The Bible - just another book?
Each week we are asking the speaker to give quick answers to the top questions from the group discussions. This week, Jonny Vaughan answers questions following his talk on the Bible.
How do we know the Bible has not been changed over time since the original manuscripts?
The honest answer is that we know it has changed - but that we can also work out where it has changed and so be confident that what we have is the Bible as it was written.
The Bible was copied out by hand by scribes in order to pass it on to others and sometimes they made mistakes. Almost all of these are very minor - adding an extra letter by accident, forgetting one, duplicating a word. Some are more significant and in most Bibles you will see a footnote saying where these exist. But the number of manuscripts we have (5,700 in the original Greek, 20,000+ in other language) enable us to trace these changes and see which words are correct. So, we can trust that the Bible we have is what was originally written - and so the Jesus we meet is the true Jesus.
What is the role of women and culture in the bible and how does that apply today?
That’s a huge question! The Bible is a book rooted in history and geography. That means it is also a book rooted in culture. In fact, it is rooted in many cultures - the culture of the Ancient Near East, the cultures of Egypt and Babylon, the cultures of Rome and Greece. And all these cultures are different from ours, so there will be parts which seem strange to us. But at the same time, the Bible claims that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, and so because the Bible is about him, it will always be relevant to us. So we need to read carefully and often it’s helpful to read with others, as we can have different insights to share.
As to the role of women, let me give one quick example - there are many more! In all the resurrection stories, it is the women who followed Jesus that come to the tomb first. They are the ones bold enough to risk visiting the tomb. They are the ones who first saw it was empty. They are the first eyewitnesses. And all this in a time when a woman’s testimony was thought to be worthless in court! So we see that contrary to the culture of the time, Jesus honoured those women by appearing to them first after his resurrection.