A Former Mormon's View of The Bible – Part 2

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…

  1. Caesar – Gallic Wars – 1000 year gap
  2. Pliny Secundas – Natural History – 750 year gap 
  3. Tacitus – Annals – 1000 year gap
  4. Plato – 1300 year gap
  5. 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.


  • John Tvedtnes

    No New Testament book dates to only a century after Christ’s time. Where did you get that information? Please give us a reference to the manuscript.

    Also, do you have an official source that says Mormons believe the Bible is full of errors? I don’t mean the Article of Faith statement about it being “translated correctly,” but a statement saying it is full of errors, as you assert.

  • John,

    Thank you for your comment. Here is a list of 2 of the early manuscripts:

    1) John Rylands – AD 130 – contains a portion of the Gospel of John

    2) Bodmer Papyrus II – AD 150 – contains nearly the entire Gospel of John

    Both of these are within 100 years of the original writings. In addition, we have some other early manuscripts:

    1) Chester Beatty Papyri – AD 200 – major portions of New Testament

    2) Codex Vaticanus – AD 325 – contains nearly all of the Bible and is considered one of the most trustworthy copies of The New Testament

    I thank you for asking this question because it did make me go back and reread my post. I made a typo that perhaps gave the impression that I intended to assert that we have copies of complete books within 100 years of the autographa.

    As for your second question, I can provide NUMEROUS quotes from LDS leaders to support my assertion that they do not hold the Bible in high esteem. However, please note that the 8th Article of Faith is considered part of the LDS Canon. It is very straightforward in saying that the Bible has not been translated correctly. Nevertheless, here are a few quick quotes…

    1) LDS Apostle Orson Pratt also wrote: If it be admitted that the apostles and evangelists did write the books of the New Testament, that does not prove of itself that they were divinely inspired at the time they wrote…. Add all this imperfection to the uncertainty of the translation, and who, IN HIS RIGHT MIND could for one moment suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide? Who knows that even one verse of the Bible has escaped pollution, so as to convey the same sense now that it did in the original? (Divine Authority of the Book of Mormon, pp. 45, 47; read all of this pamphlet for a detailed attack upon the Bible).

    2) LDS Apostle Mark E. Peterson said, “Many insertions were made, some of them ‘slanted’ for selfish purposes, while at times deliberate falsifications and fabrications were perpetrated” (As Translated Correctly, p. 4).

    3) Joseph Smith himself declared, “Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors” (T. of P.J.S., p. 327)

    4) Apostle Orson Pratt also claimed, “The Bible has been robbed of its plainness; many sacred books having been lost, others rejected by the Romish Church, and what few we have left, were copied and re-copied so many times, that it is admitted that almost every verse has been corrupted and mutilated to that degree that scarcely any two of them read alike” (The Seer, p. 213).

    5) LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie: “The Church uses the King James Version of the Bible, but acceptance of the Bible is coupled with a reservation that it is true only insofar as it is translated correctly (Eighth Article of Faith). The other three (The B.of M., D.& C., and P. of G.P.), having been revealed in modern times in English, are accepted without qualification” (Mormon Doctrine p. 764).

    Hope that helps.


  • ladonnamorrell

    just because you lack faith, doesn’t mean that the Book of Mormon isn’t true.

  • Ladonna,

    Thank you for your comment. You are correct that my faith or lack of faith in the BOM does not have any bearing on it’s truthfullness. Truth is what truth is no matter what I or anyone else believes. Therefore, my assertion to you would be that just because you have faith in the Book of Mormon doesn’t mean it is true. It is possible to have faith in something that is false. For example, there was a time when people believed (had faith) that the world was flat. As a matter of fact, there are still a few people today who believe this. Nevertheless, they were (and still are) just faithfully wrong.

    Unfortunately, the Book Of Mormon has been reasonably shown to be false. There are numerous problems with it… anachronisms, multiple changes, archeological problems, DNA, linguistic issues, etc. It is not a historical document and teaches false doctrines.

    The wonderful thing about the Bible is that it has been shown to be a REAL historical document about real people in real places. We can trust it!! We can hold it in our hands and KNOW that we have what God intended us to have. In it we have the information we need to be able to approach God with confidence. We can know that if we follow it’s teachings that we will go to be with The Lord when we die.


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