Case-Making 101: How do we know what we have in our Bibles today is the same as the originals?
by Teri Dugan
Last week we looked at the evidence for the reliability of the New Testament in terms of the early Church’s canonization. We also looked at reasons why Christians reject the Apocrypha and gnostic gospels with an emphasis on the dating of those writings. With that in mind it is important to look at what scholars consider when reviewing ancient documents:
Some basic literary terminology in considering the validity of ancient documents:
- Autographs are the original physical writings of the document by the author.
- Manuscripts are copies of the autographs and are in a first class category of witness texts.
- Primary sources are writings that come directly from the event(s) through eyewitnesses and participants.
- Secondary sources are written further away in time from the event(s) and come from second hand information that can no longer be disputed by those who were present or alive at the time.
- Literary works are considered primary sources if written within a generation or century of the event.
- The closer the writing is to the event(s) the more reliable the writing becomes.
- The more manuscripts you have, even those with errors, the better chance you have of reconstructing the autograph.
How does the Bible compare to other ancient literature that is considered reliable today?
Number of manuscript copies: (Note: These numbers increase with ongoing discoveries in archeology)…
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