Textual analysis and the orange man…
If you have ever been on an alpha course (and one of my friends got to the stage where his introduction would include the phrase “and I’m an alpha-holic”, due to the number he had been on), one of the things that will strike you, apart from how orange Nicky Gumbel appears on TV (see photo: the orange-ness is not real), is that there is an absolutely overwhelming amount of evidence for the textual accuracy of the New Testament: it is massively favourable in comparison to many other ancient documents, and to continue the argument on authenticity, the only reason this does not lead people to belief is the fact that people do not want to believe. In some way, they are blinded by the “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4). But the Old Testament is a far harder case: mere textual analysis will only go so far. In fact, due to the age of some of the stories (these things happened a long, long time ago, but not in a galaxy far, far away), there is no great case for their accuracy from textual analysis. So where does that leave us?
The New leads to the Old…
At this point, it would be a good idea to read Matthew 4:1-11. Here Jesus does battle, face to face with the devil. Jesus uses a single weapon over and over again: scripture. “It is written…” is his repeated response to whatever the devil throws at him, and these are some big temptations (imagine not eating for 40 days and having the power to turn stones into bread and not using it). So in other words Jesus implicitly trusts the Scriptures, and here he is clearly quoting the Old Testament! (The new had not been written at the time, because uh… he was in it). Jesus has so much faith in the Old Testament that it is His weapon of choice against the second most terrifying opponent possible*. Jesus was not in a position where a poorly fashioned or doubtful weapon would do. If there had been any chance that the Scriptures were incorrect or corrupted in some way, the enemy would simply have said so: “You can’t take that stuff seriously!”. But no! The devil’s response is to eventually try to quote Scripture back at Jesus, knowing the Jesus’ faith in the Old Testament Scriptures was unshakeable, in a doomed attempt to use Jesus’ own faith and knowledge against Him. (And there again is evidence that simply knowing Scripture is not enough to please the Holy God!)
Interestingly Paul writes of the Genesis account as though it literally happened, as though Adam and Eve were real people, saying “[f]or Adam was formed first, then Eve…” (1 Timothy 2:13-14). Again, we believe that Paul was full of the Spirit of God and his words, actions, tears, imprisonments, persecutions and execution surely showed this, especially the massive change that came upon him after the road to Damascus, where he transformed from a persecutor of the church to a founder of churches. So what he wrote by the Spirit in the Scripture has the validity of God’s authority on it. So here we have another confirmation from New to Old.
As a more general statement, take 2 Timothy 3:16, that “[a]ll Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”.
In summary, if we can reasonably trust the New, then the Old Testament is true from its very first
book line letter.
*Bad luck to him. He was facing of the Son of the First Prize Winner.