Introduction: Over and over again, like a broken record, I hear the phrase, "Oh, you don't read the Bible, do you? Sometimes it is phrased, "Why, the Bible is just another book; you ought to read...etc." There is the student who is proud because his Bible is on the shelf with his other books, perhaps dusty, not broken in, but it is there with the other "greats".
Then there is the professor who degrades the Bible before his students and snickers at the thought of reading it, let alone of having it in one's library.
The above questions and observations bothered me when I tried, as a non-Christian, to refute the Bible as GOD's Word to man. I finally came to the conclusion that they were simply trite phrases from either biased, prejudiced or simply unknowledgeable, unread men and women.
The Bible should be on the top shelf all by itself. The Bible is "unique". That's it! The ideas I grappled with to describe the Bible are summed up by the word "unique".
Webster must have had this "book of Books" in mind when he wrote the definition for "unique"; "1. one and only; single; sole. 2. different from all others; having no like or equal".
Professor M. Montiero-Williams, former Boden professor of Sanskrit, spent 42 years studying Eastern books and said in comparing them with the Bible:
"Pile them, if you will, on the left side of your study table; but place your own Holy Bible on the right side - all by itself, all alone - and with a wide gap between them. For,...three is a gulf between it and the so-called sacred books of the East which severs the one from the other utterly, hopelessly, and forever...a veritable gulf which cannot be bridged over by any science of religious thought."
The Bible is Unique: It is the book "different from all others" in the following ways (plus a multitude more):
UNIQUE IN ITS CONTINUITY. Here is a book:
Biblical authors spoke on hundreds of controversial subjects with harmony and continuity from Genesis to Revelation. There is one unfolding story: "GOD's redemption of man".
Geisler and Nix put it this way:
"The 'Paradise Lost' of the Genesis becomes the 'Paradise Regained' of Revelation. Whereas the gate to the tree of life is closed in Genesis, it is opened forevermore in Revelation".
F.F. Bruce observes: "Any part of the human body can only be properly explained in reference to the whole body. And any part of the Bible can only be properly explained in reference to the whole Bible".
"The Bible, at first sight, appears to be a collection of literature - mainly Jewish. If we enquire into the circumstances under which the various Biblical documents were written, we find that they were written at intervals over a space of nearly 1400 years. The writers wrote in various lands, from Italy in the west to Mesopotamia and possibly Persia in the east. The writers themselves were a heterogenous number of people, not only separated from each other by hundreds of years and hundreds of miles, but belonging to the most diverse walks of life. In their ranks we have kings, herdsmen, soldiers, legislators, fishermen, statesmen, courtiers, priests and prophets, a tentmaking Rabbi and a Gentile physician, not to speak of others of whom we know nothing apart from the writings they have left us. The writings themselves belong to a great variety of literary types. They include history, law (civil, criminal, ethical, ritual, sanitary), religious poetry, didactic treatises, lyric poetry, parable and allegory, biography, personal correspondence, personal memoirs and diaries, in addition to the distinctively Biblical types of prophecy and apocalyptic.
"For all that, the Bible is not simply an anthology; there is a unity which binds the whole together. An anthology is compiled by an anthologist, but no anthologist compiled the Bible".
A representative of the Great Books of the Western World came to my house recruiting salesmen for their series. He spread out the chart of the Great Books of the Western World series. He spent five minutes talking to us about the Great Books of the Western World series, and we spent an hour and a half talking to him about the Greatest Book.
I challenged him to take just 10 of the authors, all from one walk of life, one generation, one place, one time, one mood, one continent, one language and just one controversial subject (the Bible speaks on hundreds with harmony and agreement).
Then I asked him: "Would they (the authors) agree?" He paused and then replied, "No!" "What would you have?" I retorted. Immediately he said, "A conglomeration."
Two days later he committed his life to Christ (the theme of the Bible).
Why all this? Very simple! Any person sincerely seeking truth would at least consider a book with the above unique qualifications.
UNIQUE IN ITS CIRCULATION
I am basically quoting figures of just the Bible Societies. Figures are from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Encyclopaedia Americana, One Thousand Wonderful Things About the Bible (Pickering), All About the Bible (Collett), Protestant Christian Evidences (B. Ramm) and A General Introduction to the Bible (Geisler and Nix).
The Bible has been read by more people and published in more languages than any other book. There have been more copies produced of its entirety and more portions and selections than any other book in history. Some will argue that in a designated month or year more of a certain book was sold. However, over all there is absolutely no book that reaches or even begins to compare to the circulation of the Scriptures. The first major book printed was the Latin Vulgate. It was printed on Gutenberg's press.
