by Hoss McDonald



A Synopsis of this paper's main points is available here.

Paul wrote to Timothy in (NASB95 Click to see the reference ) 2 Timothy 2:15 and said, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” We often think of that quote in conjunction Jude’s comment in Jude 1:3 where he said, “...I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.”


           As believers we realize that we need to read the Scripture to grow in our personal walk with the Lord but we also recognize that these comments warn us that we’re also responsible for understanding our faith and being able to defend its tenets with unbelievers. We're to share the Gospel with those that we meet.

 

           Our mid-week Bible study group and our personal Bible study time helps us to understand what we believe and to become adept at apologetics, proving the truth of our beliefs with scriptures from God’s Word. Since we know that the Bible is inspired by God, useful and true, we use it to prove the truth of God’s plan for our lives and the lives of all mankind. Therefore, if we study God’s word we are fulfilling these admonitions for preparedness.


           What happens however when we meet an unbeliever who seems interested in knowing about our faith but they start their conversation with comments such as these, “ I thinks there’s a God but how can I depend on your Bible to tell me what I really must know? Those books were written thousands of years ago. They’ve been copied many thousands of times. All kinds of error had to have crept in over the years. How can I go by such a fatally flawed book. The Bible isn’t an accurate record of what God really wants of us.”


           You’ve studied the Word. You were ready to point out all of the appropriate Scriptures and they blow you out of the water before you quote your first verse. They don’t trust the Book you were ready to use as an authority.


           Don’t let this happen to you! We often study God’s Word but we probably haven’t studied as much about how we received God’s word today and why it’s a trustworthy record of His plan for us all. We have solid reasons to believe that the Bible is an accurate record of God’s plan. Being able to defend the accuracy of the Bible itself can be as important as defending the Faith that’s described between its covers.


The Original Bible’s Materials


           The Bible is made up of 66 books that were originally written on many different surfaces. The Old Testament was written on stone, clay, wood and leather. Later as copies were made; papyrus, Vellum, parchment or paper was used. Vellum and parchment were made from the skin of calves, antelopes, goats or sheep. The ancient written copies of the Old Testament we have found are on vellum, parchment, papyrus or paper.


           The oldest New Testament samples we have are on papyrus or paper. The more recent copies are on vellum or parchment. Vellum and parchment last the longest of the writing materials. Writing was stored on scrolls until the 1st or 2nd century AD. At that point the codex or book form of writing became the most common method of storing the written word Click to see the reference .




The Languages of the Original Bible Texts


The Old Testament was essentially written in an ancient form of Hebrew. Hebrew has only consonants no vowels. It is written from right to left and book pages start from what we think of as the back of the book go to the front.


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Ancient Hebrew

from the Isaiah A Scroll - Dead Sea Scrolls

Portions of the Old Testament were written in Aramaic, a kindred language to Hebrew. Aramaic became the common man's language of those living in Palestine after about 500 BC. The place name in Gen 31:47 is an Aramaic word. Verse 11 in Jeremiah 10, several chapters in the book of Daniel (2:4b- 7:28) and Ezra (4:8-6:18, 7:12-26) are also in Aramaic. The shapes of the letters are the same in Hebrew and Aramaic. It's the vocabulary that's different.








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 Codex Bezae - Uncial Text

The New Testament was written for the most part in Koine or common Greek. It also contains some scattered Aramaic words and phrases. Such as in Mark 5:41 when Jesus said, “Talitha Cum”, which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” In Matthew 27:46 when Jesus is on the cross he spoke in Aramaic when he said “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus used the Aramaic word ‘Abba’ which means ‘father’ when referring to his Father, God in Mark 14:36. That term was picked up and used by the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6. The Aramaic word ‘Maranatha’ used in 1 Corinthians 16:22 was commonly used by early Christians. It means "Come, O Lord" Click to see the reference


History of the Old Testament Canon


The word ‘Bible’ is derived from the Greek word ‘biblia’ which mean books and we use it to refer to the books we have collected together and consider to be canonical. The word ‘canon’ comes from the Greek word ‘kanon’. It means 'rule', a standard of measurement. With respect to the Bible it means that these are the only books that measured up to the standard and were to be included as a part of God's word to His people. The canon of the Scripture contains 66 books. 39 Old Testament books and 27 New Testament books.


