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Variations in Manuscripts

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posted on Dec, 17 2012 @ 03:12 PM
This post is directed at Christians and meant for meaningful discussion.

There are many here that devote a lot of time to their beliefs and do some pretty create research. So this is why I'm gonna ask if someone can explain the variations in the manuscripts in relation to the current bible. Many variations are small such as differences in grammar, while some variations are pretty big such as the ending to Mark or John 8(adulterer story). With all the different variations, how would one conclude which one is to be included in the bible?

posted on Dec, 17 2012 @ 03:21 PM
reply to post by Ralphy

There are hundreds of books written on this subject,

A library is a much better place to go to find answers to such questions, but I will give you a short answer;

The New Testament is constantly under attack and its reliability and accuracy are often contested by critics. But, if the critics want to disregard the New Testament, then they must also disregard other ancient writings by Plato, Aristotle, and Homer. This is because the New Testament documents are better-preserved and more numerous than any other ancient writings. Because they are so numerous, they can be cross checked for accuracy... and they are very consistent.

There are presently 5,686 Greek manuscripts in existence today for the New Testament.1 If we were to compare the number of New Testament manuscripts to other ancient writings, we find that the New Testament manuscripts far outweigh the others in quantity.2
Author Date
Written Earliest Copy Approximate Time Span between original & copy Number of Copies Accuracy of Copies
Lucretius died 55 or 53 B.C. 1100 yrs 2 ----
Pliny 61-113 A.D. 850 A.D. 750 yrs 7 ----
Plato 427-347 B.C. 900 A.D. 1200 yrs 7 ----
Demosthenes 4th Cent. B.C. 1100 A.D. 800 yrs 8 ----
Herodotus 480-425 B.C. 900 A.D. 1300 yrs 8 ----
Suetonius 75-160 A.D. 950 A.D. 800 yrs 8 ----
Thucydides 460-400 B.C. 900 A.D. 1300 yrs 8 ----
Euripides 480-406 B.C. 1100 A.D. 1300 yrs 9 ----
Aristophanes 450-385 B.C. 900 A.D. 1200 10 ----
Caesar 100-44 B.C. 900 A.D. 1000 10 ----
Livy 59 BC-AD 17 ---- ??? 20 ----
Tacitus circa 100 A.D. 1100 A.D. 1000 yrs 20 ----
Aristotle 384-322 B.C. 1100 A.D. 1400 49 ----
Sophocles 496-406 B.C. 1000 A.D. 1400 yrs 193 ----
Homer (Iliad) 900 B.C. 400 B.C. 500 yrs 643 95%
Testament 1st Cent. A.D. (50-100 A.D. 2nd Cent. A.D.
(c. 130 A.D. f.) less than 100 years 5600 99.5%

As you can see, there are thousands more New Testament Greek manuscripts than any other ancient writing. The internal consistency of the New Testament documents is about 99.5% textually pure. That is an amazing accuracy. In addition there are over 19,000 copies in the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic languages. The total supporting New Testament manuscript base is over 24,000.

Almost all biblical scholars agree that the New Testament documents were all written before the close of the First Century. If Jesus was crucified in 30 A.D., then that means that the entire New Testament was completed within 70 years. This is important because it means there were plenty of people around when the New Testament documents were penned who could have contested the writings. In other words, those who wrote the documents knew that if they were inaccurate, plenty of people would have pointed it out. But, we have absolutely no ancient documents contemporary with the First Century that contest the New Testament texts.

Furthermore, another important aspect of this discussion is the fact that we have a fragment of the gospel of John that dates back to around 29 years from the original writing (John Rylands Papyri 125 A.D.). This is extremely close to the original writing date. This is simply unheard of in any other ancient writing and it demonstrates that the Gospel of John is a First Century document.

Below is a chart with some of the oldest extant New Testament manuscripts compared to when they were originally penned. Compare these time spans with the next closest which is Homer's Iliad where the closest copy from the original is 500 years later. Undoubtedly, that period of time allows for more textual corruption in its transmission. How much less so for the New Testament documents?

Information taken from this website, CARM, who's views I generally do not agree with (I am NOT a young earth creationist and I do NOT support the view of YEC, I believe it is a false and antiquated Biblical Interpretation that is leading people away from faith), but they got this article down pretty good:

posted on Dec, 17 2012 @ 03:28 PM
reply to post by Ralphy

Copyists are only human. Mistakes happen.
That is why Biblical scholars developed the science or art of "Textual criticism", which is about comparing variations in manuscripts and trying to establish which version is more likely to be the original.
There are various techniques, which are difficult to summarise in a short reply.(Doing a thread on the matter is on my "to do" list)
They include recognising the fact that mistakes tend to get copied from one manuscript to another, and so grouping surviving manuscripts, by the kinds of readings they have, into "families" which may descend from one copy.
They include trying to identify what kind of mistakes copyists are likely to make (misreading single letters, missing out sections because their copying eye has accidentally jumped from one line to another, and so on), assessing which of two competing versions is more likely to arise from such a mistake.

People have put a lot of work into the question over the years.
Anyway, the variations don't, on the whole, affect the essence of the teaching

edit on 17-12-2012 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 17 2012 @ 04:26 PM
I would add that if you're going to study the bible, stick with translations and lexicons that cling to the Textus Receptus. The received text has more manuscripts that agree with it than any others, such as Westcott and Hort's problematic manuscripts, which too many translations have relied upon. Just my two cents. Take it or leave it.

I'm not a Christian, but if you're going to study scripture, it may as well all be there to study.
edit on 12/17/2012 by Klassified because: clarity

posted on Dec, 17 2012 @ 05:17 PM
reply to post by Ralphy

Watch this video for some analysis...and realize that much is indeed changed, so much so that we literally have no clue what the "original texts" might have looked like, or even if they were separate texts meant to be taken as such.

posted on Dec, 17 2012 @ 05:28 PM
reply to post by ParasuvO

Here ya go.

I'm gonna take a look see at that. Thanks for posting it.

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