Has the Bible Been Accurately Copied Down Through the Centuries?

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APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot
Dr. Norman Geisler, PhD, was a prolific author, veteran professor, speaker, lecturer, traveler, philosopher, apologist, evangelist, and theologian. He was the co-founder of two non-denominational evangelical seminaries. He authored or co-authored over 100 books and hundreds of articles. Furthermore, he taught theology, philosophy, and classical Christian apologetics on the undergraduate and graduate level for over 50 years.

The Bible is the most accurately transmitted book from the ancient world. No other ancient book has as many, as early, or more accurately copied manuscripts.

Old Testament

Old Testament manuscript reliability is based on three factors: their abundance, dating, and accuracy. Most works from antiquity survive on only a handful of manuscripts: only 7 for Plato, 8 for Thucydides, 8 for Herodotus, 10 for Caesar’s Gallic Wars, and 20 for Tacitus. Only the works of Demosthenes and Homer number into the hundreds. Yet even before 1890 a scholar named Giovanni de Rossi published 731 OT manuscripts. Since that time, some 10,000 OT manuscripts were found in the Cairo Geniza, and in 1947 the Dead Sea caves at Qumran produced over 600 OT manuscripts.

Further, the Dead Sea Scrolls, containing at least fragments of all OT books except Esther, all date from before the end of the first century a.d. and some to the third century b.c. The Nash Papyrus is dated between the second century b.c. and the first century a.d.

The manuscripts’ accuracy is known from internal and external evidence. (1) It is well known that Jewish scribal reverence for Scripture led to its careful transmission. (2) Examination of duplicate passages (e.g., Pss 14 and 53) show parallel transmission. (3) The early Greek translation of the OT, the Septuagint, substantially agrees with the Hebrew manuscripts. (4) Comparison of the Samaritan Pentateuch with the same biblical books preserved within the Jewish tradition shows close similarity. (5) The Dead Sea Scrolls provide manuscripts dating a thousand years earlier than most used to establish the Hebrew text.

Comparative studies reveal word-for-word identity in 95 percent of the text. Minor variants consist mostly of slips of the pen or spelling. Only 13 small changes were discovered in the entire Dead Sea Scrolls copy of Isaiah, eight of which were known from other ancient sources. After 1,000 years of copying, there were no changes in meaning and almost no changes in wording!

The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02

New Testament

The reliability of the NT is established because the number, date, and accuracy of its manuscripts enable reconstruction of the original text with more precision than any other ancient text. The number of NT manuscripts is overwhelming (almost 5,700 Greek manuscripts) compared with the typical book from antiquity (about 7 to 10 manuscripts; Homer’s Iliad has the most at 643 manuscripts). The NT is simply the best textually supported book from the ancient world.

The earliest undisputed NT manuscript is the John Rylands Papyrus, dated between a.d. 117 and 138. Whole books (e.g., those contained in the Bodmer Papyri) are available from around the year 200. And most of the NT, including all the Gospels, is available in the Chester Beatty Papyri manuscripts, dating to about 250. Noted British manuscript scholar Sir Frederick Kenyon wrote, “The interval then between the dates or original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed.” Thus both “the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the [NT] may be regarded as firmly established.” No other ancient book has as small a time gap between composition and earliest manuscript copies as the NT.

The P52 PROJECT THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS 4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS

Not only are there more and earlier NT manuscripts, but also they were more accurately copied than other ancient texts. The NT scholar and Princeton professor Bruce Metzger made a comparison of the NT with the Iliad of Homer and the Mahabharata of Hinduism. He found the text of the latter to represent only 90 percent of the original (with 10 percent textual corruption), the Iliad to be 95 percent pure, and only half of 1 percent of the NT text to remain in doubt. The Greek scholar A. T. Robertson estimated that NT textual concerns have to do with only a “thousandth part of the entire text,” placing the accuracy of the NT text at 99.9 percent—the best known for any book from the ancient world. Sir Frederick Kenyon noted that “the number of [manuscripts] of the NT, of early translations from it, and of quotations from it in the older writers of the Church, is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or the other of these ancient authorities. This can be said of no other ancient book in the world.”

