What is the Meaning of Life
Reliability of New Testament Manuscripts
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WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? Program 35 Reliability of New Testament Manuscripts by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? What do you think it is? Why are we here? What’s the purpose of it? Why are you where you are at this moment? Why am I here talking to you? Where do you think it will all end up? That’s the kind of question we’ve been asking and it’s the kind of question that is not answered by our education these days.
We seem to have got lost in the midst of all the fragmented knowledge and specialty that we all have involved ourselves in so that none of us can see the big picture any longer. We are so preoccupied with the trees we cannot see the wood. Yet it is important to be able to answer that question, isn’t it? What is the meaning of life?
What we have been saying is that the only way we can answer that question is to discover how life has come about and, therefore, what the purpose of it is. You remember we have in our discussion come to the point where we see there is a great deal of evidence that there is a personal intellect behind the universe, but we seem to have no communication from that personal intellect to ourselves.
As we examined the various comparative religions that we know of in the world — Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism and Confucianism and all the other religions that so many people follow — we came to the conclusion that what we needed above everything else was some information about the Creator of the world that came from beyond this world.
We needed information that came from someone who had come into the world from beyond space, and who had left this world and come back again, assuring us by doing that, that in fact he was someone who had come from the source of the universe — and not just another human being like ourselves or like Muhammad or like Buddha or like Zoroaster. (cid:9)
In our discussions we have come to the point where we have shared that there is such an introduction entrance into our world by the life of the Supreme Being. It took place in the first century of our era and we’ve been talking about the fact that the history of this intervention in our human world by the superior Supreme Being behind the universe is annotated in great detail in some history books that we have.
Of course, it was difficult to introduce the name of those history books because they have assumed such a traditional place in all our thinking. When we mention the history books that we’re talking about there is a tendency in all our minds to go to sleep and to say that it is all the old traditions, the old myth that we’ve heard so often.
So I ask you to look again at the fact that there was, at the beginning of our era, a remarkable time in the history of mankind, a time when unusual things were done and unusual things were said by a certain person who shows that he came from beyond space and came from the Supreme Being behind the universe Himself.
The events of that time are found in a group of books that became known as “The Books” or in Greek they became known as “Ta Biblia”, because the Greek word for books is “biblia.” Of course, you have guessed which book we’re referring to.
Yesterday I encouraged you, if you had one at home, to get it out, because what we need to study in order to
answer the question, “What is the meaning of life?” is the historical evidence of the events that took place in the first century of our era that are contained in the last quarter of that book.
It’s the book, of course, known as the Bible. I ask you not to go to sleep and not to become cynical and not to immediately refer to it as if it were some kind of mythical book. It isn’t at all. The Bible is one of the most reliable history books that our race has in its possession.
It is vital for you and me to examine it as history, examine it intellectually and by our reason first of all. Not to look at it as a religious book, not to look at it as a source of ethical tenets, but to look at it first and foremost as a history book and to examine it in that light.
Thereby, to be able to begin to be able to answer the question, what is the meaning of life? Is there a Supreme Being behind the universe that has revealed Himself to us in ways that we can understand and in ways that we can believe? In ways that are inherently valid — and authentic evidence that He is the Creator of the world?
Really, those ways do exist and you will come to that intellectually and logically without the aid of religious beliefs or religious feelings. You can come to that place simply by examining the facts. What are these facts?
As you look into the books that make up the last quarter of the book known as the Bible I’d remind you that you can either take the old, black-covered version of it that you may have at your house or you can buy one of the modern versions that at least help you to get over the prejudice you may have against the old book. So whatever you do, try to get at least some copy of it.
The part that we are concerned about is the history of the years from 6 B.C. to about the year A.D. 100. That’s the history we’re concerned about. What you and I feel about those years is that it’s myth. That’s what we feel, don’t we? We feel that it’s myth or it’s unreliable stuff that we have. It’s a mixture of mythology and a mixture of men’s opinions and a mixture of “churchianity” and a mixture of religion. But it isn’t!
A history of that era is history and it’s some of the most reliable history that we intellectually are able to examine here in this world. If you look at the last quarter of that book you’ll find that the men who wrote about the events that took place then were actually alive during the time that those things were happening.
In other words, the things that you and I talk about as happening in the first century, like the birth of Jesus Christ and all kinds of things like the persecutions that took place in the Roman Empire, those events were written not by people who lived centuries and centuries after the events.
That’s what we come up against when we deal with the life of Buddha. We deal with the fact that Buddha lived about 500 B.C., but, in fact, his life was not written until hundreds of years after that. People kept adding on “bits”, elaborations through their imaginations to that life centuries after he had lived. But that is not so with the events that took place in the first century of our era.
The men that wrote those events were actually alive and observed those events themselves. That is why we can believe them. I would quote to you what they wrote, one of them called Peter, in a book in the New Testament, because that’s what the last quarter of this old book is called, the New Testament.
A man called Peter, who wrote in that book, II Peter chapter 1 and verses 16-18, stated some amazing facts
about the way in which he and the other writers of the New Testament had come to know what happened in the first century. Maybe you would look at that and we’ll continue to examine it tomorrow from an intellectual viewpoint.