Can We Trust the Biblical Copying Process?

The Bible is just a copy of a copy of a copy!

That’s the accusation, anyway. Many people have the idea that the Bible was passed down to us in one giant game of telephone, and we all know how those go! The truth, however, is that there was an incredibly meticulous process that went on to ensure that the Scriptures we have today are the same as they were in the original manuscripts.

It is true that we do not have the originals for any portion of the Bible, and while that may seem shocking, and send doubts running into our minds, allow me to break it down for you. We don’t have the originals of any ancient text. This means that any time you hear someone reference Plato, Aristotle, Homer, or Pliny, they are citing copies. Interestingly, for any other ancient text, nobody bats an eye at this, but when the Bible is brought up, suddenly people think there is a reason to doubt. What if I were to tell you that the manuscript evidence of the New Testament is more in number, and closer in time to the originals than any other text? What if I were to tell you that it’s not even remotely close to the #2 contender? Well, better than that, I’ll show you graph! Full-size picture here.

If you would like a very thorough explanation of the textual transmission of the New Testament text, here is a video of Dr. James White giving a lecture on the entire process. It’s a long video, but if you have the time, it’s worth it.

If you don’t have quite as much time, here is Dr. White talking about some the same subjects in particular relation to a Muslim questioner.

You may be asking, “but what about the Old Testament?”. Well, the Old Testament is slightly different in that we don’t have the same manuscript evidence that we do for the New Testament. One, because it was a much longer time ago, but also because it was transmitted and used in a slightly different fashion. In the following short clips. Josh McDowell outlines some of how the Scribes made a copy of the Old Testament text.

The question left to us now is, did this process work? 60-70 years ago, discoveries were made in Qumran of almost 1000 different texts. Among these texts are the oldest Biblical copies of the Old Testament that currently exist. In this final, short clip, Josh McDowell explains the incredible discovery that helps prove the accuracy of the Old Testament.

If you would like to know more about the Dead Sea Scrolls, the entire collection has finally been digitally made available to the public here.

The evidence is clear, and the testimony is reliable. Brothers and sisters, we can have surety that when we open up our Bibles, we are holding the same words that God inspired to those writers so long ago. More than that, we can prove it, to those who ask us questions.

– Jesse

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