The Accuracy of Our Modern Bible (The Covenant & the Cross #22)


Today’s passage of Scripture is John 6:68 which reads: “Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Thomas Jefferson. He said: “I have always said that a studious perusal of the sacred volume will make better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands.”

Our topic for today is titled: “The Accuracy of Our Modern Bible” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

One concern often expressed is, How do we know that the Bible available to us has been preserved accurately? Modern critics have noted that because the Bible was copied by hand so many times, differences arose in the manuscripts. Therefore, they have concluded, that the Bible cannot be trusted. However, careful study and evaluation shows just the opposite. While there are textual differences, for the most part, they are spelling or grammatical variations, easily explained. Further, when we examine the text carefully, we find that the foundational beliefs of Christianity are based on solid textual evidence; moreover, doctrines usually arise from a wide variety of passages.

Let us consider first the Old Testament text. Until just after World War II, the earliest Hebrew manuscripts we had for the Old Testament dated from about 900 AD. We did have several copies from this general time period, including the Leningrad Codex (named after its location in a museum in Leningrad) and the Aleppo Coda (from the city in Syria where it was found). These followed what is called the Masoretic text, named after the scribes who meticulously transcribed copy after copy.

The Old Testament books, of course, were written from about the fifteenth to the fifth century BCE. Because more than thirteen hundred years had passed between the completion of these writings and the oldest manuscripts available to us, the common accusation by modern scholars was that the text had changed substantially over the centuries. In 1948, however, the academic world was astounded by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Since then, many other manuscripts have been discovered in the Judean desert. Among these, every book of the Old Testament has been identified except Esther. One of the most significant is the Great Scroll of Isaiah, which was found to include the entire book of Isaiah. This scroll has been dated to about 150-100 BCE. Its text is “almost identical” to the text in the Hebrew Bibles.

Turning to the Greek New Testament, an astounding point from an archaeological perspective is the number of manuscripts available. More than five thousand have been catalogued, some of which have been dated to within a century of the claimed or traditional date of composition While this material would lead us to assume that we have an accurate picture of who Jesus was and what He did, there are still people today who deny the New Testament accounts. Typically, such people begin with the assumption that Jesus was solely human and then try to manipulate the data to fit that theory.


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