Both the Old and New Testament were inspired by God. In 2 Timothy 3:16 we read, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” The Greek word for ‘inspired’ in this passage literally means 'God Breathed' Click to see the reference . In 2 Peter 1:20-21 we read, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” We don’t believe that God always put each word into their mind thereby dictating the text they wrote. He often gave them the thoughts. They expressed them in their own language and used words and speech patterns that were their own.


However, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments directly. The prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah were told exactly what to say. Which is why the Old Testament prophets used the statement. "This is what the lord says" some 2,000 times Click to see the reference . God communicated His Word to Ezekiel and Daniel in dreams and visions. Before Jesus left, he said in John 14:26, "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." The method of transmission to man varied but the Author was the same, God the Father.


The precise criteria used to select books to be included was never written down. But obviously from the scriptures we read here, they had to be profitable in our walk with God and they had to be ‘God Breathed’ into existence.


Our Old Testament, written from 1400 BC to 400 BC, contains 39 books that were counted as 22-27 books depending on how the books were combined or arranged by the past authorities Click to see the reference . However, no matter the book count and arrangement, the exact content of the Old Testament hasn't changed for the Protestant church since approximately 400 BC. Official recognition of the Old Testament canon appears to have been in 90 AD at Jamnia by a group of Jewish Rabbis. The Jewish priesthood played the major role in determining the contents of the Old Testament. The first actual list of the 39 books of the Old Testament was produced by Melito of Sardis around 170 AD Click to see the reference . According to Josephus, a First Century Jewish historian the Hebrew Scriptures contained no books written after Malachi Click to see the reference .


Other books called the Apocrypha, written between 200 BC and 200 AD Click to see the reference , were in fact added to the Old Testament by certain groups. In response to the Protestant Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church formalized its acceptance of Augustine’s position, that the Apocrypha was equal in authority to the traditional Old Testament books, at the Council of Trent in 1546 AD. Click to see the reference Jerome who translated the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible in 382 AD and included the Apocryphal books at the request of others, personally felt they should not be in the canon Click to see the reference . The Eastern Orthodox Church started out accepting the Roman Catholic position but over time has come over to a nearly Protestant view of those books. The Church of England deemed the Apocrypha to be useful for ‘example of life and instruction of manners’ but not in order ‘to establish any doctrine’ Click to see the reference . The word Apocrypha literally means 'hidden', however it eventually took on the general meaning of 'non-canonical' after Jerome, in the 5th century AD, urged that they not be considered equal to the 39 books of the Old Testament. Click to see the reference


The Protestants rejected the Apocryphal books for numerous reasons:

 

1. They were never included in the Hebrew canon of the Old Testament.

 

2. Neither Jesus or the Apostles ever quoted from them in the New Testament as they did from other O.T. canonical writings.

 

3. They often contain historical, chronological and geographical errors. For example, (NAB) Judith 1:1 says, “ Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians, summoned Holofernes , general in chief of his forces, second to himself in command,...” when Holofernes was actually a Persian general and Nebuchadnezzar was the King of Babylon. Click to see the reference

 

4. At times they are in direct conflict with the Canon of scripture. In (NAB) 2 Maccabees 12:46 “Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin.”Click to see the reference

Having a chance to get saved after death supports the Roman Catholic position but is in direct conflict with, Hebrews 9:27 “....it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,” No second chance.


History of the New Testament Canon


The New Testament canon developed slowly over a few hundred years. Tertullian, a Christian writer during the first 30 years of the 3rd century, was one of the first to use the name “New Testament” to describe this collection of writings. It’s earliest known appearance was in a document by an unknown author in c.190 ADD that was a condemnation of the heresy of Montanism. The use of the term “New Testament” is important because it shows that these early writers had placed it equal in authority to the “Old Testament.” Click to see the reference


Jesus was born in approximately 5 BC Click to see the reference not in 1 AD as we might guess. He died and was raised from the dead in approximately 30 AD Click to see the reference . All of the books in the New Testament were probably written between 50 and 70 AD. The Apostolic Fathers (Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp Click to see the reference who was himself a disciple of the Apostle John) and others, wrote letters and papers from 90 AD to about 160 AD Click to see the reference , which quoted thousands of times from these books that are now in our New Testament.


