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Old 11-19-2015, 03:51 PM
 
Location: Florida -
8,235 posts, read 9,990,552 times
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UNPARALLELED LITERARY EVIDENCE:
• 24,000 ancient scripture manuscripts far exceed any other known literary record
• Dead Sea Scrolls (and other) ‘prove’ scripture remained unchanged for thousands of years
• 6 Billion copies of scripture/the Bible have been translated and published in 2200 languages
• Scripture continues to influence modern language in ways most do not even realize.

24,000 ancient scripture manuscripts far exceed any other known literary record
No other writing known to mankind even remotely approaches the Bible’s authenticated literary record. Ancient manuscripts, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, provide conclusive evidence that Scripture has remained unchanged for 2000 to 3000 years and has been hand copied and handed-down intact!

New Testament:
24,000 ancient manuscripts of the New Testament have been found. These include almost 6,000 Greek manuscripts and another 19,000 in Syriac, Latin, Coptic and Aramaic languages. The original autographs of New Testament manuscripts were all produced within 70-years of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. Almost all of the manuscripts were copied and in-place within 150-years. The literary record of Scripture/ the Bible is unparalleled by any literary record known to mankind. In a distant second place are 600 ancient manuscript copies of Homer’s Iliad, most of which were copied 500-years after the original.

“Jews preserved it as no other manuscript has ever been preserved. With their massora they kept tabs on every letter, syllable, word and paragraph. They had special classes of men within their culture whose sole duty was to preserve and transmit these documents with practically perfect fidelity–scribes, lawyers, massorettes.” [B# Ref). ] Bernard Ramm

The number of copies and date proximity of ancient manuscripts to actual events provides almost certain assurance of the textual and historical accuracy of the copies. It also affirms that the commonly held doctrines and beliefs of Christians today are consistent with those of Christians 2000-years ago, and held by billions of Christians over the past 2,000 years!

“To sum up the evidence on the number of variants, there are a lot of variants because there are a lot of manuscripts. Even in the early centuries, the text of the NT is significant , and writings of the church fathers affirm all of the essentials of the original text. "In spite of their differences, Bible scholars generally agree that the original words of the New Testament can be reconstructed with almost 100-percent accuracy.” Daniel Wallace PhD - Dallas Theological Seminary

Old Testament (Dead Sea Scrolls):
A complete copy of the Book of Isaiah, dating from 200 BC (originally autograph written about 800 to 700 BC) was found among the scrolls. This pre-dated the previous earliest known Hebrew copies of Isaiah by almost 1000 years! After years of painstaking comparison, it was shown that the differences between the Qumran scrolls and scriptures penned 1000 years later, consisted only incidental spelling differences and variations in margin notes!

“They proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95% of the text. The 5% variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling. No variations changed the meaning of the text in any significant way. The fact that both Old and New Testament texts have been transmitted so accurately over so many years is miraculous." Gleason Archer, Harvard Phd (one of the most prominent Archaeologist of Twentieth Century)
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Old 11-19-2015, 06:07 PM
 
Location: Divided Tribes of America
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Same recycled apologetics arguments that have already been refuted a thousand times.

The Book of Mormon was written only ~150 years ago, so the literary evidence for the authenticity of the BOM is arguably much better than the literary evidence for the Bible. Yet, you are not a Mormon. Why the double standard?
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Old 11-19-2015, 06:21 PM
 
17,658 posts, read 8,860,686 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jghorton View Post
“To sum up the evidence on the number of variants, there are a lot of variants because there are a lot of manuscripts. Even in the early centuries, the text of the NT is significant , and writings of the church fathers affirm all of the essentials of the original text. "In spite of their differences, Bible scholars generally agree that the original words of the New Testament can be reconstructed with almost 100-percent accuracy.” Daniel Wallace PhD - Dallas Theological Seminary
Variants tend to change or alter.
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Old 11-19-2015, 06:23 PM
Status: "Amused by BF." (set 5 days ago)
 
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Is there nothing new under the Christian Apologetic sun?
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Old 11-19-2015, 06:27 PM
Status: "Amused by BF." (set 5 days ago)
 
