Description: The N.T. manuscripts and their reliability
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
The New Testament Bible Manuscripts
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? That’s what we’re talking about, because so many of us are bewildered in these
days about the meaning of life. At times we wonder, can there be any meaning to life? It seems so absolutely
hideous, the existence that many of us are involved in personally, and that we’re involved in nationally and
We wonder, is there any meaning at all in it? Repeatedly, we’re faced with the fact that the only way we can
find out if there is any meaning to life, is to discover how life came about, and, therefore, where it’s meant
to end up.
What we have been talking about is the evidence that there is in our world of order and design, and the
evidence that there must be an Intellect behind such an ordered world and that there must be a personal
Intellect if that personal Intellect has created persons like us.
Then, of course, we dealt with the issue that if that personal Intellect exists, why hasn’t He communicated
with us in some way? We’ve discussed the various people from Muhammad to the Hindus to Zoroaster to Confucius
to Buddha, who have claimed to be able to tell us what the Supreme Being behind the universe is like, and what
He was saying to us.
But the problem we come up with in all this is that they were just human beings like us, and therefore as
limited as we are. They died just like we die. There is no evidence that they ever left the world and came
back to tell us what is beyond there.
So, we’ve come to the point where we’ve asked the question, “Is there any touch-and-see evidence in our world
that goes beyond that of mystical, subjective experience or revelations? Is there any touch-and-see evidence
over a period of time that indicates that the Supreme Being behind the universe exists, and that He has
revealed Himself in some way or communicated Himself in some manner to us human beings?
Of course, what we finished saying yesterday was yes, there is! There was a remarkable time in our history
here on this earth when events took place that evidence the supernatural expression of a Supreme Being. They
express communication from beyond space that has within them their own inherent claim to authenticity that you
and I can examine and analyze with our own intellects, and our own minds, and our own reasons.
We said that this evidence concerns especially the era that we know as the first century. That is, the era
that took place 1900 years ago roughly, that operated from about the year which we know as the year one, or
the year, more precisely, about four to six B.C., right through to about the time of 80 or 100 A.D.
During those remarkable years, events took place that have within them clear evidence that there is a Supreme
Being and that such a Supreme Being is able to observe you and me today, and knows you and me, and created you
and me with a purpose and a reason for our existence. Where do we find that evidence? Well, we find it, as we
said yesterday, in a remarkable collection of books. They’re history books.
They’re the history of this first century. That’s how we can be so sure, just as we’re sure that Winston
Churchill spoke those great words in the Second World War that reminded us, “Let us so bear ourselves that if
the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest
hour'”. The evidence that we have that he actually spoke those words is historical evidence.
The evidence that certain events took place in the first century is similar historical evidence. It is as
absolutely reliable. It is found in a collection of books that came to be called “The Books”, or, in Greek
they were given the title “Ta Biblia”, because “biblia” is the Greek word for books. Of course, we have come
to know that collection as the Bible.
Now, before you go to sleep, before you rebel in skepticism and cynicism, will you forget all that you have
thought about the Bible up to this present moment? Because I’m the same as you. I regarded the Bible as a
miserable, old, black book that lots of ministers and grandmothers threw at me whenever they wanted me to do
what they thought was right.
I agree with you. We have been utterly turned off the Bible because of the position that it has been given in
our society and the position that it has come to fill through the misunderstandings and the lack of
intellectual examination and analysis of so many human beings in the past century. But will you forget all of
that? Will you forget what you think of the Bible as being?
Will you forget all the tradition that you have attached to it? Will you forget all the religiosity that you
have attached to it? Will you forget even the fact that it is a black book so often? Now, actually, you can
buy it in covers that aren’t black, and you can buy it in all kinds of forms that show it is in many ways a
book like other books. But let’s begin to look at this book, especially the last quarter of it; it’s the part
known as the New Testament.
If you have somewhere an old Bible in your house, then by all means look at the last quarter. It’s only the
last quarter of the book. It’s just about the last quarter that contains the New Testament. That’s the history
of the first century of our era. It’s a history book.
So I’m going to ask you to begin to look at that history with me, because if there is evidence in that history
that there is a Supreme Being, if there is evidence there that a Supreme Being communicated Himself to us in
ways that are far more authentic than the ways that Buddha showed, or the ways that the Koran showed, or the
ways that Muhammad showed, or the ways that Confucius showed, or the ways that Zoroaster has shown, then we
ought to examine that history very carefully.
We ought to be able to ascertain, is it absolutely reliable? If it is, then we have to take notice of it,
because it is some of the most important information that you or I could possibly have about this question,
“What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? What is the purpose of our existence?”
So, if you have such a Bible, then by all means, get it out. If you haven’t, then go to Smith’s bookstore or
one of the other bookstores and buy a modern translation of it, because it will help you to forget all the
false ideas you have of it, as a purely religious book, or as a bundle of myths, or a bundle of old
traditions, or a bundle of fairy stories, or a bundle of ethical tenets that make life hard for you.
Forget all that witch doctor stuff! Forget all that silliness that you’ve accumulated in your own mind and
your own imagination about it. Will you examine with me this book as, just at the beginning, an ordinary book?
Just let’s look at it as a book.
Let’s look at it as a history book of the events that took place in the first century of our era, because that
era contains the key to life itself, and the key to the meaning of the universe, and the key to our question,
“What is the meaning of life?”
So I ask you, if you have such a book, will you get it out? Tomorrow I’d like to begin to talk with you about
the history that we have of the events that took place in the first century of our era.