What Are Textual Variants [Errors] and How Many Are There?

In summary, the vast number, early dates, and unmatched accuracy of the OT and NT manuscript copies establish the Bible’s reliability well beyond that of any other ancient book. Its substantial message has been undiminished through the centuries, and its accuracy on even minor details has been confirmed. Thus the Bible we hold in our hands today is a highly trustworthy copy of the original that came from the pens of the prophets and apostles.

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS

11:8–9 Uriah was on active military duty and devoted to the Lord. Service in battle was considered an act of service to the Lord, and David had required his men to refrain from sexual contact while on duty (1 Sm 21:5; cp. Ex 19:15). Based on the example of Achan (Jos 7) Uriah knew that if even one soldier offended God by violating a divine guideline the whole army might be punished. To protect his fellow soldiers he ignored David’s suggestion that he sleep with his wife (“wash your feet” is a euphemism for intercourse).

11:21 Abimelech was the son of Gideon, also called Jerubbaal (Jdg 6:32; 9:1). To avoid pronouncing or writing the title of the Canaanite deity Baal (see Ex 23:13), the author of 2 Sm substituted the word bosheth (“shame, abomination”) as an element in Gideon’s alternate name.

12:13 The law of Moses required the death penalty for adulterers (Lv 20:10; Dt 22:22) and murderers (Gn 9:6; Lv 24:17; Nm 35:33), yet David was spared that penalty. Being king, of course, he had the ability to forestall action by whichever human authority would have dared to enforce the law. But the Lord’s hand was also at work in the situation, for He could have overridden any such efforts. The Lord is a God of grace (see Ex 34:6), and chose to spare David’s life. In so doing He transformed David into a historic object lesson of divine grace. David’s immediate readiness to confess his sin, when confronted with it by the Lord’s spokesman Nathan (2 Sm 12:1–7), proved that he still had a heart deeply devoted to God. The Lord gave David better than he deserved; he would not die. But the consequences of his sins would play themselves out in the history of his family, as Nathan predicted (12:10–14, 18; 13:28–29; 18:14–15; 1 Kg 2:24–25).

9781949586121 BIBLE DIFFICULTIES THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS

12:14 Why did the son born to Bathsheba die, since it was David who committed the sin? Behavior that ignores the Lord’s purposes and precepts always hurts others, including the “innocent”; this is one of sin’s most terrifying realities. As an example, an inebriated driver rams his car into a church van full of young people on the way to a conference. David’s high-handed and sinful behavior toward Bathsheba and Uriah led to turmoil and great sadness within his own family, including the death of this newborn son.

12:31 Did David make the Ammonites labor at brickmaking, or make them “pass through” the brick kilns as a form of torture? The Hebrew MT (followed by KJV) has the verb “pass through.” This appears to be a scribal error in which the verb ʿavad “work” was replaced with ʿavar “pass over or through” by confusion of the similar-appearing Hebrew letters “d” (daleth) and “r” (resh).

13:18 An obscure Hebrew word is used to describe Tamar’s outer garment. Translators must make a judgment based on their understanding of the evidence. Some English versions, following the Septuagint, assume that the word describes the clothing’s color. Other versions opt for the garment’s style; mention of its length and cut fits the context, where color would be irrelevant.

English Bible Versions King James Bible KING JAMES BIBLE II

13:19 Putting ashes on one’s head was a traditional expression of extreme grief in the ancient Near East (Est 4:1, 3; Is 61:3). It was not specifically associated with rape. But Tamar, who warned Amnon that “such a thing should never be done in Israel” (2 Sm 13:12), was apparently conscious of a serious transgression of the law (Lv 20:17) and the grievous offense to the Lord as well as to her. Tamar’s plea for Amnon to ask the king’s permission to have her (2 Sm 13:13) may have been her attempt to “buy time.”

