Has The New Testament Been Corrupted?

AP01-TrapsheetThere is good reason to believe the New Testament is a reliable historical document, with early accounts from eyewitnesses and the accurate preservation of manuscripts over time.

Manuscript Evidence

How does the New Testament manuscripts compare to the other ancient works of Homer or Aristotle. The earliest copy of Homer’s Iliad is 500 years after the original was written and 643 copies are known to exist. The earliest copy of Aristotle’s work is 1100 years after the original and 49 copies exist. The earliest copy of the New testament is less than 100 years after the original was written and 5600 Greek manuscripts exist; not to mention the 19,000 copies in the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic languages which total 24,000 copies.  More and more historical evidence, for the reliability of the bible, is being discovered, analyzed and dated as we speak. Consider the earliest fragment from Mark’s Gospel found in a mummy (death) mask that dates to before AD 90, that would be within the lifetime of the originals, and doesn’t conflict with our current New Testament.

 

Early Gospels

The New Testament omits key historical events such as, the deaths of James, Paul and Peter (AD 61-65), the siege of Jerusalem (AD 67-70) and the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem (AD 70). For this reason it is entirely plausible that the Gospels were written before these events because they would have been significant to the apostles, placing the writers of the New Testament as eye witnesses of Jesus, as they claimed to be.

Illustration-22-1024x273
J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Christianity, page 170

Accuracy and Preservation

To be sure the copies were accurate before they became canonized, in the Council of Loadicea, we need to see what they said and how well their writings were preserved. The oldest complete surviving copy of the New Testament would be the Codex Sinaiticus (AD 350), this document gives us a snapshot, if you would, of the fourth century. In his book, Cold-Case Christianity, J. Warner Wallace describes how in a court of law any evidence presented in a trial needs to have a “chain of custody“. Wallace uses this principle to connect the “snapshots” of Jesus, the apostles had, to the “snapshot” of Jesus found in the Codex Sinaiticus. Wallace connects the teachings of John, Paul and Peter to their students after them, until you get to the Council of Laodacea (-J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Christianity, page 216-230) to compare if the information became corrupted. Lets briefly look at John’s chain of custody. John taught two students: Ignatius (AD 35-117) and Polycarp (AD 69-155), who in turn taught Irenaeus (AD 120-202), who passed on what he had been taught to Hippolytus (AD 170-236). Ignatius and Polycarp quote from up to sixteen different New Testament books each (AD 110), and Irenaeus and Hippolytus quote twenty-four New Testament books respectively (AD 185 and AD 220). Showing the information was quoted from the originals.

Chain of Custody Insert

CEphoto_TV_small“We have every reason to believe that the original writings and their earliest copies would have been in circulation for a hundred years in most cases — in some cases much longer, even 200 years.”

[This means that]”a scribe making a copy of a script in the third century could actually have at his disposal [the] first-century originals, or first-century copies, as well as second-century copies.”

-Dr. Craig Evans,  Professor of New Testament studies in an interview with Owen Jarus, from Live Science.  | 2015

The number of manuscripts, the eyewitness testimony, and the “chains of custody” from John, Paul and Peter shows the New Testament letters were not corrupted over time; rather, they were being quoted accurately before the councils from where they were canonized.

 


 

References

J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Christianity, A Homicide Detective Investigates The Claims of The Gospels

Illustrations are Free Download from, Get J. Warner’s Monthly Bible Insert, tab,

http://coldcasechristianity.com

Live Science,

http://www.livescience.com/49489-oldest-known-gospel-mummy-mask.html

Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry,

https://carm.org/manuscript-evidence

Advertisements

15 thoughts on “Has The New Testament Been Corrupted?

  1. corrupt
    kəˈrʌpt/Submit
    verb
    past tense: corrupted; past participle: corrupted
    1.
    cause to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain.
    “there is a continuing fear of firms corrupting politicians in the search for contracts”
    synonyms: bribe, suborn, buy, buy off, pay off; More
    2.
    change or debase by making errors or unintentional alterations.
    “a backup copy will be needed if the original copy becomes corrupted”
    synonyms: alter, falsify, manipulate, tamper with, interfere with, tinker with, doctor, distort; More

    So the simple answer is: Yes, a fact that is widely acknowledged by a great many biblical scholars.
    (I am obviously going to exclude those that claim the bible is inerrant)

    Some modern bibles include explanatory footnotes regarding word usage etc.
    The infamous corrupt text of the Virgin Birth is a perfect example.

    ….the eyewitness testimony,

    What eyewitness testimony?

    Like

    1. Hello Ark!

      Thanks for breaking down “corrupt” into the two categories, which one do you think is being committed with regards to your comment?

