Is it circular reasoning to say the Bible is the Word of God because the Bible says so?
Now, having said all of this, I want to pause to point out that I am aware of the fact that I am using the Bible to prove the Bible. I could thus be accused of circular reasoning: “the Bible is the Word of God because the Bible says so.”
Therefore, I must take a moment to point out that you do not commit the error of circular reasoning when you use the Bible to prove the Bible. The reason is very simple. You see, the Bible is not one book! It is a collection of 66 books written by more than 40 authors over a period of 1,600 years.
Therefore, if you quote Jeremiah or Isaiah to substantiate Daniel, or if you quote Daniel to verify Revelation, you are not involved in circular reasoning. Instead, you are quoting altogether independent sources who happen to be bound together between the covers of the same book. Yet the paradox is that the more you read these books, the more you realize that the sources are not all that independent.
Here’s my point — the authors of those 66 books came from every walk of life, including kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, scholars, tax collectors, farmers and medical doctors. They wrote in every conceivable place — palaces, dungeons, prisons, on islands, in the wilderness, in cities and in the midst of wars. They wrote in different moods, ranging from the heights of ecstacy to the depths of despair and sorrow.
They spoke on hundreds of controversial subjects. They wrote in three different languages. They utilized every conceivable literary style — history, law, poetry, biography, memoirs, letters, sermons, drama, parables, prophecy — you name it!
Yet, despite all this diversity, their writings interlock with a harmony and continuity from Genesis to Revelation that can only be explained by pointing to divine inspiration.
I could present a lot of other evidence that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, but space does not permit it. I will just mention a few points in passing. One is the wisdom of the Bible’s message and the life-changing impact of that message upon millions of lives throughout history. Another is the detail of its historical records and their accuracy, as confirmed by archeology.
And then, of course, there is the remarkable survival of the Bible despite the efforts of so many to destroy it. The permanence of God’s Word was attested by Isaiah when he wrote, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).
No book has been so widely sought after in the history of Mankind. It was the first book ever printed, and billions of copies have been printed since. It has been translated into more than 2,000 languages, and over 200 million copies are published each year.
Another significant factor is that no other group of documents from antiquity can even come close to matching the manuscripts the Bible is based on. The Jews were meticulous in their copying and preservation of scrolls as is attested by the Isaiah manuscript that was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1948. That copy of Isaiah from the First Century revealed no significant differences from what is contained in our modern day Bibles.
The largest number of manuscripts of any ancient writing is 643 for the Iliad. The shortest manuscript time span (the interval between the oldest manuscript and the original writing) is 750 years for the Histories by Pliny the Younger. By comparison, the time span of the New Testament manuscripts is 250 years and the number of manuscripts exceeds 15,000!
Equally startling is the fact that if all these manuscripts were to disappear tomorrow, we could put together nearly all of the New Testament from sources older than the manuscripts. That’s because the writings of the Church Fathers before 300 A.D. contain 36,289 quotes from the New Testament — including all but 11 verses.
In the fourth and last segment of our study of God’s revelation to man — the Bible, we’ll marvel at how fulfilled Bible prophecy proves the authenticity of Scripture.