14:26 How was it possible for Absalom to grow five pounds of hair on his head in a year? Absalom’s hair as he wore it weighed five pounds. He may have been quite hairy, but also probably had adornments in his beard and hair—intended to make them look more impressive—that added to the weight of his facial hair.

14:27 According to 18:18 Absalom had no sons. The present verse probably reflects the earlier history of Absalom’s family. If so, he fathered three sons, all of whom preceded him in death. Therefore Absalom built the monument mentioned in 18:18 to ensure that his name would be remembered in future generations, and perhaps secondarily as a tribute to his dead sons.

15:7 Many modern English versions indicate that Absalom waited four years before proclaiming himself king, but other major English versions speak of a 40-year period. The disagreement reflects differences in ancient textual authorities; the Hebrew MT gives 40 years, while one tradition of the Septuagint, the Syriac, and Josephus reads “four.” Either number may be the correct one, depending on what the number of years signifies. If it indicates Absalom’s age the number 40 is original; if it refers to the number of years Absalom schemed, building up his reputation among the Israelites, then four is the correct number.

17:18–20 Since God expects people to tell the truth, was it wrong for the woman to deceive Absalom’s messengers about the whereabouts of Jonathan and Ahim aaz? God does want people to tell the truth (see note on Ex 20:16; Eph 4:25); but even more He expects people to protect innocent human lives (cp. Pr 24:11). Jonathan and Ahimaaz had not committed any crime deserving of death, so it was right to take measures to protect them. Strictly speaking, the woman told the truth; the fugitives were “toward the water,” i.e., down in the well. (For further discussion of lying, see notes on Ex 1:19; 1 Sm 19:13–17; 20:6.)

17:25 The Hebrew MT of this verse states that Amasa’s father was Ithra the Israelite, whereas 1 Ch 2:17 notes that Amasa’s father is Jether the Ishmaelite. (The Septuagint reads “Ishmaelite” also for 2 Sm 17:25; see HCSB footnote.) Jether is a (perhaps dialectical) variant form of the name Ithra, but the ethnic designation assigned to the men differs significantly. The difference is probably due to a scribal error in confusing two Hebrew letters, “m” (mem) and “r” (resh) in the first instance and the two gutturals (unvoiced letters) ayin and aleph in the second case. Since neither pair of letters in question resemble one another (in either ancient or later Hebrew script) it is possible that the error occurred through a misunderstanding of dictation, rather than a miscopying. As to which reading is correct for this verse, the designation of Ithra as an “Israelite” seems redundant in the context, suggesting that the Septuagint and Chronicles preserve the original.

HOW DO WE DETERMINE THE ORIGINAL READING THROUGH The Principles and Practice of New Testament Textual Studies?

18:6 Ephraim’s tribal territory was west of the Jordan River, but the “forest of Ephraim” mentioned here is in Transjordan (cp. 17:22). This forest could share the name for several reasons. The name may preserve the memory of a major battle fought there in which the Ephraimites lost 42,000 men (Jdg 12:1–6), or it may have come from an individual or group that shared the name of the Israelite tribe. Finally, the name Ephraim came to refer to all the northern Israelite tribes, and the separate kingdom of “Israel,” in contrast to Judah (e.g., Is 7:2; 9:9; 11:13; 17:3; Jr 7:15; 31:9, 20; Hs 4:17; Zec 9:13). Hence it applied to Israelite territory on both sides of the Jordan.

18:9 Absalom was known for having an extraordinary amount of hair on his head (14:26), probably held back with combs or ornamentation. His fast riding on the mule probably loosed his hair, which became entangled in a low tree branch. To keep his scalp from being literally ripped off, Absalom grasped the branch and the mule ran off without him.

18:18 On whether Absalom had no sons or three sons, see note on 14:27.

19:20 Shimei is identified as a member of the tribe of Benjamin (v. 16), yet here he comes to David as the “first one of the entire house of Joseph.” This is not a contradiction of his earlier tribal identification. Especially after the division of the nation following Solomon’s death, it was not unusual to refer to all the Israelite tribes north of Judah, collectively, as the “house of Joseph” (see 1 Kg 11:28; Ezk 37:16; Am 5:6; Ob 18; Zec 10:6). Shimei was the first person from Israel, outside of David’s own tribe of Judah, to welcome his return to the land west of the Jordan.

