Religious Studies Assignment Paper on the Bible as a Reliable Source for Theology

The Bible as a Reliable Source for Theology

Introduction

The Bible is a book that has often come under heavy criticism and at the same time high praises. Christians in all generations have regarded this book as the inspired word of God and have been used throughout generations to teach theology. However, critics of the Bible have always found something against this book. In the recent past, an attack has been instigated against the New Testament and most especially the Gospels. However, others like Lee Strobel, a supporter, and defender of the New Testament have risen to defend the New Testament and try to prove its reliability. He considers several pieces of evidence in support of the New Testament books.

Eyewitness Testimony

Each of the writers of the gospels (Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John) was able to accurately record direct or indirect eyewitness testimony. This is because they were present with Jesus at every event. These recordings were facts for direct and indirect eyewitnesses. Critics, however, claim that the accounts of Matthew and Luke are a copy of Mark thus they are not independent accounts and that the authors of Mark and John are still disputed. In light of all these criticisms, the fact that these were first hand witnesses still overrides all possible criticisms and they might not have had different views of the same subject.

Reliability of oral tradition of the ancient Middle East

Initially, most of the New Testament books existed as oral traditions (Strobel 23). This was before they were penned down. These oral traditions were passed from generation to generation and memorized so that a particular generation could teach the next generation. During the oral culture, memorization was stressed upon so as to preserve the culture and pass it over to the younger generation. The materials on the life of Jesus and His teachings were stored in memory for approximately thirty years before they were written. Critics have however questioned the validity of these oral traditions and how accurate they could have been after thirty years considering that human memory is unreliable because over time it fades (Strobel 36). Documentary evidence from different geographical areas were found to be identical thus suggesting that they were identical to the original copies even in the absence of the original memo (Strobel 35). This showed that the New Testament was recorded accurately in the ancient literature.

However, notable changes could be pointed out between these documentary evidences. These were as a result of changes done by the different church council considering several issues which included the authors, belief of the Christians at the time and the use of the book by the church at that time (Strobel 58). There is also presence of corroborating evidence that confirm the presence of the New Testament books.

Research over the years have proven that in as much as human memory fades over time and one can easily forget what they were previously taught over time, chances are that the likelihood of first hand witnesses to remember these incidences will be higher than those whom these were given as oral narrations. At the same time, human mind is made in such a way that if something is repeated more often, it easily sticks in the memory as compared to those that are rarely mentioned.

Possibility of bias

The Bible is a collection of books most of which were written in different places at different times and by different people. The gospel writers underwent much persecutions and torture so as to pen the words of the gospel (Strobel 45). They spent much time and so many resources so as to produce these books of the gospel. Would these efforts be for nothing or would they go through all this just to cover up what never happened? Not, at all. They must have believed in the course of which they had taken. They could not have gone all that way just to show bias towards anything.

Criteria used for the inclusion of books in the New Testament

The council in the early church used three basic criteria to determine the documents that are to be included in the set of books to be contained in the New Testament. First, they doubted if the book was authored by an apostle or a follower of an apostle. The early church decided to only include books written by apostles (Strobel 64). Moreover, as the gospel spread and more believers joined Christianity, they were taught the doctrines that pertained to the faith. Written documents were scrutinized to check if they conformed to what the Christian family already believed.Lastly, the churches acted in unison in that if a church in a different location did accept the book, it would be rejected in other areas.

The role of archaeology

Archeology has proven some details in the gospel of Luke and supported the credibility of the gospels of Mark and John. However, archeology cannot prove or disapprove spiritual truths and at the same time, they cannot confirm the validity of Jesus’ statements (Strobel 5).

Conclusion

Considering all the arguments brought forward by the critics against the reliability of the New Testament books, Lee Strobel tackles some of the most crucial evidences to support the Bible as a reliable theological book. These include the eyewitness evidence, documentary evidence, corroborating evidence and archeological evidence (Strobel 19). These he used in support of the New Testament books. However, he never sought the views of the critics so as to get a wider perspective of their views.

 

 

Works Cited

Strobel, Lee. The case for a Creator: a journalist investigates scientific evidence that points toward God. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2004. Print.