The canon of the New Testament contains writings by Apostles, the associate of an Apostle or a relative of Jesus (namely James and Jude His half-brothers). They contain divinely inspired truth that we can use as doctrine. And they were regarded by successive generations of Christians as meeting all these points. Click to see the reference


 All of the letters, gospels and epistles were being hand copied and circulated in the early church because they recognized their value. The Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were circulated as individual books by the end of the first century. Paul’s epistles were collected into a single volume. By the end of the 2nd century the gospels were placed into one book. By the end of the 2nd or 3rd centuries Acts was being included with the General Epistles. Also by the end of the 2nd century 1 Peter and 1 John were being considered divinely inspired as well. Several books took longer to enter the canon: Hebrews ( because its author was unknown), James (because some thought it differed doctrinally with Paul’s writings concerning salvation), 2 Peter and Jude (over the question of authorship), 2 and 3 John (because they were not well known) and Revelation (because its message and its authorship were debated of a time.) By the end of the 4th century they were accepted by the church as divinely inspired Click to see the reference . The New Testament canon was now complete. Chart Ilustrating the writings of Early Church Fathers and their references to Scripture that were included in the Canon.


Eusebius a church historian sought to have the 27 books we consider to be the New Testament officially recognized as canon. His goal was achieved when Athanasius of Alexandria announced these 27 books in his ‘Festal Letter for Easter’ in 367 AD when he said, “Let no one add to these and let nothing be taken away.” The Council of Carthage in 397 AD confirmed that these 27 books were canonical and decreed that aside from them “nothing is to be read in church under the name of divine scriptures.” Click to see the reference Shortly afterwards Jerome and Augustine accepted this canon as well Click to see the reference .


These New Testament books did not become the authority for the church because of these canonizations. The church leaders included them in the canon because the church had already examined them and regarded them as divinely inspired. Click to see the reference


There were many Apocryphal New Testament writings but they never were close to being accepted as a part of the canon. They were written under the assumed names of the Apostles and others during the 2nd century and later. They took numerous forms: Gospels, Acts, Epistles and Apocalypses. They contain fanciful stories about Jesus and the Apostles. Jesus as a child, was described as making a leg on a bed, that his father Joseph was making, grow longer because it was too short (Gospel of Thomas 11:2) . Jesus was portrayed as a temperamental child who caused the death of his playmate (Gospel of Thomas 4:1) and who also gave life to some clay birds (Gospel of Thomas 2:3-4) . These writings were quite clearly not God inspired.




Writing Styles and Copying Errors


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Gutenberg Bible

Gen 1:1

The Bible canon which came into being was duplicated for use by others by hand copying. Johann Gutenberg wouldn’t invent his printing press until 1455 AD. The first book printed in Europe and the first Bible to ever be printed was the Gutenberg Bible.


Since the Old Testament and New Testament were copied only by hand from 1400 BC until 1455 AD can we really determine what was originally written? Wouldn’t the errors made by copyists make it impossible to know what was in the original? Before answering that let’s talk about the copying process and kind of errors that occurred.










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Above: Ancient Hebrew with No Vowel pointing.

Below; Modern Hebrew with Vowel Pointing

The Old Testament scribes used Hebrew without any vowel points to aid in pronunciation. Words run together with no spaces placed between words. Since Hebrew has no vowels the copies made by the Massoretes added the vowel points to aid in pronunciation. They were very careful to make no changes to the Hebrew characters themselves. To ensure correct copying of text the scribe followed the pattern of columns and lines exactly, so he could easily check the accuracy of his copy Click to see the reference .


The Massoretes were a group of scholars living in Tiberias, a city on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. They were dedicated to the preservation of the scriptures. Their group started making copies in approximately 500 AD and continued for another 400-500 years.


