Return to Class Topical Index



  1. We studied the canon and the books that were rejected from the canon.

  2. Now the question is: Are the books we have reliable? Are they accurate to the original work of Paul or Peter? Would Luke recognize the books that bear his name?

  3. What about the variant readings? What about the amount of documents discovered and the variations between them?

  4. There is a historical reliability for the Scriptures

  5. Scripture should be tested as any other document

  6. If one chooses to “throw out” the Bible, there must be a violation of the standard by which other documents are accepted or rejected.

    1. Documents from Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington

    2. Plato, Aristotle, Josephus or other writers from this period of history

    3. Art work, antiqued, archeological finds, or other objects


Bibliographical test – NT

  1. Scholars testify

    1. Philip Schaff –

      1. Fewer than 400 out of 150,000 documents have any problem

      2. None of these variants include an “article of faith or a precept of duty which is not abundantly sustained by other and undoubted passages.”

    2. Geisler and Nix – “If one word is misspelled in 3,000 different manuscripts, this is counted as 3,000 variants or readings.”

    3. F. F. Bruce – “the wealth of attestation is such that the true reading is almost invariable bound to be preserved by at least one of the thousands of witnesses.”

    4. Sir Fredric Kenyon – “No fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith rest 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. The number of manuscripts of the NT, of early translations from it, and of quotations from it in the oldest writers of the Church, is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or other of these ancient authorities.”

    5. Howard Vos – “From the standpoint of literary evidence the only logical conclusion is that the case for the reliability of the New Testament is infinitely stronger that that for any other record of antiquity.”


  2. Manuscript evidence in the NT

    1. A. T. Roberson –

      1. There are 8,000 MSS of the Latin vulgate

      2. 1,000 for other early versions

      3. Over 5,000 MSS in Greek

      4. More than 13,000 copies of portions of the NT

      5. This does not include the church fathers who quoted much of the NT writings

    2. Kenyon – “The interval then between the dates of the original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the NT may be regarded as finally established.”


  3. Manuscript evidence compared with other authors and works of antiquity

    1. F. F. Bruce give the following data:



    3. This does not include the tens of thousands of partials, or fragments.

    4. This does not include the many extended quotations from the NT by the early church fathers of the 1st to 3rd centuries.

