Thursday, March 1, 2018

On The Reliability Of The New Testament

           -"One number that appears often in this context is 200,000 variants in the New Testament...Taking the number mentioned above, 200,000, we first note that these variants occur in only about 10,000 places....Westcott and Hort, the two men most vilified by KJV Only advocates, indicated that only about one eighth of the variants had any weight, the rest being 'trivialities'. This would leave the text, according to Westcott and Hort, 98.33 percent pure no matter whether one used the Textus Receptus or their own Greek text! Philip Schaff estimated that there were only 400 variants that affected the sense of the passage, and only 50 of these were actually important. He asserted that not one affected 'an article of faith or a precept of duty which is not abundantly sustained by other and undoubted passages, or by the whole tenor of Scripture teaching.' The great American Greek scholar, Dr. A.T. Robertson, whose familiarity with the most intimate details of the Greek text is abundantly verified by his massive 1,454 page A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, indicated that areas of real concern regarding textual variants amounted to but 'a thousandth part of the entire text.'...The reality is that the amount of variation between the two most extremely different manuscripts of the New Testament would not fundamentally alter the message of the Scriptures! I make this statement (1) fully aware of the wide range of textual variants in the New Testament, and (2) painfully aware of the strong attacks upon those who have made similar statements in the past. KJV Only advocates are quick to attack such statements, but I stand by it and will document its truthfulness throughout the rest of this book. The simple fact of the matter is that no textual variants in either the Old or New Testaments in any way, shape, or form materially disrupt or destroy any essential doctrine of the Christian faith. That is a fact that any semi-impartial review will substantiate....A person who would read Codex Sinaiticus and who would apply sound exegetical methods to its text would come to the very same conclusions as anyone reading a Byzantine manuscript written a thousand years later."
           -"NT scholars face an embarrassment of riches compared to the data the classical Greek and Latin scholars have to contend with. The average classical author’s literary remains number no more than twenty copies. We have more than 1,000 times the manuscript data for the NT than we do for the average Greco-Roman author. Not only this, but the extant manuscripts of the average classical author are no earlier than 500 years after the time he wrote. For the NT, we are waiting mere decades for surviving copies. The very best classical author in terms of extant copies is Homer: manuscripts of Homer number less than 2,400, compared to the NT manuscripts that are approximately ten times that amount."
  • Philip W. Comfort Wrote In His Book, The Complete Guide to Bible Versions:
           -"At present, we have more than 6,000 manuscript copies of the Greek New Testament or portions thereof. No other work of Greek literature can boast of such numbers. Homer’s Iliad, the greatest of all Greek classical works, is extant in about 650 manuscripts; and Euripides’ tragedies exist in about 330 manuscripts. The numbers on all the other works of Greek literature are far less. Furthermore, it must be said that the amount of time between the original composition and the next surviving manuscript is far less for the New Testament than for any other work in Greek literature. The lapse for most classical Greek works is about eight hundred to a thousand years; whereas the lapse for many books in the New Testament is around one hundred years. Because of the abundant wealth of manuscripts and because several of the manuscripts are dated in the early centuries of the church, New Testament textual scholars have a great advantage over classical textual scholars. The New Testament scholars have the resources to reconstruct the original text of the New Testament with great accuracy, and they have produced some excellent editions of the Greek New Testament. Finally, it must be said that, although there are certainly differences in many of the New Testament manuscripts, not one fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith rests on a disputed reading."
           -"Bruce Metzger is one of the great scholars of modern times, and I dedicated the book to him because he was both my inspiration for going into textual criticism and the person who trained me in the field. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him. And even though we may disagree on important religious questions – he is a firmly committed Christian and I am not – we are in complete agreement on a number of very important historical and textual questions. If he and I were put in a room and asked to hammer out a consensus statement on what we think the original text of the New Testament probably looked like, there would be very few points of disagreement – maybe one or two dozen places out of many thousands. The position I argue for in ‘Misquoting Jesus’ does not actually stand at odds with Prof. Metzger’s position that the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament." (p. 252)

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