Friday, August 15, 2014

What Do You Believe? Manuscript Evidence - August 15, 2014

Psalm 33:4 (New International Version)
4 For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.

If you are going to base your belief in a faith, what better way to do it than to trust in the manuscripts and texts that contain the narrative about the faith you believe in. Many skeptics discount the Bible based on things they have heard or the ranting of professors in schools and universities, but very few have taken on the task of investigating for themselves the validity of the Bible. I bet if you have someone who criticizes your faith in Christianity and the Bible, they most likely have never studied the Bible, much less even taken the time to read it.

A criticism that arises about the Bible from skeptics and many evangelicals of other faiths is that the Bible is unreliable as a text. They claim that it has been "corrupted" over the centuries, and translated so many times that what we have today is far from the original text. Did you know that there are more surviving manuscript copies of the Bible than any other ancient book in history?

Principle to this is the New Testament which was originally written in Greek. Although it has not been shown that any originals have survived the almost 2000 years since its writing, it has over 5,656 surviving manuscript copies in Greek, and over 19,284+ in 14 other languages. The first fragments of copies have been dated to 114 AD, just 50+ years after the original was written. When you study the copies for the accuracy of the translation for meaning, context and doctrine, they are essentially the same.

In comparison the closest other writing of antiquity with the greatest number of surviving manuscript copies is the Roman author Homer's Iliad which has 683 surviving copies, the first having been written 400 years after the original was written. (There is more historical manuscript evidence for the people of the Bible than there is evidence for the existence of Julius Caesar, and yet I have never heard of anyone that disputes that he was a historical figure?)

We are very fortunate that Josh McDowell and other researchers took the time to document and investigate the Bible. He has carefully documented many of the historical sources for the manuscript evidence. Please take the time to pick up his book, The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Lee Strobel also covers his investigative study of the documentary evidence in his book, The Case for Christ. You will benefit from these two books for the references that they provide.

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