… So, we gotta work through, what do you do with people, like how do you have a conversation with people that reject those things? They say, “Well, the Word of God is important from the standpoint of literature or for history or whatever. But you can’t embrace… There are certain things you can’t embrace in the Scripture.”
BH: People will say… So let me… And we’ll try to keep this somewhat organized, and the disclaimer here, before I change directions, I was just rambling on there, so let’s get streamlined. These podcast episodes are not… I don’t approach them exactly the way I approach preaching a sermon, so when I approach a sermon or a lecture, I approach it by doing a biblical approach to teaching and preaching the Word of God is that it would be exegetical. So, I’m gonna give you some Bible words or some words from scholarship. We use a biblical hermeneutic, which is a method for studying the Scripture, so your hermeneutic is important. We then use Biblical exegesis, which is a means of studying the Scripture where we drill into what the original intent and the original content were.
BH: What was God saying at that time to those people, how do we mine through and work through things like verb tenses, the Greek or Hebrew vocabulary. The structure of sentences, things like that, the objects of prepositions, prepositional phrases. Get grammatical, get literary, that’s important for exegesis. So, that the meanings being projected out of the text on to the hearer. Where eisegetical approach to Scripture would be… I’m dumbing this down a little bit. But eisegetical approach would be where I take the Word of God and I say, “What do I want this to mean? What does this mean to me? How can I apply this to my life in a way that it helps me?” And that’s really dangerous, and then that leads to ultimately then the delivery of the lesson or the message is expository or exposition, where I take the main point and the main meaning of a text and I make that the main point or the main meaning of the message.
BH: So, on the No Sanity Required podcast, we’re not doing that so much. Now, we wanna keep some of those principles in place, but we’re not… This is not, I’m not preaching or teaching a sermon here, I’m writing down some notes and then working through those notes, but I’m not… The preparation for this particular podcast, for instance, was about an hour. So I spent about an hour of reading and writing notes and just kind of getting my thoughts in order. Where for a sermon, I might spend 20 hours preparing that and there’s a lot more painstaking approach. So, with that in mind, I’m gonna just kinda flow through some things, so let me start by saying, what are some wrong things that people might say about Scripture, what are some wrong approaches to Scripture that as someone who believes in and submits to the authority of Scripture that I would say we can’t agree with? We can’t agree to disagree.
BH: The first one would be kind of the progressive Christianity approach, which is, “Well, the Bible is good and it’s valuable and it’s a rich resource and there’s beauty in it, but there’s also just some sort of some vain and ugly things, and we gotta figure out what’s applicable,” the progressive Christian approach would say. “I don’t really like a lot of the aspects of the God of the Old Testament because for instance, the Canaanites were all ordered to be slaughtered, or I don’t like the God of the New Testament because Jesus talked about Hell. And what would a loving God do with a place like Hell by sending people there, he can’t really be loving,” that would be the argument. And it’s a straw-man argument, meaning, you sort of create this really anemic view of God that you can tear down, and then in the place of that, you create sort of a new picture of who you want God to be.
BH: Brian McLaren, who’s one of the people that led the movement of about 20 years ago called the emergent church, who’s still on the scene now with this shift towards progressive Christianity, which… By the way, progressive Christianity is the emergent church 2.0. So if you’re young, if you’re a college age or younger, you weren’t around for the emergent church movement, but that kicked off in the 90s and coming into the 2000s, but it died, it died pretty quickly because the grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our Lord stands forever. So, when you attack the authority of Scripture, you attack the sufficiency of Scripture, you’re not long for this world, that philosophy, or that ideology is not long for this world. But what happens is it gets repackaged and then it comes back to the surface.
