Is the New Testament really reliable? This question seems to return to the secular ‘drawing board’ over and over. As Christians we believe that the Bible is the authoritative word of God, and is a faithful witness of the historical accounts of Jesus Christ. In fact, Christianity is rooted in history, and makes claims that can be historically investigated. While I am not going to deal with the whole scope of issues here in this blog, I do want to point out a couple of relevant facts about the New Testament.
The New Testament’s 5,366 Greek copies make it the best transmitted book in antiquity. Plato’s works survive in 7, of Homer we have 643 copies, Caesar’s Gallic Wars are found in 10, and finally Livy’s Roman History, 35 of 142 books survive in 20 copies (the oldest has the Book of Hebrews written on the back).
Think about it, the New Testament alone has 5,366 documents to compare for accuracy!
While some critical scholars would argue that ‘textual variants’ discount the Bible’s accuracy. It is quite clear that we have enough evidence to make educated and prayerful choices about the original text. Even if we were to make a mistake, no major doctrine would be at risk. In fact, if we were to get all the textual variants wrong, over 95 percent of the text would be without dispute.
What’s the point? The historical accuracy of the Bible is often scrutinized wrongly, against all the historical evidence that points to its accuracy. In comparison to the other books of antiquity, we have much more text to compare from a critical historical standpoint. Therefore we can have more confidence in the historical accuracy of the New Testament (in a literary sense) than we do in knowing that we have all of Plato’s works close to their original form.
The Bible is a faithful witness of the historical accounts of Jesus Christ. But knowing that His words have been accurately handed down is not enough. What’s more important is whether you believe that what he said was true. In fact, Your eternal destiny depends on it.