Answered by: BibleAsk Team


Do different manuscripts affect the accuracy of the Bible?

The Accuracy of Bible Manuscripts

Today’s Bible manuscripts are 99% in agreement with one another. There are some minor differences in punctuation, word endings, minor grammatical issues, word order, etc. – issues easily categorized as scribal mistakes.

Biblical manuscripts from the 15th century agree completely with the ones from the 3rd century. The Bible we have today is almost exactly identical to what the apostles and prophets wrote 2000+ years ago. The fact that the Bible is incredibly accurate is a testimony to its inspiration and preservation by God.

The Earliest Available Manuscripts

Since no original copies of the biblical manuscripts exist, we need to examine the earliest available manuscripts. For the New Testament, some portions exist from the early to mid-second century, within just a generation of the original writings. More than 5,000 copies of Greek New Testament manuscripts exist, in addition to thousands more in Latin, Coptic, and other languages.

For the Old Testament, manuscripts existed from the Dead Sea Scrolls (before the New Testament period) revealing the accuracy of the Hebrew and Aramaic text as it would have been known to people in the time of Jesus. A large finding of Old Testament manuscripts in Cairo (called the Cairo Geniza) also support the amazingly high degree of accuracy of the Old Testament writings. The library includes more than 200,000 manuscript fragments from as early as 870 AD. Other early copies of large parts or the entire Old Testament include the Aleppo Codex (tenth century) and the Leningrad Codex (approximately 1008 AD).

God’s Preservation of His Word

God preserved His original inspired Word: “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. You shall keep them, O Lord, You shall preserve them from this generation forever” (Psalms 12:6-7). Christ Himself declared the unchanging nature of God’s Word, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Mathew 5:18). “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8). For “the word of the Lord endures forever” (I Peter 1:25).

The preservation and accuracy of God’s Word is very important to the believers’ salvation for “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The inspired will of God is the spiritual food on which man is to live (Matthew 4:4; John 6:48–63). Truth never changes, for its Giver is “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). Those who come to Him for life will never “hunger” (John 6:35), nor will they “thirst” (John 4:14). Without God’s preserving hand, the path of righteousness would have been lost.

New Testament authors often quoted the Old Testament indicating that the preserved Word was trusted at that time. The apostle Peter declares, “no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). The Holy Spirit is the source of all truth and it is the One that keeps it preserved and pure.

The apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16 affirms, “All Scripture is breathed out by God.” God’s Word makes a man “wise unto salvation” (verse 15). The power in God’s Word is due to the life breathed into it by the Creator of the Universe Himself. The endurance of its vitality and ability to fulfill every need of man testifies to its divine authorship and preservation.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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