Friday, July 17, 2015

The Vision (7.17.15): Josephus on the Preservation of God's Word

Flavius Josephus (c. 37-100 AD) was a Jewish military leader and historian who was roughly a contemporary of the apostle Paul.  Modern historians have found the writings of Josephus to be an invaluable source for understanding the religion and history of Israel during Biblical times.  In his work titled The Jewish Wars, for example, Josephus provides a vivid eyewitness description of the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD.

In an apologetic work titled Against Apion, Josephus defends the Jewish people and religion against its pagan critics.  As part of that defense, Josephus describes the meticulous care which the Jews of his day gave to the handling and transmission of the Old Testament Scriptures:

We have given practical proof of our reverence for our own Scriptures.  For, although such long ages have now passed, no one ventured either to add, or to remove or to alter a syllable; and it is an instinct with every Jew, from the day of his birth, to regard them as the decrees of God, to abide by them, and, if need be, cheerfully to die for them.  Time and again ere now the sight has been witnessed of prisoners enduring tortures and death in every form in the theatres, rather than utter a single word against the laws and the allied documents (Against Apion, I.8).

Since Jesus himself and the apostles were Jews, we can imagine that they shared a similar sentiment regarding the Scriptures.  This same spirit is evidenced when Jesus said things like:  “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17).  Such statements provide the vital Biblical proofs which support the doctrine of the providential preservation of God’s Word.

We can rely on the faithfulness of God’s Word, because God has been faithful to keep it.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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