Hy Pickering says that about 30 years ago, for the British and Foreign Bible Society to meet its demands, it had to publish "one copy every three seconds day and night; 22 copies every minute day and night; 1,360 copies every hour day and night; 32,876 copies every day in the year. And it is deeply interesting to know that this amazing number of Bibles were dispatched to various parts of the world in 4,583 cases weighing 490 tons".
The Cambridge History of the Bible: "No other book has known anything approaching this constant circulation".
The critic is right: "This doesn't prove the Bible is the Word of GOD!" But it does factually show the Bible is unique.
UNIQUE IN ITS TRANSLATION
The Bible was one of the first major books translated (Septuagint: Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, ca. 250 BC).
The Bible has been translated and retranslated and paraphrased more than any other book in existence.
Encyclopaedia Britannica says that "by 1966 the whole Bible had appeared...in 240 languages and dialects...one or more whole books of the Bible in 739 additional ones, a total of publication of 1,280 languages".
3,000 Bible translators between 1950-1960 were at work translating the Scriptures.
The Bible factually stands unique ("one of a kind") in its translation.
UNIQUE IN ITS SURVIVAL
Survival through time
Being written on material that perishes, having to be copied and recopied for hundreds of years before the invention of the printing press, did not diminish its style, correctness nor existence. The Bible, compared with other ancient writings, has more manuscript evidence than any 10 pieces of classical literature combined.
John Warwick Montgomery says that "to be skeptical of the resultant text of the New Testament books is to allow all of classical antiquity to slip into obscurity, for no documents of the ancient period are as well attested bibliographically as the New Testament".
Bernard Ramm speaks of the accuracy and number of biblical manuscripts:
"Jews preserved it as no other manuscript has ever been preserved. With their massora (parva, magna, and finalis) they kept tabs on every letter, syllable, word and paragraph. They had special classes of men within their culture whose sole duty was to preserve and transmit these documents with practically perfect fidelity - scribes, lawyers, massoretes. Who ever counted the letters and syllables and words of Plato or Aristotle? Cicero of Seneca?"
John Lea in The Greatest Book in the World compared the Bible with Shakespeare's writings:
"In an article in the North American Review, a writer made some interesting comparisons between the writings of Shakespeare and the Scriptures, which show that much greater care must have been bestowed upon the biblical manuscripts than upon other writings, even when there was so much more opportunity of preserving the correct text by means of printed copies than when all the copies had to be made by hand. He said:
"It seems strange that the text of Shakespeare, which has been in existence less than two hundred and eight years, should be far more uncertain and corrupt than that of the New Testament, now over eighteen centuries old, during nearly fifteen of which it existed only in manuscript...With perhaps a dozen or twenty exceptions, the text of every verse in the New Testament may be said to be so far settled by general consent of scholars, that any dispute as to its readings must relate rather to the interpretation of the words than to any doubts respecting the words themselves. But in every one of Shakespeare's thirty-seven plays there are probably a hundred readings still in dispute, a large portion of which materially affects the meaning of the passages in which they occur".
Survival through persecution
The Bible has withstood vicious attacks of its enemies as no other book. Many have tried to burn it, ban it and "outlaw it from the days of Roman emperors to present-day Communist-dominated countries".
Sidney Collett in All About the Bible says, "Voltaire, the noted French infidel who died in 1778, said that in one hundred years from his time Christianity would be swept from existence and passed into history. But what has happened? Voltaire has passed into history, while the circulation of the Bible continues to increase in almost all parts of the world, carrying blessing wherever it goes. For example, the English Cathedral in Zanzibar is built on the site of the Old Slave Market, and the Communion Table stands on the very spot where the whipping-post once stood! The world abounds with such instances...As one has truly said, 'We might as well put our shoulder to the burning wheel of the sun, and try to stop it on its flaming course, as attempt to stop the circulation of the Bible.'
Concerning the boast of Voltaire on the extinction of Christianity and the Bible in 100 years, Geisler and Nix point out that "only fifty years after his death the Geneva Bible Society used his press and house to produce stacks of Bibles".
In AD 303, Diocletian issued an edict (Cambridge History of the Bible, Cambridge University Press, 1963) to stop Christians from worshipping and to destroy their Scriptures: "...an imperial letter was everywhere promulgated, ordering the razing of the churches to the ground and the destruction by fire of the Scriptures, and proclaiming that those who held high positions would lost all civil rights, while those in households, if they persisted in their profession of Christianity, would be deprived of their liberty".
The historic irony of the above edict to destroy the Bible is that Eusebius records the edict given 25 years later by Constantine, the emperor following Diocletian, that 50 copies of the Scriptures should be prepared at the expense of the government.
The Bible is unique in its survival. This does not prove the Bible is the Word of GOD. But it does prove it stands alone among books. Anyone seeking truth ought to consider a book that has the above unique qualifications.
