What evidence is there that the Bible a reliable historical document?

Q: Using the same standards of credibility applied to other historical documents, how does the collection of documents that is the Bible stack up?

A: The Bible is the most well-attested set of documents we have from antiquity. No other literature from its time period is even close in terms of quantity of copies and chronological proximity to the originals.

People can argue about the Bible’s contents – and they do – but there is hardly any doubt about what the contents are when compared to any other historical documents produced in the same age.

Many of the answers here on Quora have misread the question and answered in theological and interpretive terms. That was not the question. The question wasn’t “Do you believe what the Bible says?” but rather “Do you believe the Bible we have is what was written in ancient times?” That is, the question was about using common standards for determining the historicity of ancient documents. And by those standards, the Bible excels all other ancient literature. To put it another way, if you can’t trust the Bible as a historical document, you’ll have to throw out practically every other document of antiquity with it.

(This question and my answer first appeared on Quora January 22, 2013.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.