Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

The Reliability of the Scriptures Campus Commonwealth Academy Apologetics-January 3-4, 2015 Mat Borger.

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "The Reliability of the Scriptures Campus Commonwealth Academy Apologetics-January 3-4, 2015 Mat Borger."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Reliability of the Scriptures Campus Commonwealth Academy Apologetics-January 3-4, 2015 Mat Borger

2 Components of this topic 1. Transmission of the Scriptures (today’s emphasis) 2. Accuracy of its content

3 The Reliability of the Scriptures The Bible is reliable and trustworthy in three essential ways. 1. It is accurate in its content and message… 2. Its preservation through the millennia is adequate… 3. It is practical.

4 Why Practical matters…. “The character of Jesus has not only been the highest pattern of virtue, but the strongest incentive to its practice, and has exerted so deep an influence, that it may be truly said, that the simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind, than all the disquisitions of philosophers and than all the exhortations of moralists.” W. E. H. Lecky “History of European Morals”, 1869.

5 Key Terms Defined Autograph-the original inspired documents Manuscript-a copy in an original language or a translation from an original language. Greek “handwritten” Septuagint-Greek translation of the Old Testament (Hebrew) Scroll-rolled up papyrus/paper/parchment Vellum- Parchment (sheep or goat), Vellum (calf or antelope). Papyrus became scarce switched to Vellum. Codex-manuscripts in a book form Massoretic Text-text copied by the Massoretes (one group of scribes)

6 Definitions (cont’d) Uncial-manuscript written in capital letters Minuscule-manuscript written in common letters Cursive- Both capital and small letters. Palimpsest-scraped-off manuscript that was re-used Latin Vulgate-common Latin from “vulgata” i.e common; “vulga”=crowd Apocrypha-non-canonical books of the bible (Greek “those hidden away”) Jerome coined the term. Pseudepigrapha-text whose authorship is attributed to someone else (Greek- “falsely attributed”)

7 The Bible’s Claims About Itself Proverbs 30:5-Every word of God is flawless Psalm 119:142, 160-God’s word is true John 17:17-God’s Word is truth 2 Timothy 3:16-All Scripture is God-breathed 1 Peter 1:25-God’s Word will stand forever 2 Peter 1: 20-21-Men spoke from God 1 Thess. 2:13-Word of God, not word of men

8 What was available at the time? Various materials were used for writing in ancient times: 1.Stone-Exodus 31:18, 34:1 2.Clay-Ezekiel 4:1/Jeremiah 32:14 (clay jars) 3.Wood and wax: Numbers 17:2-3 (wooden staffs) Ezekiel 37:16-17 (wooden sticks) 4.Metal-Exodus 28:36 (golden plate) 5.Papyrus-Job 8:11 6.Leather and parchment-2 Timothy 4:13- “When you come, bring the cloak…and my scrolls, especially the parchments”

9 Enduring Words Mk 13: 31 “…but my words “Once we have come to grips with the fact that God can and in all probability does communicate with mankind, we are ready to consider what sort of message God would provide…The evidence points to the Bible being the Word of God, faithfully preserved through the millenia…”-Jacoby …will never pass away”

10 The Text of the Old Testament

11 The Hebrew Manuscripts The main manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible are: 1. The Aleppo Codex (900 AD) 2. The Leningrad Codex (900-1000 AD) 3. The Cairo Codex (895 AD) 4. The Leningrad Codex of the Prophets (916 AD) 5. The British Library Codex of the Pentateuch(undated) It is the Leningrad Codex that mainly underlies most editions of the modern Hebrew Bible. OT completed around 400BC (Chronicles) [Malachi was about 435 BC]

12 Late copies of the Hebrew Bible? Early manuscripts Not as available “One may wonder why copies of the Hebrew Bible are late in comparison with the NT materials, especially when we recall that the OT was completed several centuries before the first NT book was written…” (page 130) Answer: “The Jewish scribes looked upon their copies of the Scriptures with an almost superstitious respect. This lead them to give ceremonial burial to any of their texts that were damaged or defective”-(page 130)

13 Who Wrote the OT? Early scribal activity Generally, scribal activity involved a number of people and passed from one generation to the next. Examples of scribal activity included:  (i) careful duplication especially in cases where letters appeared too large or too small.  (ii) placing a dot over a questionable word.

