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Monday, June 13, 2011

A Most Fearful Darkness

The reliability of the New Testament Text is supported by history and archaeology. The number of surviving texts and fragments is very large, the dating process of the materials and writing style is comprehensive, and secular extra-Biblical commentary is well-documented.

There are 5,656 partial and complete manuscript portions of the Greek New Testament that were hand-copied from the Second to Fifteenth centuries. All inclusive from this time period, there exist 24,970 manuscripts. Says John Warwick Montgomery, “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” (McDowell, TNE, 35).

In dating manuscripts, several areas are scrutinized to determine the age of the writing. The materials used such as the texture and color of the parchment and the color of the ink are considered. The letter size and form, and the ornamentation of the text is studied. The punctuation and text divisions are also assessed. These factors facilitate scholarly dating of the texts.

Many extra-Biblical writings address Scripture, one striking example is that of Thallus, writing in A.D. 52 and cited by Julius Africanus in A.D. 221, regarding the events of Christ's crucifixion, “On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness, and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down.” Some detractors theorized that the darkness that fell at that time was merely a solar eclispe. Intriguingly, an eclipse cannot occur at the time of the full moon, due to planetary alignment. The crucifixion took place at the time of the Paschal full moon; therefore, any theory of a natural eclipse is overthrown by this astronomical fact.

The scripture is factual; and therefore, is able to withstand scrutiny.

McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Nashville:Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999.

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