Was the Bible Just A Big Game Of Telephone?
by Josh Fults
One attack that is commonly levied against Christianity is that the Bible we hold today cannot accurately represent what was written nearly two thousand years ago. It surely must be frocked with errors, changes, and manipulations of the text. How can we expect that the Bible was not changed throughout the ages?
Remember playing the game telephone as a kid? You would have a big circle, one would whisper a word to the person sitting next to them, and they would pass it on to the next. This would continue full circle until the person who began the telephone chain had the supposed word he started the chain with told to him. Generally, through transmission from one person to the next, the original word spoken would be greatly altered. You might start with the word “Red” and by the time it made it back to you it might be “rutabaga.”
Can’t we only assume this is what happened with the Bible? Did the message get changed each time it was copied? Actually, no, it has remained constant over time and we can be confident that what we read today in scripture is what was originally penned.
There are relatively few “mistakes” in the Bible. Mistakes? Am I saying that the Bible is errant? Absolutely not. I affirm the full inherency of scripture as it was first penned by God/Prophets/Apostles. In its original form it was completely perfect and without errors. Yet, over time, human agents would make mistakes as they copied the text.
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Several years ago, I purchased a study Bible. While I was reading it, I noticed that a whole chapter was left out. I contacted the manufacturer and they addressed the problem. Does this mean that the Bible is errant? Of course not, it simply means that some people made a mistake. Sometimes this happened through the years of copying ad recopying, a scribe would misspell a word or copy the wrong word down. Does this mean that the Bible we have is inaccurate? Not necessarily.
Our ability to place confidence in any text rests on three factors: 1. How many copies are there? 2. How old are they? 3. How reliable are the individual copies, that is, are there vast differences between one copy and another?
Most of the works from antiquity are very limited in their number of manuscripts. For example, there is only 7 for Plato and 8 for Herodotus.
For the Old Testament, there are a staggering number of ancient manuscripts. Norm Geisler asserts, “Before 1890, a scholar named Giovanni de Rossi published 731 Old Testament manuscripts. Since that time, some 10,000 Old Testament manuscripts were found in Caria Geniza, and in 1947 the Dead Sea caves at Qumran produced over 600 Old Testament Manuscripts…
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