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The Textual Evidence
The New Testament is accurate because there are approximately 5,800 handwritten Greek manuscripts of it that exist today (Greek was the original language of the New Testament). The time between the original composition and our earliest copies is an unbelievably short 60 years or so.
The New Testament manuscripts provide significantly more early copies than any other ancient work. In comparison, “The Iliad” by Homer, one of the greatest works of ancient literature, stands in second place with only 643 ancient manuscripts. So, if we reject the authenticity of the New Testament on textual grounds we’d have to reject every ancient work of antiquity and declare null and void every piece of historical information from written sources prior to the beginning of the second millennium AD.
Among the New Testament manuscripts that have been copied over the last 2,000 years, there is a high degree of accuracy – as much as 99.5%. For over four-fifths of the New Testament, the Greek text is considered 100% certain. As for the variants that actually exist, they are trivial.
Extra-Biblical Accounts that Verify the New Testament
The New Testament manuscripts are true because many secular sources confirm a lot details mentioned in it. These writers include Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, Thallus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, the Jewish Talmud, and others.
The late New Testament scholar F.F. Bruce notes the following summary of events verified in the extra-biblical documents in his work “Jesus & Jewish Origins Outside the New Testament”:
- Jesus lived during the time of Tiberius and Caesar.
- He lived a virtuous life.
- He was a wonder-worker.
- He had a brother named James.
- He was acclaimed to be the Messiah.
- He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.
- An eclipse and earthquake occurred when He died.
- He was crucified on the eve of the Jewish Passover.
- His disciples believed He rose from the dead.
- His disciples were willing to die for their belief.
- Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome.
- His disciples denied the Roman gods and worshiped Jesus as God.
Also, the New Testament scholar Gary Habermas adds, “Altogether, there are even about a dozen and a half non-Christian sources that mention Jesus within the first 150 years after his death.” A full list and discussion of these sources are available in his book “The Historical Jesus”.
Archaeology Confirms the New Testament
Archaeology provides even additional information regarding the authenticity of New Testament. As noted in “When Skeptics Ask” by Norman Geisler and Ronald Brooks, many inscriptions, coins, manuscripts, and locations from the Gospel accounts have been discovered.
Here is a list of archaeological discoveries that support the New Testament:
Pilate’s Stone: His inscription was found in Caesarea Maritima. He was the governor that ordered the crucifixion of Jesus (John 18-19).
Ossuary of Alexanderson of Simon of Cyrene: This inscription is placed in a Houston museum. Simon was the one that helped Jesus by carrying the cross to Golgotha (Luke 23:26).
Herod Agrippa I: Many coins and busts were found for him. He is mentioned in Acts 12:22-23.
Herod Agrippa II: Many coins that bear his name were found. He is mentioned in Acts 25:13.
Gallio’s Inscription: His inscription was found in Greece. He was a proconsul and is mentioned in Acts 18:12.
Sergius Paulus: His inscription was found near Paphos. He is mentioned in Acts 13:6-12.
Erastus the City Treasurer: His inscription was found at Corinth and dates to the 1st century AD. He is mentioned in Romans 16:23.
Quirinius Inscription: It was found in Antioch of Prisidia. He was governor of Syria, who took a census from Caesar Augustus, which is mentioned in Luke 2:2.
Claudius Caesar: Many statues and coins were discovered for him. He was the Roman emperor between 41-54 AD. He is mentioned in Acts 11:28.
The Pool of Siloam: It was discovered in Jerusalem. It is mentioned in John 9:1-11.
Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri: It was discovered in Cairo, Egypt dating to 200 AD. It contains most of the New Testament.
Bodmer Papyrus II: It was discovered in Pabau, Egypt. It contains most of John’s gospel and have been dated from 150 to 200 AD.
Rylands Papyrus P52: This is oldest manuscript of the New Testament, and is dated to 125 AD.
For images of the discoveries, check: https://welcometotruth.com/blogs/apologetics/new-testament-biblical-archaeology
The New Testament that we have today is basically the same text that was initially authored by the apostles of Jesus Christ. The abundance of manuscripts, the dates from the original manuscripts to the earliest copies available, and the high degree of accuracy in the manuscripts, are all factors that prove the accurate preservation of God’s inspired Word. Further, the historical facts and the archeological findings are additional proofs that make the New Testament stand the test of reliability.
In His service,
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