The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, vol. 59

The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Vol. 59


May 2, 1882

“The Authenticity of the Scriptures” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 59, 18, pp. 273, 274.


As long as the Bible is believed to be the word of God, so long will it be denied. As long as the Scriptures shall be held as of authority, so long will they be opposed as such. So long as we may present the Scriptures as the word of God, just so long shall we have to defend them as such. But believing, as we most assuredly do, that they are authentic, that they were written when they purport to have been written, and that therefore they are what they purport to be, it is only a pleasure to uphold and defend them, and the excellent part of the matter is that there is no lack of effectual means of defense, from whatever direction the attack may be made. ARSH May 2, 1882, page 273.1

One of the favorite objections is, We cannot tell when the Bible was written, whether the books of the Bible were written when they are said to have been, or hundreds of years later. ARSH May 2, 1882, page 273.2

But in reply we can say, We have abundant and indubitable proofs that the books of the Bible were written at the times that are claimed for them—New testament as well as Old, Old Testament as well as New. ARSH May 2, 1882, page 273.3

In this article we do not intend to present any proofs to confirm the supernatural character of miracles or prophecies, but only proofs showing that the books which contain the supernatural were written at the time they claim to have been written. And in doing this we shall present facts which cannot possibly be disproved. ARSH May 2, 1882, page 273.4

It is a fact that the Bible exists to-day. It is also a fact that books are written in opposition to it. These things none can deny. It is equally undeniable that nearly one hundred years ago Thomas Paine wrote a book against the Bible, which proves that the identical Bible which is in existence to-day was in existence then. About three hundred and sixty-five years ago, Luther in Germany, Zwingle in Switzerland, and Faber in France, each and all opposed the corruption of the Church of Rome, and this opposition was based wholly upon the Bible. The Bible was preached, it was translated, it was printed and distributed in great numbers. It cannot be denied that the Bible was in existence then. We can go back nearly two hundred years further, and Wycliffe in England had a Bible, expounded it to the people, exhorted them to study it for themselves, and even translated it into the English language. ARSH May 2, 1882, page 273.5

But, not to be tedious, we will at once go back fifteen hundred and twenty years, to A.D. 331-361. Julian was emperor of the Roman empire, and wrote in opposition to Christianity, and of course opposed the doctrine of the New Testament. But he never pretended to “deny the truth of the gospel history, as a history, though he denied the deity of Jesus Christ asserted in the writings of the evangelists; he acknowledged the principal facts in the gospel as well as the miracles of our Saviour and his apostles.” He mentioned Matthew and Luke by name, and presented the objection to the genealogy of Christ as given by them, that is urged to this day. “He recited the sayings of Christ in the very words of the evangelists; he also bore testimony that the Gospel of John was composed later than the other evangelists, and at a time when great numbers were converted to the Christian faith both in Italy and Greece; and alluded oftener than once to the facts recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.” “He expressly states the early dates of these records, he calls them by the names which they now bear. He all along supposes, he nowhere questions, their genuineness or authenticity; now does he give even the slightest intimation that he suspected the whole or any part of them to be forgeries.”—Horne’s Introduction, vol. 1, chap. 2, sec. 2. ARSH May 2, 1882, page 273.6

This, being “testimony from an enemy, is the strongest kind of evidence” in favor of the New Testament, and proves that it was in existence in A.D. 331. But we have more of the same kind. One hundred years before Julian, A.D. 233, lived Porphyry, “the most sensible as well as the most severe adversary of the Christian religion that antiquity can produce.” “He had conversed with the Christians in Tyre, in Sicily, and in Rome.” “He was of all the adversaries of the Christian religion the best qualified for inquiring into the authenticity of the sacred writings. He possessed every advantage which natural abilities, or political situation could afford, to discover whether the New Testament was a genuine work of the apostles and evangelists, or whether it was imposed upon the world after the decease of its pretended authors. But not trace of this suspicion is anywhere to be found, nor did it ever occur to Porphyry to suppose that it was spurious. He did not deny the truth of the gospel history, but actually considered the miracles of Jesus Christ actual facts. He also notices the difference between Paul and Peter in Galatians 2:11. But the objections of Porphyry were not confined to the New Testament, he attacked the Old Testament also, especially the prophecy of Daniel, declaring that it was written after the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.”—Horne’s Introduction, vol. 1, chap. 2, sec. 2, and Unbelief in the Eighteenth Century, by Principal Cairns, Lecture 1, sec. 3. ARSH May 2, 1882, page 273.7

This proves that the Bible was extensively known as far back as A.D. 233; for how could a man write in opposition to a thing that did not exist? ARSH May 2, 1882, page 273.8