19:23 David swore that Shimei would not die, despite his malicious treatment of the king (16:5–13). But later, as he was about to die, David ordered Shimei’s death. According to 1 Kg 2:8–9, David promised Shimei only that he—David—would not put him to death. His deathbed instruction to Solomon was to mete out the justice Shimei deserved, which Solomon did after Shimei himself provided a pretext (1 Kg 2:39–46).

19:43 Why did the Israelites speak of only “10 shares” in the king, since there were 12 tribes in all (13, counting Ephraim and Manasseh separately)? Warfare had torn Israel into two major factions, north and south. There are two ways to understand the number of tribes involved, both excluding Levi which had no territorial holdings of its own (see Dt 10:9; 18:1): (1) the north had 10 tribes, counting Ephraim and Manasseh, the Joseph tribes, as one; (2) the north had 10 tribes, counting Ephraim and Manasseh separately, if Benjamin was reckoned with Judah. Jerusalem, David’s capital, was located within the territory of Benjamin, and would remain the capital of the separate kingdom of Judah after the reign of Solomon.

20:14 Did Sheba go to the Berites (Hb text) or Bichrites (Septuagint)? The difference between the two words amounts to the omission of a single letter in Hebrew, a possible copyist’s mistake. Unlike the HCSB, some English versions prefer the Septuagint’s reading, believing that Sheba went to some of his clan members (see 20:13). As with other verses that reflect a disagreement between the earliest texts, there is no way to determine with certainty which reading reproduces the original.

AN ENCOURAGING THOUGHT_01

20:23–26 This list of David’s officials differs from the earlier list in 8:16–18, but does not contradict it. The two lists apparently contain the names of individuals who held key positions in David’s administration at different times. The present list seems to name the persons who held these positions at the end of David’s 40-year reign.

21:2 In the Bible the term “Amorites” can refer, in a general sense, to the inhabitants of Canaan (see Gn 15:16; Am 2:9–10). Though the Gibeonites were specifically Hivites, they could also called Amorites.

21:8 On whether Adriel was the husband of Merab or Michal, see note on 1 Sm 25:44.

21:8 On David’s allowing the Gibeonites to execute most of Saul’s descendants, see note on 1 Sm 24:21–22.

21:16 Was Ishbi-benob a descendant of “the giant,” or of “Rapha”? Modern English versions differ in their translation of an obscure Hebrew word. Some translations render the word as a personal name, while most other translations take it similarly to the HCSB. A recent suggestion is that the phrase “one of the descendants of the Rapha” (the literal Hebrew phrase) means that Ishbi-benob was a member of a group that worshiped a god named Rapha.

Young Christians

21:19 On whether David or Elhanan killed Goliath, see note on 1 Sm 17:50.

22:2–51 Why does the Bible include this psalm twice—here and, in virtually the same form, in the book of Psalms? This, the longest of David’s psalms, is used in two ways. The book of Psalms is Israel’s collection of hymns and lyrics for use in the service of worship. Here, near the end of the narrative of David’s career, the poem is used to bring out the spiritual center of Israel’s most beloved king. Several of the psalms are embedded in Israel’s historical records (e.g., in 1 Ch 16:8–36; 2 Ch 6:40–42) and some psalms are repeated within the book of Psalms itself (e.g., Pss 14 and 53; Ps 15 and 24:3–6; Ps 135 is based entirely on material in other psalms).

22:9 The biblical writer refers to God’s “nostrils” and “mouth” to express, in a colorful and memorable way, God’s terrifying acts of judgment against His enemies. God is spirit (Jn 4:24), but Scripture often employs such anthropomorphisms (descriptions of God’s action using a human analogy) to convey some aspect of His involvement in the human scene (on anthropomorphism in the Bible, see Gn 3:8).

