The accuracy of the Bible

Is there any inconsistencies in the Bible relating to historical facts or translation of words from the original manuscripts? If there were any minor discrepancies in the Bible, such as grammatical errors, would that negate accuracy or reliability of the infallible word of God?

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Hi, @Samji_Goerge!

Thanks for bringing up such an important topic! That question is often addressed by an area of study called “textual criticism”. Textual criticism seeks to understand if what we have today matches up with what was originally written. There are people who have delved deeply into the manuscript evidence of the Bible and written good books about its reliability (Daniel Wallace, F.F. Bruce, Peter Williams, Michael Kruger).

There are other threads here in RZIM connect that give a variety of resources to start as well. Here’s one with quite a few videos/links (Recommendation for short and accessible videos / articles on the transmission of the biblical texts?).

In short, from my studies, I have found that textual criticism actually makes me more confident in the trustworthiness of the Bible. We don’t have the original documents. But we have an incredible number of manuscripts for NT alone (>25,000!) as well as the short time period between them. Because of the large number of manuscripts over the years, there are spelling errors/grammatical errors (these are called variants) but they do not change the gospel message. Even the famed critic Bart Ehrman said in the appendix to his book “Misquoting Jesus”: “Essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.”

Variants in manuscript copies do not affect the inerrancy and reliability of the autograph (original). I do think that we can say with confidence that our Bible today is trustworthy. But, definitely spend time researching this so you can have confidence in its inerrancy and infallibility. I know that the more you research credible sources, the more you will be convinced! :slight_smile:

The thing that helped me most with this question, though, was a talk my friend Sam Kastensmidt gave at his church a few years ago. It is long (with an intermission) – but it is engaging and so encouraging. If you have a chance, definitely take a look at it. (It was recorded on Facebook Live – so it may or may not be easy for you to access). https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=10155369965544170&ref=watch_permalink

If you want to watch it and can’t see it, let me know and I’ll try to find a way to get it to you!

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Hi Samji,

Great question! I love what @zaniasam said and agree that small inconsistencies in all the manuscripts we have, rather than being discouraging build a stronger case for the reliability of scripture.
Considering the amount of manuscripts we have, the number of times scripture has been translated and the length of time that has gone by- it is pretty amazing that our modern day translation are still so consistent and close to what the original manuscripts said.

Peter J. Williams book *Can We Trust the Gospels ? * https://www.amazon.com/Can-Trust-Gospels-Peter-Williams/dp/1433552957
Is an excellent read on the both the reliability and historical validity of the gospels.

Praying for you !

Elisabeth Natirboff

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My understanding is that the minor inconsistencies in Biblical manuscripts is helpful rather than harmful. The way it works is like this - the errors or misreads act as markers in the tree of manuscript evidence - rather like the so-called evolutionary tree of species based on DNA likenesses. So we can build up a picture of how the new testament spread from the linkage of documents. This then helps us with the dating of documents.
Ralph