Is the Bible Historically Reliable?
“I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history …”
E. M. Blaiklock – Professor of Classics, Auckland University
As many have found, the Word of God is extremely reliable in its recording of events, cultures, cities, places, etc. When testing the historical reliability of Scripture you need to apply the same criteria that is used when testing other historical documents.
Aristotle’s Dictum states: “the benefit of the doubt is to be given to the document itself, not arrogated by the critic to himself”. In our country a man is considered innocent until proven guilty. This same ruling should be applied to the Bible.
In his work, Church History, Eusebius (A.D 260-339), known as the “Father of Church History”, quoted the longest non-Christian first century A.D. reference about Jesus Christ written by the famous Jewish historian, Josephus, from his work Antiquities.
At this time there was a wise man called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was know to be virtuous. Many people among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive. Accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have reported wonders. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day.
Not only do we possess the non-Christian works of Josephus (born Joseph ben Mattathias in Jerusalem in 37 A.D.); but those of Cornelius Tacitus (Governor of Asia, 112 A.D.), Suetonius (Roman Historian, 125 A.D.), and Plinius Secundus (known as Pliny the Younger, 112 A.D.). Each one of their works mention, to some degree, the life of Jesus Christ and his influence throughout the Roman Empire.
Much of this material will overlap with other sections. This section attempts to focus in on the reliability of the Bible from an historical perspective.