1. Most of the New Testament books were probably written less than 50 years after the events took place. There is a lot that goes into dating the books of the Bible. One major clue, though, is something that happened in 70 AD that would have been world-changing to the Jews-the destruction of the Temple. None of the New Testament books mention the Temple destruction as having already happened. It is very hard to imagine that none of the books would have mentioned the destruction of the Temple, especially when Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple in Mark 13. If Mark is the earliest Gospel, as most scholars agree, why wouldn’t one of the Biblical authors have mentioned that this prophecy was fulfilled? Because the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD hadn’t taken place yet. If the New Testament was written before 70 AD, and Jesus lived until 30-35 AD, this means the books were written within 35-40 years of the events they record.
The one exception to this might be the book of Revelations, which is a book of prophecy. Many take Revelation to be prophecies about the end of the world. Other groups, though, believe it prophesies the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. If this is the case, then even Revelation would have been written very close to the time of the events it prophesied.
2. We have more manuscripts supporting the text of the New Testament than for any other ancient document. We have 5700 full or partial manuscripts of books of the New Testament. 5700. That is far more than what we have for any other ancient document. The closest we come is Homer’s Iliad. We have 650 copies of that. We have only 10 copies of Caesar’s Gallic Wars. We have only 7 copies of Plato’s works. We have 5700 for the New Testament. Both Caesar and Plato are considered reliable enough to be taught in schools and colleges, and we have a combined total of 17 copies of their major works. We have 5700 partial or whole manuscripts of the New Testament. Shouldn’t we consider it reliable as well?
3. The role of women in the Bible is much more elevated than understood at first glance. Was the world of the Bible generally patriarchal? Yes, as was the entire world at that point in time. Having said that, though, there is much more respect for women in the stories of the Bible than in the rest of the world during contemporary times. First, let’s look at the Old Testament. Even from the point of creation, Eve is made in the Image of God just as Adam was. Eve is given the same “work” as Adam is-to multiply and fill the earth, and to take care of the Garden. From the beginning, Adam and Eve are seen as equals. Later we have the story of Deborah, who is both a prophet and judge. The general of the army at the time put so much weight on her advice and influence that he would not go into battle unless she went with him. There is the story of the prophetess Huldah. God’s people had ignored God’s instruction to the point that they did not even recognize the book of Scripture anymore. The book is found years later, and the only one who can recognize it is the prophetess Huldah.
In the New Testament we have the story of Jesus’ mother Mary, who had faith and belief enough to take on the task of giving birth and raising the Messiah. In John 12 and Matthew 26 there is the story of Mary from Bethany who anoints Jesus for his burial, seeming to understand what Jesus was about even more than his own disciples. We need to remember Jesus’ women followers, who followed Jesus and the disciples wherever they went. This group of women was at the cross when the men were hiding in a room out of fear, and one of these women, Mary Magdalene was the first to spread the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection.
We cannot deny that the Bible holds women in high regard when compared with the secular views at the time.
4. The chapter and verse divisions are not in the original texts. To some this may be obvious, but others may not know this. The chapter divisions were added in the 1200s and the verse divisions in the 1400-1500s, added for easy reference. Because these divisions are not original, there are portions of Scripture that in order to get the full effect of those portions of Scripture, one needs to keep reading from one chapter to another. We should be careful to not let the chapter or verse divisions effect how we interpret Scripture.
5. The many books and authors of the Bible come together across time and geography to tell one Story-the story of God’s relationship with humans. The 66 books of the Bible were written by around 40-50 authors. These authors lived between a range of thousands of years from each other. Yet they all tell the story of God’s relationship with humanity, humanity’s rejection of God, and God’s pursuit of humanity, ultimately revealed through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and ultimately coming to fruition in the creation of the New Heavens and New Earth, where God will live in relationship with humanity just as was true in the Garden of Eden.