The Trustworthiness of Our Greek New Testament.

How do we know that the Greek New Testament Texts we have today are
essentially the same as the original copies?

1. There are over 24,000 old manuscripts, that is hand written copies, of portions of the New Testament (NT) today. Over 5,000 of these old manuscripts are in Greek, the language the NT was written in. Many manuscripts are in Latin, Syriac, Aramaic, or Coptic.
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2. The NT was completed around 95 AD when John wrote Revelation. Our earliest manuscript fragment, John Rylands MS, dated 130 AD has a few words of the gospel of John. The following old Greek manuscripts contain most of the Bible or the NT: The Vatican manuscript 350 AD= Bible. Codex Sinaiticus 350 AD= NT. Codex Alexandrinus 425 AD= Bible. Manuscript of Ephraem 450 AD= NT. Geddes MacGregor lists over 50 important Bible manuscripts in his book "The Bible in the Making." While hardly any hand written copies are from the 2nd century over 25 are dated from the 3rd century (200's). Bruce Metzger lists over 30 NT manuscripts that are complete and without gaps in "Manuscripts of the Greek Bible : an introduction to Greek Palaeography." His list includes manuscripts 35, 241, and 1384 from the 11th century. Besides this evidence we also have various old translations of the Bible and NT like the Syriac and Latin versions. Jerome's Latin Vulgate 384 AD for example. R.A. Baker Ph.D. has an article on the development of the New Testament Canon.
3. There are more surviving manuscripts of the NT than there are of any other piece of ancient literature.
4. The oldest surviving manuscripts of most of the ancient Greek authors are dated at least 700 years or more after the author's original work.
5. Scholars believe that in essence we have the original works of the ancient Greek authors, so why wouldn't one believe we have copies of the writings of the New Testament authors?
6. God inspired or "breathed out" through human writers and their personalities the entire original NT so that it contained no errors of any kind. II Timothy 3:16. However, when men made copies of the NT they sometimes mistook one Greek letter for another letter. Occasionally they wrote a letter, word, or phrase down twice. At times a copier inadvertently left out a letter, word, or phrase. Sometimes he reversed the order of letters or words. Also a few scribes intentionally changed the text to their liking. So today, the Greek manuscripts we have of the NT are not all exactly the same. They do have some minor variations or differences. Where differences appear in Biblical manuscripts very intelligent people who are fluent in a number of the appropriate languages study these ancient documents and apply the science of textual criticism in an effort to determine which text is the closest to the original text.
7. Did you know only around 3 percent of the Greek words in the New Testament are in question. Many of these questions concern the original spelling of words, word order, etc. Some words, sentences and phrases are in question. None would change any important teaching of the New Testament. Comparing old hand written copies of the New Testament one finds they are 98% in agreement with each other.
8. The early Christian leaders, usually called the early church fathers, often quoted from the NT in their letters and writings. We could construct all but a few verses of the entire NT from their writings. Read the writings of the earliest church fathers. Many of the writings of the early church fathers are also available on CD.

The Reliability of Our Hebrew Old Testament.

Here is some evidence that our Hebrew Old Testament (OT) texts are in essence the same as the original copies.
1. Until the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947 the oldest complete copy of the Hebrew OT was dated around 1000 A.D. We also had large portions of the OT that were written around 900 A.D.
2. The Dead Sea Scrolls were written between 200 B.C. and 68 A.D. Among other things they contain portions of every book of the OT except Esther.
3. The Dead Sea Scrolls contain a copy of Isaiah. That Isaiah which was written 125 B.C. is 95% the same as the Isaiah written around 916 A.D. and with our Isaiah today. Most of the differences are just obvious copying and spelling errors. The differences in Jeremiah are greater. Scholars are not sure why. It may be they copied from a manuscript of Jeremiah that was incomplete. As an aside, I'd like to note that textural questions in the OT often seem to involve numbers (which are easy to confuse).
4. The Masoretic or Hebrew text that the OT in our English Bibles is translated from is very close to the Septuagint or Greek translation of the OT made from the Hebrew text around 250 B.C.
5. Durning the 5th century B.C. the first five books of the OT were written in the Samaritan text. This text agrees with our 10th century copy of the Masoretic or Hebrew OT.
6. We have over 2000 manuscripts of the OT.
"Evidence That Demands A Verdict" by Josh McDowell, "How The Bible Became A Book" by Terry Hall, and "Encyclopedia Of Bible Difficulties" by Gleason Archer contain much more detailed information about why we can trust the Bible.