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Unless the "something new" is listed under Proof #3, which appears to be MIA.
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Old 11-19-2015, 08:44 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
21,259 posts, read 20,859,174 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freak80 View Post
The Book of Mormon was written only ~150 years ago, so the literary evidence for the authenticity of the BOM is arguably much better than the literary evidence for the Bible.
No, it was translated 150 years ago. It was written many centuries before that.
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Old 11-19-2015, 08:50 PM
 
Location: Divided Tribes of America
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katzpur View Post
No, it was translated 150 years ago. It was written many centuries before that.
I guess that would be a whole new thread!
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Old 11-20-2015, 06:52 AM
 
34,413 posts, read 8,865,664 times
Reputation: 4782
Quote:
Originally Posted by jghorton View Post
UNPARALLELED LITERARY EVIDENCE:
• 24,000 ancient scripture manuscripts far exceed any other known literary record
• Dead Sea Scrolls (and other) ‘prove’ scripture remained unchanged for thousands of years
• 6 Billion copies of scripture/the Bible have been translated and published in 2200 languages
• Scripture continues to influence modern language in ways most do not even realize.

24,000 ancient scripture manuscripts far exceed any other known literary record
No other writing known to mankind even remotely approaches the Bible’s authenticated literary record. Ancient manuscripts, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, provide conclusive evidence that Scripture has remained unchanged for 2000 to 3000 years and has been hand copied and handed-down intact!

New Testament:
24,000 ancient manuscripts of the New Testament have been found. These include almost 6,000 Greek manuscripts and another 19,000 in Syriac, Latin, Coptic and Aramaic languages. The original autographs of New Testament manuscripts were all produced within 70-years of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. Almost all of the manuscripts were copied and in-place within 150-years. The literary record of Scripture/ the Bible is unparalleled by any literary record known to mankind. In a distant second place are 600 ancient manuscript copies of Homer’s Iliad, most of which were copied 500-years after the original.

“Jews preserved it as no other manuscript has ever been preserved. With their massora they kept tabs on every letter, syllable, word and paragraph. They had special classes of men within their culture whose sole duty was to preserve and transmit these documents with practically perfect fidelity–scribes, lawyers, massorettes.” [B# Ref). ] Bernard Ramm

The number of copies and date proximity of ancient manuscripts to actual events provides almost certain assurance of the textual and historical accuracy of the copies. It also affirms that the commonly held doctrines and beliefs of Christians today are consistent with those of Christians 2000-years ago, and held by billions of Christians over the past 2,000 years!

“To sum up the evidence on the number of variants, there are a lot of variants because there are a lot of manuscripts. Even in the early centuries, the text of the NT is significant , and writings of the church fathers affirm all of the essentials of the original text. "In spite of their differences, Bible scholars generally agree that the original words of the New Testament can be reconstructed with almost 100-percent accuracy.” Daniel Wallace PhD - Dallas Theological Seminary

Old Testament (Dead Sea Scrolls):
A complete copy of the Book of Isaiah, dating from 200 BC (originally autograph written about 800 to 700 BC) was found among the scrolls. This pre-dated the previous earliest known Hebrew copies of Isaiah by almost 1000 years! After years of painstaking comparison, it was shown that the differences between the Qumran scrolls and scriptures penned 1000 years later, consisted only incidental spelling differences and variations in margin notes!

“They proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95% of the text. The 5% variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling. No variations changed the meaning of the text in any significant way. The fact that both Old and New Testament texts have been transmitted so accurately over so many years is miraculous." Gleason Archer, Harvard Phd (one of the most prominent Archaeologist of Twentieth Century)
I must agree with my colleagues that this is stale apologetics and irrelevant. The number and antiquity of scripture proves nothing. I think you may find that Buddhist scripture may be a match for antique Biblical scripture.

And the huge number of Bibles printed in every possible language so as to be foisted on the world proves nothing other than a staggering global waste paper industry.

Popular culture influences modern language far more than scripture does. Shakespeare had a huge influence, too. That is a non -starter.

Your best point is that scripture remained unchanged. Well, that applies to the Dead sea scrolls and Jewish scripture, but it certainly isn't the case with the New Testament. Even apart from the discrepancies that are evidence of several revisions of the original stoiry and the contradictions that are evidence of changes made by the individual writers, have you never seen how many footnotes there are in the Bibles saying 'other ancient authorities read/omit/have alternative...' or this or that '..verse is omitted by the ancient authorities'.
This is religious garbledegook for - stuff has been added to or altered to the original scripture. And do I need to mention the woman taken in adultery story and that the 'ancient authorities' couldn't decide whether it was in John or Luke? And isn't it well known (but not publicized much) that Mark 16.9 onwards is all later addition, because the 'ancient authorities' felt there ought to be a resurrection story - so they wrote one?

