“THE Bible is a crystallization of mankind’s civilization and life experiences and is unique,” says a journal published by Chung Shang University in Guangzhou, China. Immanuel Kant, an influential 18th-century philosopher, is quoted as saying: “The existence of the Bible, as a book for the people, is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced. Every attempt to belittle it . . . is a crime against humanity.” The Encyclopedia Americana says: “The influence of the Bible is by no means limited to Jews and Christians. . . . It is now viewed as an ethical and religious treasure whose inexhaustible teaching promises to be even more valuable as the hope of a world civilization increases.”
2 Regardless of your religious affiliation, would you not be interested in knowing something about such a book? By the end of the 20th century, the Bible had been translated, in whole or in part, into more than 2,200 languages. Most people can find a copy of it in a language that they can read and understand. Since the invention of movable type, an estimated four billion copies of the Bible have been circulated worldwide.
3 Now, please open your Bible if you have a copy, and take a look at the table of contents. You will note the names of books, starting with Genesis and ending with Revelation. The Bible is really a library of 66 books penned by some 40 different people. The first section, composed of 39 books called the Old Testament by many, is properly named the Hebrew Scriptures because it was written mainly in Hebrew. The second section, made up of 27 books called the New Testament by many, is rightly named the Christian Greek Scriptures, for it was written in Greek by Christian writers. It took over 1,600 years, from 1513 B.C.E. to 98 C.E., for Bible writing to be completed. The writers never had an editorial meeting, and some books were written concurrently at places thousands of miles apart. Still, the Bible has a single theme and is a unified whole; it does not contradict itself. We cannot help but wonder, ‘How could more than 40 men living over a period of 16 centuries come up with a book that is consistent to such a degree?’
4 Although the writing of the Bible was completed more than 1,900 years ago, its contents intrigue men and women of modern times. For instance, open your Bible to Job 26:7. Keep in mind that this text was written in the 15th century B.C.E. It reads: “[God] is stretching out the north over the empty place, hanging the earth upon nothing.” Next, turn to Isaiah 40:22, noting that the book of Isaiah was written in the eighth century B.C.E. This verse reads: “There is One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth, the dwellers in which are as grasshoppers, the One who is stretching out the heavens just as a fine gauze, who spreads them out like a tent in which to dwell.” What comes to your mind when you read these two descriptions? An image of a spherical object “hanging” in space. You have likely seen such an image in photographs sent from modern spacecraft. You may wonder, ‘How could men living so long ago make such scientifically accurate statements?’
5 Let us consider another question with regard to the Bible. Is the Bible historically accurate? Some think that the Bible is only a compilation of legends, without historical basis. Take, for example, the well-known Israelite King David. Until recently, the sole basis for knowledge of his existence was the Bible. Although mainline historians accept him as an authentic figure, some skeptics try to dismiss him as a legend invented by Jewish propagandists. What do the facts show?
6 In 1993 an inscription referring to the “House of David” was found in the ruins of the ancient Israelite city of Dan. The inscription was part of a shattered monument from the ninth century B.C.E., commemorating a victory over the Israelites by their enemy. Suddenly, there was an ancient reference to David outside of the pages of the Bible! Was this significant? Regarding this finding, Israel Finkelstein, of Tel Aviv University, observed: “Biblical nihilism collapsed overnight with the discovery of the David inscription.” Interestingly, Professor William F. Albright, an archaeologist who spent decades excavating in Palestine, once said: “Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition of the value of the Bible as a source of history.” Again, we might ask, ‘Unlike epics and legends, how could this ancient book be so historically accurate?’ But there is more.
7 The Bible is also a book of prophecy. (2 Peter 1:20, 21) The word “prophecy” may immediately bring to your mind unfulfilled words of self-proclaimed prophets. But leave any preconceptions behind, and open your Bible to Daniel chapter 8. Here Daniel describes a vision of a struggle between a ram with two horns and a hairy he-goat with “a conspicuous horn.” The he-goat prevails, but its great horn is broken. In its place four horns come up. What does the vision mean? Daniel’s account continues: “The ram that you saw possessing the two horns stands for the kings of Media and Persia. And the hairy he-goat stands for the king of Greece; and as for the great horn that was between its eyes, it stands for the first king. And that one having been broken, so that there were four that finally stood up instead of it, there are four kingdoms from his nation that will stand up, but not with his power.”—Daniel 8:3-22.
“Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition of the value of the Bible as a source of history.”—Professor William F. Albright
8 Was this prophecy fulfilled? The writing of the book of Daniel was completed in about 536 B.C.E. Macedonian King Alexander the Great, who was born 180 years later, in 356 B.C.E., conquered the Persian Empire. He was “the great horn” between the eyes of “the hairy he-goat.” According to the Jewish historian Josephus, upon entering Jerusalem before his victory over Persia, Alexander was shown the book of Daniel. He concluded that the words of Daniel’s prophecy that were pointed out to him referred to his own military campaign involving Persia. What is more, in textbooks on world history, you can read of the course that Alexander’s empire took after his death in 323 B.C.E. Four generals eventually took over his empire, and by 301 B.C.E., the ‘four horns’ that stood up instead of “the great horn” divided the domain into four sections. Once again, we have every reason to wonder, ‘How could a book so vividly and accurately foretell what would take place some 200 years later?’
9 The Bible itself answers the above questions: “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial.” (2 Timothy 3:16) The Greek word translated “inspired of God” literally means “God-breathed.” God “breathed” the information we now find in the Bible books into the minds of some 40 writers. The few examples—scientific, historical, and prophetic—that we have considered clearly point to but one conclusion. This unique book, the Bible, is a product, not of human wisdom, but of divine origin. Yet, many today are skeptical about the existence of its Author—God. How about you?