But we may go back sixty years further to A.D. 176, or thereabouts, and we find Celsus, another “infidel writer, and one of the greatest enemies with whom Christianity had to contend. He not only mentions by name, but quotes passages from the books of the New Testament, so that we know that we have the identical books to which he referred. “The miraculous conception is mentioned with a view of accusing the Virgin Mary of adultery; we also recognize Joseph’s intention of putting her away, and the consequent appearance of the angel warning him in a dream to take her as his wife, we meet with a reference to the star that was seen at his birth, and the adoration paid to the new-born Saviour by the Magi at Bethlehem, the murder of the infants by Herod, the consequence of his being deceived by the wise men, is noticed, as also the reappearance of the angel to Joseph, and his consequent flight into Egypt. Here then, are references to all the facts of our Saviour’s birth. Again, we are informed of the descent of the Spirit in the form of a dove and the voice from Heaven at the baptism of our Saviour in Jordan; we hear also of the temptation in the wilderness, we are told that Christ was constantly attended by a certain number of disciples, though the number is not correct. There is an allusion to our Saviour’s conversation with the woman of Samaria at the well, and a reference, less distinct, to the attempt of the people of Nazareth to throw him down the rock on which their city was built. Here, therefore, is ample testimony to his baptism and the facts immediately following it.” ARSH May 2, 1882, page 273.9

He “also pretends to believe in the miracles of christ, and those of healing the sick, feeding the five thousand men, and raising the dead are expressly mentioned, though they are attributed to magical influence. Several passages also in our Saviour’s sermon on the mount, are quoted verbatim, and his predictions relating to his sufferings, death, and resurrection are recorded. Nor are the closing scenes of the life of the Saviour noticed with less exactness. We meet with the treachery of Judas and Peter’s denial of his Master, we are informed that Christ was bound, insulted, beaten with rods and crucified, we read of the gall which was given him to eat, and vinegar to drink, and we are insulted with an unfeeling jest upon the blood and water that flowed from our dying Redeemer’s side. He mentions some words which were uttered by Christ upon the cross, and alludes to the earthquake and darkness that immediately followed the crucifixion. There is also mention made of the appearance of the angels at the sepulcher, and of the manifestation of Christ to Mary Magdalene, and the disciples after his resurrection.” “The difficulty of one angel or two,” at the tomb “is noticed.” “Jesus is reproached for needing to have the stone rolled away by an angel.” Now he says, “These things are from your own writings, as to which we need no other evidence, for you fall by your own authority.”—Horne’s Introduction, vol. 1, chap. 2, sec. 2; and Unbelief in the Eighteenth Century, by Principal Cairns, Lecture 1, sec. 3. ARSH May 2, 1882, page 273.10

There can certainly be no controversy about the existence of the New Testament in the times of Julian, Porphyry, and Celsus, and, as has been remarked, not one of these able writers pretended to call in question the authenticity of the records of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. It would be just as reasonable for us to-day to deny the facts of the Reformation by Luther, as to expect that Julian should deny the existence of the records of the ministry of Jesus; just as reasonable for us to-day to deny the facts of the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers, as to suppose that Porphyry could deny the faithfulness of the New Testament history. Just as wisely could we reject all the evidences of the American Revolution, as to suppose that Celsus could reject the evidences of the life of Jesus in the world. It would certainly be the supremest folly for any man to deny the reality of any one of these three world-stirring events. Just as supremely foolish would it have been for any of these three men to deny the event that was then moving the world as it had never been moved. An event the results of which were threatening the very existence of the empire of Julian as it had existed for hundreds of years, could not well be denied. Each of these men, more especially Celsus, had ample means and ability, and the will also, to disprove the authenticity of these sacred records, had it been possible; and the very fact that not one of them even pretended to attempt any such thing, proves that that thing was impossible. I will close this paragraph with Principal Cairn’s closing observation on Celsus, before quoted: “His testimony here is evidently of the greatest weight; and his position, as at once an immediately succeeding writer and an enemy, gives the Gospels a recognition which could have come from no other quarter, even from later unbelief in the earlier centuries. It is impossible for modern unbelief to shake this foundation, or to resolve those materials which Celsus has attested as so solid and documentary, into the mist and vapor of shifting tradition. What he assails is not a cloud, but a fortress well defined, and the mark of studied attack and siege. It is too late now to obliterate his lines and parallels, which have even been added to the intrenchments against which they were directed.” ARSH May 2, 1882, page 274.1

As the last, but not by any means as the least authority in confirmation of the early date of the New Testament, we introduce Gibbon, the prince of historians. He says, “The Christian Revelation was consummated under the reign of Nerva.”—Decline and Fall, chap. 21, sec. 7. This indisputable authority carries us back beyond Celsus sixty years, for the reign of Nerva began in A.D. 96 and ended in A.D. 98. Here is a chain of authorities not a single link of which can be broken. Therefore, when all are taken together they prove to an absolute certainty that the New Testament was written at the time when it claims to have been written. ARSH May 2, 1882, page 274.2

So much for the New Testament. Now for the Old. ARSH May 2, 1882, page 274.3

(Concluded next week.)