I just recently shared my faith with a man who claimed you cannot trust
the Bible as it is just a theory. He also holds that history has been
altered and that the stories of the New Testament were most likely
alteredt. I told him about the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1949
to defend the Old Testament accuracy and precison, but could not really
think of how to defend the New Testament, as much of it was orally
translated. Any evidences you know of through archeology or any other

I am not sure what it would mean to say that the Bible is a theory. It is
real, not a theory. What is obvious from the comments of the man you were
talking with is that he is not very well educated in the topics you
discussed. For anyone to claim that the New Testament was significantly
altered means that they have not looked at the evidence. Possibly he has
heard or read second-hand and unreliable criticisms of the Bible. Anyone
who thinks that the New Testament was orally transmitted for many years is
definitely not well acquainted the historical data.

My first advice is that you need to get a copy of my book “Reasons for
Belief: A Handbook of Christian Evidence.” (go to This
is a general book on apologetics. It covers almost all the most common
questions asked by those who are questioning faith in the Bible, including
a chapter on the reliability of the Bible, the topic you discussed with
your friend. It also covers messianic prophecy, miracles, the
resurrection, science and the Bible, archaeology and the Bible and so

Let me give you the extremely short version of the answer to the question
raised by your friend. Many have claimed that the Bible has been altered,
but as far as I know, no one has ever presented any reliable evidence to
back up this claim (other than some extremely minor changes in the Greek
text as discussed in my book). In the case of the New Testament, the
evidence implies that all or virtually all of the New Testament was
written by about AD 70. We have complete manuscripts of the New Testament
from AD 350, including the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus. In
addition, we have a number of partial manuscripts from the 200’s AD and
even one fragment of the book of John, the Rylands Papyrus, which has been
dated to about AD 130. Add to this the fact that we have extant copies of
letters by the early church “fathers” from the second century and even a
few from the very late first century. It is possible to reproduce almost
the entire New Testament using quotes taken from early church writings of
the first three centuries. If the New Testament had been altered after
this time, surely the changes would be revealed by comparison to quotes in
the second century. Many have claimed that the New Testament was altered
about the time of Constantine. This claim has absolutely no evidence to
support it. In fact, the existing manuscripts and early church father
quotes make it impossible to support this claim. What you can ask your
friend is to give you an example of how the New Testament was changed.

I would concede that human beings have produced many biased histories.
Your friend has a good point there. It is easy to claim that the Bible is
the same, but the claim is only valid if it is supported by evidence. The
Bible claims to be inspired by God. We (including your friend) must reach
our own conclusions on this based on the evidence. The fact is that the
Bible is the most reliable book of history of the ancient world we have.
Of course, it is easy for me to make this claim, but I have studied this
subject thoroughly. My book mentioned above has a chapter devoted to
evidence of the accuracy of both the Old and the New Testament, giving
dozens of examples of historical details which are confirmed by
archaeological evidence. If you want to get some information before you
get a copy of the book, there is are several articles at the web site on
history, archaeolgy and the Bible. Just go the the articles section and
go to the section on archaeology.

You mention the Dead Sea Scrolls. These were truly a great discovery in
support of the accuracy of the Bible. Before they were discovered, the
oldest manuscripts of the Old Testament in Hebrew were from about AD 900.
The originals of the Old Testament were written in the 400’s BC or
earlier. The Dead Sea scrolls are mostly from the first and second
centuries BC, closing about two thirds of the gap between the time the Old
Testament books were written and the oldest manuscripts we had before
their discovery. The agreement between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the
Masoretic text of the 10th century AD is very good, showing that the Old
Testament has been very faithfully preserved.

In summary, it would appear that your friend has heard some rumors about
the Bible which are not supported by the evidence. I believe that if you
gave him a copy of my book or just shared with him what you are learning,
you might be able to help him have more faith in God’s word.

John Oakes

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