BH: So, progressive Christianity is a re-repackaging of the emergent church movement, which was a re-packaging of a thousand other movements going back to the New Testament writers, but I digress. So, the attacks on Jesus’s teachings on Hell or things like that, they come from a very deficient view of Scripture and just a poor apologetic, like when we really understand justice and when we really understand righteousness, when we really understand sin, then we can begin to put those things in context. So, one attack on the Bible is to say, “Well, it’s outdated and there are certain views of God that we don’t like, so let’s throw out what we don’t like and keep what we do like.” That would be one approach. Another approach would be to say, “Oh, this is just a flawed document put together by men to create a power structure.” So, for instance, like the Black Lives Matter movement, people from the social justice movement would say, “Well, the Bible fits into the power structure of white supremacists, so it was put in place to create white supremacy, it demonizes Jews and minorities, and has been used throughout history to establish global power for white people.”
BH: Well, that’s not true, you can’t paint with that broad of a stroke, that’s like saying the Christian… The Crusaders in the 10th and 11th and 12th centuries who killed and murdered and pillaged in the name of Christianity represent all Christians, they just don’t. That’s just not the way it works. And so that’s a wrong approach to Scripture. So, lots of different approaches to Scripture. Another one would be, it’s just… It is only literary, just like… It’s like a piece of antiquated literature, but it’s religious literature, so we would lump it together with the Book of Mormon, the Quran. The Quran was written in the 7th century, I think, 6th, 7th and 8th century was sort of when the Quran was brought to prominence.
BH: That’s AD, by the way. Book Of Mormon was written in the 1800s, 19th century. So, this is just a holy writing for a religious sect, but it’s nothing more than that. So, there’s a lot of different approaches to Scripture. So, first off, what do we do with the Bible and how do we support believing it literally? Well, in this episode, I’m not gonna get into so much like the things that conflict us from the Scripture, like what about the killing of the Canaanites? What about the wrath of God being poured out? What about Old Testament laws that don’t seem to matter in the New Testament? How do we contextualize all that? We’re gonna get into that in some later episodes, but the bottom line is, when you approach the Word of God with true textual criticism and true scholarly approach to the Scripture, and you come at it as a scholar, as someone who’s seeking to understand both the genre of literature that you’re reading, which within the Bible, we have multiple genres.
BH: We have, for instance, the extremes of poetry with wisdom literature, and on the other end of that spectrum, you have Jewish apocalyptic literature, which is a very distinct and defined genre. How do we mesh all that together? Well, the Bible meshes it all together. So quick bullet points that most people probably already know, but the Bible was written as far as the actual pen to paper, it took about 1500 years to write it. It was written on three different continents, Asia, Europe and Africa. It was written by 40 authors, it was written in three languages, Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. It is, like I said, 1500 years, it spanned, and these 40 authors represented everything from kings at times of international prominence and power.
BH: For instance, David and Solomon ruled in Israel at a time when they were… When Israel was a world power. And it was written by peasants and shepherds. It was written by a guy named Amos, who was one of the modern prophets, who was like a marginalized peasant shepherd. You had priests and rabbis that wrote Scripture, and you had secular business owners that wrote Scripture, you had a prophet named Samuel, you had Moses, the great prophet of Israel, and the leader of Israel. In the New Testament, you’ve got Peter writing Scripture and Peter was an uneducated fisherman, and then you got Paul writing Scripture, Paul was the modern day equivalent of a Supreme Court Justice in one sense, when he was in the Pharisaical school of theology and religion. So from all over the place. Now, here’s what’s crazy, the critical text approach to the Bible is that what we know is that when you study the Scripture through a process called textual criticism, which can be applied to any ancient document, it has been applied to Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, for instance.
BH: You can apply it to anything. The Bible stands up really well. So, with those 40 authors over 1500 years, the level of accuracy between the things that they say is pretty crazy, so that has to be noted. We gotta do something with that. So, when you take the claims of the early writers that they saw Jesus risen from the dead, then we go, okay, is that reliable? Is that trustworthy? Well, yeah, it is trustworthy because when we compare all the notes, there’s this unnatural accuracy between, for instance, some of the prophecies of Isaiah with after the fact writings of the New Testament writers, where we can see that Jesus fulfilled many of those prophecies. And somebody might say, “Well, they manipulated all that.” We’ll get to that in a minute, when we talk about the Dead Sea Scrolls in a few minutes. So, the Bible is extremely accurate.