Because groups of scribes sprang up to guard the accuracy of God’s Word the Old Testament has fewer variations in text than the New Testament which was often copied by less well trained copyists.








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Left: Codex Vaticanus

Uncial 8th Century

and before.

Right:Cursive/ Miniscule

from 9th Century on.


The oldest New Testament documents we have, from 125 AD to about700 ADD, are written in an Uncial form of Greek (all capital letters). From 800 AD and on the cursive or minuscule style of Greek writing, using upper and lower case letters when transcribing books, was used. The majority of our texts are in the cursive style. Both types of Greek writing styles existed even in the Apostle’s time. Click to see the reference


Copying errors of several kinds have occurred over time.

 

                       1.  Trivial variations which are of no consequence to the text.

 

As words changed spelling in the Greek language, over time copyists often used a new spelling for an older word. Variations in grammar and even vocabulary, also due to changes in the Greek language, also occurred. The omission or addition of ‘for’, ‘and’, ‘the’, etc. occurs fairly often, without changing the meaning of the text Click to see the reference .

 

                       2.  Substantial variations which are of no consequence to the text.

 

This doesn’t mean that textual variations aren’t important. However there are variations which affect not only a word or two but a whole verse or several verses. The reason they don’t affect our text is because they are not supported by our most authoritative texts. For instance in the Codex Bezae, a 5th century Greek text, Luke 6:5 contains this text, “On the same day, seeing one working on the Sabbath day, he said unto him, Man, if you know what you are doing you are blessed; but if you do not know, then you are accursed and a transgressor of the law.” This incident appears in no other Greek text we have and has therefore always been rejected Click to see the reference

As you can see, it doesn’t impact our scripture in any way. Other verses also exist that are not supported by our most authoritative texts and were also left out of our present Bible.

 

                       3.  Substantial variations which have a bearing on the text.

 

The verses at the end of Mark 16:9-20 are an example. These verses appear in most of the later Greek texts we have and they represent the bulk of our Greek texts. They do not appear in our oldest and most authoritative texts which are few in number. These verses do appear in other old texts, than those that are considered the best manuscripts. These verses are quoted by Irenaeus a Christian writer in the 2nd century who believed they were written by Mark. So the written authorities give a mixed message on this passage. These verses appear in the KJV without a footnote and in some modern versions with a footnote indicating that they’re not found in some of the older manuscripts. A few new Bible versions don’t include them. Whatever the correct answer may be as to their inclusion, nothing casts doubt on the truth of their content. In fact the main events and message of this passage are listed in other Scripture. Click to see the reference



Old Testament Document Authorities


The Old Testament translations are for the most part based on texts copied by the Massoretes in the 9th or 10th century or since. We do not have the large number of ancient texts for the Old Testament that we have for the New Testament. We have fewer copies because Hebrew scribes tended to bury their old copies to protect the documents from improper use of the material on which the name of God had been inscribed Click to see the reference .

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Deuteronomy 5:1-5


Until the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the Caves of Qumran in Israel in 1948 these Massoretic texts were the oldest copies of the Old Testament in Hebrew that we had. Among the many documents found among the Dead Sea Scrolls were two copies of Isaiah. One called Isaiah ‘A’ is complete except for a few verses and dates to 100 BC. Isaiah ‘A’ on a single 24 foot long scroll is now displayed in the “Shrine of the Book” museum in Israel. Isaiah ‘B’ contains Chapters 41-59 and is dated only a few years later. This new and more ancient evidence, by as much as a 1,000 years, confirms that the Hebrew scribes copied and recopied the Hebrew text with great accuracy Click to see the reference

 

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New Testament Document Authorities


We have some 5,255 Greek documents Click to see the reference we base our New Testament on. The numbering system for our Greek documents was maintained by Kurt Aland until his death in 1994. Aland was a part of the Nestle-Aland team that developed the Greek text on which most modern translations are based.

