“The Bible has been changed and translated so many times over the last 2000 years, it’s impossible to know what it originally said. Everyone knows that.”
This invocation of common knowledge is enough to satisfy the ordinary, man-on-the-street critic of the New Testament, and the challenge has stopped countless Christians in their tracks. The complaint is understandable. Whisper a message from person to person, then compare the message’s final form with the original. The radical transformation in so short a period of time is enough to convince the casual skeptic that the New Testament documents are equally unreliable.
How can we know the documents we have in our possession correctly reflect originals destroyed two millennia ago? Communication is never perfect. People make mistakes. Errors are compounded with each generation. After 2000 years of copying, recopying, translating, and copying some more, it’s anyone’s guess what the original said.
The response to books like Barth Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus – The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (it’s a New York Times bestseller) shows the public has an appetite for such topics. It’s a challenge we need to be able to respond to.
A response is given in this booklet. The claim that there are hundreds of thousands of differences between New Testament manuscripts is true, but grossly misleading. It shouldn’t raise any doubt at all in the accuracy of the New Testament.
The question of New Testament reliability is not a religious question; it’s an academic one. It can be answered without any reference to personal “faith.” Instead, all that’s needed is a simple appeal to facts.
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