A gracEmail subscriber writes, “Can you recommend a good book that gives an explanation of the authenticity of the Bible, how the canon of scriptures developed and survived into its current form? I grew up being taught and believing in the inerrant accuracy of the Bible in its current form. Now I find myself unsure of this and also frustrated with my inability to give a reasoned explanation about this.
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Concerning the origin and reliability of the New Testament, two classics hard to beat are F. F. Bruce’s The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? and The Canon of Scripture. You can find them both online. For some very helpful articles on the subject, click here. (I do not necessarily endorse everything on that website, any more than its author would endorse everything on my web site.)
The “inerrancy” of Scripture means that whatever Scripture writers intended to teach is absolutely true. The Evangelical Theological Society, to which I belong, has a creed that I sign every year which states also that “The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written, and is inerrant in the original autographs.” The fact is that we have no handwritten originals of Scripture (“autographs”) so this merely provides a starting point. However, the science of “textual criticism” has shown that the text we have today is 99% accurate, and there are no important teachings at risk in the 1% margin of textual error.
Ultimately our faith is in God as revealed in Jesus Christ, not in an inspired book, although the Holy Bible is the inspired record of God’s revelation to his covenant people through the ages in historical events (Creation, the Flood, the Exodus, etc.), in words (the Torah given at Sinai, words given to the canonical prophets, etc.) and chiefly in the person, life, deeds and words, death and resurrection and ascension of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.