This is the third and last post related to what is known by most Christians about the Bible that ain’t so. While much of this information is reported in Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus, the following facts have been well known to well-informed, objective Bible scholars for almost two hundred years:
- We do not have the original writings of the New Testament. What we have are copies of these writings, made years later—in most cases, many years later. And none of these copies is completely accurate since the scribes who produced them inadvertently and/or intentionally changed them in places. All scribes did this.
- There are more differences among preserved manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament.
- The twenty-seven books we call the New Testament were not gathered into one canon and considered scripture, finally and ultimately, until hundreds of years after the books themselves were first produced.
- We do not know precisely how old the New Testament is. It could be 1,200 years; we just don’t know. But we do know that it’s not 2,000 years old as I was taught growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness.
- The third-century church father Origen, made the following complaint about the copies of the Gospel at his disposal: “The differences among the manuscripts have become great, either through the negligence of some copyists or through the perverse audacity of others; they either neglect to check over what they have transcribed, or, in the process of checking, they make additions or deletions as they please.” [Read more...]