The Gospels Are Reliable Even With Many Redactions

by J Warner Wallace

I’m often asked to make the case for the reliability of the Gospels in spite of the presence of scribal variants throughout the text. Remember that criminal courts do not require eyewitnesses to be inerrant to be considered reliable. In order to illustrate the trustworthiness of the text, I typically offer the following hypothetical. First, allow the skeptic to identify all the textual variants in the Gospels based on a comparison of all available manuscripts. Next, to make the point more dramatically, allow the skeptic to remove not only the variant word or phrase, but the entire verse in which the variant appears. This would require the removal of hundreds of verses, resulting in a manuscript that is much smaller than the text we have today. Finally, for the sake of argument, allow the skeptic to randomly remove additional verses until 50% of the text we have today have been redacted. Skeptics often claim that the presence of minor variants that account for approximately ½% of the text justify their skepticism in much more of the text. To dramatize the ineffectiveness of this claim, I am willing to allow them to remove 50% of the text to illustrate an important point: Even with this much of the text removed (far more than even the most liberal scholar would likely eliminate), the Gospels are reliable and still communicate the essential truths about Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection…


The Gospels Are Reliable Even With Many Redactions | Cold Case Christianity