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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




Vantage Point: The Bible — You Can Count on It

By Ken Horn
Dec. 12, 2010

It is common today to hear people challenge the Bible’s authenticity and reliability. Indeed, even its identity. “The Bible we have today bears very little resemblance to the original words,” critics say, “and thus, Christians are misled in using it as their authority. You can’t depend on it,” they assert, “and thus, you can’t depend on Christianity.”

One of the frequent criticisms of the New Testament is that there are a lot of variants in the various manuscripts.

Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, executive director of The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, is a current authoritative evangelical voice addressing the question of the New Testament’s authenticity.

Wallace answers the criticism simply: “The reason we have a lot of textual variants is that we have a lot of manuscripts.”1

And there are indeed an amazing number of handwritten manuscripts, far more than for other ancient sources:

• 5,750+ New Testament manuscripts in Greek

• 10,000+ in Latin

• 5,000-10,000 in other ancient languages (Syriac, Coptic, etc.)

To put this in perspective, the average classical Greek writer has less than 20 copies extant. The New Testament beats this by a factor of 250 times.

And get this. If we lost all of these manuscripts, we could still reproduce the entire New Testament from quotes found in the writings of the Early Church fathers.

So we have the variants because we have what Wallace calls “an embarrassment of riches.”

But what about the variants themselves? Ninety-nine percent of them are simple spelling differences and the like. They make no difference in the meaning. Most meaningful variants are from “nonviable manuscripts,” those of little credibility as an accurate source.

Of the variants, Wallace makes the following generalization: “No essential Christian belief is impacted by any viable variant.” Even Bart Ehrmann (author of Misquoting Jesus, a book criticizing New Testament reliability), agreed with that statement when he debated Wallace.

Can you trust the Bible? Count on it.

Ken Horn
Editor

1. Is What We Have Now What They Wrote Then?, DVD, featuring Daniel B. Wallace, 2008 (csntm.org).

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