As a continuation to Post 1, I would like to discuss another principle that is used in the Bibliographical Test. This principle involves looking at the time span between the original manuscript in question and the oldest surviving copy. The principle behind this is, obviously, the shorter the time span, the more reliable the copy is deemed to be. How does The New Testament compare to other literature of antiquity? Let’s look at a few notable works…
- Caesar – Gallic Wars – 1000 year gap
- Pliny Secundas – Natural History – 750 year gap
- Tacitus – Annals – 1000 year gap
- Plato – 1300 year gap
- Herodotus – History – 1350 year gap
Notice how LONG the time frame is!! But wait… let’s look at one more. Historians and scholars consider Thucydides to be one of the most accurate historians of antiquity. How many copies do we have of his works and what is the time span? We only have 8 surviving manuscripts and a 1300 year gap!!! Yet, despite this he is considered by many to be THE MOST ACCURATE IN ALL OF ANTIQUITY!! WOW!!
How does this compare to The New Testament? Remember from my previous post that we have 24,970 surviving manuscripts… compared to only 8 for the most accurate historian from all of antiquity. Here is where it gets even more amazing. We have portions of books of The New Testament that go back to within 100 YEARS of the original!!! This is compared to a 1300 YEAR GAP for the most accurate historian of all of antiquity!! Not only this… we have an entire copy of The New Testament that goes back to within only 225 YEARS… again, compared to 1300 years for one scholars and historians consider to be one of the most accurate in all of antiquity!! Wow!! God is good.
What all this adds up to is this… we can hold The New Testament in our hands and have an intelligent faith in it because we have the evidence!! We can rest assured based on evidence that what it says is what was originally written down. As scholars Norman Geisler, William Nix and Bruce Metzger have concluded, we have a text that evidence shows is 99.5% pure!
For the Mormons who are reading this, how does this compare to The Book Of Mormon? Your church teaches you that it is the most correct book on the face of the earth and that The Bible is filled with errors. Yet, how many changes has your church made to The Book Of Mormon since it was first published? What proof do we have of it’s historicity? I will deal with these issues in future posts. In the meantime, I would encourage you to research this to find out for yourself if The Book of Mormon is really what your church claims it to be.
In addition, in some upcoming posts I will also address the historical reliability of The Old Testament.