Sadly, 30 years ago, almost all Christians would have been stunned if they had heard that there were intentional and unintentional changes made in the process of copying the manuscripts of the New Testament over a 1,400 year period, some 400,000+ variants. What does this mean for our translations? Can they be trusted?
IS IT TRUE OR FALSE THAT the Bible has been handed down through the ages without alteration? IS IT TRUE OR FALSE THAT the hundreds of thousands of variations in Bible manuscripts weaken its claim that it is the Word of God?
One of the greatest tragedies in the modern-day history of Christianity [1980 - present] is that churchgoers have not been educated about the history of the New Testament text. In fact, they are so misinformed that many do not even realize that the Hebrew text lies behind our English Old Testament, and the Greek text lies behind our English New Testament. Sadly, many seminaries that train the pastors of today’s churches have also required little or no studies in the history of the Old or New Testament texts.
As we have noted elsewhere in other articles, the textual scholar looks at two forms of evidence: external (manuscripts) and internal (what the author or scribe wrote). Internal evidence concerns what might have led to scribal errors. Therefore, we will discuss scribal practices and tendencies, to get an image of how the Word of God came down to us by way of the copyist.
Today there are about two billion people who call themselves Christians, who own or are aware of the Bible. Most are unaware of just how that book came down to them, yet many if not most would acknowledge that it is inspired by God and free of errors and contradictions.
Paul was the author of fourteen letters within the Greek New Testament. Paul’s earliest letters were 1 Thessalonians (50 C.E.), 2 Thessalonians (51 C.E.), Galatians (50-52 C.E.), 1&2 Corinthians (55 C.E.), Romans (56 C.E.), Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (60-61 C.E.), Hebrews (61 C.E.), 1 Timothy, and Titus (61-64 C.E.). 2 Timothy was penned last, about 65 C.E. This means that the apostle Peter could have been aware of at least thirteen out of fourteen Pauline letters at the time of his penning 2 Peter in 64 C.E., in which he writes,
Many modern-day historians and textual scholars claim that the early Christians did not view the New Testament books as inspired. Was the canonicity, authenticity, and integrity of the 27 New Testament Bible Books built into Christianity right from the very start? What is the truth?
What is inspiration? What is involved in being moved along by the Holy Spirit? What is inerrancy? Was Tertius, Paul’s scribe capable in his human imperfection to go without making one single scribal error for 7,000+ words? Did Tertius take Paul’s exact dictation, word for word? Were both Paul and Tertius inspired, or just Paul? Was Tertius more of a co-author with Paul, Silvanus with Peter, Baruch with Jeremiah? If Paul alone was inspired, how does the imperfection of Tertius affect inerrancy? What about Phoebe; what role did the carrier have in the process? These and many other questions are answered herein.