14 Who were the Massoretes? The Real Bible-Beaters! The Masorah (Hebrew word for “tradition”) had the task of guarding the text. The scribes were called the Massoretes. Near Tiberias, town on Sea of Galilee (AD 500-1000). These guys were fanatical: Pulled together all the variant readings into one, then destroyed the variants. To preserve the integrity of the text they: Counted all the letters in the OT…identified the middle verse of the Pentateuch (Lev 8:7)…the middle verse of the entire Hebrew Bible (Jer 6:7)…and the middle word, letter, and verse of each book…the number of times each letter appeared in each book and number of verses that contained all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet (22 all consonants) Hebrew was written from right to left. Hebrew alphabet had no vowels – consonants only. Very little, if any, spacing between letters. Over the years, scribes placed vowel sounds over words to help with pronunciation. As a result of the precision of the Massoretes, our Hebrew text is often referred to as “The Massoretic Text.”

15 Dating the Hebrew Text The earliest Hebrew manuscripts date no further back than the 9 th century, leaving therefore a wide gap of centuries between the original OT autographs and today’s manuscripts. That gap is about 1300 years, yet compared to other ancient works, this is just about the average interval between the time of writing and the earliest copy. How did other ancient works fare?

16 Other ancient literary works AuthorDateOldest CopyIntervalCopies Aristophanes400BCAD9001300 years45 Aristotle340BCAD11001440 years5 Demosthe-nes300BCAD11001400 years200 Julius Caesar50BCAD900950 years10 Herodotus435BCAD9001335 years8 Homer800BCAD100900 years643 Plato360BCAD8001160 years15 Sophocles415BCAD10001415 years7 Thucydides410BCAD6001310 years8 “The originals (Autographs) of nearly every work from ancient history have been lost. But copies were made, for the most part by careful copyists. Whenever there’s a difference between one copy and another, historians do their best to reconstruct the original version accurately” Jacoby

17 Ancient religious writings Even among some of the other world religions, the time gaps are similar for example: Buddhist works: The Buddha (Siddharta Gautama) taught around 5 th -6 th century BC [563-483 BC]. Buddhist Scriptures written down during NT times. Earliest surviving copies are around 800 AD. Hindu Vedas (dated 1500-1200BC): written down around 500BC, earliest surviving manuscript dated 1300AD

18 The Dead Sea Scrolls Bridging the gap!


20 Archaeological find of the century DSS: 40 years to translate DSS lay in Qumran caves since 68 AD! Gap bridged from 1300 years to 200 years About 800 scrolls found in total in 11 primary caves Aridity of Qumran helped to preserve the scrolls in the jars. Qumran: a monastic community, south of Jericho known as the Essenes.

21 The Dead Sea Scrolls: Bridging the Gap There were 7 rolls/scrolls in the original find: 1. The Book of Isaiah 2. a Manual of Discipline 3. A commentary on the Book of Habakkuk 4. The “Genesis Apocryphon” (unknown contents) 5. A portion of the Book of Isaiah 6. A piece entitled “ The War of the Sons of Light with the Sons of Darkness” 7. A collection of Thanksgiving Hymns

22 The DSS contents Largest representations in the DSS: Psalms (36), Deuteronomy (29), Isaiah (21), Exodus (17), Genesis (15)

23 The Great Isaiah Scroll! Symbol used: 1QIs a Date: 100 BC (possibly earlier) This scroll is a complete copy of the Book of Isaiah save a few minor breaks in the text It reads virtually the same as the standard Massoretic Text printed in present-day Hebrew Bibles The divergent readings that exist involve issues like spelling, grammar and vocabulary modification The awesome part of this amazing discovery is that the scrolls are about 1000 years earlier than the oldest Hebrew manuscripts DSS can be viewed at “The Shrine of the Book” in Jerusalem (Israel Museum)

24 “The Bible is full of errors and inaccuracies!!!” 1QIs a -Isaiah Manuscript Isaiah 6:3- “they were calling” Isaiah 6:3- “holy, holy” Isaiah 6:7- “sins” In all, out of 37 variant readings in Chapter 6, most of which involve spelling differences, only the above 3 are significant enough to be highlighted in an English translation Modern Hebrew Text Isaiah 6:3- “one called to another” Isaiah 6:3- “holy, holy, holy” Isaiah 6:7- “sin”

25 Biblical Errors Explained 11 Classes of Textual Error Haplography: writing once what should have been written twice (holy vs holy, holy) Dittography: writing twice what should have been written once Metathesis: improper order of letters or words Fusion: combining the last letter of the first word with the first letter of the following word (IRANTOTHESTORE – IRA NT OTH ESTORE) Fission: Improper separation of one word into two (heretofore vs here to for) Homophony: words with different meanings but sound the same are confused (beat vs beet or well: a well with water vs I am doing “well”)