Survival through criticism
H. L. Hastings, cited by John W. Lea, has forcibly illustrated the unique way the Bible has withstood the attacks of infidelity and skepticism:
"Infidels for eighteen hundred years have been refuting and overthrowing this book, and yet it stands today as solid as a rock. Its circulation increases, and it is more loved and cherished and read today than ever before. Infidels, with all their assaults, make about as much impression on this book as a man with a tack hammer would on the Pyramids of Egypt. When the French monarch proposed the persecution of the Christians in his dominion, an old statesman and warrior said to him, 'Sire, the Church of GOD is an anvil that has worn out many hammers'. So the hammers of infidels have been pecking away at this book for ages, but the hammers are worn out, and the anvil still endures. If this book had not been the book of GOD, men would have destroyed it long ago. Emperors and popes, kings and priests, princes and rulers have all tried their hand at it; they die and the book still lives".
Bernard Ramm adds: "A thousand times over, the death knell of the Bible has been sounded, the funeral procession formed, the inscription cut on the tombstone, and committal read. But somehow the corpse never stays put.
"No other book has been so chopped, knived, sifted, scrutinized, and vilified. What book on philosophy or religion or psychology or belles lettres of classical or modern times has been subject to such a mass attack as the Bible? with such venom and skepticism? with such thoroughness and erudition? upon every chapter, line and tenet?
"The Bible is still loved by millions, read by millions, and studied by millions".
The phrase used to be "the assured results of higher criticism", but now the higher critics are falling by the wayside. Take, for example, the "Documentary Hypothesis". One of the reasons for its development, apart from the different names used for GOD in Genesis, was that the Pentateuch could not have been written by Moses because the "assured results of higher criticism" have proved that writing was not in existence at the time of Moses or, if it was in existence at that time, it was used sparingly. Therefore, it is obvious that it had to be of later authorship. The minds of the critics went to work: J, E, P, D writers put it all together They went as far as to divide one verse into three authorships. They built great structures of criticisms. For an in-depth analysis of the Documentary Hypothesis see More Evidence That Demands a Verdict (Campus Crusade for Christ, 1975)
But then, some fellows discovered the "black stele". It had wedge-shaped characters on it and contained the detailed laws of Hammurabi. Was it post-Moses? No! It was pre-Mosaic; not only that, but it preceded Moses' writings by at least three centuries. Amazingly, it antedated Moses, who was supposed to be a primitive man without an alphabet.
What an irony of history! The "Documentary Hypothesis" is still taught, yet much of its original basis ("the assured results of higher criticism") has been eradicated and shown to be false. The "assured results of higher criticism" said there were no Hittites at the time of Abraham, for there were no other records of them apart from the Old Testament. They must be myth. Well, wrong again. As the result of archaeology, there are now hundreds of references overlapping more than 1,200 years of Hittite civilization. For further details on the Hittites, see the author's book More Evidence That Demands a Verdict, pp. 309-311.
Earl Radmacher, president of Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, quoting Nelson Glueck (pronounced Glek), former president of the Jewish Theological Seminary in the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati and one of the three greatest archaeologists, says: "I listened to him [Glueck] when he was at Temple Emmanuel in Dallas, and he got rather red in the face and said, 'I've been accused of teaching the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scripture. I want it to be understood that I have never taught this. All I have ever said is that in all of my archaeological investigation I have never found one artifact of antiquity that contradicts any statement of the Word of GOD'.
Robert Dick Wilson, a man who was fluent in more than 45 languages and dialects, concluded after a lifetime of study in the Old Testament:
"I may add that the result of my forty-five years of study of the Bible has led me all the time to a firmer faith that in the Old Testament we have a true historical account of the history of the Israelite people".
The Bible is unique in facing its critics. There is no book in all of literature like it. A person looking for truth would certainly consider a book that has the above qualifications.
UNIQUE IN ITS TEACHINGS
Wilbur Smith, who compiled a personal library of 25,000 volumes, concludes that "whatever one may think of the authority of and the message presented in the book we call the Bible, there is world-wide agreement that in more ways than one it is the most remarkable volume that has ever been produced in these some five thousand years of writing on the part of thehuman race.
"It is the only volume ever produced by man, or a group of men, in which is to be found a large body of prophecies relating to individual nations, to Israel, to all the peoples of the earth, to certain cities, and to the coming of One who was to be the Messiah. The ancient world had many different devices for determining the future, known as divination, but not in the entire gamut of Greek and Latin literature, even though they use the words prophet and prophecy, can we find any real specific prophecy of a great historic event to come in the distant future, nor any prophecy of a Savior to arise in the human race..."
"Mohammedanism cannot point to any prophecies of the coming of Mohammed uttered hundreds of years before his birth. Neither can the founders of any cult in this country rightly identify any ancient text specifically foretelling their appearance".
