How the Bible was Preserved

Analysis of the biblical writings attests to its accurate preservation through skilful and carefully prescribed methods confirming the Bible we have today is a reliable and authentic record of the original writings.

Old Testament

The Hebrew Old Testament has been hand copied meticulously by teams of Jewish scribes over the centuries. Jewish scribes developed intricate methods of counting words and letters to ensure that no errors had been made. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls confirmed the astonishing accuracy of Old Testament books. The scrolls were some 1000 years older than the previous oldest scrolls yet other than some minor issues, agree with the modern text.

New Testament

A comparison with other ancient writings gives us a good measure of the reliability of the New Testament. F.F. Bruce, wrote in The New Testament Documents,

“For Caesar's Gallic Wars (composed between 58 and 50 BC) only 9 or 10 are good, and the oldest is some 900 years later than Caesar's day...Of the 14 books of Tacitus (c. 100 AD)...the text of these historical works depends entirely on two manuscripts, one of the 9th century and one of the 11th. ... The History of Thucydides (c. 460-400 BC) is known to us from 8 manuscripts, the earliest belonging to AD 900...The same is true of the history of Herodotus (488-428 BC). Yet no classical scholar would listen to an argument that the authenticity of Herodotus or Thucydides is in doubt because the earliest manuscripts of their works of any use to us are over 1,000 years later than the originals” (The New Testament Documents, F.F. Bruce, p.16-17).

J. Harold Greenlee also wrote,

“There are 8,000 manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate and at least 1,000 for other early versions. Add over 4,000 Greek manuscripts (some say 5,000) and we have 13,000 manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament” (Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, J. Harold Greenlee, p.29).

There are over 13,000 copies of New Testament manuscripts compared to only 10 copies of Caesar's Gallic Wars, and about 8 copies of the history of Herodotus. The accuracy of the New Testament as it was originally composed to what we have today is very high when compared to any other ancient writing of the same era.

 

→ For more information, follow the 'Related UCG Articles' links on this page.

great-isaiah-scroll-dead-sea-scrolls.jpg

Photographic reproduction of the Great Isaiah Scroll, the best preserved of the biblical scrolls found at Qumran. It contains the entire Book of Isaiah in Hebrew, apart from some small damaged parts. This manuscript was probably written by a scribe of the Jewish sect of the Essenes around the second century BC. It is therefore over a 1000 years older than the oldest Masoretic manuscripts.

Click here to view an enlarged, detailed image.

Connect with us

United Church of God - Australia
GPO Box 535 Brisbane,
QLD AUSTRALIA 4001

  • dummy1800 356 202 (AUS)

  • dummy+61 (0)7 5580 8477

  • dummy info@ucg.org.au

  • dummy www.ucg.org.au

Newsletter

Search