BH: When we critically look at the literature of the Scripture and the authenticity and accuracy of it, it’s pretty mind-boggling. And so let me give you some for examples to support that. So, in the olden days of Bible translation, the way the Bible was translated is it was translated by scribes, so you hear in the New Testament, Jesus addresses the scribes and the Pharisees, for instance. Well, scribes were the guys that wrote down copies of Scripture, so they would take, for instance, the Book of Isaiah and hand copy it. And if one scribe copied it, then it would be scrutinized by other scribes, and it was a real tight process for hand copying, you know, the Word of God. And then if something was off by one letter, it would be… Then that copy would be discarded at a time where paper, pen and paper weren’t easy to come by. Scrolls and the process for writing on scrolls was very painstaking. So, mistakes weren’t tolerated and there’s a… I’ll let you go do your own research, which would be a brilliant and enjoyable study for you to do on, how did they do that? What were the standards for copying the Bible, hand copies of books of the Bible.
BH: Next, when we look at the number of copies that we have that are close to the time of the originals. For instance, the Gospel of John was written in the first century, we have hand-copied, hand copies of John from within 100 years of the original writing. So, why does that matter? Well, we don’t have anything remotely close to that from any other period in history, from any other documents. We mentioned Homer earlier, so like Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, the most recent copies of that that we have were copies from 600 or 700 years after Homer wrote the originals. So, to have copies and to have multiple copies from within 100 years of the original writing is pretty impressive.
BH: In fact, from within a couple of centuries of the New Testament being written, we’ve got 6000 copies of Scripture, 6000 pieces of literature that’s within a couple hundred years of the original writings, which is unlike… Literally, it’s incomparable. Nothing else comes close. So, in other words, when we look at a copy that chronicles the life of Jesus from the first century, and that copy is 150, 200 years old, but then we have multiple copies from multiple different places and they all line up with beautiful accuracy, that just lends credibility to that. So we accept Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey as sources of history, and we have only… We have less than a dozen copies with the most recent copies being 600 or 700 years after the originals were written. Where with the Scripture, we have 6000 copies from within a couple hundred years of the original. So then also when you study the way things were copied back then, there was a high standard of copy… Like of copy requirements.
BH: So that’s pretty encouraging. We have multiple sources of translation, so we have multiple sources, meaning there were different schools of copying, different places, different languages, different ways in which the original Scripture was copied, and we have multiple sources. We have copies of… We have early copies of what’s called the Latin Vulgate, which a guy named Jerome basically copied the Greek Bible, translated the Greek Bible into the Latin language under the Roman Empire in the fourth century. And we have a lot of the Latin Vulgate that lines up with the original Greek manuscripts of the early centuries, first couple of centuries. So, hope I’m not losing you. I know some people, this is interesting, some people are probably bored with it. Let’s get ready to get interesting and practical.
BH: The last thing I wanna point out is the Dead Sea Scrolls. Now, what are the Dead Sea Scrolls and what do they matter to us? Well, the Dead Sea Scrolls are the most significant archaeological find of the 20th century, without a doubt, especially for the Christian, the most significant archeological find of the 20th century. Now, that’s saying a lot because there are other archeological works that support the stories of the Bible. So, for instance, if you go to the book of Joshua and you study the story of Rahab and the spies that went into the city of Jericho. Rahab was a prostitute that lived in the outer wall of the city of Jericho, an ancient city in Israel. And what would become Israel, in Palestine. And when you read the account of that story in the Bible, there have been three archaeological digs on the ancient city of Jericho. Those digs occurred between the 19th and 20th centuries, and those digs found crazy amounts of support for the biblical narrative on the destruction of Jericho, so it’s pretty cool. That’d be a fun study to go do. I did that study when we were preaching, teaching through the Book of Joshua, at Red Oak Church, it was really enjoyable.