You have flunked on science in the Bible, not earned a pass with prophecy fulfilled, and this effort isn't even worth marking.
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Old 11-20-2015, 08:12 AM
 
20,290 posts, read 15,633,754 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
I must agree with my colleagues that this is stale apologetics and irrelevant. The number and antiquity of scripture proves nothing. I think you may find that Buddhist scripture may be a match for antique Biblical scripture.

And the huge number of Bibles printed in every possible language so as to be foisted on the world proves nothing other than a staggering global waste paper industry.

Popular culture influences modern language far more than scripture does. Shakespeare had a huge influence, too. That is a non -starter.

Your best point is that scripture remained unchanged. Well, that applies to the Dead sea scrolls and Jewish scripture, but it certainly isn't the case with the New Testament. Even apart from the discrepancies that are evidence of several revisions of the original stoiry and the contradictions that are evidence of changes made by the individual writers, have you never seen how many footnotes there are in the Bibles saying 'other ancient authorities read/omit/have alternative...' or this or that '..verse is omitted by the ancient authorities'.
This is religious garbledegook for - stuff has been added to or altered to the original scripture. And do I need to mention the woman taken in adultery story and that the 'ancient authorities' couldn't decide whether it was in John or Luke? And isn't it well known (but not publicized much) that Mark 16.9 onwards is all later addition, because the 'ancient authorities' felt there ought to be a resurrection story - so they wrote one?

You have flunked on science in the Bible, not earned a pass with prophecy fulfilled, and this effort isn't even worth marking.
While New Testament textual criticism which deals with the issue of the degree of accuracy with which the original New Testament text has been transmitted down through the ages does not really concern the issue of whether what was originally written is true, before the issue of whether what was originally written is true can be addressed it must first be determined if we can know what was originally written. Though we don't have the original autographs, can we determine to what degree the original New Testament text has accurately been transmitted through the manuscript copies which are extant.

Regarding the issue of New Testament textual reliability (is what we have now what they wrote then), here is what the experts, the textual critics who have studied the matter say.

Gary Habermas comments;
The textual purity of the New Testament is rarely questioned in scholarship. It is well established and agreed among almost all who have ever seriously studied the ancient texts that the text is virtually the same as what was originally written. Even critical scholars question very few words in the New Testament, and those words do not affect doctrinal issues.

[Habermas, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, p.85]

Most New Testament textual critics (scholars who study and compare the New Testament documents) maintain that the New Testament text is extremely reliable. Though there are an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 textual variants, the vast majority are absolutely meaningless and affect nothing. Many of them are not even translatable from Greek into English. A textual variant is simply a lack of uniformity of wording among the manuscripts regarding a particular word, sentence, or paragraph. These variants fall into the following categories.

1.) Spelling differences and nonsense errors. This category is by far the majority of the variants.
For example, in Greek, the name John may be spelled Ἰωάννῃ (Ióannés) or Ἰωάνῃ (Ióanés). But in English, it is translated as John.

One of the most common textual variants involves the 'movable nu.' This is a nu - 'ν'. In English, it is the letter 'n.' In Greek the nu - 'ν' can occur at the end of certain words which precede a word that begins with a vowel. Whether a scribe used the nu or not is similar to saying 'a' or 'an'. 'An apple', or 'a apple.' Not using it when he should have just means the scribe was careless or couldn't spell. But it doesn't affect the meaning.

A nonsense error is a mistake on the part of a scribe which in context obviously makes no sense and when compared with other manuscripts can be easily seen to not be the original wording.
2.) Minor variations that have no affect on translations or that involve the use of synonyms. This category of variant does not involve spelling or nonsense readings, but which also don't affect translation. For example, The Greek may or may not use the definite article with a proper name, whereas the English does not. Luke 2:16 in Greek says 'the Mary' - τήν τε Μαριὰμ (both the Mary) καὶ τὸν Ἰωσὴφ (and the Joseph). So 'Mary' or 'the Mary' would be variants which affect nothing. And in English we simply translate it as 'Mary.'