    5. This chart does not include the 76 complete papyri of the NT.


  1. Chronology of NT manuscripts authority

    1. Dating procedures for documents include:

      1. Materials used

      2. Letter size and form

      3. Punctuation

      4. Text divisions

      5. Ornamentation

      6. Color of ink

      7. Texture and color of the parchment

    2. John Ryland – 2.5 X 3.5 inches – contains John 18:31-33 – from 117-138 AD

    3. Chester Beatty Papyri – 200 – a book of more than 220 pages, 10 X 8 inches

    4. Bodmer Papyrus – 150-200 – Earliest know copy of Luke and John, printed in uncils and date 175-225 AD

    5. Codex Sinaiticus (350)

    6. Codex Vaticanus (325-350)


  2. Manuscript authority supported by early church fathers

    1. Tertullian (160=220)

    2. Origen (185-253) – more than 6,000 writings

    3. Ignatius (70-110) – student of Polycarp

    4. Polycarp (65-155) – student of John


Bibliographical test – OT

  1. Not as many manuscripts as the NT

  2. The Talmudists (100-500 AD)

    1. Jews who spent time cataloging civil and religious law

    2. They had intricate system for transcribing scrolls for the synagogues

      1. Only written on skins of clean animals

      2. Fastened together with strings from clean animals

      3. Prepared for the use of a synagogue

      4. Every skin must contain a certain number of columns, equal throughout the codex

      5. Each column must be at least 48 letters – not more than 60 lines

      6. Ink should be black – not red, green or other color

      7. The original must an authentic copy

      8. Space between every consonant – a hairs breadth

      9. The name of God must be written with a pen newly dipped in ink

      10. Never allow an interruption during the writing of a name of God

      11. If any rules are broken – the scroll was burned.


  3. The Massoretic period (500-990)

    1. Word means – tradition

    2. They added vowel markings to insure proper pronunciation

    3. They also added the calculations to insure accuracy

      1. Letters per line; words per line

      2. Lines per page; letters per page; words per page


  4. New Testament Evidence

    1. Luke 1:1-3 – some who followed Christ wrote of his life

    2. 2 Peter 1:16 – we were eyewitnesses of his majesty

    3. 1 John 1:3 – that which we have seen and heard

    4. Acts 2:22 – miracles God did in your midst

    5. John 20:30-31 – signs in the presence of his disciples

    6. Luke 3:1-2 – All the current leaders are listed by name and title

    7. Acts 26:24-26 – not hidden, not done in a corner

    8. F. F. Bruce – “Indeed, the evidence is that the early Christians were careful to distinguish between the sayings of Jesus and their own inferences or judgments. Paul, for example, when discussing the vexed questions of marriage and divorce in 1 Corinthains 7, is careful to make this distinction between his own advice on the subject and the Lord’s decisive ruling: ‘I, not the Lord;’ and again, ‘Not I, but the Lord.’”

  5. The New Testament stands as a 1st century document

External Evidence for the Reliability of Scripture


  1. Testimony of early church fathers

    1. Eusebius (130) – “Mark, having been the interpreter of Peter wrote down accurately all that he (Peter) mentioned, whether saying or doings of Christ, not, however, in order. For he was neither a hearer nor a companion of the Lord; but afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who adapted his teachings as necessity required, not as though he were making a compilation of the sayings of the Lord.”

    2. Iraneaus (180) – He was a student of Polycarp, who was a student of John. Irenaus became the bishop of Lyons (now part of France). He converted almost the entire population of Lyons and sent other missionaries to other parts of pagan Europe.

    3. Polycarp (70-156) – He was a disciple of John at Ephesus. He was burned at the stake at 86 years of age.

    4. Josephus (37-100) – Speaking about John the Baptist, he wrote, “For Herod had killed him though he was a good man, who bade the Jews practice virtue, be just one to another and pious toward God, and come together in baptism. He taught that baptism was acceptable to God.”


  2. Archaeology finding for the Old Testament

    1. Walls of Jericho (1930-1936) – Garstand says, “As to the main fact, then, there remains no doubt: the walls fell outwards so completely that the attackers would be able to clamber over their ruins into the city.”

    2. Sodom and Gomorrah – W. F. Albright and M. G. Kyle found at the southeast corner of the Dead Sea five oases made by fresh water streams, and centrally located “high place” for religious festivals. The pottery found in that area dated between 2500 and 2000 BC.

    3. Thousands of examples could be cited. More continue to be discovered.


  3. Quotes from scholars on the reliability of the OT

    1. Robert Dick Wilson – “In 144 cases of transliteration from Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Moabite into Hebrew and in 40 cases of the opposite, or 184 in all, the evidence shows that for the 2300 to 3900 years the text of the proper names in the Hebrew Bible has been transmitted with the most minute accuracy.”


  4. The Hebrew text

    1. Cairo Codex – 895 AD – This book is a Massorectic text of the Old Testament. It is kept in the British Museum.

    2. Codex Babylonicus – earliest complete OT – 1008 AD – This codex is on a museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

    3. Aleppo Codex – 900 AD – It was discovered in 1958.

    4. British Museum Codex – 950 AD – This book contains Genesis through Deuteronomy.

    Dead Sea Scrolls

    1. 40,000 fragments

    2. 500 books

    3. Every book of the Old Testament was found except Esther.

    4. There are commentaries on almost every OT book.

    5. Discovered in 1947

    6. Leather scrolls preserved in clay jars, sealed tops

    7. Value of the Dead Sea Scrolls

      1. Isaiah scroll – around 150 BC

      2. 1,000 years older than we had up to this time

      3. No significant change in the text.


Return to Class Topical Index