Yesterday was the 59th anniversary of the death of Sir Frederick Kenyon. Kenyon was a renowned scholar of ancient languages who took a keen interest in the authenticity of the Bible. “Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established.” Kenyon’s sentiment here is often lost today, not just in the attacks of liberal scholarship, but also in the silence of Christian preachers.
Kenyon, director and head librarian of the British Museum, showed in his day how archeology and the manuscript evidence supported the credibility of the Bible. Of course there are many others who will argue the other way, all pointing to the agendas of those on the other side. Yet in the church today, there seems to be a paranoid silence in some quarters.
Since the Christian position is under attack from very vocal and media backed atheistic thinkers, we are increasingly huddled in church corners believing almost superstitiously in the message of the Bible. Why? There is more evidence for the authenticity of the Bible today than ever before! And while we are grateful for his legacy, we don’t have to just quote Kenyon for support.
Richard Bauckham has been doing some magnificent work in recent years, and Peter Williams et al of Tyndale House are doing a good job both advancing and communicating that work. Do the people in your church know about the integrity of the personal names used in the Gospels? That is, a level of accuracy in name selection that would be a level of sophistication utterly unparalleld in the ancient world if it were a forgery. Do the people in your church know about the evidences for word perfect quotation in the Gospels? Do the people in your church know about the frequency of accurate reporting of place names, as compared to the paltry place awareness in the non-canonical gospels? I could go on, but there is a bigger question. Not do they know, but, do you know about these things?
As preachers we do our listeners a disservice if we simply affirm the Bible’s truth without demonstrating its trustworthiness. By our silence we could reinforce the perception of many that the Bible is an ancient book of myths and legends that we choose to consider as “true for us.” If we won’t demonstrate and prove and affirm and show the integrity and trustworthiness of the Bible, who will?
If you haven’t seen it, you won’t want to miss this lecture by Dr Peter Williams on “Eyewitness Evidence”