Then there are variants among the Greek manuscripts resulting from the fact that Greek is an inflectional language which means that when writing something the same thing can be said using different word order since the subject is always in the nominative case and the direct object is always in the accusative case. In Greek, the subject and object are not determined by word order as in English, but by the case ending.

Variants are also the result of using synonyms. A scribe of a particular manuscript might use the noun 'Jesus' instead of the pronoun 'He.' For instance, in Matthew 4:18, 12:25; Mark 2:15, 10:52; and Luke 24:36 the Byzantine manuscript text type tends to use the name 'Jesus' while the Alexandrian manuscripts say 'He.' While this affects translation, whether 'Jesus' or 'He' is used, the referent is still Jesus.

Another variant might involve an addition such as a passage saying 'Christ Jesus' instead of 'Jesus'. In Acts 19:4, the Alexandrian manuscripts have 'Jesus' while the Byzantine manuscripts have 'Christ Jesus.' Obviously Jesus is the Christ, and so whether or not a particular passage says 'Christ Jesus' or simply 'Jesus' doesn't affect the meaning.

3.) Differences that affect the meaning, but are not viable (that is, there is no chance of them going back to the original autographs.) As an example, I quote Dan Wallace in an interview.
For example, in Luke 6:22, the ESV reads, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!” But one manuscript from the 10th/11th century (codex 2882) lacks the words “on account of the Son of Man.” That’s a very meaningful variant since it seems to say that a person is blessed when he is persecuted, regardless of his allegiance to Christ. Yet it is only in one manuscript, and a relatively late one at that. It has no chance of reflecting the wording of the original text, since all the other manuscripts are against it, including quite a few that are much, much earlier.

An Interview with Daniel B. Wallace on the New Testament Manuscripts | TGC
4.) Differences that affect the meaning, and are viable. This last category involves only about 1 percent or less of the varients. These variants affect the meaning of the text to some degree, but not in any major way.

For instance, in Romans 5:1, did Paul write, ''We have peace'' (ἔχομεν - echomen), or did he write, ''let us have peace'' (ἔχωμεν - echōmen)? The difference in the two words is one letter. Regardless of which of the two reading is correct, they don't contradict what the Bible teaches. If Paul was saying that we have peace with God he was referring to the believer's positional status with God in Christ Jesus. If he was saying ''let us have peace with God'' then he was simply urging believers to realize that peace.

The largest textual variant in the New Testament involves Mark 16:9-20. Did Mark intend to end his gospel account at verse 8 or did the last part of that chapter get lost somehow? Scholars debate that question. But verses 9-20 are generally believed not to have been the original reading. Even so, that reading doesn't really affect any cardinal doctrine. The apostles did cast out demons, and did speak in tongues [v. 17]. As well, they did lay hands on the sick and heal them [v.18].

As for picking up snakes and drinking poison, while nowhere in the New Testament are these practices reported as happening, Eusebius tells of a tradition in which a man drank poison but was unharmed.
Church History Book 3.39.9

8. But it is fitting to subjoin to the words of Papias which have been quoted, other passages from his works in which he relates some other wonderful events which he claims to have received from tradition.

9. That Philip the apostle dwelt at Hierapolis with his daughters has been already stated. But it must be noted here that Papias, their contemporary, says that he heard a wonderful tale from the daughters of Philip. For he relates that in his time one rose from the dead. And he tells another wonderful story of Justus, surnamed Barsabbas: that he drank a deadly poison, and yet, by the grace of the Lord, suffered no harm.
CHURCH FATHERS: Church History, Book III (Eusebius)
As well, this could be referring to being compelled to pick up snakes and drink poison rather than to the voluntary practice of them. And it could be restricted to the apostolic period of the Church-age. Regardless, no cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith is affected by this variant.


So what do the textual critics say about the reliability of the New Testament?

F. F. Bruce (1910-1990) was Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester, England. He stated...
Fortunately, if the great number of MSS increases the number of scribal errors, it increases proportionately the means of correcting such errors, so that the margin of doubt left in the process of recovering the exact original wording is not so large as might be feared; it is in truth remarkably small. The variant readings about which any doubt remains among textual critics of the New Testament affect no material question of historic fact or of Christian faith and practice. [The New Testament Documents; Are They Reliable?, F.F. Bruce, pgs. 14-15.]

