Is The New Testament God’s Word? -- By: Jared M. Compton

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 24:3 (Summer 2011)
Article: Is The New Testament God’s Word?
Author: Jared M. Compton


Is The New Testament God’s Word?

Jared M. Compton

Sir Leigh Teabing: “The Sangreal documents simply tell the other side of the Christ story…Eyewitness accounts of the Sangreal treasure describe it as being carried in four enormous trunks. In those trunks are reputed to be the Purist Documents—thousands of pages of unaltered, pre-Constantine documents, written by the early followers of Jesus, revering Him as a wholly human teacher and prophet.—Dan Brown, The DaVinci Code (2003)

The winners chose which records of the affair to keep and decided how to tell the history of the conflict. Only in modern times have the voices of the losers begun to be heard with any kind of clarity.—Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities: The Battles for the Scriptures and the Faiths We Never Knew (2003)

The criterion “apostolic” is useless when Christian movements that were later condemned as heretical can claim genuine apostolic origin. It is certainly untenable that the orthodox church and only this orthodox church was the direct offspring of the teachings, doctrines and institutions of the apostles’ times and that only this church was able to preserve the apostolic heritage uncontaminated by foreign influences.—Helmut Koester, Trajectories through Early Christianity (1965)

Prolegomena

I should begin with a confession: the following essay assumes the existence of a god. In fact, it assumes the existence of not just any god, but an all-powerful, all-good God, one who created the world and one before whom all creatures stand condemned for failing to give him the honor he is due. Whether all this is reasonable or not—I think it is—is a question for another day.1 What this has to do with the question before us, however, is quite simple: in what follows I will attempt to show that this God has revealed himself in the Christian Scriptures. Granting my initial assumption, it should go without saying, therefore, how important the following considerations are. After all, it makes all the difference in the world whether John’s familiar words about coming to the Father only through Jesus of Nazareth (Jn 14:6) are God’s words, or simply those of a first-century fisherman- turned-itinerant preacher.

To answer our question, we will proceed in four steps. We will begin with the reliability of the English Bibles we hold in our hands and proceed backward to talk about the reliability of the New Testament canon, the apostolic tradition, and finally, Jesus himself.

Can We Trust Our Translations?

None of us has a New Testament (NT) that exactly represents what the apos...

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