3. Assessing ‘The Book’ – Considering the Textual Reliability of the Bible

Have the books of the Bible been changed or modified over time such that their original message has been corrupted and, practically speaking, lost?  In the university environment I find that many almost assume that this must be so since these books were originally written so long ago.  Well-known advocate of atheism, Richard Dawkins, in his best-selling book, The God Delusion, confidently asserted this is indeed so to millions of his readers by writing of the books of the Bible that:

“All were then copied and recopied, through many different ’Chinese Whispers generations’ by fallible scribes who, in any case, had their own religious agenda”  (p. 92)

Is this true?  Is there even an academic discipline that can answer this question?  We look first at the books of the New Testament.

 

But what about the Old Testament?  The manuscipt basis for the Old Testament is different enough that it warrants its own discussion which is highlighted in the 7 minute video here.

 

Blog Posts Related to this Session

  • September 30, 2012 - Did Jesus have a wife?

  • March 19, 2012 - Considering the Septuagint: Today’s forgotten book that changed human history (Part 1)

  • January 16, 2012 - Did Constantine corrupt the Gospel or Bible?

  • December 31, 2011 - Your Common-Sense, Practical Test for the Reliability of the Bible

  • December 21, 2011 - The Passing of Christopher Hitchens: Carrying misconception to the Grave

  • [Click here for perspective on what Qur’an says about Reliability of the Bible]

    [Click here for perspective on what Sunnah teaches about Reliability of the Bible]

     

     

     

    3 thoughts on “3. Assessing ‘The Book’ – Considering the Textual Reliability of the Bible

    1. The book “Misquoting Jesus” by the biblical scholar Bart D. Ehrman (http://www.bartdehrman.com/books/misquoting_jesus.htm) might provide a more nuanced and thorough view of textual criticism. Dr. Ehrman even started his scholarly career as an Evangelical Christian who believed that the Bible was the inerrant Word of God.

      To quote a small portion from the book’s dust jacket: “Ehrman makes the provocative case that many of our cherished biblical stories and widely held beliefs concerning the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, and the divine origins of the Bible itself stem from both intentional and accidental alterations by scribes — alterations that dramatically affected all subsequent versions of the Bible.”

      • In hos whole book (which I did read quite thoroughly) he argues that a few sentences in the New Testament are not textually supported. His list of important variances is: 1) the insertion of the explicit Trinity verses in 1 John 5:7-8, 2) The insertion of Jesus sweating drops of blood in Luke 22:43-44 (the point being that this is the only verse in Luke where a reader knows whether Jesus was in agony or not), 3) Luke 22:19-20 (where the removal of ‘for you’ removes the only explicit reference to the atoning death of Jesus from the whole book), 3) the encounter with the adulterous woman in John 8:1-11, 5) Luke 23:34 (whether or not Jesus prayed that God would forgive his executioners), and 6) 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (having to do with role of women in church meetings). This list comprises only 20 verses out of the 7947 verses of the New Testament; it is a small list. Coming from an informed and expert critic, written with the goal of creating doubt about the New Testament, it actually speaks volumes for the overall robustness of the text. These readings come out strongest in the King James Version. Read my article here on how this provides a good test for reliability of tet

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