Bruce Metzger (1914-2007) was one of the most highly regarded scholars of Greek, New Testament, and New Testament Textual Criticism. He served on the board of the American Bible Society and United Bible Societies and was a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary. He commented...
But the amount of evidence for the text of the New Testament , whether derived from manuscripts, early versions, or patristic quotations is so much greater than that available for any ancient classical author that the necessity of resorting to emendation is reduced to the smallest dimensions. [The Text of the New Testament, Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, Fourth Edition, Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman, pg. 230]

Daniel B. Wallace (PhD, Dallas Theological Seminary) is professor of New Testament Studies. He is a member of the Society of New Testament Studies, the Institute for Biblical Research, and has consulted on several Bible translations. He made these comments...
To sum up the evidence on the number of variants, there are a lot of variants because there are a lot of manuscripts. Even in the early centuries, the text of the NT is found in a sufficient number of MSS, versions, and writings of the church fathers to give us the essentials of the original text. [Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament, Daniel B. Wallace, pg. 40]

Even Bart D. Ehrman who puts a skeptical spin on things when writing for the general public made the following statement in a college textbook as quoted by Dan Wallace in 'Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament' on pg. 24...
"In spite of these remarkable differences, scholars are convinced that we can reconstruct the original words of the New Testament with reasonable (although probably not 100 percent) accuracy."
Ehrman wrote that in a college textbook called 'The New Testament: A Historical Introduction To the Early Christian Writings', 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), pg. 481.


In an article by Dan Wallace, he wrote...
'Though textual criticism cannot yet produce certainty about the exact wording of the original, this uncertainty affects only about two percent of the text. And in that two percent support always exists for what the original said--never is one left with mere conjecture. In other words it is not that only 90 percent of the original text exists in the extant Greek manuscripts--rather, 110 percent exists. Textual criticism is not involved in reinventing the original; it is involved in discarding the spurious, in burning the dross to get to the gold.' [The Majority Text and the Original Text: Are They Identical?
Study By: Daniel B. Wallace The Majority Text and the Original Text: Are They Identical? | Bible.org - Worlds Largest Bible Study Site

The following quotes are from the book 'Reinventing Jesus', 2006, by J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, and Daniel B. Wallace.
''Since the earliest texts that we have agree substantially with the later ones, if we were to project backward to the original, the changes from the original text to the earliest copies would be miniscule.'' [p. 55]

''The reality is that, although most of the text of the New Testament is not in dispute, some passages are.'' [p. 61]

''As we look at the materials and methods of textual criticism in the succeeding chapters, we will see that there are solid reasons for regarding the manuscripts of the New Testament as substantially correct in representing the original text.'' [p.70]

''As we saw in the last chapter, only a very small percentage of the New Testament is in doubt.'' [p. 73]

''For the vast majority of the textual variants, there is simply no difficulty determining the original wording.'' [p. 83]
New Testament textual criticism then is a very important endeavor as it demonstrates the reliability of our New Testament text.
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Old 11-20-2015, 08:22 AM
 
Location: US
26,241 posts, read 13,909,589 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike555 View Post
While New Testament textual criticism which deals with the issue of the degree of accuracy with which the original New Testament text has been transmitted down through the ages does not really concern the issue of whether what was originally written is true, before the issue of whether what was originally written is true can be addressed it must first be determined if we can know what was originally written. Though we don't have the original autographs, can we determine to what degree the original New Testament text has accurately been transmitted through the manuscript copies which are extant.

Regarding the issue of New Testament textual reliability (is what we have now what they wrote then), here is what the experts, the textual critics who have studied the matter say.

Gary Habermas comments;
The textual purity of the New Testament is rarely questioned in scholarship. It is well established and agreed among almost all who have ever seriously studied the ancient texts that the text is virtually the same as what was originally written. Even critical scholars question very few words in the New Testament, and those words do not affect doctrinal issues.

[Habermas, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, p.85]
Most New Testament textual critics (scholars who study and compare the New Testament documents) maintain that the New Testament text is extremely reliable. Though there are an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 textual variants, the vast majority are absolutely meaningless and affect nothing. Many of them are not even translatable from Greek into English. A textual variant is simply a lack of uniformity of wording among the manuscripts regarding a particular word, sentence, or paragraph. These variants fall into the following categories.

