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                          "CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS"  
  
               Manuscript Attestation For The New Testament  
  
INTRODUCTION  
  
1. In an effort to demonstrate the RELIABILITY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT AS  
   A HISTORICAL DOCUMENT...  
   a. We considered evidence which confirms that the New Testament was  
      WRITTEN AND BEING CIRCULATED SOON AFTER THE EVENTS TOOK PLACE;  
      e.g.:  
      1) The internal evidence  
      2) Papyri fragments  
      3) Patristic writings  
   b. We noted that ARCHAEOLOGY CONFIRMS THE NEW TESTAMENT RECORD (as  
      we have it today) in those areas which can be checked; e.g.,  
      references to:  
      1) People  
      2) Places  
      3) Events  
  
2. But ONE MORE QUESTION REMAINS in order to establish beyond a  
   reasonable doubt the historical reliability of the New Testament:  
  
   "What assurance is there, that what we have today in the form of  
   the New Testament, is that which was penned by its original  
   authors?"  
  
3. In other words, since we don't have the original "AUTOGRAPHS" (the  
   manuscripts penned by the authors), how do we know...  
   a. There hasn't been SIGNIFICANT CHANGES OR ERRORS made in the  
      process of copying over the years?  
   b. There hasn't been COLLUSION (secret cooperation for deceitful  
      purposes) among those who possessed the early copies of the  
      originals?  
  
4. This is where "THE BIBLIOGRAPHICAL TEST" in attesting ancient  
   manuscripts can be applied to help answer such questions!  
  
[The answer this "test" gives to the historical reliability of the New  
Testament is an amazing one!  But first, it may help to briefly  
explain...]  
  
I. THE "BIBLIOGRAPHICAL TEST"  
  
   A. THIS TEST IS APPLIED TO ALL ANCIENT HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS...  
      1. Such as:  
         a) Julius Caesar's "Gallic War"  
         b) "Histories" of Tacitus  
         c) "Annals" of Tacitus  
         d) The New Testament  
      2. In an effort TO ESTABLISH THE LIKELIHOOD THAT WHAT COPIES WE  
         HAVE:  
         a) Are faithful representatives of the originals  
         b) And have come to us free of changes, errors, or collusion  
  
   B. QUESTIONS RAISED IN THIS TEST...  
      1. "How many copies of the document in question are available?"  
         a. In order to compare them with one another  
         b. The more, the better  
      2. "Where were the copies found?"  
         a. If they all came from one place, collusion is possible  
         b. But if they are from places far removed by time and location,  
            collusion is unlikely  
      3. "What length of time passed between the original and the  
         earliest copies?"  
         a. If the earliest copies we have were written hundreds of years  
            after the original, a lot of changes could have been made and  
            we would not know it  
         b. But a short interval of time would increase our assurance in  
            the reliability of the copies  
      4. "What variances exist between the copies?"  
         a. If the copies of a document are filled with significant  
            differences, then it would not be possible to know what the  
            original author wrote!  
         b. But if the variances are few and minor, then the process of  
            copying over the years has been faithful to the original!  
  
[What answers do we find when these questions are applied to the New   
Testament?  And how does the New Testament compare with other   
historical documents of antiquity?]  
  
II. THE "BIBLIOGRAPHICAL TEST" FOR THE NEW TESTAMENT  
  
   A. HOW MANY COPIES OF NEW TESTAMENT MANUSCRIPTS ARE AVAILABLE?  
      1. Over 4,000 Greek manuscripts; 13,000 copies of portions of the  
         New Testament in Greek!  
      2. Compare this with other ancient historical writings:  
         a. Caesar's "Gallic Wars" - only 10 Greek manuscripts  
         b. "Annals" of Tacitus - 2  
         c. Livy - 20; Plato - 7; Sophocles - 100  
  
   B. WHERE WERE THESE COPIES FOUND?  
      1. Various places:  Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Greece, Italy  
      2. Such varied locations would make COLLUSION very difficult  
  
   C. WHAT LENGTH OF TIME PASSED BETWEEN THE ORIGINAL AND THE EARLIEST  
      COPIES?  
      1. We saw in the previous lesson that several PAPYRI FRAGMENTS  
         have been dated to within 50-100 years  
      2. We have several nearly complete New Testament GREEK MANUSCRIPTS  
         which were copied within 300-400 years, for example:  
         a. Codex Sinaiticus, found near Mt. Sinai  
         b. Codex Alexandrinus, found near Alexandria in Egypt  
         c. Codex Vaticanus, located at the Vatican in Rome  
      3. But COMPARE THIS WITH MANUSCRIPTS OF VARIOUS CLASSICAL  
         HISTORIES:  
         a. "Histories of Thucydides" - earliest copy is 1300 years  
            removed from the original  
         b. "Histories of Herodotus" - earliest copy is 1350 years  
            removed from the original  
         c. Caesar's "Gallic War" - 950 years  
         d. Roman History of Livy - 350 years (and the earliest copy is  
            only a fragment)  
         e. "Histories" of Tacitus - 750 years  
         f. "Annals" of Tacitus - 950 years (and there are only two  
            manuscripts)  
  
   D. WHAT VARIANCES EXIST BETWEEN THE COPIES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT?  
      1. It is true that there are SOME VARIATIONS between the many  
         thousands of manuscripts available  
         a. But the vast majority are very minor (spelling, differences  
            in phraseology, etc.; modern translations often note the  
            differences in footnotes)  
         b. Only 1/2 of one percent is in question (compared to 5  
            percent for the Illiad)  
      2. Even then, it can be stated:  "No fundamental doctrine of the  
         Christian faith rests on a disputed reading...It cannot be too  
         strongly asserted that in substance the text of the Bible is  
         certain:  especially is this the case with the New Testament."  
         -- SIR FREDERICK KENYON (authority in the field of New  
         Testament textual criticism)  
  
CONCLUSION  
  
1. In regards to the "BIBLIOGRAPHICAL TEST" in attesting the manuscript  
   evidence for the New Testament:  
   a. The New Testament not only passes with flying colors...  
   b. It does better than ANY other historical document come down to  
      us from antiquity!  
  
2. "The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater  
   than the evidence for many writings of classical authors, the  
   authenticity of which no one dreams of questioning.  And if the New  
   Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity  
   would generally be as beyond all doubt." -- F. F. BRUCE  
  
3. JOSH MCDOWELL makes some interesting comments:  
  
   "After trying to shatter the historicity and validity of the  
   Scripture, I came to the conclusion that they are historically  
   trustworthy. If one discards the Bible as being unreliable, then he  
   must discard almost all literature of antiquity."  
  
   "One problem I constantly face is the desire on the part of many to  
   apply one standard or test to secular literature and other to the  
   Bible.  One needs to apply the same test, whether the literature  
   under investigation is secular or religious."  
  
   "Having done this, I believe one can hold the Scriptures in his  
   hand and say, 'The Bible is trustworthy, and historically reliable.'"  
  
4. Why then would anyone question the New Testament record concerning  
   Jesus?  
   a. It is because reference is made to miracles, such as the  
      resurrection of Jesus from the dead  
   b. In our next study, we shall consider whether it is reasonable to  
      believe that the New Testament is a LIE when it speaks of such  
      things...  
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