Once upon a time... Does that sound familiar? It's how most fairy tales start. Many of us grew up hearing or watching folk and fairy tales like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, or Hansel and Gretel. But at some point, we realized those stories weren't real. Santa wasn't real. The Tooth Fairy wasn't real. Yes, those stories ignited our imagination, but they were not actual history. Many people today believe the Bible is just another fairy tale—like a novel from an ancient Hans Christian Andersen or Brothers Grimm.
Here are five of my favorite reasons for how we can know that the Bible is true history and not a fairy tale. They all begin with the letter “E”: 1
Much of the Bible is written by eyewitnesses. These were people that actually experienced the events firsthand and then recorded what they saw. Their records include specific locations, people/rulers, cultural traditions, miracles, etc. Some of the Bible's eyewitness authors include Moses, Daniel, Matthew, John, and Luke (later part of Acts).
These were not people who sat down at their writing desks with their quill pen and decided to write a novel. In many ways, the writers of the Bible were more like news reporters chronicling the events of the day for others to know the truth of what took place. The Bible was also written in the presence of other eyewitnesses. These contemporary eyewitnesses were able to affirm (or give objection to!) the accuracy of what was written. There is no substantial record refuting the historical events in the Bible. This means that the record by eyewitnesses is true and not a fairy tale.
By one count, about 27% of the Bible contains prophetic messages 2. This includes over 300 prophecies about Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection. These prophecies about Jesus were revealed and written down 500 years to 1,200 years before their fulfillment took place. There is no way that the record and fulfillment of these prophecies could be compared to the writing of a fairy tale. Fairy tales are not accurately prophetic.
Imagine a fairy tale about a knight who runs away and hides, leaving a small child to fight the dragon and win the victory. That would be a strange fairy tale, right? Usually fairy tales portray the heroes as heroes—who always win and do no wrong. When we read real life accounts of events, they often record embarrassing details and mistakes made by real people—because that's the truth of life.
King David had an affair with Bathsheba, then murdered her husband to cover up his sin. It's hard to imagine that this event would have been included in Israel’s sacred Old Testament if it was not true. What king would want this sort of lie spread about him? What people would want to defile their most famous and beloved king in this way? The fact that this event is recorded—and that is there is no other record denying its truth—shows that this embarrassing testimony must be a fact.
After Jesus died on the cross and was placed in His tomb, who went to anoint His body? His beloved disciples? Nope. The women who had been following Jesus since Galilee (Luke 25:55-56). What were the men doing? Hiding out of fear that the religious leaders of Jerusalem would hunt down the students of Jesus (John 20:19).
In biblical times, a woman’s testimony was not considered valid and wouldn’t even be weighed in a court of law (Luke 24:10-11). If the disciples were making up a story, they certainly wouldn’t have the women being the brave ones that discovered Jesus’ empty tomb. They would have made themselves the heroes who showed courage, comforted the weeping women, and were the first to realize Jesus had come back to life.
However, that's not what eyewitnesses like Matthew and John have recorded (Matthew 27:61; John 20:1; Luke 24:1-7). Their record includes the embarrassing details of their cowardice, so it must be true. People rarely tell lies to make themselves look bad.
If someone would have threatened the Grim Brothers with torture unless they revealed their sources for their fairy tales, they would have quickly acquiesced. "We took them from oral traditions and folklore that's been passed down!" They never claimed to be eyewitnesses to these events or that they were messages from God or even that they were writing records of true historical stories.
Many authors of the Bible, however, DID claim to be eyewitnesses. They DID claim they wrote on God’s behalf. And they DID purport that these words were a record of true history (2 Peter 1:16, 20-21). They were so sure of these things that they were willing to suffer, be imprisoned, and DIE for this truth.
In Acts 4-5, the disciples were told by the religious leaders to be quiet about their testimony that Jesus was the risen Savior. But they refused and were flogged. They could have gone back and said it was all lies. Yet, they persisted that what they said was TRUE, because IT WAS. They couldn't help speaking the truth about what they had seen and heard about Jesus—even when persecution and suffering were imminent (Acts 4:20).
People are willing to choose suffering to protect what they know is true, but no one is likely to suffer over a fairy tale.
Has anyone ever found Rapunzel’s castle or Cinderella’s glass slipper? No, because those are objects from fictional tales. However, there have been many archeological finds that support the historicity of the Bible, including a stone tablet that references the Davidic dynasty and corresponds to the biblical account in 2 Chronicles 22; an ossuary (ancient casket) of Caiaphas, the high priest who presided over Jesus’ false trial (Matthew 26:57-67); and a stone tablet bearing an inscription mentioning the name of Pontius Pilate, the ruler that sentenced Jesus to death 3. These discoveries prove that the people recorded in the Bible are not fictional characters but real humans from our world's history.
Most fairy tales are easy to recognize with their classic “once upon a time” beginnings and “happily ever after” endings. But the Bible is much different. The eyewitness records, recorded and fulfilled prophecies, embarrassing and excruciating testimonies, and archaeological evidence all show that the Bible is NOT a fairy tale. The Bible clearly states that it is God's true Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and NOT a cleverly written fiction (2 Peter 1:16). The Bible is absolute truth (Psalm 119:160). The Bible is truly HIS story, and it is the greatest story ever told.
Although many of us have grown up enjoying fairy tales, the Bible does not fall into that category. There's much evidence to show that the Bible is an actual record of history—not a story from someone’s imagination. This evidence includes eyewitness testimonies, embarrassing and dangerous testimonies, recorded and fulfilled prophecies, and archaeological evidence. The Bible clearly states that it is God's true Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and NOT a cleverly written fiction (2 Peter 1:16). The Bible is absolute truth (Psalm 119:160). The Bible is truly HIS story, and it is the greatest story ever told.
Hanna loves spending time with kids and teens. She enjoys being detectives with them to investigate God's Word to discover truths to answer any questions. She is the co-author of a newly published apologetics curriculum for children and teaches one online for highschoolers-adults. To learn more about her ministry you can visit networkerstec.com. For fun, she likes to play Ultimate Frisbee, read historical fiction, and paint.