1.) Spelling differences and nonsense errors. This category is by far the majority of the variants.
For example, in Greek, the name John may be spelled Ἰωάννῃ (Ióannés) or Ἰωάνῃ (Ióanés). But in English, it is translated as John.

One of the most common textual variants involves the 'movable nu.' This is a nu - 'ν'. In English, it is the letter 'n.' In Greek the nu - 'ν' can occur at the end of certain words which precede a word that begins with a vowel. Whether a scribe used the nu or not is similar to saying 'a' or 'an'. 'An apple', or 'a apple.' Not using it when he should have just means the scribe was careless or couldn't spell. But it doesn't affect the meaning.

A nonsense error is a mistake on the part of a scribe which in context obviously makes no sense and when compared with other manuscripts can be easily seen to not be the original wording.
2.) Minor variations that have no affect on translations or that involve the use of synonyms. This category of variant does not involve spelling or nonsense readings, but which also don't affect translation. For example, The Greek may or may not use the definite article with a proper name, whereas the English does not. Luke 2:16 in Greek says 'the Mary' - τήν τε Μαριὰμ (both the Mary) καὶ τὸν Ἰωσὴφ (and the Joseph). So 'Mary' or 'the Mary' would be variants which affect nothing. And in English we simply translate it as 'Mary.'

Then there are variants among the Greek manuscripts resulting from the fact that Greek is an inflectional language which means that when writing something the same thing can be said using different word order since the subject is always in the nominative case and the direct object is always in the accusative case. In Greek, the subject and object are not determined by word order as in English, but by the case ending.

Variants are also the result of using synonyms. A scribe of a particular manuscript might use the noun 'Jesus' instead of the pronoun 'He.' For instance, in Matthew 4:18, 12:25; Mark 2:15, 10:52; and Luke 24:36 the Byzantine manuscript text type tends to use the name 'Jesus' while the Alexandrian manuscripts say 'He.' While this affects translation, whether 'Jesus' or 'He' is used, the referent is still Jesus.

Another variant might involve an addition such as a passage saying 'Christ Jesus' instead of 'Jesus'. In Acts 19:4, the Alexandrian manuscripts have 'Jesus' while the Byzantine manuscripts have 'Christ Jesus.' Obviously Jesus is the Christ, and so whether or not a particular passage says 'Christ Jesus' or simply 'Jesus' doesn't affect the meaning.

3.) Differences that affect the meaning, but are not viable (that is, there is no chance of them going back to the original autographs.) As an example, I quote Dan Wallace in an interview.
For example, in Luke 6:22, the ESV reads, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!” But one manuscript from the 10th/11th century (codex 2882) lacks the words “on account of the Son of Man.” That’s a very meaningful variant since it seems to say that a person is blessed when he is persecuted, regardless of his allegiance to Christ. Yet it is only in one manuscript, and a relatively late one at that. It has no chance of reflecting the wording of the original text, since all the other manuscripts are against it, including quite a few that are much, much earlier.

An Interview with Daniel B. Wallace on the New Testament Manuscripts | TGC
4.) Differences that affect the meaning, and are viable. This last category involves only about 1 percent or less of the varients. These variants affect the meaning of the text to some degree, but not in any major way.

For instance, in Romans 5:1, did Paul write, ''We have peace'' (ἔχομεν - echomen), or did he write, ''let us have peace'' (ἔχωμεν - echōmen)? The difference in the two words is one letter. Regardless of which of the two reading is correct, they don't contradict what the Bible teaches. If Paul was saying that we have peace with God he was referring to the believer's positional status with God in Christ Jesus. If he was saying ''let us have peace with God'' then he was simply urging believers to realize that peace.

The largest textual variant in the New Testament involves Mark 16:9-20. Did Mark intend to end his gospel account at verse 8 or did the last part of that chapter get lost somehow? Scholars debate that question. But verses 9-20 are generally believed not to have been the original reading. Even so, that reading doesn't really affect any cardinal doctrine. The apostles did cast out demons, and did speak in tongues [v. 17]. As well, they did lay hands on the sick and heal them [v.18].

As for picking up snakes and drinking poison, while nowhere in the New Testament are these practices reported as happening, Eusebius tells of a tradition in which a man drank poison but was unharmed.
Church History Book 3.39.9

8. But it is fitting to subjoin to the words of Papias which have been quoted, other passages from his works in which he relates some other wonderful events which he claims to have received from tradition.

