The Old Testament tells the story of the Jewish people being rescued and reconnected to God prior to Jesus coming.
But have the 39 books that make up the Old Testament say what the original authors meant it to when written more than 2,000 years ago?
Yes, I’ll argue below.
The 7 reasons include:
The detailed techniques involved with copying the text meticulously by people trained to do this.
The nearly identical copies and fragments written more than 1,000 years apart.
Other ancient documents talk about the 39 books we call the Old Testament as being viewed as a collection of books, a cannon.
Artifacts fit with what the Old Testament says.
Historical events spoken of in the Bible are recorded in non-Biblical documents.
Prophecies in the Old Testament turned out to be true.
If the New Testament is true then so is the Old Testament.
1. Scribes were just as good as a copy machine
Because the original authors and community of original hearers believed it to be from God, there was a strong desire, tradition and set of techniques around copying accurately what would later be called the Old Testament texts.
These two videos walk you through that process.
I've marked some of the interesting spots where he talks about:
9:55 - Codex Leviticus
15:00 - How text was preserved. There were two kinds of copying. One was repetition. A person copied something letter for letter, word for word. Even the way text was arranged on the scrolls was copied, so in the end the goal was for it to appear exactly as it appeared in the first version, akin to if it was being run through a printing press. Read more about the strict standards those who specialized in this work went through to catch errors.
18:39 - Resignification (making it understandable to the next generation), was the other kind of copying. Scribes updated the text from Phonecian style script to Aramaic, so children could read text, similar to how today we constantly update computer programs, language in dictionaries and maps. Both techniques are about being faithful to the text. If they don't remain faithful to the wording, people won't grasp it. If they write it using terminology someone would only understand today, the next generation won't grasp it.
In the next video the speaker expounds on the different groups who did the copying.
1:34 - He recaps the two types of copies.
5:50 - Samaritans copied the Bible independently of the Jews after second century BC, because there was no more friendly contact between the two.
10:20 - A good example of this is with the Dead Sea Scrolls.
15:07 - The Masada scroll showcases the strict repetition of the text at the end of the first century BC. The later Masoretic text is virtually identical to the texts copied 1,000 years later.
18:14 - The Septuagint was a translation from Hebrew and Aramaic into Greek. It's older than the Hebrew scrolls.
2. The Dead Sea Scrolls
Scrolls found in caves near the Dead Sea in 1947 and 1948 were like a time capsule of texts that validated the Masoretic texts written 1,000 years later. The copies showed no substantial differences. The scrolls included significant portions of all the Old Testament books except for Esther, according to a small book called The Origin of The Bible. If you're interested in going into depth on the similarities, the speaker above mentioned the following video.
3. Ancient sources outside the Old Testament confirm the early canon of the Old Testament
These sources include:
Prologue to Ecclesiasticus
The Early Church Fathers