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Establishing the Reliability of the Old Testament: A Timely Test of Transmission
by J Warner Wallace
In Cold Case Christianity, I discussed the careful transmission of Biblical texts. A number of my cold case investigations began with a careful examination of the original police reports and records. I got these documents from the police Records Division, where they were carefully collected and maintained for many years. Careful protocols were established to guarantee the preservation of these documents. In one particular case, I had the chance to test this preservation process. After retrieving a report from Records, I called the original detective to ask a series of questions. This particular detective was conscientious enough to keep copies of his reports from his unsolved cases. He brought his copy with him for our interview. My copy from records was exactly the same as the detective’s. The Records Division had done its job, maintaining an accurate and reliable copy of the original documents for over 30 years.
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As it turns out, we can examine the competency of the ancient Jewish “Records Division” and test the ability of ancient scribes to accurately copy (and maintain) the Old Testament with a similar comparison. It’s clear the Jews guarded Scripture with extreme care and precision. The Old Testament Scriptures were revered and protected, largely because early believers considered them to be the holy Word of God. The Masoretic tradition gives us a glimpse into the obsessive care Jewish scribes historically took with their sacred texts. Scribes known as the Masoretes (a group of Jewish copyists living and working primarily in Tiberias and Jerusalem) took over the precise job of copying the ancient Scripture and transmitting it for later generations.
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Qumran confirms their amazing ability…