Hello Theoreticalminimum. It's a very valid and common question. I hope this helps. I want to give 3 reasons or 3 different sources to explain why people [Christians] not only expect there to be consistency, but hold it as being without error and inspired by God.
- I'll use scripture itself,
- I'll use mathematical probability/ statistics and
- I'll use the secular field of textual criticism.
- 1. for Christians, the Bible is the Inspired word of God. For Christians, the Bible is the highest and final authority for faith and life - Protestant Christians place scripture higher than church tradition, but Catholics put tradition higher than the Bible. If a person says they believe the whole Bible- or they accept it as God's word, then it means that they believe it is without error, because it says it is inspired and without error.
…15 From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16.
2 Peter 1:21
For no such prophecy was ever brought about through human initiative, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
- 2. Peter Stoner was a professor of Statistics, and he did this research along with his students and published his group study. There are over 350 prophecies about the Messiah in the Old Testament. These are written by 7-10 different writers and prophets, all who lived more than 400 years before Christ was even born. Peter Stoner picked 8 very specific prophecies which were so specific that even if someone was well aware of these, that you can't manipulate things to make them happen, - like how a person will die. These were written by different writers, independent of each other, who lived in different times and places. They couldn't meet for coffee and collaborate their ideas and make their predictions match.
The odds of just 8 independent prophesies coming true, written more than 400 years before Christ was born, is 1 in 10 to the 27th power. 1 with 27 zeros after it. To put this in perspective - it's the same odds as filling the entire state of Texas 1 foot deep with quarters, and marking one special quarter, with red paint, and putting a blind-folded man in the middle, and having him walk anywhere in Texas he wants, and picking out the marked quarter on the first try.
- 3. Last is the field of textual criticism. In analyzing ancient manuscripts, experts look at how many copies exist, and how long after the events happened were these recorded. Caesar’s firsthand account of the Gallic Wars has 251 manuscripts, dated 900 years from the events, written 10-44 B.C., with the earliest copy dated A.D. 1000.
Tacitus’ Greek history (Annals) has 33 manuscripts, dated 750 years from the events, written in A.D. 100, with the earliest copy dated A.D. 850.
Thucydides’ work has 50 manuscripts, dated 1300 years from the events, written 460-400 B.C., with the earliest copy dated A.D. 900.
Sophocles’ work (Tragedies) has 193 manuscripts (previously 100), dated 1200 years from the events, written 496-406 B.C., with the earliest copy dated A.D. 900.
Livy’s work (History of Rome) has 150 manuscripts (previously 19), dated 400 years from the events, written 59 B.C.- A.D. 17, with the earliest copy dated A.D. 400.
Demosthenes’ Speeches has 340 manuscripts (previously 200), dated 1400 years from the events, written 300 B.C., with the earliest copy dated A.D. 1100.
In second place is Homer’s Iliad, the history of the Trojan War, 1757 manuscripts, dated 400 years from the events, written 800 B.C., with the earliest copy dated 400 B.C.
In first place is the Bible’s New Testament! The total count for early New Testament Manuscripts available today is over 25,000! and Josh McDowell has recently claimed that we have closer to 66,000 with the advent of many discoveries in artifacts, like mummy wrappings, that contain Biblical manuscript fragments. Numbers include:
5795 (up from 5366) Greek Manuscripts dated 30 to 150 years from the events, written A.D. 49-95 with the eariest copy dated A.D. 117 - Less than 50 years after the last writer died.
No other ancient manuscript of any field, history, poetry, religion, or science even comes close in terms of the high number of early manuscripts and the short span from when the events happened to being written down. hope this is helpful for you and the others who read it.
Josh McDowell,- Evidence that Demands a Verdict &
Lee Strobel - Case for Christ