      Yes the conclusion states “eyewitness testimony” but that is synonymous with the title “Early Gospels.” I’m not defending the claim that they were eyewitnesses, however, there is good reason to believe that the gospel writers were present, accurate, corroborated and had no ulterior motive. In a future blog perhaps!

      Thanks!

      Like

      1. Explanation #2.

        1.Please explain ”early gospels”.

        2.Are you suggesting the four gospels were written by people who were actually there at the time the character, Jesus of Nazareth strode about Galilee?

        Like

  2. Oh, I also chased down the oldest gospel /mummy mask claim. As far as i could, at least.
    Seems this may be a bit of wild goose chase.
    Did you fully investigate this or simply stop at the Evans link?

    Like

    1. Hello Ark!

      It was a lecture from Evans this year that sparked the interest based on leaked information from 2012. As far as I’m aware it hasn’t been officially released and perhaps it is because the artifact is in question. We will soon see.

      Thanks!

      Like

      1. Yes I read all that ‘leak” business.
        But after following this lead n a few other threads it seems there may be a bit of skulduggery afoot.
        A bit like those bone boxes of a few years back, remember?

        Anyway the ”eyewitness ” remark. I really would like some clarification on this please, as no ( non-literal understanding ) biblical scholar that I am aware of considers the gospels were written by eyewitnesses , and most certainly not John,and surely you are not alluding to the writer of ‘John’ being an eyewitness too, are you?

        Like

  3. Hello Ark!

    Early Gospels is simply what we ought to expect, in timeframe, for writers who claim to be eyewitnesses. I by no means think they wrote anything while Jesus was alive. But perhaps, If they knew that jesus wasn’t returning in their lifetime they would have written sooner. That’s my opinion.

    I would agree that there was no motivation to deceive and yes there are differences in the copies. Thats well established, as you mentioned. My question to you is, if this is out of the ordinary for professional scribes then give reference to another document that surpasses the NT for accuracy? I’m sure before the councils the only the least expensive scribes were used because of the persecution of the Christians and they did a good job.

    Thanks!

    Like

    1. Sorry, didn’t see this was a reply to the gospel question.

      No one has to concern themselves with other texts and this is, in part a distraction, and no other text is trying to convince us that someone arose from the dead; which is a crucial point.

      As for accuracy, this is fallacious and you should be very cautious about making such a sweeping statement as the gospels are literally riddled with inaccuracies verging on falsehood. I am very surprised you would even suggest something like this.

      And to echo what I wrote in the comment above.
      I am unaware of a single biblical scholar that is not an inerrantist who believes the gospels were written by eyewitnesses and the overwhelming position is that the gospels are anonymous and the names were tagged on a great many years after.

      Like

      1. Hello Ark!

        I’m bewildered by the claim that based on the contents of historical documents (NT) we should treat it with unfair bias or skepticism. To what are we comparing it to?

        As far as accuracy goes I showed the Chain of Custody and you yourself attested that their bias was not one of ulterior motive. I would be far more skeptical if all four Gospels were word for word the same. There are numerous different words the scribes used to describe the same situation, none of which are a serious problem doctrinally. I’m aware that PEOPLE wrote them, no surprises there.

        The claim that the documents were simply thrust upon the some unsuspecting authors is unsubstantiated; the chain of custody once again provides us with reasonable timeframe and references to autographs that could, potentially, exist into the second century, as Evans claims.

        Thanks!

        Like

        1. Why are you bewildered?

          The gospels make historical claims therefore you should not cry wolf when they are subjected to historical criticism.
          And in this regard they fail on so many points.

          Surely you are aware that there are over 600 verses in Matthew that feature in Mark? Some almost verbatim.
          And don’t tell me you are unaware that Mark ( and possibly Q) were the basis for the other two Synoptics?

          They are not accurate in the least.
          How on earth could you claim such a thing?
          Just off the top of my head: There
          was no ”world wide” census, the Virgin Birth is nonsense ( and even if it were valid, how did the writer know about it?)
          The gospels are riddled with such nonsense.
          Take the account of Legend. Are you aware just how far away the nearest cliff and body of water is from this supposed incident? You really think those pigs ran that far? Seriously!

          Who was with Jesus in Gethsemane to record his words?

          And what about the raising of the Saints at the time of the Crucifixion?
          Even Licona, a rank apologist, stated that this should not be regarded as a literal event and what happened?
          Norman Geislar and co. tried to force a retraction and ensured he was fired.

          It is sad when intelligent people apparently get sucked into such belief. I am not a biblical scholar yet a simple, straightforward reading of the gospels will soon reveal how unhistorical they are and how they could not possibly have been written by eyewitnesses.
          As for the ”chain of custody” statement?
          Is this supported by evidence?
          Which other scholars agree with this?
          Ehrman is considered one of the top scholars in this field and he
          states flat out that the gospels are not eyewitness accounts.
          Seriously , what exactly are you trying to promote here?

