Faith Community Online

Jesus said, “Your Word is truth; make them holy by Your truth.” (John 17:17)

Filed under: Blog,Leadership — Pastor David May 16, 2014 @ 5:44 pm

We have learned that Prophecy is a strong argument as to why we can trust that the Bible is what it claims to be: the Word of God.  The next reason I give for us to trust that the 66 Books given to us are truly from God is the very process, itself,  used in copying the original manuscripts.  This careful process has handed down to each generation a faithful copy of what was originally given.  There is no other book that even comes close to how carefully the originals were copied, as the Bible.

  1. The Copies Themselves, of the Originals

The original manuscripts have long ago disappeared.  How, then, do we know that we have what was originally stated? The copies have confirmed that what we now hold in our hands is exactly what the original authors said and wrote.  Let’s discuss the Old Testament books first, and then we will discuss the New Testament books and the process of how they were copied to establish the credibility that what we now have is most certainly what the authors wrote. The copies make it very clear that there has been little variation from the originals. Jesus said, “Your Word is truth; make them holy by Your truth.” (John 17:17)

  1. Old Testament Books

The process for the Old Testament copyist provided an incredible safeguard for them to write exactly what had been written, the reason for such carefulness was their highest regard for what was being written. Every document copied went through an exacting process. The Old Testament was copied with such great precision that if a finished scroll was edited and even one mistake was found they would destroy the entire scroll. Their editing process was to count the letters on every section, all the a’s then b’s, etc. if the count was different then the original being copied, they destroyed the complete scroll as well. The copy was to be only copied from an authentic original or that copy was not regarded as an “authentic” copy. In contrast, the Quran, was written by nine different men who heard the visions of Mohammed (he was illiterate). There are copies of these nine authors available today. The variants in each copy are so many and so different that we virtually do not know if what the Quran says is at all what Mohammed said. Why? Their process of copying was not nearly careful enough to guard from someone adding or taking away what was originally said by Mohammed.

 Every copyist agreed to the following:

  1. Every scroll would be written on a new writing surface prepared in a special way to be a certified copy.
  2. Every copy had a certain number of columns with 30 letters width, with every letter written right above the other in order to see mistakes immediately.
  3. Every copy was written in a certain color and quality of ink.
  4. Not even the tiniest letter could be written from memory.  Every letter was written letter by letter, not word for word. No letter could overlap or touch another letter.
  5. Every letter of every page was counted and compared to the original. They would count to the middle letter of each page, and then to the entire book, and if it was not the same as the original, they destroyed the scroll. Every book copied had this scrutiny behind it. These copyist’s dedicated their lives to producing just a few copies in one lifetime, due to this scrutiny.

This process protected the scrolls from any variation so much so that when the Dead Sea Scrolls (written about 400 BC to 300 AD) surfaced,  scholars thought that they would find numerous errors and discrepancies between the copies and the Dead Sea copies since there was only a 30 year gap from the originals compared to the copies we had that were 900 years later. They found no discrepancies at all. The accuracy astounded scholars and added a new respect for what copies we already had of the 39 books of the Old Testament.  This set of books is unparalleled in the world for accuracy in the copies!

  1. New Testament Books

The New Testament manuscripts were written in Koine Greek from three major areas. The manuscripts written around the area of Jerusalem to Egypt were called, the Caesarian copies. There were copies made in North Africa called Alexandrian. And there were copies made in Asia Minor or near Rome the capitol in the first century called, the Western copies. Thousands of copies were made in a short time, unlike the Old Testament copies which were written in a much slower process. Surprisingly, only one tenth of one percent is different in all of these copies. The variations are not regarding the teaching of the books, but in the numbers or city names and small details like that.

These three sets of copies were taken and joined making another copy which combined all the variations into one. This copy is called the Byzantine copies. So a verse will say “Jesus answered and said….” Instead of “Jesus said” or Jesus answered.” Using all three of the major copies I spoke of above the results are put together into one.

Today there are still over 24,000 copies available to compare each other with and verify for anyone who wants to take the time to compare and inspect and verify that the copies are the same as each other. The accuracy is still there, with only  a few questions remaining. Items that are in discussion for those studying this are, for example, in the ending of Mark 16, or 1 John 5:7 and others which are under scrutiny seeking to authenticate what was actually on the original manuscript. These questionable sections are noted in most translations today so the reader is aware that they are reading a disputed part of the book or chapter. Look at the chart below and compare the ancient documents to others ancient documents to see the unparalleled comparison that we have for the 27 books of the New Testament.

Author Written in Earliest copies Time span No. of copies
Plato 427-347 BC 900 AD 1200 years 7
Sophocles 496-406 BC 1000 AD 1400 years 100
Homer 900 BC 400 BC 500 years 643
Euripides 480-406 BC 1100 AD 1500 years 9
Aristotle 384-322 BC 1100 AD 1400 years 5
NT 40-95 AD 125 AD 30 years 24,000+

 The comparison is shocking is it not? Once again, the things from God have been lavishly provided for and demonstrate the credibility of these ancient copies above any other groups of manuscripts.  This is scientific evidence for all to see!  It helps remove any doubt as to the fact that the Bible you hold in your hand is a Book that is exactly what was first written by the original authors!

1 Comment »

  1. Wow. This is great. I have come across those who question the Bible. It is good to know that we can offer this knowledge and they can see it for themselves.

    Comment by Julie Mitchell — May 21, 2014 @ 5:40 pm

Leave a comment