How do we Know the Bible is True?
As Catholics we can often be challenged to defend the truth of the Bible since we believe it is the inspired word of God. Of course, not all the stories in the Bible are meant to be read as history, since it contains many different types of literature – poetry, proverbs, the psalms etc. The Parables of Our Lord, for example, are to help us have a deeper understanding of God’s Kingdom. They are not intended to be read as historical events. However, in the New Testament, when the Gospels present something as historically true, then it really did happen.
The Gospels are authentic. From the second century onwards there exists an unbroken line of Christian writers who state there are four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It is also possible to piece together the greater part of the Gospels from quotations found in the writings of first century Christian authors. Even pagan writers give evidence as to their authenticity, such as Pliny the Younger. Born about 62 AD, he testifies that the divinity of Christ was a central doctrine of Christianity. The writers of the Gospels also say that what they had written is historical. St Luke, at the beginning of his Gospel says that he has gathered eyewitness testimonies of what happened, so that we may know the truth concerning JESUS (Luke 1:1-4). And the fact is, there are far more manuscripts of the New Testament available than for other secular writings whose authenticity sceptics never call into question – there are only five surviving manuscripts of the works of Aristotle who lived hundreds of years before Our Lord!
Matthew and John were both Apostles and therefore eyewitnesses to what they wrote. Mark was a disciple of St Peter and Luke a disciple of St Paul. It is impossible that these were all deceived. If they had written nonsense or told lies about JESUS, there would have been an outcry. No such thing ever happened. They also gave their lives for preaching the truth of the Gospel and they themselves worked many miracles. They would never have shed their blood for something they knew to be a fraud.
Our Lord and the Catholic Church have become public enemy number one in modern society, and this is the reason many wish to discredit the Gospels. But Christianity will survive because it is of God. How many civilisations and empires have come and gone since Our Lord founded His Church? How many regimes have persecuted and tried to annihilate the Church? And they have all failed and gone, but the Catholic Church remains, sometimes thriving, sometimes suffering, but it will always remain. “Behold, I am with you always, till the end of time.” (Matthew 28:20)
Fr Paul Gillham IC