INVESTIGATING JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES REVIEWING 2013 New World Translation

23:8–39 This list of David’s warriors is shorter than the one in 1 Ch 11:1–47. Furthermore, some names found the list here are not in 1 Ch (and vice versa) and some of the names and places of origin differ slightly in spelling. These two lists were probably composed at different times during David’s reign, and the different spellings may reflect differences of dialect.

23:8 Adino the Eznite is listed in some English Bibles, but not others. The MT mentions him but the parallel verse in 1 Ch 11:11 does not. Because the name and the syntax of the verse are obscure, and because 1 Ch omits the name, many recent translators suspect a copyist error here and rely on the Chronicler’s reading.

23:20 Did Benaiah kill two sons of Ariel, or two lion-like men of Moab? Disagreement between English versions results from variants in ancient texts, and from a Hebrew word with an obscure meaning. Many recent versions assume that Ariel is a personal name, and follow the Septuagint; others interpret the word to mean a “lion-like man.” The translators’ judgment determines which reading is thought to reflect the original.

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS

24:1 This verse indicates that God’s anger incited David to take a census which was not in the Lord’s will, yet 1 Ch 21:1 states that it was Satan who led David to take this wrongful action. The two statements would not be considered contradictory in the ancient Israelite way of thinking. The writer of 2 Sm affirms that God is the ultimate ruler of the universe; every event is subject to His authority. If even king David, despite his strength and intelligence, could be led into a foolish decision, the Lord’s hand is still involved (cp. Ps 76:10). Satan, too, is subject to God’s complete control (cp. Job 1:6–12). In His position as Sovereign over all, God used one of His created beings—in this case Satan—to bring about judgment on another. People have the authority to resist Satan (Jms 4:7) but David declined to do so, and thus experienced the consequence in the effects of God’s wrath (cp. Rm 1:18).

It was not wrong for David to take a census, as such; the law of Moses explicitly permitted this (Ex 30:12). Censuses had been taken among the Israelites on two occasions in the days of Moses (Nm 1:2; 4:2, 22; 26:2) with no adverse consequences. The problem with David’s census lay either in his motivation for it or the manner in which it was conducted. If the former, David’s purpose was to build his nationalistic ego; he would number the troops in order to boast of his nation’s military might, instead of trusting in God. If the latter, David failed to direct his officials to use the proper procedure. The law required every person counted to pay half a shekel (about one-fifth of an ounce) of silver to the sanctuary treasury (Ex 30:13), but perhaps this was not done. According to the law, failure to collect the money would result in an outbreak of plague, which is exactly what happened in this case.

24:9 Do these census figures contradict those in 1 Ch 21:5? The numbers indeed differ: 800,000 Israelites versus 1.1 million, 500,000 Judahites versus 470,000. But these differences may not be true contradictions. The figure of 1.1 million Israelite men in 1 Ch may include the 288,000 men in Israel’s regular army (see 1 Ch 27:1–15), rounding the total. The discrepancy in the Judahite totals may simply be a matter of rounding in 2 Sm. The ancient Jewish historian Josephus recorded 900,000 Israelite soldiers and 400,000 Judahites, perhaps following another textual tradition. It is always possible that the numbers were altered, through copyist error, in one or more ancient manuscript traditions

24:24. In this passage, David is said to have purchased “the threshing floor and the oxen” for 50 shekels of silver. In 1 Ch 21:22–25 David asks to buy the “threshing-floor plot” (lit. “the place of the threshing floor”), apparently a parcel of land that included much more than the threshing floor itself, and accordingly pays a much larger sum of money, 600 shekels of gold. The different payments are not contradictions but refer to different purchases.

By Norman L. Geisler

Edward D. Andrews Added Thoughts

Christian Bible students need to be familiar with Old and New Testament textual studies as the two are essential foundational studies. Why? If we fail to establish what was originally authored with reasonable certainty, how are we to translate or even interpret what we think is God’s actual Word? We are fortunate that there are far more existing New Testament manuscripts today than any other book from ancient history. Some ancient Greek and Latin classics are based on one existing manuscript, while with others, there are just a handful and a few exceptions that have a few hundred available. However, the New Testament has over 5,898 Greek New Testament manuscripts that have been cataloged (As of January 2021),[1] 10,000 Latin manuscripts, and an additional 9,300 other manuscripts in such languages as Syriac, Slavic, Gothic, Ethiopic, Coptic, and Armenian. This gives New Testament textual scholars vastly more to work within establishing the original words of the text.