From I Samuel through II Chronicles one finds the history of Israel, covering about five centuries. The Cambridge Ancient History, (Vol. 1, p.222) says: "The Israelites certainly manifest a genius for historical construction, and the Old Testament embodies the oldest history writing extant".
The distinguished archaeologist, Professor Albright, begins his classic essay, The Biblical Period:
"Hebrew national tradition excels all others in its clear picture of tribal and family origins. In Egypt and Babylonia, in Assyria and Phoenicia, in Greece and Rome, we look in vain for anything comparable. There is nothing like it in the tradition of the Germanic peoples. Neither India nor China can produce anything similar, since their earliest historical memories are literary depostis of distorted dynastic tradition, with no trace of the herdsman or peasant behind the demigod or king with whom their records begin. Neither in the oldest Indic historical writings (the Puranas) nor in the earliest Greek historians is there a hint of the fact that both Indo-Aryans and Hellenes were once nomads who immigrated into their later abodes from the north. The Assyrians, to be sure, remembered vaguely that their earliest rulers, whose names they recalled without any details about their deed, were tent dwellers, but whence they came had long been forgotten".
"The Table of Nations" in Genesis 10 is an astonishingly accurate historical account. According to Albright:
"It stands absolutely alone in ancient literature without a remote parallel even among the Greeks...'The Table of Nations' remains an astonishingly accurate document...(It) shows such remarkably 'modern' understanding of the ethnic and linguistic situation in the modern world, in spite of all its complexity, that scholars never fail to be impressed with the author's knowledge of the subject".
Lewis S. Chafer, founder and former president of Dallas Theological Seminary, puts it this way: "The Bible is not such a book a man would write if he could, or could write if he would".
The Bible deals very frankly with the sins of its characters. Read the biographies today, and see how they try to cover up, overlook or ignore the shady side of people. Take the great literary geniuses; most are painted as saints. The Bible does not do it that way. It simply tells it like it is:
The sins of the people denounced - Deut. 9:24
Sins of the patriarchs - Gen. 12:11-13; 19:5-6
Evangelists paint their own faults and the faults of the apostles - Matt. 8:10-26; 26:31-56; Mark 6:52; 8:18; Luke 8:24,25; John 10:6; 16:32
Disorder of the churches - I Cor. 1:11; 15:12; II Cor. 2:4; etc.
Many will say, "Why did they have to put in that chapter about David and Bathsheba?" Well, the Bible has the habit of telling it like it is.
UNIQUE IN ITS INFLUENCE ON SURROUNDING LITERATURE
Cleland B. McAfee writes in The Greatest English Classic: "If every Bible in any considerable city were destroyed, the Book could be restored in all its essential parts from the quotations on the shelves of the city public library. There are works, covering almost all the great literary writers, devoted especially to showing how much the Bible has influenced them".
The historian Philip Schaff (The Person of Christ, American Tract society, 1913) vividly describes its uniqueness along with its Savior:
"This Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science and learning. He shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools. He spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, He set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times".
Bernard Ramm adds:
"There are complexities of bibliographical studies that are unparalleled in any other science or department of human knowledge. From the Apostolic Fathers dating from AD 95 to the modern times is one great literary river inspired by the Bible - Bible dictionaries, Bible encyclopedias, Bible lexicons, Bible atlases, and Bible geographies. These may be taken as a starter. Then at random, we may mention the vast bibliographies around theology, religious education, hymnology, missions, the biblical languages, church history, religious biography, devotional works, commentaries, philosophy of religion, evidences, apologetics, and on and on. There seems to be an endless number."
Kenneth Scott Latourette, former Yale historian, says:
"It is evidence of his importance, of the effect that he has had upon history and presumably, of the baffling mystery of his being that no other life ever lived on this planet has evoked so huge a volume of literature among so many peoples and languages, and that, far from ebbing, the flood continues to mount".
The Conclusion is Obvious
The above does not prove the Bible is the Word of GOD, but to me it proves that it is unique ("different from all others; having no like or equal").
A professor remarked to me:
"If you are an intelligent person, you will read the one book that has drawn more attention than any other, if you are searching for the truth."
NOTE: The Bible is the first religious book to be taken into outer space (it was on microfilm). It is the first book read describing the source of the earth (astronauts read Genesis 1:1 - "In the beginning GOD..."). Just think, Voltaire said it would be extinct by 1850.
It is also one of the (if not the) most expensive books. Gutenberg's Latin Vulgate Bible sells for over $100,000. The Russians sold the Codex Sinaiticus (an early copy of the Bible) to England for $510,000.
And finally, the longest telegram in the world was the Revised Version New Testament sent from New York to Chicago.
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