26 Biblical Errors Explained 11 Classes of Textual Error continued Misreading similar-appearing letters: Letter shape and formation change over time in all languages. Other letters are easily confused ( “d” and “b”. Example: “Lorb” instead of “Lord” Homoeteleuton: Greek for “having the same ending”. When copyists eyes “jump” a portion of text because the words are similar. Homoeoarkton: Greek for “that which has a similar beginning”. Same as above but for beginning of a sentence. Accidental omission of words: 1 Samuel 13:1 in the MT “Saul was…years old when he began to reign.” Variants based on vowel points: Vowels were not added to OT texts until 7 th or 8 th century AD. Oral tradition passed down annunciation. (Virtually all documents printed in Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic today are consonants only)


28 In 1936, journalism professor and former magazine editor Mitchell Charnley published the first accuracy audit of American newspapers. “Preliminary Notes on a Study of Newspaper Accuracy” Surveys: 50% error rate!! “The largest accuracy study of U.S. papers was published in 2007 and found one of the highest error rates on record — just over 59 percent of articles contained some type of error, according to sources.” “The results provide evidence that newspaper inaccuracy — and its corrosive effect on media credibility — transcends national borders and journalism cultures.” You read the news? An honest look at modern reporting.

29 The Verdict… “It should therefore be stated explicitly that, when we survey the Hebrew Bible as a whole, the incidence of copyists’ errors is statistically very few indeed. Even allowing for the intrusion of occasional errors in the received Hebrew text, it is remarkable how faithfully it was transmitted”- [J. Weingreen,1982]

30 Let’s have a break!! Any takers?

31 The New Testament The New Testament books were written between 45 AD (James)-95 AD (John/Revelation) NT books written on papyrus and most autographs would have perished by the early 2 nd century. Fortunately, many copies were made (high likelihood of preservation. Not ceremonially destroyed like OT docs) The age of undated manuscripts could be discerned by looking at handwriting. 2 main types of NT manuscripts: Uncials (in CAPITAL LETTERS) and minuscules (in smaller letters/cursive style)

32 No spaces between the letters!

33 The sources… There primary sources of evidence in support of the attestation of the NT: 1. The Papyrus collections 2. The Uncials esp. the Vatican, Sinaitic and Alexandrian Codices 3. The Miniscules 4. The Lectionaries 5. The Versions 6. The quotations by early Fathers/Apologists “For in assessing the trustworthiness of ancient historical writings, one of the most important questions is: How soon after the events took place were they recorded?” F.F.Bruce

34 NT Papyri Many NT manuscripts written on papyrus Nearly 100 surviving NT papyri p52-oldest surviving NT document (closest to an original); contains part of John 18; can be seen in John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester; dated approximately 125 AD; perfect match with modern Greek NT of John About 5500 Greek manuscripts exist and over 20,000 more in other languages ( Latin, Syriac, Slavonic, Armenian, Georgian, Ethiopic etc.)


36 NT attestation-The Uncials Most of the almost 5500 NT manuscripts do not contain the entire NT Key Uncials were: 1. The Vatican Manuscript (Codex Vaticanus)-dated to 350AD. Contains most of the NT and most of the OT 2. The Sinaitic Manuscript (Codex Sinaiticus)-earliest complete copy of NT known to survive 3. The Alexandrian Manuscript (Codex Alexandrinus)- written in the 5-6 th century; contains Gospels and Acts both in Latin and Greek.

37 Codex Vaticanus (written on vellum) A 4 th century work, this Codex is considered to be one of the most significant witnesses to the NT text Located in the Vatican Library in Rome (since 1481) It contains almost all of the Old and New Testaments in Greek The printed texts of today’s Greek NT are heavily dependent on the Vatican Codex Also considered to be the most exact copy of the NT known It does not include Mark 16:9-20 (scribe left more than a column of blank space here!)

38 Codex Sinaiticus Dated about 325AD. Discovered in 1844 by textual critic and NT scholar Constantin von Tischendorf at St. Catherine’s monastery on Mt. Sinai. Further discoveries made by Tischendorf in 1859. It was eventually published in 1933 and bought by the British Museum (Bought by the British Government from the Soviet Government on Christmas Day, 1933) It can be seen on display today at the British Library in London It is the earliest complete copy of the NT known to survive

39 Codex Alexandrinus The first of the “Big 3” to come to light, Codex Alexandrinus lay in Alexandria for several centuries. It contains both OT and NT, mostly complete