The other difference between the New Testament manuscripts and those of the classics is that the existing copies of the New Testament date much closer to the originals. In the case of the Greek classics, some of the manuscripts are dated about a thousand years after the author had penned the book. Some of the Latin classics are dated from three to seven hundred years after the time the author wrote the book. When we look at the Greek copies of the New Testament books, some portions are within decades of the original author’s book. Seventy-nine Greek papyri, along with five majuscules,[2] date from 110 C.E. to 300 C.E.

Distribution of Greek New Testament Manuscripts

  • The Papyrus is a copy of a portion of the New Testament made on papyrus. At present, we have 141 cataloged New Testament papyri, many dating between 110-350 C.E., but some as late as the 6th century C.E.
  • The Majuscule or Uncial is a script of large letters commonly used in Greek and Latin manuscripts written between the 3rd and 9th centuries C.E. that resembles a modern capital letter but is more rounded. At present, we have 323 cataloged New Testament Majuscule manuscripts.
  • The Minuscule is a small cursive style of writing used in manuscripts from the 9th to the 16th centuries, now having 2,951 Minuscule manuscripts cataloged.
  • The Lectionary is a schedule of readings from the Bible for Christian church services during the year, in both majuscules and minuscules, dating from the 4th to the 16th centuries C.E., now having 2,484 Lectionary manuscripts cataloged.

Distribution of Papyri by Century and Type

DATE

ALEX

WEST

CAES

BYZ

100-150/175 C.E.

7Q4? 7Q5? P4/64/67 P32 P46 P52 P66 P75 P77/103 P87 P90 P98 (bad shape, differences) P101 P109 (too small) P118 (too small) P137 0189

P. Oxyrhynchus 405
P. Egerton 2

P104

0

0

175-250 C.E.

P1 P5 P13 P20 P23 P27 P30 P35 P39 P40 P45 P47 P49/65 P71 P72 P82 P85 P95 P100 P106 P108 P110 P111 P113 P115 P121 (too small) P125 P126 (too small) P133 P136 P141 0220 0232
P. Oxyrhynchus 406 
P. Egerton 3

P29 (Metzger Western & Aland Free; too small to be certain) P38 P48 P69 0171 0212 (mixed) P107 (Independent)

0

0

250-300 C.E.

P8 P9 P12 P15 P16 P17 P18 P19 P24 P28 P50 P51 P53 P70 P78 P80 P86 P88 P89 (too small) P91 P92 P114 P119 P120 P129 (too small) P131 P132 too small) P134 0162 0207 0231
P. Antinoopolis 54

P37 (Free, mostly Western)

0

0

290-390 C.E.

P3 P6 P7 P10 P21 P54 P62 P81 P93 P94 P102 (too small) P117 (too small) P122 (too small) P123 P130 (too small) P139 (too small) 057 058 059 / 0215 071 0160 0163 0165 0169 0172 0173 0175 0176 0181 0182 0185 0188 0206 0214 0217 0218 0219 0221 0226 0227 0228 0230 0242 0264 0308 0312
P. Oxyrhynchus 4010
P. Oxyrhynchus 5073

P21 (mixed) P25 (independent) P112 (independent) P127 (independent; like no other)

0

0

4th / 5th Century C.E.

P11 P14 P33/P58 P56 P57 P63 P105 (too small) P124 0254

069

P. Oxyrhynchus 1077?

We should clarify that of the approximate 24,000 total manuscripts of the New Testament, not all are complete books. There are fragmented manuscripts with just a few verses, manuscripts containing an entire book, others that include numerous books, and some that have the whole New Testament, or nearly so. This is expected since the oldest manuscripts we have were copied in an era when reproducing the entire New Testament was not the norm, but rather a single book or a group of books (i.e., the Gospels or Paul’s letters). This still does not negate the vast riches of manuscripts that we possess.

