What sets the Bible apart, if anything? Peter, a friend of Jesus and a pastor in the early church wrote, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eye-witnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16)
According to Peter the New Testament writings about Jesus do not fall into the common category of religious stories and legends. The Jesus-accounts are based on eye-witness, verifiable, historical events. During first century times (and before and ever since) there were a vast amount of made up, cleverly invented, religious stories. The religious section of Exclusive Books has always been busting at the seams! Yet, as Peter forthrightly says, these are invented stories and anecdotes, not based on truth.
Take for example Islam. The arch-angel Gabriel allegedly visited Mohammed (born 570 AD) in private and recited the Koran to him. No eye-witnesses. Just Mohammed’s word. The same could be said for all the sacred scriptures of all the world religions.
The Jesus-story is based on the writings of eye-witnesses recording historical facts.
How do we know these writing are reliable? We have over 5000 Greek manuscripts to back up the New Testament, the oldest being the John Ryland’s fragment that dates back to 125AD held at a museum in Manchester. There are over 24000 manuscripts of the New Testament if you include those of other languages. The ancient document that comes in at second place to the Bible in terms of historical reliability is Homer’s Iliad that has 643 existing manuscripts. What the point? The bible is reliable, true and accurate. There is more evidence that Jesus Christ existed than Julius Caesar ever did!
Peter then writes in v21, referring to the Bible, “prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” What this means is that the Bible is not made up stories, cleverly crafted religious legends or the writer’s opinions about God. The Bible is nothing other than God’s word to us.
Does it matter what book you read? It matters more than you might think.