There are, at most recent count, 116 Papyrus fragments which have been found and numbered. Some of those fragments date earlier than the more complete texts that we have. The John Rylands fragment containing a few verses from the Gospel of John, dates to about 115-120 AD, within a few years of the original writings by the Apostles Click to see the reference . These ancient fragments confirm that the New Testament we have today is an accurate copy.


We have 267 Uncial Click to see the reference documents which are nearly complete copies of the New Testament. The Siniatic and Vatican manuscripts which are the oldest authorities (dated 350-400 AD) on which most of the Nestle-Aland Greek text is based are in this grouping Click to see the reference . This group of texts are often referred to as the Alexandrian Manuscripts.  


There are 2,764 cursive texts Click to see the reference . These are the texts produced from the 9th century on and are the basis of the King James Version of the Bible which used this Byzantine-cursive Greek text type when it was translated. The King James Version was based on half dozen Greek manuscripts of which the KJV team was aware. Only 25 New Testament manuscripts were even known at that time.


There are 2,143 Lectionaries in Greek included in our total of 5,255. Lectionaries were used by the Eastern churches to recite liturgy or scripture in church. These documents are of significant value because some 90% of the New Testament is quoted in these documents Click to see the reference .


We have continued to search for older and older copies of all scripture with the belief in mind that the closer we come to the time the documents were actually written, less copying was done and the text will be more accurate than later versions. As we have uncovered older documents we have had our confidence in today’s Bible continually confirmed.


Textual Variances and How They Were Resolved


Since we know that copying introduced errors, how did our Bible scholars resolve those differences to come up with a Greek or Hebrew text that we can rely on as being close to the original texts. They used Textual Criticism methodologies. There are two types of textual Criticism Higher and Lower.


Higher Textual Criticism studies the ‘form’ of the text and what it can allegedly tell us about the writing and transmission of the text. This method is highly subjective and has been used by liberal ‘scholars’, such as those in the ‘Jesus Seminar’, to discredit virtually all of the sayings of Christ as being ‘made up’ by the authors of the books.


Lower Textual Criticism methodologies are much less subjective and have been used by virtually all of the scholars who have puttogetherr a Greek or Hebrew text from the thousands of documents that have come down to us. Its goal is to reproduce the text in as faithful a manner as possible to the original document by considering only text and facts. Click to see the reference


Lower Textual Critics compared the many different Greek manuscripts with each other to eliminate variants. They referred to the some 18,000 New Testament manuscripts that were translated into Latin and other languages. They also used some 86,000 scripture quotes contained in the writings of the early Church fathers to provide additional clarity as to the original content of the New Testament manuscripts. Click to see the reference


The secular world has great difficulty in accepting the Bible as being an accurate representation of the original documents written by the Apostles. Yet, they have no questions about authorship or the faithful copying of the works of Plato, Aristotle or other ancient writers who have 2, 3 or at most possibly a hundred copies of their writings still in existence


Critics of the Bible often have said that there are 200,000 variants or errors in the New Testament alone. How did they arrive at that number? If a word is misspelled once and then copied 5,000 times they call that 5,000 variants but in fact it is one error or variant. In fact this number 200,000 is actually made up of variants that occur in only about 10,000 locations. According to Wescott and Hort, the authors of one of the modern New Testament Greek texts, some 85-90% of these variants are trivial misspellings and such.


This means that 98.33% of the New Testament has come down to us with NO significant errors to resolve. According to Seminary Professor Phillip Schaff, There were only 400 variants that affected the sense of the passage and he considered only 50 of those to actually be important. He also said NOT ONE variant affected any article of faith or doctrine that was not abundantly sustained by other undoubted passages or by the whole tenor of the Scriptures teaching. Click to see the reference


The American Greek scholar Dr. A.T. Robertson who wrote the 1,454 page A History of Greek New Testament in Light of Historical Research said that variants of real concern amounted to ‘a thousandths part of the entire text.” Dr. Gordon Fee a Pentecostal scholar puts it, “It is noteworthy that for most scholars over 90% of all the variations to the NT text are resolved, because in most instances the variant that best explains the origin of the others is also supported by the earliest and best witnesses.”(or manuscripts).


