Luke Muehlhauser grew up Christian but renounced his faith and became a vocal atheist. One of his endeavors in this regard is the blog Common Sense Atheism. In one of his blog posts there, he points out the how reliable is the text of documents he no longer believes.
Although Luke heartily agrees with Ehrman’s rejection of Christian faith (Ehrman, too, is a former evangelical Christian), he chides Ehrman for misrepresenting just how reliable the New Testament text is, especially when compared with all other ancient texts.
What is Ehrman’s fault is how astonishingly misleading his book is. He writes that “there are more variations among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament” (p 90), and that the manuscripts “differ from one another in so many places that we don’t even know how many differences there are” (p 10). Ehrman gives the impression that there are so many variants in our manuscripts that we could never know what the New Testament authors originally wrote.
But of course Ehrman knows (p 87) that the vast number of textual variants we have is a blessing not a curse, because his books for a scholarly audience spend every page using those variants to reconstruct the original text. In comparison, we can do no such thing with the works of Plato: our earliest manuscript comes 1200 years after Plato lived! We have no hope of reconstructing Plato’s original text, but when it comes to the New Testament we have thousands of copies, and dozens of manuscripts from within just two centuries of the originals.
Reject the New Testament if you wish, but don’t try to claim that you’re doing so because we can’t really be sure what the New Testament authors wrote.