Bible expert explains reasons we should trust it
By Mark Heller
GCU News Bureau
It’s a matter of trust.
For nearly two hours, Dr. Peter Williams offered plenty of Biblical verse(s) for thought, evidence, reasoning, understated British humor and wit Thursday night in front of a near capacity crowd in the Colangelo College of Business.
Williams is CEO and principal of Tyndale House, a research center at the University of Cambridge in England devoted to studying and exploring evidence (language, culture, history, etc.) found within the Bible. Despite being jet-lagged from his trip, he delivered a breezy, humorous and relatable discussion that nearly all documented translations of the Bible are identical in concept and message, regardless of which version you read and from which geographical region of the world it is sourced.
While often referencing Wikipedia as a “pretty good source” of Biblical information and history, Williams laid out the similarities (and differences) between “faith” and “truth.” By using faith in our own and others’ conclusions (whether evidence-based or not), we deem these interpretations as “truth.”
Given that various forms of the Bible were written hundreds or even thousands of years apart, Williams believes the similarities in nearly every event or story – even if a few details of descriptions vary – makes it hard to believe any version of the Bible is wrong.
“We can’t necessarily prove something wasn’t changed – it’s very difficult to prove a negative – but there’s no reason to think it was (changed), and there are reasons to think it hasn’t changed,” he said.
“It’s like you’re on a date, and the woman asks where you’re from, and you say Minnesota, and they say, ‘Prove it.’”
Saying it’s perfectly normal that we are constantly trusting ourselves and each other, Williams believes the Bible and its various versions are no different. After all, he said, there are fewer original manuscripts of Plato than the New Testament, and we usually view modern text versions of Plato as an accurate interpretation.
Further, there are several cities around the Middle East and beyond – Jerusalem, Paris, Cairo, Athens, Rome and Mount Athos – in which Biblical manuscripts were found and dated. Each was a vastly different period of time and language than others, and yet each had nearly identical phrasing and fundamental stories.
“Not accepting the Word of God because of a word or phrase here and there is disingenuous because we humans often do it toward each other,” he said. “If I mumble and you can’t understand a word I’m saying, I’d hope that doesn’t change the message behind what I’m saying.”
His challenge was to read others’ worldviews, often from different periods of time. Williams acknowledged that his own faith in what he read was questioned in his early 20s, and he encouraged listeners to challenge themselves because “questions don’t take much time to ask but can take forever or longer to answer.”
The worldview approach to Christianity, belief vs. trust vs. faith, critical thinking and exploring these differences from someone halfway around the world distinguished him with the College of Theology and prompted the school to reach out.
“He brings an international perspective and worldview (and helps us) see where biases are that we might view differently (in America),” said Dr. Daniel Diffey, an assistant dean in the College of Theology and assistant professor of the Old Testament.
Others were excited by a new perspective about a not so obvious concept.
“I had some doubts about the topic, but it was great,” sophomore Tanya Figueroa said. “He was funny and used many basic concepts and ideas about trust and faith that, now that I’ve thought about it, make pretty good sense.”
Contact Mark Heller at (602) 639-7516 or firstname.lastname@example.org