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You are Here: BibleSanity.org >> Biblical Inerrancy >> Notes on the Reliability of Scripture

Notes on the Reliability of Scripture

Taken from the Josh McDowell Video (1986)

This is based on notes taken by hand while studying a Josh McDowell video called, "The Reliability of Scripture", back in 1986. This information is given in detail in his book, "The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict", by Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999. I strongly recommend this book!


  1. Old Testament

    1. Preservation – Most copies were buried in the dessert.

    2. Accuracy – The Meticulous methodology of the Jews:

      1. Scrolls were written with special ink on specially prepared skin.

      2. Specified columns, specified spaces between letters

      3. Special pen for writing the name of God

      4. Scribes copied letter by letter, counted everything

      5. 3 Mistakes and the manuscript would be destroyed.

    3. Proof – Dead Sea Scrolls - 1900 Year old copies found in a cave near the Dead Sea match almost exactly to 1000 year old copies we already had.

  2. New Testament
    Comparing copies of the New Testament to copies other historical "Classics"

    1. Time between Original Writings and Earliest Copy

      1. Aristotle

        1. Original Writing – 384-322 BC

        2. Earliest Copy – 1100 AD

        3. Time Span – 1,400 Years

      2. New Testament

        1. Original Writing – 48-96 AD

        2. Earliest Copy – 125 AD, Whole NT 200 AD

        3. Time Span – 75-100 Years

    2. Number of Manuscripts

      1. New Testament – 24,633 Manuscripts

      2. Sophocles - 193

      3. Aristotle – 49

      4. Tacitus – 20

      5. Caesar – 10

      6. Aristophenes – 10


  1. Internal Agreement

    1. Old Testament Prophecies are fulfilled in Old and New Testament histories, and in world history.

    2. Later Old Testament prophets quote earlier passages as authoritative.

    3. Jesus and the apostles in the New Testament quote Old Testament passages as authoritative.

    4. New Testament authors quote each other as authoritative.

    5. Extremely few internal contradictions exist, and can be clearly ascribed to transmission (translation, archeology) of manuscripts.

  2. Self Declaration – 2Timothy 3:16

    1. Scripture declares itself to be the inspired Word of God.

    2. Scripture declares itself to be inerrant.

    3. Scripture declares itself to be authoritative.

    4. All Scripture is included, all 66 books.


  1. Reliability of Authors as Eyewitnesses

    1. Acts 1:3 Jesus taught disciples for 40 days after His resurrection.

    2. 11 of 12 Apostles died for the truth of Scripture.

    3. Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John written by eyewitnesses.

    4. Paul’s writings (except Romans) are letters from Paul to churches which he had founded or had visited.

    5. All of the New Testament was written during the lifetime of the apostle John, the last living apostle, so a whole generation of eyewitnesses had opportunity to confirm or deny the New Testament.

  2. Reliability of Authors as Official Recorders

    1. Old Testament authors were Prophets, Priests, or Kings.

    2. The nature of most Old Testament writings is official historic record, with the exception of Leviticus and Deuteronomy which are legal.

    3. Over half of the New Testament is the writings of Luke, who is identified as both a physician and a historian.

    4. Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles as a detailed chronological account of the life of Christ and the beginning of the Church up through the ministry of Paul as a legal treatise.

  3. Acceptance of Opposition

    1. First Century heresies were all based on mystical/symbolic interpretation of Scripture, never contesting the Scriptures themselves.

    2. Religious divisions through the centuries to follow always based on the meaning of Scripture, not to the acceptance of Scriptures.

    3. Primary Cults – Catholics, Mormons, etc. Add to the Scriptures, but do not deny scriptures.

  4. Historians and Archeologists

    1. Historians have long relied on Scripture as a reliable source of historic record, especially Luke is noted as being the best historian of his age.

    2. Archeologists have proven aspects of Scriptural historic record over and over.