BH: So, you’ve got significant archeological finds that support the Scripture, but the archeological find of the Dead Sea Scrolls is most significant. Now, let me tell you about the Dead Sea Scrolls, if you’re not familiar with them. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947. And what happened was, there were a couple of young Bedouin shepherds that were tending their sheep in an area just northwest of the Dead Sea. And these boys were throwing rocks, just like boys will do, they’re throwing rocks while they’re tending their sheep and they throw… One of them throws a rock, and it goes into a cave up above them in the side of the mountain, and they hear something clink or break.0:30:23.1 BH: And so I think it’s the next day or some time later, they come back to explore the cave and see what that noise was, and they find… They actually find 11 caves, and listen to this, in those 11 caves, there are over a thousand scrolls or pieces of scrolls that were Old Testament writing. Now, let me correct that. Three hundred of them were biblical books, 800 of them were historical writing. So, you had different writings from ancient Israel that were preserved in the salt air in and around the Dead Sea, enabled them to be preserved for hundreds of years, thousands of years, in fact.
BH: So, over 1000 scrolls were found, 300 of them were biblical books, and these were all written between 250 BC and 60 AD, 250 BC and 60 AD. So, basically it was this ancient library of scrolls tucked away in earthen jars in the side of the mountain near the Dead Sea. These were discovered in 1947. Now, why is that significant? Well, because some of these scrolls were copies of books of the Bible that were written that were put to paper over 200 years before the time of Jesus. So, a couple of thousand years had passed since these had been written.
BH: Now, the only book from the Old Testament that’s missing in the Dead Sea Scrolls is the Book of Esther. There’s no copies of Esther. But there is one scroll called The Great Isaiah Scroll, which is probably the most important of all of them, and The Great Isaiah Scroll was written… Is dated to 125 BC. So, 125 years before Christ, this scroll was copied, the Book of Isaiah was put to paper. Now, prior to 1947… Y’all, this is crazy. Listen, this is nuts. Prior to 1947, the most recent copy that we had, the earliest copy that we had of the Book of Isaiah was a copy from 1008 AD, 1008 AD. So, prior to 1947, your grand pappy, he got his King James version of the Bible that was originally translated in the 15th and in the 16th and 17th centuries. And he was reading his 1909 translation of that or rendition of that. And he’s reading that, and he’s reading the book of Isaiah in his King James Bible, which King James Bible is beautiful in all of its…
BH: It’s just beautiful. It’s a beautiful and wonderful gift to humanity. So, this is not… This is not an attack on that, we’re gonna actually support the authenticity and the accuracy of the King James here just in a few minutes. So, 1008 AD was the earliest copy of Isaiah. So, when you’re looking at a modern translation of the Bible, you’re looking at something that was written about 1700, 1800 years after the original. So, could there be mistakes, could someone have manipulated that? Could there have been changes to the content? Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. You wanna rewrite history, just re-write the facts and do away with the old copies.
BH: So, when they took The Great Isaiah Scroll, so scholars took The Great Isaiah Scroll, which was written in 125 BC, they took the previous earliest copy, which was written in 1008 AD. So, 1133 years had passed between these two copies, there are zero copies from that 1100-plus years. So, we’ve got two copies of Isaiah, one from 125 BC, one from 1008 AD. When they are matched, they were put together, they matched them, they were virtually identical. This is very significant because it means nothing changed, nobody tampered with Scripture in those 1100 years. Now, I’ll say virtually, because there are just a small handful of like grammatical or punctuation errors that actually, I think in one sense even further authenticate it because it shows that that humans had their hands in it, but that the content, the grammar, the wording, none of that changed. It was accurate. So you’ve got 1100 years apart, two copies of the same book, the book of Isaiah that are dead accurate. It’s just amazing.
