Ask Augustine with Dr. Paul Tambrino
Ask Augustine is a weekly column where professor/author Dr. Paul Tambrino discusses various theological questions with wit, clarity and substance.
Question #9 – My Professor Says the Bible Is Not Original and Questions Jesus’s Prophesies. How Do I Respond?
I would ask your professor whether he questions what Aristotle originally wrote, because there were 1,400 years between what he wrote and we only have five extant copies.
Does your professor also question Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War since it was written between 460 and 400 B.C., yet there were 1,300 years between his death and the earliest known copies of which we have merely eight?
And does he also question Julius Caesar’s works on the Gallic Wars and the Civil Wars which were written about 58-50B.C., yet there were 900 years between his death and the earliest known copies of which we have only nine or perhaps ten?“There were only 70 years between the time of the original writing of the New Testament Gospels and letters and the earliest manuscripts we have.”
On the other hand there were only 70 years between the time (40 to 100 A.D.) of the original writing of the New Testament Gospels and letters and the earliest manuscripts we have.
Moreover, there are not just five, but over 5,000 of the earliest copies.
These numbers give good reason to believe that what we have in the Bible today is what was originally written.
The Bible (Old and New Testaments) was written over a period of 1,500 years, by 40 authors on three different continents. No other religious book (including the Qur’an) comes close to these figures.
Now, when it comes to the prophesies the Bible consider this.
There are 60 major Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, with most of them being well beyond His human control – such as the place of His birth, the manner of His birth, the manner of His death, etc.
For example, consider these eight listed below:
- Prophesized in Micah 5:2 to be born in Bethlehem; fulfilled in Luke 2:4-7.
- Prophesized in Zechariah 11:13 to be sold for 30 pieces of silver; fulfilled in Matthew 26:15.
- Prophesized in Isaiah 53:7 to be silent when accused; fulfilled in Matthew 27:12-14.
- Prophesized in Isaiah 53:12 to be condemned with criminals; fulfilled in Luke 23:32-33.
- Prophesized in Psalm 22:16 to be crucified with His hands and feet pierced; fulfilled in John 19:18.
- Prophesized in Isaiah 53:5 that His side would be pierced; fulfilled in John 19:34.
- Prophesized in Isaiah 53:9 to be buried by a rich man; fulfilled in Luke 23:50-53.
- Prophesized in Psalm 34:20 that none of His bones will be broken; fulfilled in John 19:33.
Of course any person might find that they have fulfilled one or two family “prophecies” concerning themselves that were beyond their own control, but certainly not 60, or even eight, or most likely not even three.“There are 60 major Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.”
Statisticians have calculated that the probability of anyone who might have lived down to the present time and to have fulfilled eight prophecies beyond their own control down to the present time is one in ten to the 17th power, or the number ten followed by 17 zeros.
Such an improbability has been illustrated by imagining 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 old silver dollars placed over the state of Texas. That amount of silver dollars would cover the entire state of Texas two feet deep.
Now imagine marking one of these silver dollars and stirring the whole mass thoroughly. Then select a blind person to pick up one silver dollar.
The probability that our blind person would have of selecting the marked silver dollar is the same probability of having eight prophecies written about a person all coming true in that person.
Such a fulfillment becomes even more mind boggling when statisticians calculate the probability of fulfilling not 8 but forty-eight such prophecies.
Now the number becomes one in 10 followed by 157 zeros.
Since Christ did not fulfill only eight or even 48, but rather 60 major prophecies, perhaps your professor might like to calculate that “improbable” probability.
Indeed, I’d say it takes more faith not to believe who Jesus was, than to believe in all that He is.
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Pirna: The Obertor from the South (mid-1750s) by Bernardo Bellotto (Italian, Venice 1722–1780 Warsaw). The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wrightsman Fund, 1991. 1991.306.