Were Jesus Biographies
(the Gospels) Reliably Preserved for Us?
COPIES OF COPIES OF COPIES
"I'll be honest with you . . . When I first found out that
there are no surviving originals of the New Testament, I was really
skeptical. I thought, If all we have are copies of copies of copies, how can
I have any confidence that the New Testament we have today bears any
resemblance whatsoever to what was originally written?
(Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ,
writing was done on perishable materials, virtually
document we have today from
ancient times is
a copy of a copy of a copy.
yet no one doubts that we have a reasonably accurate understanding of the
history of the ancient world.
examining a number of copies of an ancient document, we can determine with
greater accuracy what the original said.
more copies we have of the original document, the more accurately we can
know what was said in the original.
The number of available manuscripts of the New Testament
is overwhelmingly greater than those of any other work of ancient literature
(J. Harold Greenlee, quoted in The New Evidence
That Demands a Verdict, p.36)
important factor in determining how accurately a copy reflects what was
written in the original is the
amount of time that passed between when the copy was made and when the
the fewer years there are between a copy and the original, the less
intervening copies there are between that copy and the original, and
therefore less errors have been introduced into the copy.
other words, generally speaking, the fewer years there are between the
copy and the original, the more accurate the copy is assumed to be.
In real terms, The New Testament is easily the best
attested ancient writing in terms of the
sheer number of documents,
between the events and the document, and the variety of documents available
to sustain or contradict it. There is nothing in ancient manuscript evidence
to match such textual availability and integrity.
(Ravi Zacharias, quoted in The New Evidence
That Demands a Verdict, p.37)