By Roland Worth, Jr.
Sometimes we hear people question whether we can place trust in the accuracy of our Bible text: “Do we have it in virtually the exact form originally written? Have 4ections of the text been removed or added?” The answer is “yes” to the first question and “no” to the second.
Among the factors that drive us to this conclusion are the following:
First, from how accurately the manuscripts were preserved in later centuries we can make a fair projection backward that the manuscripts were accurately preserved at an earlier date as well.
Secondly, so many manuscripts have survived that they are a corrective to any errors that may have crept in. The chance of a given error being predominant throughout many centuries of manuscripts is most unlikely, the manuscripts being written in so many different locations by so many different people.
Thirdly, the same reasoning (to be consistent) would cause us to reject the textual integrity of other ancient authors as well. In their case, the date between composition and the earliest: surviving manuscript is often several times as long as in the case of the New Testament. Maisie Ward writes, “The earliest copy of Horace is nine hundred years after his death, of most of Plato thirteen hundred, of Euripides sixteen hundred; the earliest complete copy of the four Gospels is about two hundred and fifty years later than their writing” (They Saw His Glory: An Introduction To The Gospels And Acts, Sheed and Ward: New York, 1956, page 41).
The “Scholarly” Allure
The primary reason that such an argument will ever make way with the “scholarly” type of person is due to (lie fact that it provides him with an excuse to reject a particular doctrine that is found in the Biblical text. A good example of this is in regard to the Virgin Birth, it’s being argued by some that the first chapters of Luke (that contain the account) were not part of the original manuscripts. Being unable to prove this from the current Biblical text, they are compelled to postulate the existence of the text at an early date without those embarrassing chapters. The whole thing is subjective and without convincing evidence. Due to theological hostility to the contents of scripture, they attempt to arbitrarily junk whatever chapters do not fit thier materialistic prejudices. (For a detailed discussion of the first chapters of Luke, the reader should consult J. Gresham Machen, The Virgin Birth Of Christ, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1930, 1965.)
We can safely conclude taht we have an accurately preserved Biblical text, the best preserved text of any ancient document. However we should be aware that what “bugs” most people is not really whether that text has been well preserved but what is contained in that text, doctrines and beliefs that they do not desire to accept.
Truth Magazine, XX:1, p. 5-6
January 1, 1976