Most of the works from antiquity are very limited in their number of manuscripts. For example, there is only 7 for Plato and 8 for Herodotus.
The number of New Testament manuscripts is quite vast. It is the best textually supported book from antiquity. There are more than 24,000 partial and complete manuscript copies of the New Testament. There are almost 5700 New Testament manuscripts in Greek alone. The only other writing that comes close to this is the Greek mythology The Iliad, by Homer, which boasts 643 manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts date as early as the second and third century.
Let us suppose we have five manuscript copies of an original document that no longer exists. Each of the manuscript copies are different. Our goal is to compare the manuscript copies and ascertain what the original must have said. Here are the five copies:
Manuscript #1: Jesus Christ is the Savior of the whole worl.
Manuscript #2: Christ Jesus is the Savior of the whole world.
Manuscript #3: Jesus Christ s the Savior of the whole world.
Manuscript #4: Jesus Christ is th Savior of the whle world.
Manuscript #5: Jesus Christ is the Savor of the whole wrld.
Could you, by comparing the manuscript copies, ascertain what the original document said with a high degree of certainty that you are correct? Of course you could.
The question of whether scripture has been preserved is no longer contested by non-Christian scholars, and for good reason, asserts Gregory Koukl. He goes on to say, “Simply put, 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 A.D. Has the New Testament been altered? Critical, academic analysis says it has not.
(6 min read; 1,376 words)
Walk Good » Apologetic Wednesday: Was the Bible Just A Big Game Of Telephone? [Editorial note of March 4, 2017: Sorry, but it appears that site originally publishing this material is no longer being supported.]