The Unique Origin Of The Bible.

The Bible is one of the few books that claims to be God's Word. It makes this claim over 2000 times. Over 40 men, on three different continents, writing in three different languages wrote the 66 books of the Bible as God directed them to. The Bible is 66 books written by many men, yet inspired or "breathed out" by God. II Peter 1:21. II Timothy 3:16. The original writings of the Old and New Testaments had absolutely no scientific, historical, or doctrinal errors. Here's how the Bible came to be.
Adam and Eve, our first parents, didn't have any Bible. God talked to Adam and Eve and their children directly and through visions, dreams, and angels. Adam was created extremely intelligent and he could talk. We know Adam could talk because Adam talked with God and he also named all the animals. Later God began to talk to his people through prophets. A prophet was someone that God talked to. Then the prophet told the people around him what God said. Around 1450 B.C. God talked to the prophet Moses. God told Moses to write down what He told him in a book. Exodus 34:27. Numbers 33:2. Deuteronomy 31:9-13, 24-26. So Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament.
Jesus, our Creator who has always existed, considered the Old Testament to be true. Matthew 12:40; 19:4; 24:38-39. John 10:35.
After Moses wrote the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament, Joshua and many other prophets wrote books as they were moved to by God. Sometimes prophets like Joshua wrote an appendix or ending on to the previous authors work. Everyone in those days knew these books were written by prophets, men who spoke for God. They knew these men were prophets because they could perform miracles and when they said something would happen it always happened. Deuteronomy 18:20-22. So the Hebrew people as a nation accepted these books that claimed to be the Word of the Lord as such and saw to it that they were read and carefully copied. It should be noted that at least once they became very careless in keeping track of God's Word. 2nd Kings 22:1-23:3
Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament was written about four hundred years before the birth of Christ. Between the writing of Malachi and the first book of the New Testament there were four hundred years of silence - no messages from God.
Between 200 B.C. and 100 A.D. several apocryphal (hidden) books were written. The Jews did not consider them to be Scripture. Yet, the only difference between the Catholic Bible and the Protestant Bible is that the Catholics include a number of apocryphal books in their Old Testament. However, many, but not all, believe they were not officially recognized by the Roman Catholic Church until 1545 A.D.
All of the New Testament was written before the close of the first century. Every book in the New Testament was written either by an apostle or an apostles friend or secretary. As these letters from the apostles were sent to individuals and churches they were recognized as being inspired, breathed out by God, and they were circulated so they could be read publicly in the church services of many groups. The Christians in various churches copied these letters carefully and distributed them to other Christians and churches. By 170 A.D. there was almost complete agreement by everyone that the 27 books we now have in our New Testament were inspired, breathed out by God. So when the canonization councils met they were but formally confirming or setting forth a list of the books that had already come to be recognized and accepted as scripture or prophecy.
The Unique Unity And Message Of The Bible
The Old Testament is the agreement God had with man before Christ came. The New Testament is the agreement God has with man now that Christ has come. In Jeremiah 31:31 God foretold he would make a new covenant with his people.
The Old Testament is built around the coming of a Redeemer, a Savior, Jesus Christ. There are many very specific prophecies in the Old Testament that point to the coming of the Savior or Messiah, Jesus Christ. Jesus said that all the prophecies in the Old Testament would be fulfilled. Matthew 5:17-18. The New Testament is built upon the fact that Jesus came to this earth, lived, died, was buried, rose from the grave alive, ascended into heaven, and is coming again!
The main message of the Old Testament is Jesus is coming! The main message of the New Testament is Jesus has come! The main message of Revelation is Jesus is coming again! The main message of the Bible is Jesus!

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