BH: And as you work through many of those 300 copies of Old Testament Scripture, you find an incredible accuracy. Something else that’s important is that much of it was written in the Septuagint, which was the Greek Old Testament, so the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, but then when the Greek Empire controlled the world, they Hellenized the world, which many of us learned in history and can maybe still remember some of that from school. But the Greeks required the Greek language to be the international language. And so there was a translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into the Greek language that’s called the Septuagint. So, a Greek Old Testament is called the Septuagint.
BH: There are copies of the Old Testament in the Dead Sea Scrolls that further show us that nothing was tampered with from the time the Hebrew was translated to the Greek and from the time the Greek has been translated into English and other modern languages. We have this strong early copies from the time before Christ. So, until the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, it was very possible to argue that Scripture could have been tampered with, and so they’re very significant, very significant. Now, that brings me to the final and maybe practical part of the conversation, which is, what Bible translations are the best? What study Bible do I recommend? Just ’cause everybody gets to have an opinion, so I get to talk about what I recommend as a study Bible, whatever. So, let’s talk about Bible translations, and let me tell a couple of stories before I get into Bible translations.
BH: One story is, if you live in the Bible Belt, particularly, you’ve probably heard an argument about how the King James version of the Bible is the only real English version, or at least it’s the only English version that can be trusted. So, people will attack other translations. Now, if this is new to you and you’re kinda like, “What is he talking about?” Then you’ve never encountered one of these people that is so adamant, adamantly opposed to any translation other than the King James Bible. But the problem with argument for only and exclusively the King James translation is, the King James version of the Bible is an English translation. So, what do you do when you wanna translate the Bible into Spanish? Now, you’ve gotta translate it into a non-English language, and we’ve got a problem if we believe that the King James English translation of the Bible the most… Is the only authoritative version of Scripture. It would mean that to translate the Bible into Spanish or Yamanawa or Luganda or Portuguese or any other language.
BH: Mandarin, French, it would mean that we have to translate an English translation into another language, so it’s two steps of translation, so we’re not translating from the original. But if we translated from original text into another language, we would have to bypass the King James translation, so it gets kind of sticky when you start talking about one particular English translation as the only one. The reality is there are multiple good Bible translations in the English language, you can prefer the King James, and that’s awesome.
BH: That’s your opinion, and it’s actually a really good opinion, a lot of solid people prefer the KJV, and I can totally get on board with that and support that. I don’t ’cause I don’t use words like, whither, thither, thou, thee, thouest, dust, I don’t… So for me, it’s very poetic and beautiful to read, but when it comes to practical outworking of Scripture, there’s too many words that I don’t use. So it’s written in an older version of English, which we’re gonna get into in just a minute, when we look at three different types of English translations or modern translations. So this argument for the KJV that’s so ludicrous is… I remember, one time when we first started Snowbird Outfitters, and we didn’t have any kind of a media department, and I’m not media savvy, I’m not tech savvy. Many of you know I don’t have a Facebook presence, Snowbird outfitters does, and that’s awesome, but I don’t really have a social media presence. But this was a time where we wanted to come up with some video content for Snowbird. So it was our first summer, this was before the internet was super prevalent. The internet existed, but people weren’t watching videos on the internet really.
BH: And so this was late 90s, I wanna come up with a video that we can make available to people who come to our camp. And so that first summer we’re gonna have people go through a week of camp, I wanna make a weekly camp video, which by the way, is something we do to this day. If you come to a week of camp at Snowbird, you can get a video of your week of camp when it’s over. And so I went and talked…
BH: There was a guy in town, in the little town here that we live and work and operate out of and call home, Andrews, North Carolina. It was a guy here who owned the local cable TV company, so that company has since sold out and moved and are no longer in this town. But at the time, I think it was just called Andrews Cable, I think is what it was called. And you could get… You could get cable TV through them, you could get everything from a basic package to you know like the Jumbotron of cable TV with HBO and Cinemax and ESPN and Nat Geo, and all the really good channels, like sports channels and outdoor channels and History Channel. Or you could get a basic package, which was the main networks and a few other channels. But the packages, just like today were scaled for price. So dependin’ on what you got that determined how much you paid. So go to the cable TV company and just thinking, well maybe they’ve got some video recording or editing equipment, so I go in there. Well, the guy that ran it was a pastor of a local independent… I think it was Independent Baptist Church, and he was a pretty diehard fundamentalist.
