Weekly Devotional

Each week a devotional is sent to recipients around the country.  It begins with a story taken from my personal life, history, news media, or a current trend in society.  The story then connects with relevant passages from the Bible, and concludes with a challenge to consider personal applications.  These devotionals are intended to present the truth of the Bible to a non-christian, enlighten a new believer, as well as provide scriptural insight to the mature Christian.  This week's devotional  is provided below; don't forget to check this page when you return.  Anyone can join the list of recipients by contacting me at know.doubt.268@gmail.com .  There is no charge.  Your address is not shared with anyone.  And you can drop off the mailing list at any time.

When Words Become Thoughts (January 15, 2022)

The Oxford Dictionary has about 273,000 words in the English language. In contrast, the Taki Taki language of Suriname in South America has only 340 words1.

Adam and Eve did not text, they spoke words. Prehistoric people did not send emails, but drew pictures. The earliest written language was probably the cuneiform writings of southern Mesopotamia, around 3500 BC.

The books of our Bible were written over 1,545 years. The oldest comprise the 39 books of the Old Testament, from the books of Moses (1450-1400 BC) to Malachi (425 BC).  In the New Testament there are 27 books, the earliest were thought to be Mark and Galatians (45-52 AD) and the last book penned was Revelation (95 AD). In between, the 14 books of the Apocrypha were composed (397-4 BC). The dates are approximations because we have no original writings of any biblical author. Today, the oldest existing Hebrew manuscripts (dated to 200 BC-70 AD) come from the Dead Sea Scrolls. A portion of John’s gospel (dated to 125 AD) is the oldest extant New Testament writing.

Copies of a particular writing were edited and collated into one book. This process resulted in 39 books being officially declared the Hebrew Bible, possibly during the Hasmonean dynasty (140-40 BC). In 315 AD the Bishop of Alexandria declared 27 books would be the official canon of the New Testament.

The first official recognition of what would become the canon of our complete Bible occurred at the Council of Rome in 382 AD. There were 73 books (39 Old Testament, 7 Apocrypha, 27 New Testament). Pope Damascus commissioned Jerome to translate all books into Latin. The work was completed in 400 AD with the publishing of the Latin Vulgate Bible (aka Jerome Bible). Since then, there have been many Bibles translated and published from numerous sources.

This historical abstract provides background for the criticism that the Bible cannot be trusted. Critics would have us believe the differences in wording from Bible to Bible, omission of some verses in some translations, and failure to include other ancient manuscripts make the Bible unreliable.

In response, let me summarize.   First, what is the purpose of the Bible? Was it to provide an exact date when human life began, or when Jesus was born? While historical events are recorded, the purpose of the Bible is for God to reveal Himself. Even the most ardent critic would admit the time span of the Bible involves thousands, if not billions, of years. The Lord has not documented His reasoning for every minute. Instead, God gave us the essentials of who He is (1 Corinthians 8:6), how He intends for us to live on this planet (Mark 12:30-31), and what our final destination will be (John 14:1-6).

Multiple authors of scripture over 1,545 years provide consistent agreement on God, life, and after-life. We can easily believe two authors might be inspired to write of the Normandy Invasion from different viewpoints. Cannot God provide inspiration to four writers to describe the resurrection of Jesus from different perspectives (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2f; Luke 24:1f; John 20:1f)? Was the subject matter how many women, or was it the fact that the tomb was empty?

More than 40 verses in the King James Version of the Bible are excluded from the New International Version. When you compare passages where these verses are located, the subject matter is the same in both Bibles. Hundreds of ancient manuscripts were never included in the Bible. The Gospel of Thomas (140 AD) was one that was excluded, in part because its 114 “secret” sayings of Jesus are not found in any other manuscript.

Much of what we believe about the Bible is taken on faith. This kind of faith, in a sense, is no different than the faith required to believe there is no God, or faith needed to believe in the Big Bang Theory. The biggest difference is that faith in scripture provides an eternal hope.

By the way, each year publishers of dictionaries attempt to change the meaning of words according to popular opinion. This does not apply to the Bible. God is still God. Sin is sin. Heaven and hell are real places for those who trust in God’s word and for the unbeliever, respectively.

1  https://www.vistawide.com/languages/language_statistics.htm