“HEAVEN AND EARTH WILL PASS AWAY, BUT MY WORDS WILL BY NO
MEANS PASS AWAY.” Matthew 24:35 NKJV
MEANS PASS AWAY.” Matthew 24:35 NKJV
Independently of people’s individual beliefs, it is undeniable that the Bible has an incredible story.
It was written over a period of at least 1,600 years by more than 40 writers from all walks of life. Some were fishermen; some were politicians. Others were generals or kings, shepherds or historians. They were from three different continents, and wrote in three different languages. They wrote on hundreds of controversial subjects yet they wrote with agreement and harmony.
But the most amazing fact about the bible is the way it survived. Most of our ancient literature has been lost due to the corrosion or destruction of the materials on which they were preserved. The Bible however, exists not only in its entirety, but in a well-preserved form, despite many efforts to destroy it.
- About 600 B.C. Jehoiakim, attempted to destroy the Word of God, but miserably failed. (Jeremiah. 36:21-32).
- In 175 BC the king of Syria, Antiochus Epiphanes, ordered the Jews, on pain of death, to destroy their Scriptures and worship the Greek gods. But Judas Maccabaeus saved the books and led a revolt that won independence for the Jewish nation. (Today, Jews celebrate this event at Hanukkah.)
- In 64 A.D. Emperor Nero not only tried to wipe out the Bible, but anyone who professed Christ. He blamed them for the burning of Rome (which, he did himself) and ordered their mass execution.
- In 303 A.D. the Roman Emperor, Diocletian waged a horrible onslaught against the Bible. Every manuscript that could be found was destroyed. Thousands, including entire families who owned any of these were martyred.
- Jerome, in 405 A.D. completed a Latin translation of the Bible. In spite of being persecuted, Jerome’s translation lived through the Dark Ages. Anglo-Saxon translations of parts of Scripture, particularly the Gospel accounts appeared in England in the 7th & 8th centuries. In 1379 John Wycliffe along with chosen scholars translated the Latin Bible into English. By 1383, thousands of copies of the Wycliffe Bible were in the hands of the English. People who owned these Bibles were hunted down and killed.
- In 1524 William Tyndale resolved to put the Bible into the English of his time and distribute it throughout the nation. But, this being contrary to English law, Tyndale had to leave England for Europe. Printing began in Cologne. Tyndale was apprehended and imprisoned. In 1536 he was strangled and burned at the stake.
- In 1546 the Roman Catholic Council of Trent placed any printing of religious literature, including translations of the Bible, under the control of the church. Any who wanted to read the Bible were told to obtain written permission from bishops or inquisitors—not an appealing prospect for those who wanted to remain above suspicion of heresy. People who dared to possess or distribute Bibles in the common languages of their region had to contend with the ire of the Catholic Church. Many were arrested, burned at the stake, roasted on spits, sentenced to life in prison, or sent to the galleys. Confiscated Bibles were burned
- French humanist, Voltaire, (1700) boastfully proclaimed, "one hundred years from now the world will hear no more of the Bible." Yet, in the year of his boast, the British museum purchased a manuscript of the Greek New Testament for $500,000 while the first edition of Voltaire's new book sold for eight cents a copy! Furthermore, fifty years after the death of Voltaire, Bibles were being printed by the Geneva Bible Society in the very house where Voltaire lived and on his own printing press!
- Even after the Reformation commenced and Bible societies were formed the Catholic Church classified them with Socialism and Communism. On December 8, 1866, Pope Pius IX made this amazing statement: "Socialism, Communism, clandestine societies, Bible societies....pests of this sort must be destroyed by all means."
Despite so much opposition, the Bible not only survived, it thrived.
The Bible has been translated into over 2000 languages. No other book even comes close.
With estimated total sales of over 5 billion copies, the Bible is widely considered to be the best-selling book of all time. It sells approximately 100 million copies annually, and has been a major influence on literature and history.
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