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 Luke, Paul, Peter, Matthew, James, or Jude handed their authorized text off to be copied by others, i.e., published, what would it have looked like? What is the process that the New Testament writers would have followed to get their book ready to be published, that is copied by others? Once they were ready for publication, how would they be copied throughout the centuries, up until the time of the printing press of 1455 C.E.? Why was it so hard to be a secretary in the first century C.E.? How was such work done? What writing materials were then in use? How were the NT books made?
Scribes were employed as secretaries in Palestine, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Greco-Roman Empire. Court scribes would sometimes rise to positions of social prestige and considerable political influence, much as a Secretary of State today.
Scribes were a class of literate professionals ranging from copiers, secretaries, and government officials in the earlier OT period to special scholars and teachers of the Torah in the postexilic and NT periods.
A communication, especially from a king or high official, usually containing commands, promulgations, or reports.
Although scribes continue to perform such roles in the postexilic period (cf. Neh. 13:13, where a scribe named Zadok is appointed as a treasurer over the storehouses where tithes are kept), the term begins to be more specifically associated with the transmission and interpretation of Torah.
Three men are mentioned as successively filling the office of “secretary” or scribe under David and Solomon (2 Sam. 8:17; 20:25; 1 Kings 4:3). We may think of them as the king’s secretaries, writing his letters, drawing up his decrees, managing his finances (2 Kings 12:10).