New Testament Manuscripts

New Testament Manuscripts

"I believe the New Testament manuscripts have been corrupted over the centuries."

New Testament ManuscriptsThe New Testament was originally written in Greek and the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts discovered date to about two centuries after Christ. The number of ancient Greek New Testament manuscripts or fragments of Greek New Testament manuscripts discovered so far exceed 5,600; 'manuscript' means hand (manu) written (script) documents.

Two things can be said about these manuscripts.

Firstly, what we know about the history of the Roman Empire is based largely on The Annals of the Roman Empire, written by the Roman historian Tacitus in 116 AD. There are only two manuscripts in the world of that in the original language. One of the two manuscripts dates from the 9th century and the other from the 11th century.

Therefore, the details of the history of the Roman Empire stand on two manuscripts written about 1000 years after the original, while the New Testament stands on 5600+ manuscripts that date from about 200 years after the originals. In other words, there is far stronger written evidence for the New Testament than for the history of the Roman Empire.

Secondly, these 5600+ manuscripts in the original Greek were discovered over a vast area that stretches from the Middle East to Ethiopia, Spain, Ireland and Germany. So what?

Imagine a kindergarten class playing whisper telephone. The teacher whispers, "Bobby pushed Laura on the swings," to two children, and they each whisper to two other children, and so on. If after ten generations, the child at one corner of the classroom reports, "Bobby kissed Laura by the swings," while a child at another corner reports, "Bobby hit Laura near the slide," the class won’t know what the teacher originally had whispered. But if children at distant corners of the classroom repeat the same sentence, the original words can be deduced without having been heard by all. What's the point?

The original New Testament manuscripts most likely disintegrated long ago from passing from hand to hand to be read and copied. But almost all (95-99%) of the 5600+ manuscripts discovered say in effect, "Bobby pushed Laura on the swings." So the original words can be deduced from those 5600+ manuscripts without the original copy.