Can We Trust the Bible if It is Full of Errors?
The issue of inerrancy is quite a discussion among scholars and lay people alike. Most ask questions about the perfection of God’s Word and the “errors” that are found in early manuscripts. Not only do Christians wonder about these questions, but many unbelievers see the “blatant errors” of the Bible as reason not to believe, and other searching souls see red flags when dealing with this issue. This requires a concise study of biblical manuscripts in light of the doctrine of inerrancy.
Frankly, most people misunderstand what inerrancy means but regardless of the discrepancies in the manuscripts, we can have confidence that the Bible is trustworthy and inerrant.
First, what does inerrancy mean? This is where the confusion begins that causes the alarm. It’s often understood that inerrancy means the perfect word-for-word presentation of God. That is why so many people equate the actual Bible with being God’s Word, but the problem is that people start to equate the actual words with God. This is not what inerrancy is. We have proof that what we have in word-for-word translation is not perfect. Therefore, we must do one of two things: either abandon the idea of biblical inerrancy or question our understanding of what inerrancy means. I say no abandonment of anything, just a readjustment.
Now before we can go any further, I want to point out that there is a difference between what many critics call “contradictions” and manuscript variants (discrepancies). The “contradictions” of the Bible fall into a different category that will need a few separate blog entries. That can come at a later time. We’ll discuss textual variants here in this entry. The fact of the matter is that the ancient biblical texts that we have today have what we call textual discrepancies, in other words, variants. These variants range from many different types, which I’ll mention shortly. The point is that since we don’t have the original texts of the Bible, we have to rely on the manuscripts. This reliance leads us to the field of textual criticism to make sure we use and trust the most accurate text available…
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