To quote Dr. James R. White the author of the book The King James Only Controversy, “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! Click to see the reference


According to New Testament Greek scholar Bruce M. Metzger, “...So extensive are these citations (in commentaries, sermons lectionaries, etc.) that if all other sources for our knowledge of the text of the New Testament were destroyed, they would be sufficient alone for the reconstruction of practically the entire New Testament.” Click to see the reference


Bible Translations a Brief History


Jerome translated the Bible into Latin in 405 AD. His translation was known as the Latin Vulgate and it reigned as the most popular translation for 1,100 years until the 16th century. Click to see the reference


In 1382 John Wycliffe translated from the Latin Vulgate and produced the first complete Bible in English.


In the early 16th century 1516 AD actually, Erasmus a Catholic priest began the task of creating a Greek New Testament. His was created after examining the 5 or 6 Greek texts that were available at that time Click to see the reference . He was heavily criticized by his contemporaries for puttingtogetherr a Greek New Testament because it was felt he was condemning their beloved Latin Vulgate as being insufficient in some way.


William Tyndale attended Cambridge University while Erasmus was a professor there. Tyndale used Erasmus’ Greek text in 1525 AD to create the first English translation of the New Testament from the Greek. Since the Gutenberg Press had been invented 65 years earlier, this and all future editions of the Bible could be printed instead of copied by hand. Tyndale was imprisoned and then burned at the stake for his translation work by the Roman Catholics and before he completed his translation of the Old Testament from the Hebrew.


A former friend and associate of Tyndale’s, by the name of Miles Coverdale, completed Tyndale’s work and published the complete Bible in English in 1535 AD.


Another friend of Tyndale’s, John Rogers, came out with Matthew’s Bible in 1537 AD. In 1539 AD John Coverdale came out with a revision of Matthew’s Bible known as the Great Bible. King Henry VIII had a copy of it placed in every English church.


In 1560 The Geneva Bible was printed in Geneva Switzerland. Having legible type, small form, accompanying commentary and numerous illustrations it became to the home what the Great Bible had been to the Church. The Geneva Bible was the Bible of Shakespeare and the Pilgrims who came to America.


The English clergy set out to revise the Geneva Bible in 1568 AD because they disliked the theology of the man who had written much of its commentary, John Calvin. That Bible became know as the Bishop’s Bible and was the official Bible until King James in 1607 commissioned the Authorized Version, known to us as the King James Version to replace the 1602 version of the Bishop’s Bible. Their goal was a revision not a new translation. Click to see the reference They did refer to the Greek and Hebrew texts by Erasmus, Stephanus and Bezae as well as others, but only as they felt the need.


Twenty years after the publication of the King James Bible the Elzevir bothers produced a second edition of their Greek New Testament. In the preface was their claim “testum...ab omnibus receptus” from which it was nicknamed the Textus Receptus, the “Received Text. Click to see the reference


The Greek text that today is still known as the Textus Receptus is published by the ‘Trinitarian Bible Society’ and is often mistakenly believed to be the basis for the King James translation but is not identical to the Erasmus, Stephanus or Bezae texts, which the King James translators actually referred to. It is drawn from a Greek Text by F.H.A. Scrivener created in the late 1800's. Scrivener started with the Bezae Greek text and modified it to make the Greek match what the King James translators had put in English. There is no single Greek Text that was actually used to create the KJV Click to see the reference .


The 1611 version of the KJV was printed with 6,637 notes in the Old Testament expressing more literal renderings of words or alternate renderings of words and 767 such notes in the New Testament Click to see the reference . More than a dozen revisions were made to the 1611 King James Bible. Today, most King James Bibles (but not every edition published by every publisher) are based on the 1769 version.


The American Standard version of the Bible was translated in 1901 from Greek texts that were not available in the time of King James. It modernized most of the English but has been criticized for still being awkward to read.


The Revised Standard Version of 1952 was another attempt to improve on both the King James and American Standard version. The Greek texts that were available to the RSV committee were the older Alexandrian texts from the 4th century. The RSV attempted to recapture some of the beauty of the King James language while still clarifying the text for modern readers. It is considered by most to be much more readable than the American Standard version.


