How Careful were Scribes when Copying the Bible?

Some people claim the early Christians believed they were copying letters, history, biographies, and apocalypses, not scripture, so they may not have been as careful while the copying the New Testament as the Jews had been when copying their Bible, and introduced errors into the New Testament. The belief that the Bible has been corrupted over the past 2,000 years contradicts what is actually known about the early church.

The city of Alexandria,...

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Do Textual Variants Show Christianity is False?

Some people are extremely critical of textual variants in New Testament manuscripts, claiming God would have prevented variants from occurring in the manuscripts (if He could have), so the existence of variants prove God doesn't exist and the Bible isn't true. My article Why did God Allow Variants in the New Testament Manuscripts? argues God was not only justified in allowing variants in the manuscripts (not that any of God's actions need a...

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Are Spelling Differences Meaningful in New Testament Manuscripts?

Last week I wrote about the estimated 200,000-500,000 textual variants in the Greek New Testament manuscripts. That's a lot of variants, but with over 2,000,000 pages of New Testament manuscripts available for scholars to study, that averages out to less than 1 unique textual variant for every 4 pages of text. Now consider, the majority of textual variants in the New Testament manuscripts are spelling differences that don't affect the meaning of the...

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How Many Textual Variants Exist in the New Testament Manuscripts?

In my article What are Textual Variants? I described textual variants as being any word or phrase in a manuscript that is different from the standard text. If a word is misspelled, it's a variant. If a scribe accidentally left out a verse, it's a variant. Any change, no matter how small, is considered a variant. I've read about two ways to count textual variants, and they conflict.

Counting Method 1

The first method for counting...

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What are Textual Variants?

Last week I started a new series with the article Why are there Variations in Different Translations of the New Testament?. Textual Variants are places where ancient manuscripts attest to more than one reading of a passage. There are about 138,000 words in the Greek New Testament, and it's unreasonable to think anyone could copy it without making a single mistake. Most of the variants are simple spelling errors or other accidental...

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What is “First Century Mark”?

There's a lot of conflicting information on this subject, so please forgive me if I get some details wrong.

The Players

This whole story is convoluted, so a "cast of characters" (and organizations) may help, and I'll be using some below.

  • Egypt Exploration Society (ESS) - The organization that owns and curates the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, found in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, in the late 1800's to early 1900's. Based in...

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How does the Quality of New Testament Manuscripts Compare to Other Ancient Manuscripts?

Last week I showed some data about the quantity and ages of both New Testament manuscripts and ancient Greek and Roman authors in the article How does the Quantity of New Testament Manuscripts Compare to Other Ancient Manuscripts?. I had originally planned on using these quotes in last week's article, but it was getting too long. This week is mostly quotes by scholars and authors regarding that data.

So what we have are...

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How Many New Testament Manuscripts Exist?

I've been wanting to write about the number of New Testament Manuscripts for a while, but I haven't been able to find the types of resource I thought would be available. In my article What is the Gregory-Aland Numbering System?, I showed the most common system scholars use to track Greek New Testament manuscripts and fragments, but there are probably many fragments which haven't been submitted to the...

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What is the Q Source Hypothesis?

In my last two articles I've researched What is the Synoptic Problem? and Which Gospel was Written First?. It is frequently accepted by modern scholars that Mark was written first, and the Gospels of Matthew and Luke used Mark as a primary source. 

There is material common to both Matthew and Luke which is not in Mark, so where did they get that material? It is generally believed Luke was written third, so either Luke copied the...

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Which Gospels was Written First?

(This post was supposed to go out last Saturday, but I realized yesterday it hadn't.)

The order of the Gospels in the New Testament is Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, however, scholars typically believe they were written in a different order. How did they come to this conclusion?

In my article What is the Synoptic Problem?, I showed there is so much in common between the Synoptic Gospels that the later...

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