Bible Manuscripts: The Reliability of Bible Manuscripts

THE BIBLE MANUSCRIPTS- Introduction
Non-Christians, (skeptics like New Agers or Mormons) claim that in the process of copying Scripture the text of the Bible was corrupted. Is this really true?

THE BIBLE MANUSCRIPTS- An Example
Suppose you wrote an essay and asked five friends to copy it. Each of them in turn asked five more friends to do the same — kind of like a chain letter. By the fifth “generation,” you would have approximately four thousand copies.  Now, obviously, in the process, some people are going to make some copying errors.  The first five people to copy it would make mistakes, and then most of the people who copy from them will make some more mistakes.  Eventually you’d have thousands of copies and all of them flawed.

THE BIBLE MANUSCRIPTS- The Good News
Sounds pretty bad, right?  But hold on.  Your five friends might make mistakes, but they wouldn’t all make the same mistakes.  If you compared all of the copies, you would find that one group contained the same mistake while the other four did not — which of course, would make it easy to tell the copies from the original.  Not only that, but most of the mistakes would be obvious — things like misspelled words or words that were accidentally omitted.  Anyone looking at all four thousand copies would have no trouble figuring out which was the original.

THE BIBLE MANUSCRIPTS- Same as the Bible
That’s essentially the same situation with the Bible.  We’ve got thousands of copies of the Bible in its original language, and scholars who have studied them have been able to classify them into groups and in most cases determine what the original documents actually said.  The few cases which are still debated by scholars really don’t affect the basic message of the Bible at all.

THE BIBLE MANUSCRIPTS- Conclusion
In fact, interestingly enough when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered at Qumran, they predated the earliest extant text — the Masoretic text by almost one thousand years — yet in spite of this vast span of time, there was no substantive difference at all…..In fact, in looking at Isaiah 53 there were only 17 changes between the Masoretic text and those found at Qumran — 10 involved spelling, 4 style and 3 involved the Hebrew letters for the word light in verse 11.  However, none of these differences were substantive — God has indeed preserved His Word. On Manuscript reliability, that’s the CRI Perspective. I’m Hank Hanegraaff.