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MAP-TAP-CAP - A Summary of Biblical Reliability Tests
Manuscript Quantity: Are there enough early manuscripts of a document to conclude that it has been accurately transmitted? The New Testament far exceeds any other historical document in this category. There are over 24,000 early manuscripts, including more than 5,300 in the original Greek language. Compare this with only 193 copies of the writings of Sophocles.
Accuracy of Manuscripts: When compared to each other, how accurate do these manuscripts appear? While there are not enough copies to determine the accuracy of most historic documents, the New Testament is generally regarded as 99+% accurate. The small percentage of inaccuracies are usually insignificant spelling and/or wording changes. There are virtually no changes of significant meaning.
Period of Time: How much time elapsed between the original writing and the earliest copy? Most of the early copies we have of New Testament documents date to within 100 years of the original; some as close as 25 years. The earliest copies of Sophocles writings date 1400 years after the original.
Time/Space Dimension: The Bible is written about real places, real historical times, real people, and real events. Scriptures like Luke 2:1-7 and Luke 3:1-3 are great examples of known historical references being cited.
Authorship of Eyewitnesses: Independent authors wrote of biblical events in first person accounts. Peter says it best: "For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty." (2 Pet 1:16). The writers of the New Testament were eyewitnesses of what they were writing. They did not write from hearsay.
Production Continuity: The Bible was constructed over 1500 years, in 3 languages, on 3 continents, by more than 40 authors; authors from diverse cultures, backgrounds, education, and careers. They wrote in every possible literary form: sermon, poetry, history, biography, exposition, parable, and more. Yet through it all there is a common thread of unity and congruence. The beautiful story of the gospel is woven from Genesis to Revelation.
Contemporaries: While New Testament documents were being circulated, there were many eyewitnesses alive to evaluate their accuracy. If the writings were outright fabrications they could have easily been challenged. Instead of challenging these writings, many of these eyewitnesses became believers and suffered persecution. Would you die for a lie?
Archaeology: The most powerful proof of the archaeological historicity of the Bible can be summed up in one statement: Never, in the history of the field of archeology, have artifacts or evidence been discovered that would disprove the Bible. Instead characters and events which were once thought to be myths are being authenticated with each new discovery.
Prophecy: Matching many of the Bible's prophetic passages to actual historic events is a chilling exercise. These proofs confirm, beyond doubt, that the Bible is not only accurate, but is God's inspired word. The destruction of cities, like Tyre and Sidon, is foretold in great detail. Daniel foretold the time of Christ's death 483 years prior to it taking place. How? He could only have known from God!