I’ve been wondering about this a lot. How do we know that the Bible we have today is the Bible that Jesus intended us to have? Has it been changed by men?
That is great question. I got this from multiple sources.
Reliability of the NT
- The New Testament is the best preserved document in the ancient Greco-Roman world, with nothing even remotely close to it.
- Of the many variants that exist in the more than five thousand ancient manuscripts of part or all of the Greek New Testament, the vast majority are extremely minor, affecting virtually nothing of doctrinal or historical significance.
- it is well known that several eyewitnesses reporting on the same event will often give reports that appear to be contradictory, but upon further investigation, it becomes clear that they were actually giving accurate reports from different vantage points.
- Top historians and archeologists have confirmed many of the details of the New Testament, while three recent volumes, covering almost twenty-five hundred closely argued pages between them, have reconfirmed the essential historical reliability of the Gospels.
- The dating of the writings go back to within 5 years of Jesus’ death by looking at the writings of Paul in Galatians 1&2 and 1 Corinthians 15.
- There are extra Biblical writings from the first and second century that quote the Bible. From those writings almost the whole Bible can be reconstructed.
- If it was changed early after Jesus died the people who were witnesses to Jesus life and resurrection would have corrected any errors.
- If changes were made later, all the copies of the letters and gospels would have to be changed. They were located in Italy, the Middle East and North Africa. There is no historical evidence of any changes.
- Other gospels were written later, 125 Ad and were disregarded as accurate because they were written later and had heretical statements within them.
We can’t know anything historical for sure but there is a very high probability that the NT as we have it is accurate.
Perhaps there are others who can add more details. I hope this helps!
I have often heard this question asked, but I wonder why we ask it. If one understands the teachings of Jesus to be a law to live according to, then of course one would need the Bible to have been proven accurate. But He came not to abolish the law, rather to fulfill. His Words are life in themselves, and the most important is that the author of the Book lives in us!
@Washlyn I highly recommend reading F. F. Bruce’s book on this very question - it is a good one!
Also, we have vastly more evidence for the NT documents (meaning they have not been changed, then for any other ancient documents):
As you can see, there are thousands more New Testament Greek manuscripts than any other ancient writing. The internal consistency of the New Testament documents is about 99.5% textually pure. That is an amazing accuracy. In addition, there are over 19,000 copies in the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic languages. The total supporting New Testament manuscript base is over 24,000.
Has the Bible been changed?
@Washlyn. Another way to consider that question is the realization that there are no manuscripts or books written that are not subject to varied interpretations or translations. That is not an indication that the writings have been invalidated. In the case of the scriptures, I have friends who declare it is not trustworthy because it has been copied and etc. But different versions, translations or languages is actually a part of the outreach of the Gospel. It remains unchanged, unaltered in its original content and purpose. Human history will bear testimony to that truth.
I think one of the greatest indicators is when people declare scriptures outdated, old fashioned, not relatable to current conditions. That’s code for we resent the task of living with such structure, so, we attache dilution to its impact to invalidate the need to follow.
It does not work but we still do it. My friend’s claims concerning the scriptures have proven to be no more valid than the claims of each new generation. But there is nothing new under the sun. The intent of the scriptures remains consistent. Each generation eventually learns that truth in their day.
Thanks guys! This was helpful.