Imagine asking 40 men from varied backgrounds to write a book, each writing a section. The writers live in a number of lands and do not all know one another. Some do not know what the others have written. Would you expect a book thus produced to be harmonious?
THE Bible is such a book. Written under even more unusual conditions than those described above, its internal harmony is nothing less than profound.
circumstances. The Bible was written over a span of some 1,600 years, from 1513 B.C.E. to about 98 C.E. Many of the approximately 40 writers thus lived centuries apart. Their occupations were varied. Some were fishermen, others were shepherds or kings, and one was a physician.
harmonious message. The Bible penmen developed one central theme: the vindication of God’s right to rule mankind and the fulfillment of his purpose by means of his heavenly Kingdom, a world government. That theme is introduced in Genesis, expanded on in the books that follow, and brought to a climax in Revelation.—See "What Is the Bible About?" on page 19.
on details. The Bible writers agreed on even minute details, but often this harmony was clearly unintentional. Note an example. The Bible writer John tells us that when a large crowd came to hear Jesus, Jesus specifically asked Philip where to buy some loaves to feed the people. (John 6:1-5) In a parallel account, Luke says that this took place near the city of Bethsaida. Earlier in his book, John happened to have said that Philip was from Bethsaida. (Luke 9:10; John 1:44) So Jesus naturally addressed his question to one of the men who had lived nearby. The details agree—but with an obvious lack of intent to make them harmonious.
differences. There are some differences between certain accounts, but should we not expect this? Suppose a group of people witnessed a crime. If each one mentioned the same details using the same words, would you not suspect collusion? Reasonably, the testimony of each would vary somewhat according to his particular angle of view. So it was with the Bible writers.
Consider an example. Did Jesus wear a purple garment on the day of his death, as Mark and John report? (Mark 15:17; John 19:2) Or was it scarlet, as Matthew says? (Matthew 27:28) Really, both can be correct. Purple has components of red in it. Depending on the observer’s angle of view, light reflection and background could have subdued certain hues, giving different casts to the garment.
The harmony of the Bible writers, including their unintentional consistency, further stamps their writings as trustworthy.
Science has made great strides in modern times. As a result, old theories have given way to new ones. What was once accepted as fact may now be seen as myth. Science textbooks often need revision.
THE Bible is not a science textbook. Yet, when it comes to scientific matters, the Bible is noteworthy not only for what it says but also for what it does not say.
of unscientific views. Many mistaken beliefs gained wide acceptance in ancient times. Views about the earth ranged from the idea that it was flat to the notion that tangible substances or objects held it aloft. Long before science learned about the spread and prevention of disease, physicians employed some practices that were ineffective at best, lethal at worst. But not once in its more than 1,100 chapters does the Bible endorse any unscientific views or harmful practices.
sound statements. Some 3,500 years ago, the Bible stated that the earth is hanging "upon nothing." (Job 26:7) In the eighth century B.C.E., Isaiah clearly referred to "the circle [or, sphere] of the earth." (Isaiah 40:22) A spherical earth held in empty space without any visible or physical means of support—does not that description sound remarkably modern?
Written about 1500 B.C.E., the Mosaic Law (found in the first five books of the Bible) contained sound laws regarding quarantining of the sick, treatment of dead bodies, and disposal of waste.—Leviticus 13:1-5; Numbers 19:1-13; Deuteronomy 23:13, 14.
Partly as a result of turning powerful telescopes toward the heavens, scientists have concluded that the universe had a sudden "birth." Not all scientists like the implications of this explanation. One professor noted: "A universe that began seems to demand a first cause; for who could imagine such an effect without a sufficient cause?" Yet, long before telescopes, the very first verse of the Bible plainly stated: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."—Genesis 1:1.
Even though it is an ancient book and touches on many subjects, the Bible contains no scientific inaccuracies. Does not such a book merit, at the very least, our consideration?
Imagine a weather forecaster who has a long record of being right—every time. If he predicted rain, would you carry an umbrella?
THE Bible is filled with predictions, or prophecies. Its record, as documented by history, is clear. Bible prophecy is always right.
features. Bible prophecies are often specific and have been fulfilled down to the smallest of details. They usually involve matters of great importance and predict the opposite of what those living at the time of the writing might have been expecting.
outstanding example. Strategically built astride the Euphrates River, ancient Babylon has been called "the political, religious, and cultural centre of the ancient Orient." About 732 B.C.E., the prophet Isaiah penned an ominous prophecy—Babylon would fall. Isaiah provided specifics: A leader named "Cyrus" would be the conqueror, the protective waters of the Euphrates would "dry up," and the city’s gates would "not be shut." (Isaiah 44:27–45:3) Some 200 years later, on October 5, 539 B.C.E., the prophecy was fulfilled in all its details. Greek historian Herodotus (fifth century B.C.E.) confirmed the manner of Babylon’s fall.
bold detail. Isaiah made a further startling prediction regarding Babylon: "She will never be inhabited." (Isaiah 13:19, 20) To predict permanent desolation for a sprawling city occupying a strategic location was bold indeed. You would normally expect that such a city would be rebuilt if ruined. Although Babylon lingered on for a while after its conquest, Isaiah’s words eventually came true. Today the site of ancient Babylon "is flat, hot, deserted and dusty," reports Smithsonian magazine.
It is awesome to contemplate the magnitude of Isaiah’s prophecy. What he foretold would be the equivalent of predicting the exact manner in which a modern city, such as New York or London, would be destroyed 200 years from now and then emphatically stating that it would never again be inhabited. Of course, most remarkable is the fact that Isaiah’s prophecy came true!
In this series of articles, we have considered some of the evidence that has convinced millions of people that the Bible is trustworthy. They therefore look to it as a reliable guide to direct their steps. Why not learn more about the Bible so that you can decide for yourself whether you too can trust it?