Let’s start with the video. Don’t worry, it’s only 52 seconds.
5 Reasons the Bible is reliable in one minute! VIDEO. pic.twitter.com/mX7VelC8VC
— Sean McDowell (@Sean_McDowell) April 25, 2020
I think this kind of stuff does more harm than good. First off, most of Sean’s points pertain not to the Bible simpliciter but rather to specific historical claims about Jesus. In that regard, it’s a bit of a bait and switch. Incidentally, I see this a lot among Christian apologists: they’ll talk about the unique historical veracity and manuscript evidence for “The Bible” when, in fact, they are really talking about the New Testament and, primarily, a specific subset of claims in the New Testament pertaining to Jesus and the early church.
In case you were wondering, yes, the Dead Sea Scrolls do establish a high degree of stability on textual transmission in a book like Isaiah, but there is still no agreement among scholars as to when the Book of Isaiah originated or how many author(s) or redactors it might have had. The answers to those questions remain hidden in the fog of the distant past. Yet, none of that essential nuance makes an appearance in this 50-second video.
Second, the whole notion of applying the “true or false” categorization to a book which consists of a diverse library of texts which have a range of purposes apart from stating “facts” belies the evangelical reductionism of Sean’s thinking.
Third, it’s cherry-picking and selection bias. Archaeological evidence that David existed does not warrant general confidence in the historical veracity of the entire Deuteronomic history. You might say, “Give Sean a break, he only has a minute!” except that the second you look closer, you’ll encounter a myriad of controversies with the historical aspects of the Deuteronomic history.
Fourth, the line about the evidential power of “fulfilled prophecy”, while beloved of evangelicals, is very weak. For one thing, it masks the fact that many of these “prophecies” are not veridical validations but rather reinterpretations of the OT in light of Jesus. Matthew does this a lot. Mind you, this is not a critique. It’s just a recognition that Matthew is making theological points, not providing apologetic prooftexts.
Yet other “prophecies” were written after the fact: Daniel, for example, was plausibly written in the Maccabean era in which case the text did not predict the as yet rise and fall of kingdoms in the Ancient Near East: in other words, the text is likely retrospective rather than prospective.
And the next time a Christian tries to persuade a Jew that Isaiah 53 predicted Jesus, you’ll see the limits of this apologetic. It is equivalent to a Mormon trying to convince a Christian that Ezekiel prophesied the Book of Mormon. I’m not suggesting that the Mormon’s claim is evidentially equivalent to the Christian’s. I think the Mormon claim is bogus and the Christian’s interpretation is correct. But in terms of a simple reason to have evidentially grounded confidence, it is misleading, at best.