What can we conclude from this short introduction to New Testament textual studies? There is some irony here: secular scholars have no problem accepting classic authors’ wording with their minuscule amount of evidence. However, they discount the treasure trove of evidence that is available to the New Testament textual scholar. Still, this should not surprise us, as the New Testament has always been under-appreciated and attacked in some way, shape, or form over the past 2,000 years.

On the contrary, in comparison to classical works, we are overwhelmed by the quantity and quality of existing New Testament manuscripts. We should also keep in mind that seventy-five percent[3] of the New Testament does not require textual scholars’ help because that much of the text is unanimous, and thus, we know what it says. Of the other twenty-five percent, about twenty percent make up trivial scribal mistakes that are easily corrected. Therefore, textual criticism focuses mainly on a small portion of the New Testament text. The facts are clear: the Christian, who reads the New Testament, is fortunate to have so many manuscripts, with so many dating so close to the originals, with 500 hundred years of hundreds of textual scholars who have established the text with a level of certainty unimaginable for ancient secular works.

After discussing the amount of New Testament manuscripts available, Atheist commentator Bob Seidensticker, writes, “The first problem is that more manuscripts at best increase our confidence that we have the original version. That does not mean the original copy was history ….”[4] That is, Seidensticker is forced to acknowledge the reliability of the New Testament text as we have it today and can only try to deny what it says. He also tells us of the New Testament, “Compare that with 2000 copies of the Iliad, the second-best represented manuscript.”[5] Of those 2,000 copies of the Iliad, how far removed are they from the alleged originals? The Iliad is dated to about 1260–1180 B.C.E. The most notable Iliad manuscripts are from the 9th, 10th, and 11th centuries C.E. That would make these manuscripts over 2,000 years removed from their original.

[1] While at present here in 2020, there are 5,898 manuscripts. There are 140 listed Papyrus manuscripts, 323 Majuscule manuscripts, 2,951 Minuscule manuscripts, and 2,484 Lectionary manuscripts, bringing the total cataloged manuscripts to 5,898 manuscripts. However, you cannot simply total the number of cataloged manuscripts because, for example, P11/14 are the same manuscript but with different catalog numbers. The same is true of P33/5, P4/64/67, P49/65 and P77/103. Now this alone would bring our 140 listed papyrus manuscripts down to 134. ‘Then, we turn to one example from our majuscule manuscripts where clear 0110, 0124, 0178, 0179, 0180, 0190, 0191, 0193, 0194, and 0202 are said to be part of 070. A minuscule manuscript was listed with five separate catalog numbers for 2306, which then have the letters a through e. Thus, we have the following GA numbers: 2306 for 2306a, and 2831- 2834 for 2306b-2306e.’ – (Hixon 2019, 53-4) The problem is much worse when we consider that there are 323 Majuscule manuscripts and then far worse still with a listed 2,951 Minuscule and 2,484 Lectionaries. Nevertheless, those who estimate a total of 5,300 (Jacob W. Peterson, Myths and Mistakes, p. 63) 5,500 manuscripts (Dr. Ed Gravely / ehrmanproject.com/), 5,800 manuscripts (Porter 2013, 23), it is still a truckload of evidence far and above the dismal number of ancient secular author books.

[2] Large lettering, often called “capital” or uncial, in which all the letters are usually the same height.

[3] The numbers in this paragraph are rounded for simplicity purposes.

[4] 25,000 New Testament Manuscripts? Big Deal. – Patheos,

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/11/25000-new-testament-manuscrip (Retrieved Monday, August 10, 2020).

[5] Ibid

The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith, ed. Ted Cabal et al. (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 468–491.