BH: So fundamentalists believe in a heavy, heavy hand of legalism, and one of the things they really hold to is that the King James version of the Bible is the only true copy… Modern translation of Scripture. And so go in there, and I’m not expecting this, I just know that the guys… I’ve heard the guy as a Christian, I heard he was a pastor, and so maybe he’ll let us use some of his equipment to make camp videos. And by the way, we’re making these on VHS, so we’re taking mini camcorders, which a lot of people are not gonna know what these are, mini camcorders, converting them to VHS and then splicing and cutting together scenes to edit into a camp video, we’ve still got some copies of those early videos. They’re hilarious. So we go in there, tell the guy what we wanna do. He says,” Well, before I let you use my equipment, I need to know, do you stand on the authority of the King James version of the Bible?” And I was confused. I didn’t know what he was talkin about. I said, “What do you mean?” And he starts to go on this rant about how any other translation of the Bible is from Satan, and like for instance, he said the NIV, the first verse in the New International Version of the Bible is, “In the beginning, there was a big bang.” True story, this is what the guy said to me.
BH: I was like, “Ah, I don’t read the NIV, but I don’t think that’s what it says.” And he said, and he got my mad that I questioned that and he was just firing off at me. “In the beginning, there was a big bang, that’s what it says.” And he said, “And the NIV was… ” And that’s the one that they really hate, they like to go after the NIV. And more recently, they’ve started to go after other translations as aggressively and as vehemently. But the KJV only argument is pretty legalistic and pretty aggressive. So he’s just… Man, he’s red faced, he’s yelling, he’s on a rant. If you’ve ever been around somebody on a rant where you’re like, “Whoa, take it easy, Bro. Calm down. I just asked if we could borrow your equipment.” So he’s going on this rant, and he said, if a kid at Snowbird… And then he reached a point where he says, “If you allow a kid at Snowbird to use a NIV Bible and they make a profession of faith, or if somebody preaches or teachers out of the NIV Bible and people make a profession of faith, they’re not truly saved, because they’ve been fooled by a demon. So it was at this point that I said… I realized, “This is asinine, this is ludicrous.” But he made me mad…
BH: And so I said, “Let me ask you a question”, I said, “Let’s get off that subject,” and I just kind of steered the conversation to a different place. And I said, “I’m thinking about getting cable TV at my house. So if I wanna get cable TV, what’s it gonna cost me?” And he said, “Well, it depends on what package you want.” So now we’ve effectively changed the subject. And I said, “Well, what package… What are the package options?” And he goes through them. And I said, “So that jumbo package that gives me MTV, HBO, Cinemax, that package also gives me Pay-per-view.” I can watch dirty movies if I want to and at the time it was like 70 bucks. So minus 22, 23 years ago. ” for $70 you will profit and you will send pornographic material into my home.” And he just kinda looked dumbfounded, I said, “You own this company, right?” He said, “Yeah.” And I’m like, “You’re ranting about kids reading the NIV, but you’re profiting off of pumping pornographic material into those same kids’ trailers and apartments and houses in this community, and it doesn’t make sense.” And so it was a really intense interaction. He got my… Basically kicked us out of his place, made us leave.
BH: But that argument that the King James version of the Bible is the only true translation, is just crazy. It’s a beautiful translation, it’s not the only one. So let’s talk about Bible translations. So you’ve got three types of Bible translations. Now, we’re focusing on English language. The first one is literal, the literal translation is word-for word, like phrase for phrase. It’s an attempt to translate as true to the original text as possible, as true to the original text as possible.
