This is an extremely important question. The Bible loses all value if it doesn’t accurately represent the original words which were written. Even if some parts are accurate, how would you know which ones are? How dependable would that be? That would be as dependable as a car which only started part of the time. Or a life-saving medication which worked only sporadically.
This last comparison is fitting because the Bible deals with life and death issues—eternal life and death. This makes the question about its accuracy not only important but essential. It’s essential because the Bible’s message is unique.
It alone has the wonderful message that eternal life is completely God’s gift to us; that it doesn’t depend one iota on what we do. It repeatedly emphasizes that we do absolutely nothing to qualify to live eternally with God.
This is why the Bible’s accuracy is so important.
So, is the Bible accurate? Absolutely!
In this brief article we can only introduce you to the wealth of material proving the Bible was transmitted accurately down through the years. No other ancient document comes close to having such proof. God has insured that we know beyond the shadow of a doubt that we have his complete word with nothing being lost.
Let’s first look at the Old Testament and the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They are a treasure trove of ancient Jewish scrolls found near the Dead Sea in the 1940’s and 50’s. Most are dated to the two centuries before Christ. Among the many scrolls found were copies of almost every Old Testament book.
Before their discovery, the earliest manuscripts of the Hebrew Old Testament we had were from around 900 AD. What was so startling is that when these manuscripts were compared with the Dead Sea Scrolls which were a thousand years older, there were only minor variations! That is how carefully and painstakingly the Jewish scribes copied them.
Since the Dead Sea Scrolls date from before Jesus, we now have accurate copies of the very Scriptures Jesus refers to in the New Testament. And Jesus never hinted that there were parts missing or some scriptures lost.
What about the New Testament?
The proof for the accuracy of the New Testament is different but just as impressive. In the case of every other ancient document we only have a handful of ancient copies. Not so with the New Testament. We have over 5,000 ancient copies, in whole or in part, of the Greek New Testament!
What is so amazing is that although there are many variations (called variants) between the various copies, the vast majority are easily explained. Many are simple misspellings or a repetition of a word, or an accidental omission of a word. Even most of the more important variants don’t change the meaning. For example, the meaning isn’t changed if some copies say, “Jesus came” and others say, “Jesus arrived”. Scholars estimate that 99.9% of variants fall into these categories.
There are the rare few which do change a meaning of a passage. Even then, however, none of the possible readings ever change the Bible’s doctrine!
God has insured that both the Old and New Testaments are incredibly accurate. He has done so because they are incredibly important. They are the words of life.
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever”1 Peter 1:23
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