Some manuscripts have...

Tim Finney
August 2019

Some manuscripts have...

Today's topic is, The authenticity of the Bible with reference to manuscripts.

Have you ever noticed footnotes in your Bible that say “some manuscripts have…”?

Does this mean that there is uncertainty about the text of the Bible?

What we will cover today

  • How did we get the Bible?
  • Reading in the ancient word
  • What is a manuscript?
  • What happens when we compare manuscripts?
  • What happens when we analyse textual variation?
  • What difference does textual variation make?
  • Can we recover the original text?
  • Redundancy

How did we get the Bible?

The Bible is a collection of books. (Βιβλια means books.) The first part is the Old Testament – the Law, the Prophets, and the other writings. The second part is the New Testament – Gospels, Acts, Paul's Letters, General Letters, and Revelation.

The canon is the rule that says what books should be included. How the books were chosen is better described as a gradual selection process rather than a sudden executive decision. Councils merely ratified what the people of the early church had decided were the best books to hear.

Copied by hand

The books of the Bible were copied by hand from the time they were first written down until the printing press became the preferred means of production. Johannes Gutenberg produced a printed Bible around 1450, meaning that the New Testament books were copied by hand for about 1400 years and the Old Testament books for even longer.