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Doctrinal Matters: Bible Interpretation

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Myth and the Claims of the Bible Writers

by  Kyle Butt, M.A.

In academic circles these days it is not unusual to hear a person suggest that the events recorded in the Bible are myths. The word myth is given various meanings, but one that is commonly understood in modern parlance is the idea that the person or event being discussed has “only an imaginary or unverifiable existence” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary). Thus, the listener or reader is led to believe that the stories found in the Bible do not have a “verifiable” historic base, and are founded on little more than the imagination of the authors. This allegation describing the Bible stories as myth, however, falls woefully short of the truth on a number of grounds.

First, the Bible has been proven to be the most accurate, historically verifiable book that has ever been produced. Years of archaeological finds have unearthed enough evidence verifying the Bible’s accuracy to bury the claim of myth a thousand times over (see Butt, “Archaeology and the Old Testament,” 2004a and “Archaeology and the New Testament,” 2004b).

Second, not a single, legitimate contradiction has been found that would suggest that the biblical writers falsified information. For years, skeptics have found alleged contradictions between the biblical texts. These alleged “contradictions” have been proven to be false, and adequate answers proving the noncontradictory nature of the Bible texts have been given (see Alleged Discrepancies, n.d.).

The list of other evidences that silence the allegation of myth could get quite lengthy. Such aspects as the scientific foreknowledge of the Bible, its predictive prophecy, and its unity over hundreds of years of writing are just a few of these powerful evidences.

It is important to note that along with these various evidences, the testimony of the writers themselves must be added to the material that points overwhelmingly away from the idea that the Bible is mythical. The Bible writers insisted that their writings were not based on imaginary, nonverifiable people and events, but were instead grounded on solid historical facts. The apostle Peter, in his second epistle to the Christians in the first century, wrote: “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (1:16). In a similar statement, the apostle John insisted: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life.... [T]hat which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us” (1 John 1:1,3).

When Luke wrote his account of the gospel of Christ, he specifically and intentionally crafted his introduction to ensure that his readers understood that his account was historical and factual:

Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed (Luke 1:1-4).

In a similar line of reasoning, Luke included in his introduction to the book of Acts the idea that Jesus, “presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).

In addition, when the apostle Paul was arguing the case that Jesus Christ had truly been raised from the dead, he wrote that the resurrected Jesus

was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time (1 Corinthians 15:5-8).

This handful of verses by Peter, Paul, John, and Luke, reveal that the Bible writers insisted with conviction that their writings were not mythical, but were indeed based on factual events. Furthermore, they specifically documented many of the eye-witnesses who could testify to the accuracy of their statements. The claim that the Bible is filled with myths can be made, but it cannot be reasonably maintained. The evidence is overwhelming that the Bible writers understood and insisted that their information was accurate and factual. Their claim of factual accuracy has been verified by the discipline of archaeology as well as by refutations of alleged contradictions between the various writings and history. The Bible is not a book of myth that belongs beside the likes of Mary Poppins or Peter Pan. It is a book of inspired, factual, historically accurate information that deserves its rightful place in the annals of history as the most amazing book ever written—bar none.

REFERENCES

Alleged Discrepancies: Apologetics Press, (no date), [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/allegeddiscrepancies/.

Butt, Kyle (2004a), “Archaeology and the Old Testament,” Reason and Revelation, 24[3]:17-23, March, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2502.

Butt, Kyle (2004b), “Archaeology and the New Testament,” Reason and Revelation, 24[10]:89-95, October, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2591.

“Myth,” 2005, Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, [On-line], URL: http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=Myth.




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