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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Why did God Allow Variants in the New Testament Manuscripts?

Atheist Arguments

Some atheists argue the New Testament can't be trusted because it's been changed and corrupted over the past two thousand years. (Parts of the Old Testament are about 3,500 years old. Imagine the alleged changes over that amount of time!) The argument then goes on to state that if God really did inspire the Bible, He would have prevented any changes from occurring in the text. Since New Testament manuscripts clearly show...

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How Are Textual Variants and Variation Units Related?

Textual variants are words or phrases in a manuscript that are different from the standard text. There may be several textual variants for a verse in the Bible, such as the last verse of the Lord's Prayer. Variation units are places in the standard text where the original wording is uncertain, and scholars try to determine which textual variant most likely reflects the original wording.

Textual Variants in Colossians 2:2

A single...

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What are Variant Units?

In my article two weeks ago, I wrote there are an estimated 200,000-500,000 textual variants in the Greek New Testament manuscripts. Last week I showed spelling errors are counted, but most aren't significant.

Variant Types

The types of textual variants that exist in New Testament manuscripts are split into two  broad categories:

  • Insignificant Variants are errors that are usually found in only a few manuscripts and that can...

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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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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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How are New Testament Manuscripts Dated?

Scholars have found tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts that contain parts of the Bible. Each manuscript had two aspects to it: 1) the physical media it's on; 2) the text that has been written on it.  The media and the text have to exist at the same time, but they don't have to be created at the same time. It is possible for a 2,000 year old text (i.e. the New Testament) to be written on modern media (i.e. paper). It is not possible for modern text...

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Did Emperor Constantine Create the Canon?

A common claim from people who don't believe the Bible is the word of God is that the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (Constantine I) created the Bible. They'll probably acknowledge some version of the texts existed before Constantine legalized Christianity, but say Constantine dictated what books were to be in the Bible, the ones which fit his personal beliefs. The skeptic may claim the result of this fiddling created Christianity as we know it...

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