Table of Contents
Understanding God's word is of great importance to all who call on God's name. Study of the Bible is one of the primary ways that we learn to communicate with God.
The Bible stands alone in many ways. It is unique in:
popularity. Bible sales in North America: more than $500 million per year. The Bible is both the all-time and year-to-year best seller!
authorship. It was written over a period of 1600 years by 40 different authors from different backgrounds, yet reads as if written by one.
preservation. F. F. Bruce in Are New Testament Documents Reliable? compares New Testament manuscripts with other ancient texts:
Table 1.1. Comparison of New Testament manuscripts with other ancient texts.
|Work||When Written||Earliest Copy||Time Lapse||Number of Copies|
|Herodotus||448-428 B.C.||900 A.D.||1300 years||8|
|Tacitus||100 A.D.||1100 A.D.||1000 years||20|
|Caesar's Gallic War||50-58 B.C.||900 A.D.||950 years||10|
|Livy's Roman History||59 B.C. - 17 A.D.||900 A.D.||900 years||20|
|New Testament||40 A.D. - 100 A.D.||130 A.D. Partial manuscripts 350 A.D. Full manuscripts||30 - 310 years||5000 Greek & 10,000 Latin|
Ten copies of Caesar's Gallic War exist, the earliest of which was copied 900 years after Caesar wrote the original, etc. For the New Testament we have full manuscripts dating to 350 A. D., papyri containing most of the New Testament from the 200s, and a fragment of John's gospel from 130 A. D. How many manuscripts do we have to compare to each other? 5,000 in Greek and 10,000 in Latin!
"In the verity and fullness of the evidence on which it rests, the text of the New Testament stands absolutely and unapproachably alone among other ancient prose writings."
|--Textual critic F. J. A. Hort, "The New Testament in the Original Greek", vol. 1 p561, Macmillan Co., quoted in Questions of Lifep. 25-26|