BH: So, examples of this would be the King James version of the Bible, the New American Standard Bible, the English Standard Version of the Bible. So the KJV, The NASB, the ESV and the CSB, Christian Standard Bible, those are word-for-word translations. Next is a thought-for-thought translation, this is where they take one thought at a time while remaining true to the basic structure, so this is where the NIV and the NLT, The New Living Translation, New International Version, NIV, New Living Translation, NLT, are thought-for-thought translations. So, still good, gonna lose a little bit of the accuracy of detailed scholarship. And then last will be a paraphrase, a paraphrase contextualizes to modern vernacular. So, the Living Bible, The Message, probably the most popular modern paraphrase would be The Message. And so you’ve got word-for-word, thought-for-thought or a paraphrase. Now, let’s talk about the accuracy and reliability in order would be word-for-word is most accurate, thought-for-thought is next, paraphrase is next.
BH: But there are challenges that each one of these face. So, the challenges faced would be the word-for-word can be clunky and not real readable. The thought-for-thought can fight to keep it accurate because they’re working so hard to make it readable. And then the paraphrase just simply, there’s a danger that it abandons the original meaning. And so my recommendation would be to use the paraphrase as a commentary, so like if you’re gonna read The Message, that’s cool, read it, but I would use it as a secondary reading tool. So, read the King James version or the ESV or the NASB or CSB, read a word-for-word translation, and then read that same text in The Message and it’ll give you a little bit more understanding. If you wanna read a thought-for-thought, I think one of the most readable translations… To me, the most readable translation is the New Living Translation, but it’s a thought-for-thought translation.
BH: And so it loses… There are places where it’s just simply not super accurate textual-ly, but it’s still beautiful, and the bottom line with all these is just read the Bible, just read it. Just read the Bible. If you’re gonna pick up the New Living Translation, and that’s all you’re gonna read, read it, God will bless it, if you humble yourself and approach the Scripture and wanna learn from it, then God will bless that. And all of these, you can get study Bibles in. So like the New Living Translation, one of the biggest selling study Bibles in the world is the Life Application Study Bible. And I believe their two biggest sellers are the NIV and the NLT, and that’s a really good study Bible, the Life Application Study Bible is, from what I’ve seen, is really good. My favorite study Bibles are the ESV Study Bible and the MacArthur Study Bible, the ESV Study Bible and the MacArthur Study Bible. And another Bible that I find to be very helpful is The Key Word Study Bible, it’s a completely different approach, it ties something called Strong’s Concordance, it ties it together with a copy of Scripture.
BH: Mine that I use is in the New American Standard Version. I typically read and preach from the ESV, the English Standard Version. I also read the KJV and the CSB, the Christian Standard Bible, Christian Standard Version of the Bible. And all of those are word-for-word. If I wanna go to a thought-for-thought, I’ll typically go to the NIV, and then if I wanna go to a paraphrase, I’ll go to, read a clip from The Message or the Living Bible, something like that. Bottom line is, read the Bible, just read it. And then I wanted to share very briefly, here, we’re about to wind our time down, but I wanted to share something that I’ve started doing is I’ve come up with a color and symbol system that’s really helpful, colors and symbols. So, I will underline certain things in a certain… I use Micron marker pens, which are really fine point pens that don’t bleed through the pages very bad.
BH: And so like anything that has to do with sacrifice, atonement, mercy, grace, I underline or block that in red. And then I’ve got symbols that I write in the margin for each of those. If it’s something that has to do with God’s wrath or judgment or justice, I use the black marker and I mark that and I’ll make notes, and I have a symbol, like the symbol for God’s judgment is a little hammer. Now, keep in mind, I’m not artistic, so these are very rudimentary and crude-looking symbols. So, a little hammer, if I see the little hammer in the margin, it means this is a passage or verse that’s showing God’s judgment. One that shows the eternity of man, like the fact that we’re all gonna spend eternity somewhere. So, if I read something that has to do with eternity, my symbol… My color is orange, and my symbol is a dot with a line and an arrow on it, that’s like in geometry, that’s called a ray, so it has a starting point, but it’s infinite going forward. That’s the symbol I’ll put in the margin.