9. That Philip the apostle dwelt at Hierapolis with his daughters has been already stated. But it must be noted here that Papias, their contemporary, says that he heard a wonderful tale from the daughters of Philip. For he relates that in his time one rose from the dead. And he tells another wonderful story of Justus, surnamed Barsabbas: that he drank a deadly poison, and yet, by the grace of the Lord, suffered no harm.
CHURCH FATHERS: Church History, Book III (Eusebius)
As well, this could be referring to being compelled to pick up snakes and drink poison rather than to the voluntary practice of them. And it could be restricted to the apostolic period of the Church-age. Regardless, no cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith is affected by this variant.


So what do the textual critics say about the reliability of the New Testament?

F. F. Bruce (1910-1990) was Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester, England. He stated...
Fortunately, if the great number of MSS increases the number of scribal errors, it increases proportionately the means of correcting such errors, so that the margin of doubt left in the process of recovering the exact original wording is not so large as might be feared; it is in truth remarkably small. The variant readings about which any doubt remains among textual critics of the New Testament affect no material question of historic fact or of Christian faith and practice. [The New Testament Documents; Are They Reliable?, F.F. Bruce, pgs. 14-15.]
Bruce Metzger (1914-2007) was one of the most highly regarded scholars of Greek, New Testament, and New Testament Textual Criticism. He served on the board of the American Bible Society and United Bible Societies and was a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary. He commented...
But the amount of evidence for the text of the New Testament , whether derived from manuscripts, early versions, or patristic quotations is so much greater than that available for any ancient classical author that the necessity of resorting to emendation is reduced to the smallest dimensions. [The Text of the New Testament, Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, Fourth Edition, Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman, pg. 230]
Daniel B. Wallace (PhD, Dallas Theological Seminary) is professor of New Testament Studies. He is a member of the Society of New Testament Studies, the Institute for Biblical Research, and has consulted on several Bible translations. He made these comments...
To sum up the evidence on the number of variants, there are a lot of variants because there are a lot of manuscripts. Even in the early centuries, the text of the NT is found in a sufficient number of MSS, versions, and writings of the church fathers to give us the essentials of the original text. [Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament, Daniel B. Wallace, pg. 40]
Even Bart D. Ehrman who puts a skeptical spin on things when writing for the general public made the following statement in a college textbook as quoted by Dan Wallace in 'Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament' on pg. 24...
"In spite of these remarkable differences, scholars are convinced that we can reconstruct the original words of the New Testament with reasonable (although probably not 100 percent) accuracy."
Ehrman wrote that in a college textbook called 'The New Testament: A Historical Introduction To the Early Christian Writings', 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), pg. 481.


In an article by Dan Wallace, he wrote...
'Though textual criticism cannot yet produce certainty about the exact wording of the original, this uncertainty affects only about two percent of the text. And in that two percent support always exists for what the original said--never is one left with mere conjecture. In other words it is not that only 90 percent of the original text exists in the extant Greek manuscripts--rather, 110 percent exists. Textual criticism is not involved in reinventing the original; it is involved in discarding the spurious, in burning the dross to get to the gold.' [The Majority Text and the Original Text: Are They Identical?
Study By: Daniel B. Wallace The Majority Text and the Original Text: Are They Identical? | Bible.org - Worlds Largest Bible Study Site
The following quotes are from the book 'Reinventing Jesus', 2006, by J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, and Daniel B. Wallace.
''Since the earliest texts that we have agree substantially with the later ones, if we were to project backward to the original, the changes from the original text to the earliest copies would be miniscule.'' [p. 55]

''The reality is that, although most of the text of the New Testament is not in dispute, some passages are.'' [p. 61]

''As we look at the materials and methods of textual criticism in the succeeding chapters, we will see that there are solid reasons for regarding the manuscripts of the New Testament as substantially correct in representing the original text.'' [p.70]

''As we saw in the last chapter, only a very small percentage of the New Testament is in doubt.'' [p. 73]

''For the vast majority of the textual variants, there is simply no difficulty determining the original wording.'' [p. 83]
New Testament textual criticism then is a very important endeavor as it demonstrates the reliability of our New Testament text.

Well, all these excerpts from experts is very convincing...Hmmm...
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