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You are here: knowtruth >> bible >> reliability >> 24 June 2019
Bibliographic Evidence Tests
Page 1: Quantity and Accuracy of Manuscripts

Manuscript Quantity

This test asks questions about the substantiation of the documents. Are there enough early manuscripts of a document to conclude that it has been accurately transmitted? The New Testament far exceeds any other historical document in this category. There are over 24,000 early manuscripts or manuscript fragments, including more than 5,300 in the original Greek language. There are complete collections of the New Testament books preserved in a bound fashion similar to today's Bible. We call these codices. Compare this with only 193 copies of the writings of Sophocles and it is clear that the preservation of the New Testament manuscripts is superb. Amazingly, of all documents prior to the second century, the Iliad by Homer comes in a distant second with only 643 manuscript fragments

Accuracy of Manuscripts

When compared to each other, how accurate do these manuscripts appear? Do they all say the same thing? Naturally, the more manuscripts available the less likely they would be to match precisely. The Bible defies these odds. While there are not enough copies to determine the accuracy of most historic documents, the New Testament is generally regarded as 99+% accurate. The small percentage of inaccuracies is usually insignificant spelling and/or wording changes. There are virtually no changes of significant meaning.

One of the great evidences of this occurred with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and actually applies to the Old Testament documents. Prior to this discovery the oldest known Hebrew manuscript of the entire Bible was the Aleppo Codex, written about 900 AD. When the scrolls were unearthed scholars were amazed to find the text to be virtually identical to the Aleppo Codex, despite the fact that they dated about 200 BC - over 1000 years earlier!

Period of Time Elapsed -->

 Article info: 
By: Bill Smith
This article is adapted from Bill's book Firmly Rooted. Click here to learn how to get a copy.

  
 This Series: 
1 Quantity and Accuracy of Manuscripts
2 Period of Time Elapsed
3 Comparison to Other Literary Works



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