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Ask The Pastor 8

How reliable are our modern Bibles?

One of the first arguments made by a Muslim is that our modern Bibles are not reliable. There is a great deal that can be said about the Quran but that can wait. Others have made the same claim, so how can we respond? The problem we have with our Old Testament is that the Jews did not keep the manuscripts, when a manuscript became worn they would ceremonially bury it. The best manuscripts that we have of the Old Testament is the Greek translation known as the Septuagint. We have manuscripts from Syria, Palestine and Egypt and then from the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Qumran caves. These all are within 95% agreement with the modern Hebrew text that we have. The New Testament has far more manuscripts from within 70 years from when they were written. There are 5,366 manuscripts to compare and draw information from and they are within 99.5% agreement of one another. To put this in perspective, there are only 643 copies of Homer’s Iliad, the most famous of Greek ancient literature. There are only 10 copies of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars. We see quotes from Socrates and yet there are no manuscripts of his writings, he is quoted by his student Plato and yet nobody denies the existence of Socrates. There are modern and postmodern critics who like to fret over the variants found in the manuscripts. These represent less than 5% of the texts and none of these so-called variants have anything to do with the doctrine of our faith. In other words when you read in your Bible, “You must be born again” then it is a fact that you must be born again.

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