What would you say if someone asked you “Why study the Bible?” Consider that their mind-set is that the Bible is no different from any other document of religious authority, and that all such documents are equal. Are you prepared to help them become convinced that the Bible is distinctly unique?
How did the many books of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, become bound together and declared the true inspired Word of God?
What follows is an excerpt from my personal Bible study guide, His Word Afresh, My Life Anew! revised 2014:
From Original Manuscript Translation
Specific to the Old Testament, the oldest Masoretic Hebrew manuscripts that existed before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls are dated no earlier than the late ninth century AD.
These Hebrew manuscripts are the Cairo Codex of the Prophets (AD 895), the Aleppo Codex of the whole Old Testament (AD 925), and the Leningrad Codex (completed AD 1108). According to The New Unger’s Bible Handbook, the Dead Sea Scrolls, together with fragments of all but one of the Old Testament books (Esther), were discovered in 1947 and date from the second to the first century BC. They give us a Hebrew text a millennium earlier than any previous discovery! In addressing the question of human error in the hand copying of ancient manuscripts, we now have factual evidence against which to compare, revealing that the Bible we have today is substantively the same as the oldest known
There are three principal copies of the original manuscripts that exist and have been used in the translation of the Bible. As listed in The New Unger’s Bible Handbook and The Thompson Chain Reference Study Bible, they are:
The Codex Sinaiticus: In this fourth-century codex of the Greek Bible, on display at the British Museum in Great Britain, the New Testament is complete on 148 leaves and also contains fragments of the Old Testament in Greek. It was discovered by Tischendorf in the monastery of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai in 1844 and 1859 and purchased from the Soviet Republic of Russia in 1933.
The Codex Vaticanus: Also suspected to be a fourth-century document, this codex exists in the Vatican library at Rome where it has been on display since 1481. Although the original codex contained the whole Bible, parts have been lost. It contains almost the complete Old and New Testament, except for Hebrews 9:14-13:25, the Pastoral Epistles, Philemon, and the Revelation.
The Codex Alexandrinus: Believed to be a fifth-century document and also on display in the British Museum, this codex contains most of the Old and New Testament and the whole Greek Bible with the exception of forty lost leaves. It was presented by the Patriarch of Constantinople to Charles I of England in 1627, and transferred to the British Museum in 1757.
From these magnificent archeological finds and many others, we have factual evidence of the historical reliability of the Bible most dramatically confirmed as recent as the twentieth century. Christian Research Institute in its CRI Perspective CP1009 states:
All sorts of details have been confirmed through the discovery of ancient
documents, through the examination of artifacts, and, in some cases, through
excavations of entire ancient cities. These findings have consistently supported the
historicity of the Bible. In fact, it’s safe to say that with every turn of the
archaeologist’s spade, the historicity and accuracy of the Bible is further confirmed.
The article goes on to explain that it would be an overstatement at this point in time to claim that archaeology has proven that everything the Bible says is true. But it is accurate to say that, with the factual discoveries made through archaeology, the Bible has not been proven to be false or with error!
While not everyone needs this kind of factual, historical information to be convinced of the Bible’s uniqueness, you may come across someone who will only be convinced through this kind of evidence. I welcome your input and questions so I can be all I can to help you in your faith, as you help others in theirs.