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The P52 PROJECT THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS 4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS
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English Bible Versions King James Bible KING JAMES BIBLE II
9781949586121 BIBLE DIFFICULTIES THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS
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EARLY CHRISTIANITY

THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST by Stalker-1 The TRIAL and Death of Jesus_02 THE LIFE OF Paul by Stalker-1
PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL
APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS I AM John 8.58

CHRISTIAN APOLOGETIC EVANGELISM

The Epistle to the Hebrews PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL
REASONING FROM THE SCRIPTURES APOLOGETICS CONVERSATION EVANGELISM
AN ENCOURAGING THOUGHT_01
Young Christians
INVESTIGATING JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES REVIEWING 2013 New World Translation
Jesus Paul THE EVANGELISM HANDBOOK
REASONING WITH OTHER RELIGIONS APOLOGETICS
REASONABLE FAITH FEARLESS-1
Satan BLESSED IN SATAN'S WORLD_02 HEROES OF FAITH - ABEL
is-the-quran-the-word-of-god UNDERSTANDING ISLAM AND TERRORISM THE GUIDE TO ANSWERING ISLAM.png
DEFENDING OLD TESTAMENT AUTHORSHIP Agabus Cover BIBLICAL CRITICISM
Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS
THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS gift of prophecy

TECHNOLOGY

9798623463753 Machinehead KILLER COMPUTERS
INTO THE VOID

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY

Why Me_ Explaining the Doctrine of the Last Things Understaning Creation Account
Homosexuality and the Christian second coming Cover Where Are the Dead
CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY Vol. CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY Vol. II CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY Vol. III
CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY Vol. IV CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY Vol. V MIRACLES
Human Imperfection HUMILITY

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

READ ALONG WITH ME READ ALONG WITH ME READ ALONG WITH ME

PRAYER

Powerful Weapon of Prayer Power Through Prayer How to Pray_Torrey_Half Cover-1

TEENS-YOUTH-ADOLESCENCE-JUVENILE

THERE IS A REBEL IN THE HOUSE thirteen-reasons-to-keep-living_021 Waging War - Heather Freeman
 
Young Christians DEVOTIONAL FOR YOUTHS 40 day devotional (1)
Homosexuality and the Christian THE OUTSIDER RENEW YOUR MIND

CHRISTIAN LIVING

GODLY WISDOM SPEAKS Wives_02 HUSBANDS - Love Your Wives
 
WALK HUMBLY WITH YOUR GOD THE BATTLE FOR THE CHRISTIAN MIND (1)-1
ADULTERY 9781949586053 PROMISES OF GODS GUIDANCE
APPLYING GODS WORD-1 For As I Think In My Heart_2nd Edition Put Off the Old Person
Abortion Booklet Dying to Kill The Pilgrim’s Progress
WHY DON'T YOU BELIEVE WAITING ON GOD WORKING FOR GOD
 
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE Let God Use You to Solve Your PROBLEMS THE POWER OF GOD
HOW TO OVERCOME YOUR BAD HABITS-1 GOD WILL GET YOU THROUGH THIS A Dangerous Journey
ARTS, MEDIA, AND CULTURE Christians and Government Christians and Economics

CHRISTIAN COMMENTARIES

CHRISTIAN DEVOTIONALS
40 day devotional (1) Daily Devotional_NT_TM Daily_OT
DEVOTIONAL FOR CAREGIVERS DEVOTIONAL FOR YOUTHS DEVOTIONAL FOR TRAGEDY
DEVOTIONAL FOR YOUTHS 40 day devotional (1)

CHURCH HEALTH, GROWTH, AND HISTORY

LEARN TO DISCERN Deception In the Church FLEECING THE FLOCK_03
The Church Community_02 THE CHURCH CURE Developing Healthy Churches
FIRST TIMOTHY 2.12 EARLY CHRISTIANITY-1

Apocalyptic-Eschatology [End Times]

Explaining the Doctrine of the Last Things Identifying the AntiChrist second coming Cover
ANGELS AMERICA IN BIBLE PROPHECY_ ezekiel, daniel, & revelation

CHRISTIAN FICTION

Oren Natas_JPEG Sentient-Front Seekers and Deceivers
Judas Diary 02 Journey PNG The Rapture

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