Case-Making 101: How does the Bible compare to other ancient documents?
by Teri Dugan
Last week we looked at the evidence for the reliability of the Bible with the early Church’s canonization process that demonstrates we can be certain that we have the right books, contrary to cultural spin. We also looked at many reasons Christians reject the Apocrypha and Gnostic books with an emphasis on the dating of those writings. With that in mind it is also important to look at other variables scholars consider when reviewing ancient documents like the Bible, one of the most important is called “textual criticism:”
Textual criticism is a method used by scholars to decipher the meaning of the original texts or autographs from the manuscripts. When originals are lost or no longer in existence it is usually due to the life span of the substance they were written on like papyrus, leather, or other biodegradable materials. However, that does not mean that we cannot determine what the originals said based on the tens of thousands of manuscript copies we have to compare, dating from the fourth century B.C. to the the fifteenth century A.D. for the Old Testament, and the first to the fifteenth centuries A.D. for the New Testament.
With a multitude of available manuscripts scholars have found many minor and a few somewhat major differences between them, but textual criticism allows scholars to eliminate the majority of these differences which are mostly in spelling, grammar, word insertions or deletions by comparing them with each other. The science of textual criticism has given us 100% certainty that what we have in our Bibles today is the original vox (meaning) and over 98% for the Old Testament and 99.5% for the New Testament in verba (words)…
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