In this week’s episode of Christ in Prophecy, we responded to some of the most frequently asked questions that Lamb & Lion Ministries receives concerning the integrity of the Bible.
If our Bibles today are copies of copies of copies of copies, are they therefore full of all kinds of typos and errors?
Nathan Jones: Of all the ancient writings in our possession today, besides the books of the Bible, The Iliad and The Odyssey hold the record for the most copies. Exactly 643 known ancient copies remain of The Iliad today, but these copies were produced some 500 years after its ancient Greek author, Homer, died. Our copies of The Odyssey came from much later, some 1,500 years after Homer died. Yet, despite the centuries that span between author and copy, nobody doubts that Homer wrote both The Iliad and The Odyssey.
Now let’s look at the Bible. The earliest copies and fragments of the New Testament date as far back as 120 AD, only 30 years after John finished penning Revelation. We have today some 2,400 copies of the New Testament dating from the first and second centuries. Concerning copies of the Old Testament, we also have the Dead Sea Scrolls, written between 200-100 BC. We can look at the Dead Sea Scrolls today, which contain all the books of the Old Testament except for two, and we can see that the versions we have today are direct translations of the Hebrew from that time period. All of these ancient copies, so prolifically available, prove the Bibles we have today has been exactly copied.
Dr. Reagan: If anybody knows how the biblical scribes worked, they would also trust that the Bibles we have today exactly match their ancient counterparts. The scribes and monks over the centuries copied the Scriptures with such care. For every page they copied, they counted and compared the letters all the way down and letters all the way across each page, and had all kinds of methods for checking to make sure there were no typos.
Nathan Jones: And, if the scribes messed a page up, even by the slightest misdrawn jot or tittle, they were required to throw the page out and start all over again. And, for every finished page, other scribes would pour over and over proofreading the page.
Tim Moore: That excruciating adherence to detail continues even to this day. People who come on tours with our ministry to Israel get to visit the ancient fortress of Masada. At Masada, there’s a scribe who sits in a room transcribing the Scriptures just like in ancient times. His work is so painstaking. If he makes even the simplest of errors, he reverently destroys the errant copy.
Dr. Reagan: Scribes and monks across the centuries tasked with copying the Bible worked under the knowledge that they were dealing with what they consider to be the very Word of God.
Tim Moore: That reverent attitude and scribal tradition that was so painstaking implemented prevented any kind of errors from being introduced and carried through into future copies.
Nathan Jones: Between the plethora of ancient copies and the strict copying rules implemented over the centuries, God provided the world with the assurance that the Bibles we hold today are His very Word.
In the fourth part of our series arguing that the Bible is indeed the inspired Word of God, we’ll examine how archaeology supports the authenticity of biblical accounts.