Research only confirms the reliability of the Bible

Aug 5, 2020 by

Dr Pieter J Lalleman, Christian Today:

The reliability of the Bible remains a disputed issue but it needn’t be.

Critical scholars like Bart Ehrman argue that we cannot trust the text of the New Testament because it was not well copied, and because the oldest extant manuscripts are too late. Their views are echoed by lay people without much knowledge of the facts.

But is there really such a long gap between when the Bible was written and the earliest copies, and does it matter? Gregory R Lanier has been surveying the printed editions of the Greek New Testament, from the publication of the first scholarly edition by Westcott and Hort in 1881, until today, and his latest research encourages us to have more confidence in the biblical text than the sceptics would allow.

Since 1881, many new manuscripts have been discovered and new text editions produced. In more recent years, the digitisation of the manuscripts of the Bible has been rapid, allowing more people to study the evidence. Against this backdrop, you would expect the text of the New Testament to have been heavily revised as a result of all this work, but this is not the case at all.

What Lanier has found is that the similarity between the 1881 edition of the New Testament in Greek and the most recent editions is still over 98.5 per cent. In other words, the newly discovered manuscripts, and the investment of thousands of hours of human labour, not to mention millions of pounds, have basically confirmed what many of us already knew – that we had a very reliable Bible text the whole time.

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