Has anyone ever questioned your faith in the bible? Have you ever heard anyone say that the bible manuscripts are full of mistakes; therefore, they cannot be relied upon? Half-truths do not solve problems but they certainly can be used to create deceptions and false conclusions. It is true that the New Testament manuscripts have many mistakes. However, to conclude from this that the N.T. cannot be relied upon is saying too much and is a false conclusion. A simple illustration can be used. If you can read the following line, you will see that mistakes in the text do not necessitate non-reliability.
hav u evr herd any1 sayy that the bible manuskripps r full of misstakes their4 they can not bee relyed upon
I count at least 13 spelling mistakes, and 3 punctuation errors; but I know exactly what the statement says.
Many years ago before the printing press was invented, if you wanted a copy of a written piece you would have to manually copy it; that is, by hand write every text character. Take the New Testament as an illustration. There are literally thousands of ancient copies of the New Testament in existence. With it come all the errors of humans in copying by manually writing. We see this in spelling, the use of synonyms, leaving out words or even lines of text or writing the same line twice, and adding text that is not in the original whether by accident or intentional. This is a partial list of problems in manually copying.
It was easy for the copyist to make mistakes even for the professional. If the text was dictated to the copyist, mistakes could arise by the copyist not hearing correctly some of the words being spoken or maybe hearing the words, but not all of the words spoken. In addition, the person dictating may not read and sound out the word correctly. He might overlook a word or read a word twice. If the copyist was reading then copying the document, again mistakes could arise. The movement of the eye from one document copied to a newly written document then back again certainly could produce errors. It is possible to read one written word then write out a different word. It is easy to understand why the New Testament manuscripts in the original language had so many errors. As the word "manuscript" is defined, the documents were manually scripted, hand written.
Not all this means we do not have a reliable text today; on the contrary, the invention of the printing press coupled along with numerous manuscripts to compare, gave rise to biblical criticism.
When Gutenberg invented the printing press, it changed the process of disseminating information from one document into multiple documents not only at a greater speed but also with accuracy unparalleled to hand copying. Many scholars have critically gone through existing New Testament documents and have been able to weed out the errors; the result is a pure and faithful text to the original. Setting the type in printing presses insure a more accurate reproduction in multiple copies. This essentially eliminated the problems associated with manual copying. Of course if there is an error with the type or with insertion of words not faithful to the original, all the documents following the printing process will have the error; but eliminating this error is simple by revision and reprinting.
The end to the science of biblical criticism is readily seen. A pure Greek New Testament text, faithful to the original can now be obtained.
The science of textual criticism in arriving at a pure New Testament text is beyond the scope of this article. Other reading on this subject by a member of the church is the work of J.W. McGarvey, "Evidences Of Christianity."