          Like

  4. Hello Ark!

    I’m bewildered because of this statement my friend.

    “No one has to concern themselves with other texts and this is, in part a distraction, and no other text is trying to convince us that someone arose from the dead; which is a crucial point.”

    It would appear that because of the claims the New Testament writers make we should expect some extraordinary evidence to account for this. Once again, is there anything that comes close to the Gospels as far as numbers of copies and time from the original to the first copies?

    Unfortunately I feel that you are simply discrediting the manuscript evidence for the NT based on its CONTENT.

    I’m aware that there are difficulties in the NT content, and far more than you mentioned there; however, this has nothing to do with the historical timeline. If my dates don’t match up then thats a legitimate concern. As far as your content questions, let’s just say I DONT KNOW. That is to say, there is no way to convince someone if they presuppose God does not exist, if Jesus is not an authority and if the NT is barely considered historical. Many of your points Jesus testified about himself, but that’s besides the point of this blog. Now you might think that circular reasoning and it might be, but all appeals to authority are, however some are virtuous and some are fallacious. Tell me where the fallacy lies when it’s based on evidence.

    This blog simply highlights that the manuscript evidence is good, the Gospels are early and the writings have been preserved.

    Thanks!

    Like

    1. It would appear that because of the claims the New Testament writers make we should expect some extraordinary evidence to account for this. Once again, is there anything that comes close to the Gospels as far as numbers of copies and time from the original to the first copies?

      The number of extant copies of an erroneous text does not make the text any less erroneous.

      And Bart Ehrman has pointed this out on numerous occasion
      A million copies of Harry Potter does not make Harry Potter real, now does it?

      Furthermore, the oldest full canon we have is hundreds of years after the claimed dates the character Jesus of Nazareth was alive.
      Of those thousands of documents, most are small/ tiny fragments

      Not to mention the canon was put together largely at the bequest of Constantine. A canon that was decided upon by vote, but of course claimed to have been inspired.

      I am genuinely interested to hear your reason why Marcion’s canon was any less inspired.

      This blog simply highlights that the manuscript evidence is good, the Gospels are early and the writings have been preserved.

      A resounding ‘No!’ on all fronts, I’m afraid and you are displaying nothing but apologetic rhetoric, using such paraphrased arguments as , ”Well we accept Homer etc etc so why should we not accept the veracity of the gospels?”

      Historical evidence discredits the manuscripts and no amount of hand waving will alter this.

      Proper historical research is not conducted like this and the bible should not get a ”Free Pass”. You are simply repeating well worn apologetic tropes and not offering a single argument that has not been put forward – and dismissed by every secular biblical historian.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hello Ark!

        No one is looking for a “Free Pass.” It is simply a category error to say the NT is unreliable based on its contents. Are Egyptian artifacts unreliable because they contain strange drawings? Absolutely not!
        I still have not seen any evidence for your accusations other than appeals to authority.
        “A resounding ‘No!’ on all fronts” -If so, then please provide evidence to show where I have been inaccurate, concerning the manuscript evidence, the timeline of the Gospels and the preservation of texts. Is there anything that compares that can act as mirror?

        You’re entitled to your opinion, I’m not arguing that. But your taking on a huge burden of proof.

        Thanks!

        Like

        1. It is simply a category error to say the NT is unreliable based on its contents.

          But the contents are fallacious so how can it be considered reliable?
          I already mentioned the Virgin Birth.
          I also mentioned the exorcism of the demon into the pigs. A geographical faux pas.
          The Resurrection of the Saints.
          Utter hogwash.
          And I raised the issue of what happened to Licona.
          None of which have you deigned to address. Why not?
          Why must I or anyone accept the gospels as reliable? On what grounds?

          Simple common sense tells us it is palpable nonsense and no genuine historian will consider this for one second.

          Do you believe Harry Potter is reliable as an historical document? No, of course not. It may contain historical elements but is nothing more than fiction and there is no requirement of ”faith” for you to acknowledge either: which is the most crucial aspect..

          I still have not seen any evidence for your accusations other than appeals to authority.

          Your entire belief system is an appeal to authority.
          Why can you not recognise that you have no verifiable evidence for the claims you make.
          Furthermore, the internal evidence of the gospels incriminates your claims of ”eyewitness” accounts.
          The burden of proof is with you, as you are making the positive claim and the vast majority of biblical scholars acknowledge the gospels are anonymous and can not be considered eyewitness testimony.

          This is an innerantist point of view and unsubstantiated.
          And you have neatly hand-waved every point I have raised pertaining to the texts.

          Also, you have not answered my question regarding Marcion.
          Why was his canon not considered inspired?

          Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s