Today we will continue the subject we started yesterday as we answer the question for Muslims, “Has the Bible been corrupted?” Remember, Islam teaches that the Jews corrupted the Old Testament and the Christians corrupted the New Testament. They claim that for this reason Allah used Muhammad to give the Qur’an, the last testament.
You will note that this is very similar to the teachings of Mormonism. Both have an angel who gave a new writings to correct that which man had corrupted.
Before I get started let me say a few words about what is going on between the U.S. and Iran. The U.S. is preparing to throw Israel under the bus with this deal. They are giving Iran the “deal of the century.” Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, is angered and is publicly denouncing this deal. It weakens the trade embargo against Iran in exchange for promises to stop or slow their nuclear program. We have been down this road before and we know Iran will not keep her promises.
Thankfully Israel has found a friend in the most unlikely place, France. President Francois Hollande of France is opposing this deal and siding with Israel. This is quite a surprise because we don’t normally see France taking a stand on the side of Israel.
It is a shame that this opposition is not coming from the U.S. As I have said many times, my biggest concern with the Obama administration is the weakening of our relationship with Israel.
Lets get back to the subject of the integrity of the Bible. I think that asking how we can be sure that the Bible is God’s Word is a good thing. How do we know for sure that it hasn’t been corrupted? Christians need to have the answer to these questions so they can defend their faith against not only Muslims, but others who don’t believe the Bible to be the Word of God.
The information I am sharing with you is out of my book Engaging Muslims, and I will be quoting from it.
The Old Testament was kept intact by the nation of Israel. It was very important to them so they were very careful in the copying of the text of Scripture. Men were trained to be professional scribes. They treated the text very carefully because they knew they were handling God’s Word. An example of the respect they had for what they were doing is what they did when they came to the name of God, Jehovah, Elohim, etc.. They would change their writing instrument, they would wash their hands, etc. before they wrote the name of God.
Each scroll was carefully checked, and rechecked, and rechecked again for errors. If an error was found the whole scroll was destroyed. There is little to say about variants in the Old Testament manuscripts because they just don’t exist.
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls confirms the accuracy of the text from which our Old Testament was translated. The Dead Sea Scroll manuscripts of the Old Testament match almost exactly with those we use today.
It is different for the New Testament manuscripts. The New Testament manuscripts were not copied by professional scribes. Remember, we don’t have the original manuscripts written by the New Testament writers.
Imagine that you were a business man traveling from Corinth to Ephesus. When you get their you get a chance to read the letter Paul wrote to this church. You may have even made the trip with the hope of copying the letter to take back to Corinth so they could have it too. I can imagine that there was a lot of this going on at that time.
Since those who copied these documents were not professionals they may have misspelled a word, copied the same word twice, or left out a word or a line. They may have even copied the same line or verse twice. These different manuscripts are called variants.
All of the variants have been cataloged. This was the start of textual criticism. This “science” was started by those who wanted to destroy the credibility of the Scriptures. It was done to point out errors that had crept in. They were questioning the reliability of God’s Word.
There are vast libraries of these manuscripts, and each time a new variant is found it is assigned to a family and cataloged. By assigning to a family I mean, there are certain errors that reoccur in different manuscripts. By this we see that some manuscripts were copied from the same variant manuscript. This constitutes a family.
Although we don’t have the originals, we do have almost 6,000 Greek manuscripts with more being discovered each year. Most of these have been discovered within the last 100 years.
There is a clear picture that is resulting from all of these manuscripts. About 95% of these manuscripts are in agreement and only a few are in disagreement. By examining these manuscripts we can trace God’s inerrant Word and see how it has been preserved.
In spite of man’s failures and the attempts of some to destroy the Word of God, we can see that it has been preserved intact. It is a fascinating study to see how God has worked to preserve His Word as He promised (I Peter 1:25, Psalm 12:6-7).
Let me illustrate it this way. If we have one watch and it says that it is 3:49 we would be pretty sure that it is 3:49. If we have two watches and one says 3:49 and the other says 4:49 we would have a problem knowing which one was right. Now lets say that we have 6,000 watches and 95% of them say that it is 3:49 and the other 5% said something different. The preponderance of the evidence would assure us that it was 3:49.
This is part of the evidence that we have that the Bible we hold in our hands today is the same as what was originally given by God. There is much more evidence and we will continue looking at this tomorrow.
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