40 Other NT Manuscripts The Codex of Ephraem (5 th century)-a palimpsest manuscript. A lot of the OT is missing, but most of NT is there. The Codex Bezae-the earliest example of a bilingual manuscript (Greek on the left, Latin on the right)’ Order of the Gospels here: Matt/Jn/Lk/Mk

41 The Minuscules Dated from 9 th century Over 2800 exist Examples include: Minuscule 1&2 (12 th century)- Gospels Minuscule 13 (12-13 th century)- “adulterous woman” story found after Luke 21:38! Minuscule 33 (9 th century- called “the Queen of the Cursives” Minuscule 1739 (10 th century)-Acts & Epistles List is still growing

42 The Lectionaries (manuscripts for worship) “Lection”-a selected passage of Scripture read in public worship; over 2200 lectionaries have been counted


44 Other sources: quotations The Apostolic Fathers-they wrote between 90 and 160 AD. Stand out works: 1. The Epistle of Barnabas (AD 100) 2. The Didache (a.k.a “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles”) 3. The letter from Clement, bishop of Rome (AD 96) to the Corinthian church 4. Letters from Ignatius, bishop of Antioch (AD 115) The first 3 documents quote from the Synoptics, Acts, Romans,1 Cor., Eph., Titus, Heb.,1 Peter; The Ignatius letters quote from Mtt., John, Romans, 1&2 Cor., Gal., Eph., Philipp., 1&2 Tim, Titus Polycarp (younger contemporary of Ignatius) in a letter to the Philippians (120 AD) quoted from the Synoptics, Acts, Romans, 1&2 Corin, Gal, Eph, Philipp, 2 Thess, 1&2 Timothy, Hebrews, 1 Pt, 1 Jn.


46 NT: Most copied book from ancient world “…even if all the surviving papyri and codices were collected and burned, most of the Scriptures could be reconstructed through quotations from early Christian writings, the majority of which were written in the 200s and 300s”-Jacoby

47 Copyists errors There were 2 main ways in which errors arose: 1. Unintentional errors (dittography and haplography) 2. Intentional errors

48 Intentional errors? What!!! Unintentional errors Romans 5:1- “let us have peace with God” vs. “we have peace with God”- [Greek: echōmen or echomen] 1 Thess. 2: 7- “we were babes among you” vs. “we were gentle among you”- [Greek nepioi or epioi] Revelation 1:5- “washed us from our sins” or “freed us from our sins”-[Greek lousanti or lusanti] Intentional errors John 7:39- literal reading was “for not yet was the Spirit”;Later manuscripts added “given” so the new reading was “the Spirit was not yet given” [Other manuscripts added “holy”] Matthew 11:19/Luke 7:35- “works/deeds/actions” vs. “children”-Compare KJV with modern translations

49 The textual critic “seeks by comparison and study of the available evidence to recover the exact words of the author’s original composition. The New Testament critic seeks, in short, to weed out the chaff of bad readings from the genuine Greek text” [Lightfoot at page 88.] “Through the science of textual criticism, we have near unanimous agreement on the original text of the New Testament” [Jacoby]-

50 7 Canons (Rules) of Textual Criticism 1. The older reading is to be preferred. 2. The more difficult reading is preferred. (Edits trend towards ease…harder = older) 3. Shorter reading is preferred: trend towards insertions/amplifications. 4. Best explanation of variants is likely original. 5. Widest geographical support preferred. 6. Closest conformity to style, diction, or viewpoint of the author is preferred. 7. Absence of obvious doctrinal bias is preferred.

51 2 uncertain passages Mark 16:9-20:[Footnote says: The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have verses 9– 20.] This is the first passage in which there is uncertainty about its presence in the original NT text John 7:53-8:11- [Footnote says: The earliest manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53—8:11. ] A few manuscripts include these verses, wholly or in part, after John 7:36, John 21:25, Luke 21:38 or Luke 24:53.

52 Conclusions-Part 1 Jacoby gives a succinct analysis: “ 1. The biblical manuscripts, though not copied perfectly, were copied adequately. Their truth content is unaffected by scribal error. 2. The transmission of the texts compares extremely favourably with the transmission of other ancient documents. 3. Early Christians therefore could not have fabricated prophecies of Christ by doctoring the texts of the Hebrew Bible 4. Skepticism is understandable but unwarranted 5. The preservation of the biblical texts is remarkable”

53 Conclusions-Part 2 “The interval between the date of original composition and the earliest extant evidence become so small to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scripture 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.” –Sir Frederic Kenyon.

Download ppt "The Reliability of the Scriptures Campus Commonwealth Academy Apologetics-January 3-4, 2015 Mat Borger."

Similar presentations

Ads by Google