Manuscripts of the Bible
Some would argue that the Bible can’t be trusted because there are so many different translations, we do not know if the copies we have of the Bible are accurate, or if the original manuscripts are accurate.
So Many Different Translations
Yes there are multitudes of translations of the Bible, and translations in multitudes of languages. However, overall with all the various translations what is written is very similar. When it comes to the critical doctrine of the Bible, all the translations state the same thing-no discrepancies.
To determine the accuracy of the manuscripts, we can compare the Bible manuscripts to manuscripts of other literature. If we are going to be fair, we should not require more of the Bible than we do other literature, but the Bible will hold up to even more scrutiny.
The chart below lists some documents, how many known original manuscripts, and the time span from the first known manuscript and when the document was authored.
|Author||No. of Copies||Time Span|
|Plato (Tetralogies)||7||1,200 years|
|Tacitus (Annals)||20||1,000 years|
|Pliny the Younger (History)||7||750 years|
|Suetonius (De Vita Caesarum)||8||800 years|
|Homer (Iliad)||643||500 years|
|New Testament||Over 24,000||25 years|
After looking at the chart above, which document do you believe is the most trustworthy in being accurate regarding being closest to the original? Homer’s Iliad does not even come close to the New Testament. Time span is critical when determining if the manuscript is close to the original. The longer the time span, the more of a chance of error. The first New Testament manuscript has only a 25 year span compared to 500 years for Iliad. Yet many of our readers would read Iliad as the ‘gospel’ before the Bible.
We should also mention that of the 24,000 New Testament manuscripts there are 15 different languages and they all are accurate in their translation.
Let’s look at one more point regarding the accuracy of manuscripts. It is the concept of textual variations and textual corruption. We will compare Iliad with the New Testament. The Iliad has about 15,600 textual line variations compared to the New Testament which has about 20,000 textual line variations. Not bad considering there are over 23,000 more manuscripts of the New Testament than the Iliad.
The Iliad has 764 lines of textual corruption whereas the New Testament only has 40 lines of textual corruption. So, which is the more accurate document?