The New American Standard version, produced by the Lockman foundation in 1971 and updated in 1995, is not a revision of the American Standard Bible. It was an all new translation from a revised Nestle-Aland Greek text. The NASB is considered to be a very accurate word for word translation from the Greek. However, its attempt to at times follow the word order of the Greek language makes it less smooth reading than the New International Version which came out later.


The New International Version was printed in 1978 and has become the most popular version of the Bible, today. It outsells the King James version which had been the number one selling version for centuries. Its popularity rest mainly with its easy readability in modern English. It is based on modern Greek texts but often uses a phrase for phrase translation technique to aid in adapting it to the flow of modern English. It’s specific words are not as closely aligned to the Greek texts as the translations that are more nearly word for word translations.


Historical Accuracy of the Bible


You’ve seen here information about the thousands of manuscripts our scholars have used to validate the Greek and Hebrew texts we have today. You now see how it is possible for translations into our modern tongue to remain faithful to the Greek or Hebrew texts that were written thousands of years ago.


Still, many secular people have rejected the Scripture as fanciful stories that are not based on facts just fantasy. They have repeatedly tried to point out places where the Bible was wrong by saying that it was historically inaccurate.


Secular scholars for years said Moses couldn’t have written the first five books of the Bible in 1,400 BC because writing didn’t exist at that time. Archaeology has now proven that the Jews did have writing long before Moses time.


Others said the walls of Jericho didn’t fall down after Joshua and his men blew their trumpets. Archaeologists finally dug up walls around the original Jericho and discovered that indeed that walls had fallen down, but they changed their story and said it must have been an earthquake.


The existence of King Belshazzar was denied until archaeologists proved his existence. Likewise the existence of the Hittites was denied until archaeology proved otherwise.


Some scholars said that Pontius Pilate was a fictitious character. Then recently archaeologists found his name inscribed on stones that dated from Jesus time.



Internal Testimony as to the Divine Nature of the Scripture


We see that we have the Word transmitted accurately to us and that it is historically accurate but why do we actually believe it is divinely inspired and not just a philosophy book like Plato’s? The Scriptures as written by its writers claim to be God’s word for us. They claim divine inspiration.


In Romans 3:1-2 we read, “ Then what advantage has the Jew? ...First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.” Paul considered the Old Testament to be right from God’s mouth. Paul said God’s Scripture is prophetic in Romans 1: 2, “ ...He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,” He then said those prophetic words which are written in Scripture are from the Holy spirit as we see in 2 Peter 1:21, “...no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”


The New Testament Christians accepted Paul’s words as being from God as well. As he relates in 1 Thessalonians 2;13, “ For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God....” He says in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”


Peter considered Paul’s wisdom to be given to him by God and on par with the Old Testament scriptures, as we read in 2 Peter 3:15, “...just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures,...”


Jesus quoted the Old Testament repeatedly. He confirmed the reality of many things the secular world calls Bible myths. He relates the creation of Adam and Eve in Matthew 19:4 ,“And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female,” He also said Noah was real in Matthew 24: 37 "For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.” Even Jonah was confirmed as a real person. In Matthew 12 :40, “for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” If we believe that Jesus, Paul, Peter and the other writers of scripture were sane and honest men not just some crackpots then we know that indeed God did inspire the Bible.



Modern External Proof of the Divine Nature of the Bible


Books are of no value if the advice in them doesn’t work. The advice in the Bible works. To know that the Bible is true takes very little investigation. Look around you. The changed lives that occur from having believed in Jesus Christ’s words could not have happened without Divine follow through to what the Holy Spirit of God divinely inspired the writers of the Bible to pen. Cancer is cured, the dead are raised as it written in the Bible. Miracles occur today, flying in the face of scientific skeptics that refuse to believe in God because they can’t see Him or weigh Him or measure Him. They miss the point. They only need to read the Bible and come to know Him through His Son Jesus Christ. Things will then become clear to them. God IS real and His Word reveals him to every one of us as the Holy spirit opens our eyes and hearts.