People say that the Bible is not in its true form due to the fact that it has been edited and translated over the years. How can we trust or know that what we are reading is truly what God intended it to be?
Many Believers in Jesus Christ and skeptics have wrestled with the authenticity of the Bible throughout history. However, there have been numerous discoveries through the centuries that have led us to believe that the original biblical manuscripts that were written were not mistranslated and are completely trustworthy.
Ancient manuscripts or hand written works of literature were written down on papyrus which came from the papyrus plant. Sir Frederic Kenyon, who is rated as the number one authority on ancient manuscripts writes in his book The Story of the Bible, “Papyrus, though it must have been fairly strong when new, is a delicate material. It is easily destroyed by dampness, and when dry tends to become very brittle.” This means there were no original manuscripts that survived to our knowledge.
Scribes and scholars of ancient history would copy the works of literature whether secular or biblical in nature to preserve the literary work. Hence, the critics speculated on the authenticity of the Bible we have today compared to the original manuscripts.
However, there is no ancient manuscript in history that comes close to touching the validity of the Bible in terms of manuscript authority. According to Josh McDowell – a leader in Christian apologetics, “The New Testament was written from about A.D. 50 to A.D. 90. The earliest fragment dates about A.D. 120, with about fifty other fragments dating within 150–200 years from the time of composition.” McDowell goes on to say, “The New Testament was originally composed in the Greek language. There are approximately 5,500 copies in existence that contain all or part of the New Testament. Although we do not possess the originals, copies exist from a very early date” (See www.josh.org).
Two major findings continue to validate the authenticity of the Bible and were copied within a relatively short time of authorship of the original manuscripts as compared to almost all other secular manuscripts. McDowell explains, “Two major manuscripts, Codex Vaticanus (A.D. 325) and Codex Sinaiticus (A.D. 350), a complete copy, date within 250 years of the time of composition. This may seem like a long time span, but it is minimal compared to most ancient works. The earliest copy of Caesar’s The Gallic Wars dates 1,000 years after it was written, and the first complete copy of the Odyssey by Homer dates 2,200 years after it was written. When the interval between the writing of the New Testament and earliest copies is compared to other ancient works, the New Testament proves to be much closer to the time of the original” (www.josh.org).
Kenyon, in his book The Bible and Archaeology states, “The interval between the dates of original composition (of the New Testament) and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established”.
Lastly, the findings of the Dead Sea Scrolls between 1947 and 1956 prove the authenticity of the Old Testament as we know it today. There were manuscripts that showed every book of the Old Testament besides the book of Esther. Some of the manuscripts were written in the first half of the second century B.C. and still others were older (The Story of the Bible, Chpt 11).
With all the evidence from the ancient manuscripts and those continuing to be found, it is very safe to say we have exactly what the authors of the Bible and God intended to give humanity.