BH: So, when I’m reading and studying my ESV copy of the Scriptures or my CSB copy of the Scriptures, and I see one of those things that points to eternity, I’ll make that little symbol. And I’ve got about 30 of these symbols for different things. Joy, mercy, thanksgiving, King, Kingdom, Jesus, the blood, the Cross, The Word of God is a little sword that I draw. So, a symbol system, and then that’s made Bible study a lot more interactive for me. So I’m interacting with the Scripture as I’m studying it. And I usually only get through about a chapter a day like that, but then I’ll try once or twice a week to get a two or three-hour straight window of time where I can work through six or eight chapters. And just making these notes, these symbols, and it’s real interactive.
BH: So Bible translations, just make sure you’re reading the Bible. I… And at Snowbird, we teach and preach primarily out of the ESV, I think it’s a good combination of word-for-word translation with readability. But any of these are good. And the main thing is read the Bible, study the Bible, and have a high view of the Bible. We have a high view of the authority of Scripture, we have a have view of the sufficiency of Scripture, we have a high view of the reliability of Scripture. We believe the Word of God is reliable, we believe it can be tested through textual criticism, we believe that it can be measured in terms of accuracy by looking at the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient copies of the text. And oh, by the way, on the translation conversation, the different translations have used different pieces of manuscripts from the earliest days of Christianity, and so that’s where… You’re like, “Well, why did… Why did… If we already had the KJV, why did we come out with the New American Standard?” Well, there were more copies of the original manuscripts found. Or with the ESV, you’re talking about a translation that was finished in 2001, it’s a 21st century translation, and each generation we find more of the original…
BH: More copies of Scripture and archeological finds that go back to near the time of the original writing. So that’s why there’s different translations and ’cause the English language changes. And so there is some contextualization, we have to be careful with that, but there is some contextual. So hope that’s all helpful, man, that’s a lot. I’ve just kind of went all over the place and followed my notes the best I could. I had three or four pages of just bullet point notes, hope that’s helpful. But as we continue to talk about these things and as we get into the conversations about progressive Christianity, one of the things we’re gonna look at is how do progressive Christians who it’s questionable, if they’re true Christ followers or do they… Like are they redeemed and born again, are they just emulating certain aspects of the social life of Jesus or the love that Jesus showed? That’s tricky man. So what we do with the Word of God sort of determines how we view Christ. ‘Cause Jesus declared Himself to be the Word made flesh. So what does liberal and progressive Christianity do with the Word of God? Do we look at the authority of Scripture, the sufficiency of Scripture, and the reliability of Scripture? Those are very important.
BH: So get yourself a study Bible. I recommend the ESV Study Bible, the MacArthur Study Bible, the Life Application Study Bible, these are all good. The NIV Study Bible is a good one. And get you a copy of Scripture that you will read. I don’t care if it’s a thought-for-thought, read it, if it’s word-for-word, read it. Get you a copy of The Message as a commentary to help you understand what you are reading and dig into God’s Word, interact with it, write notes, come up with a color and number system. It’s wonderful, I love it. It’s such a cool way to interact with the Bible and… Yeah, and enjoy it as you go and let God’s Word train you for life and godliness, shape the way you see everything, become the lens that you look at the world through. The Word of God becomes the lens that you look at sexuality and the sanctity of life, and finances, personal finances and missions and discipleship and all these things that are so important, marriage, it’s just… It’s all… When we see it through the lens of Scripture it gives us clarity and definition for life. Thanks for tuning in. The Word of God, believable. Bigfoot, you’re gonna have to go to the Bigfoot Museum in Blue Ridge, Georgia make your own decision. Thanks for tuning in, see you next time.
BH: Thanks for listening to No Sanity Required. Please take a moment to subscribe and leave a rating, it really helps. Visit us at swoutfitters.com to see all of our programming and resources. We’ll see you next week on No Sanity Required.
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