En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

  • Grab My Button!

    BWS tips button
    <a href="http://dadsdevoted.com"><img src="http://i496.photobucket.com/albums/rr323/baileytribe/blog/blckwhite_button.jpg" alt="BWS tips button" width="125" height="125" /></a><div style="border: 1px solid #DDD; margin: auto; padding: 5px 10px; background: #F8F8F8 none repeat scroll 0pt 0pt; overflow: auto; height: 100px; line-height: 1.5em;">***</div>

The New Testament Manuscript Evidence is Reliability Superior!

Posted by Scott on January 18, 2009

 

     The New Testament is constantly under attack and its reliability and accuracy are often contested by critics.  But, if the critics want to disregard the New Testament, then they must also disregard other ancient writings by Plato, Aristotle, and Homer.  This is because the New Testament documents are better preserved and more numerous than any other ancient writing.  Because the copies are so numerous, they can be cross checked for accuracy.  This process has determined that the biblical documents are extremely consistent and accurate.
   There are presently 5,686 Greek manuscripts in existence today for the New Testament.
1  If we were to compare the number of New Testament manuscripts to other ancient writings, we find that the New Testament manuscripts far outweigh the others in quantity.  

Author2 Date
Written
Earliest Copy Approximate Time Span between  original & copy

Number of Copies

Accuracy of Copies
 Lucretius died 55 or 53 B.C.   1100 yrs 2 —-
 Pliny 61-113 A.D. 850 A.D. 750 yrs 7 —-
 Plato 427-347 B.C. 900 A.D. 1200 yrs 7 —-
 Demosthenes 4th Cent. B.C. 1100 A.D. 800 yrs 8 —-
 Herodotus 480-425 B.C. 900 A.D. 1300 yrs 8 —-
 Suetonius 75-160 A.D. 950 A.D. 800 yrs 8 —-
 Thucydides 460-400 B.C. 900 A.D. 1300 yrs 8 —-
 Euripides 480-406 B.C. 1100 A.D. 1300 yrs 9 —-
 Aristophanes 450-385 B.C. 900 A.D. 1200 10 —-
 Caesar 100-44 B.C. 900 A.D. 1000 10 —-
 Livy 59 BC-AD 17 —- ??? 20 —-
 Tacitus circa 100 A.D. 1100 A.D. 1000 yrs 20 —-
 Aristotle 384-322 B.C. 1100 A.D. 1400 49 —-
 Sophocles 496-406 B.C. 1000 A.D. 1400 yrs 193 —-
 Homer (Iliad) 900 B.C. 400 B.C. 500 yrs 643 95%
 New
 Testament
1st Cent. A.D. (50-100 A.D. 2nd Cent. A.D.
 (c. 130 A.D. f.)
less than 100 years 5600 99.5%

      As you can see, there are thousands more New Testament Greek manuscripts than any other ancient writing.  The internal consistency of the New Testament documents is about 99.5% textually pure.  That is an amazing accuracy.  In addition there are over 19,000 copies in the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic languages.  The total supporting New Testament manuscript base is over 24,000.  
      Almost all biblical scholars agree that the New Testament documents were all written before the close of the first century.  If Jesus was crucified in 30 A.D., then that means that the entire New Testament was completed within 70 years.  This is important because it means there were plenty of people around when the New Testament documents were penned who could have contested the writings.  In other words, those who wrote the documents knew that if they were inaccurate, plenty of people would have pointed it out.  But, we have absolutely no ancient documents contemporary with the first century that contest the New Testament texts.
     Furthermore, another important aspect of this discussion is the fact that we have a fragment of the gospel of John that dates back to around 29 years from the original writing.  This is extremely close to the original writing date. This is simply unheard of in any other ancient writing and it demonstrates that the Gospel of John is a first century document. 
     Below is a chart with some of the oldest extant New Testament manuscripts compared to when they were originally penned.  Compare these time spans with the next closest which is Homer’s Iliad where the closest copy from the original is 500 years later.  Undoubtedly, that period of time allows for more textual corruption in its transmission.  How much less so for the New Testament documents?

Important
Manuscript
Papyri
Contents

Date
Original Written

MSS
Date
Approx.
Time Span
Location
p52
(John Rylands
Fragment)3
John 18:31-33,37-38 circa
96 A.D.
circa
125
A.D.
29 yrs John Rylands Library, Manchester, England
P46 
(Chester Beatty Papyrus)
Rom. 5:176:3,5-14; 8:15-25, 27-35, 379:32; 10:1-11, 22, 24-33, 3514:8,915:9, 11-33; 16:1-23, 25-27; Heb.; 1 & 2 Cor., Eph., Gal., Phil., Col.; 1 Thess. 1:1,9-10; 2:1-3; 5:5-9, 23-28 50’s-70’s circa
200
A.D.
Approx.
150 yrs
Chester Beatty Museum, Dublin & Ann Arbor, Michigan, University of Michigan library
P66 
(Bodmer Papyrus)
John 1:16:11,3514:26; fragment of 14:29-21:9

70’s

circa
200
A.D.
Approx.
130 yrs
Cologne, Geneva
P67  Matt. 3:9,15; 5:20-22, 25-28   circa
200
A.D.
Approx.
130 yrs
Barcelona, Fundacion San Lucas Evangelista, P. Barc.1

     If the critics of the Bible dismiss the New Testament as reliable information, then they must also dismiss the reliability of the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Caesar, Homer, and the other authors mentioned in the chart at the beginning of the paper.  On the other hand, if the critics acknowledge the historicity and writings of those other individuals, then they must also retain the historicity and writings of the New Testament authors; after all, the evidence for the New Testament’s reliability is far greater than the others.  The Christian has substantially superior criteria for affirming the New Testament documents than he does for any other ancient writing.  It is good evidence on which to base the trust in the reliability of the New Testament.

 

*I did not check the math on each of these, but the point is the NT 
manuscript accuracy is so great that no arugment should be taken 
against its accuracy.
Advertisements

4 Responses to “The New Testament Manuscript Evidence is Reliability Superior!”

  1. Ron said

    Sorry to nit pick but

    The top table has some difficult maths
    Lucretius died 55 or 53 B.C. ????no date shown??? 1100 yrs

    Demosthenes 4th Cent. B.C. 1100 A.D. 800 yrs – should it not be 1500

    Livy 59 BC-AD 17 —- ??? 20 I see that Livy was highly regarded from 15th century

    However the point I see you making is about the number of copies of the NT being so many that the authenticity of the text is very clear.

    • Scott said

      Well, I did not do the math on this, someone else did. I simply shared the info. Yes, you are correct, the realiability of the New Testament is so great one cannot argue that against the NT, which many non-believers do. This even moves to the media, actors, or others in high influential positions…you can quote Homer and Plato, but not Christ is their bias. Thanks for the observation and comment.

  2. kaitlyn said

    Excellent, excellent post. As a Christian it is great confirmation!

  3. Excellent information. Thanks for posting!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: