What the Skeptics Claim:
“Not only do we not have the originals [of the biblical manuscripts], we don’t have the first copies of the originals. . . . What we have are copies made later—much later.”
What History Actually Tells Us:
Although the original manuscripts from the biblical have been lost–probably forever–the copies that we possess today reliably reflected the inspired message of the original authors. Ancient people saw no reason to revere original manuscripts from important people, and–once documents became too worn to read easily–they did not retain the original manuscripts. Instead, they made reliable copies and burned or buried the originals. Occasionally, the ink was scraped from the original, and the parchment was reused.
Despite the critics’ claims, it is possible that we possess first-generation copies of the original New Testament manuscripts. In AD 200, churches in Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica, Ephesus, and Rome still possessed original
manuscripts from the apostolic authors. Many portions of the New Testament that were copied between AD 100 and 200 have been found in Egypt; it is entirely possible that scribes copied at least a few of these documents from the original manuscripts.
What matters most, however, is not the age of the existing manuscripts but their reliability. When the manuscripts are compared, they completely agree with one another more than 99% of the time. Of the differences that remain, not even one difference decisively affects any aspect of Christian faith.
A Final Word
So will there be more sensational new findings about the Gospels—findings that supposedly demonstrate that these writings don’t contain the gospel truth after all? Of course! The Holy Bible has withstood thousands of attempts to
destroy its truth and to discredit its authority, and yet no one has succeeded. The truth and the authority of the Scriptures stand strong, regardless of every attempt to render them ineffective. So can the Bible be trusted? In a word, yes.
To learn more from Bible history expert Dr. Timothy Paul Jones, check out our How We Got the Bible series!