The New Testament Represents the Only Christian Writings We Have from the 1st Century – Michael J. Kruger

Beginning at 2:12, Michael Kruger states:

“The 27 books of our New Testament are the earliest Christian writings we have, across the board.  There’s no other Christian writing we possess that dates to the 1st Century other than the New Testament.  There’s only one exception to that that comes close, and it’s a book called 1 Clement, which dates at the very end of the 1st Century.  But other than that, if you want to know about 1st-century Christianity the only books you have are the New Testament books.”

Why You Can Rely On the Canon from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Nick Peters Interviews Charles E. Hill on Text and Canon

In this episode of the Deeper Waters podcast, apologist Nick Peters interviews Dr. Charles E. Hill about his two books The Early Text of the New Testament (written with Michael J. Kruger) and Who Chose the Gospels?  Of course, the former book has to do with text while the latter addresses canon.  It’s a two-hour interview.

(See the Deeper Waters Podcast Schedule for other podcasts on the subjects of text and canon as well as other related subjects.)

Resources for New Testament Text and/or Canon

There are, of course, many resources on these two subjects resident on this blog under the respective categories NT Text and NT Canon.  The purpose of this list, however, is to connect the reader to resources beyond this blog.

Blomberg, Craig L. Interview with Nick Peters about Blomberg’s book Can We Still Believe the Bible?: An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions

Bruce, F. F.  The New Testament Documents:  Are They Reliable?  Intervarsity Press, first published in 1943.  Chapter 2 is on text and chapter 3 is on canon.  The rest of the book goes into more detail and covers related issues.

Ehrman, Bart D.  Is the Original New Testament Lost?  Ehrman v. Wallace (2-hour debate, produced by the Ehrman Project)

Hill, Charles E.  Interview with Nick Peters about Hill’s two books The Early Text of the New Testament (written with Michael J. Kruger) and Who Chose the Gospels?

—–, “The Canon of the New Testament” – an article in the ESV Study Bible, page 2579-2581

Patzia, Arthur G. The Making of the New Testament: Origin, Collection, Text & Canon.  Intervarsity Press, 1995, 2011.

Wallace, Daniel B. Is the Original New Testament Lost?  Ehrman v. Wallace (2-hour debate on video, produced by the Ehrman Project)


More Resources on Canon

“Can We Still Believe the Bible?” by Craig L. Blomberg

Can We Still Believe the Bible? An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions was published in April 2014.  There are six chapters in it.  The first two chapters are on the New Testament text, canon, and translation respectively.

  1. Aren’t the Copies of the Bible Hopelessly Corrupt?
  2. Wasn’t the Selection of Books for the Canon Just Political?
  3. Can We Trust Any of Our Translations of the Bible?
  4. Don’t These Issues Rule Out Biblical Inerrancy?
  5. Aren’t Several Narrative Genres of the Bible Unhistorical?
  6. Don’t All the Miracles Make the Bible Mythical?

As you may have surmised, Blomberg has framed his chapter titles as challenges to the position he defends.

Nick Peters of the Deeper Waters podcast (on-demand radio) interviewed Blomberg about this book on April 26, 2014.  The episode takes its title from the book “Can We Still Believe the Bible?”  Peters’ show last two hours and is divided into six 20-minute segments.  They spent one segment on each of the six chapters.  Therefore, you can get the material on text and canon in the first 40 minutes.  To listen to the podcast, find the date and title of the episode on this list: Deeper Waters Podcast Schedule

Nick Peters’ blurb about this podcast episode:

Join us this Saturday as Craig Blomberg comes on to talk about his newest book “Can We Still Believe The Bible?” We’ll be discussing the text of the Bible, questions about what books made it into the canon and what books didn’t, questions about why there are so many translations of the Bible, how it is that a Christian should understand the topic of Inerrancy, how genre consideration plays into our understanding of the Gospels, and finally whether the Bible can be believed since it contains miracles in it.

How Badly Did Scribes Change the New Testament? – Dr. Daniel B. Wallace

The title of this talk is intentionally provocative.  The answer to the question is “Not badly at all.”

Dan Wallace says:

“The New Testament has been under barrage the last few years.”

“The biggest apologetic question used to be: Is it true?  Now, the question on the horizon is:  Did God really say that?  Is that what the Bible really says?”

Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code says:

The Bible “has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions.  History has never had a definitive version of the book.”

Atheist C. J. Werleman (Jesus Lied, p. 41) says:

“We do not have any of the original manuscripts of the Bible.  The originals are lost.  We don’t know when and we don’t know by whom.  What we have are copies of copies.  In some instances, the copies we have a twentieth generation copies.”

Skeptics will say:

How can you possibly tell what the New Testament originally said.  It’s been translated, copied so many times that we don’t know.

Dan Wallace makes the point that if we are skeptical about the reliability of the New Testament we ought to be a thousand times more skeptical about all other authors from antiquity given the disparity in the textual evidence for each.  “Maybe Julius Caesar never existed; maybe there never was an Alexander the Great.”  Of course, such skepticism would be ridiculous…but that is the sort of skepticism applied to the New Testament.

In the video, at about the 30:49 mark, Wallace displays a table which shows that in 1611 the translators of the King James Version used 7 Greek manuscripts, the earliest of which was from the 11th Century, while in 2012 we have over 5,800 Greek manuscripts, the earliest of which is from the 2nd Century.  Wallace concludes that as time goes on we are not getting farther and farther away from the original texts (as skeptics would have it); rather, we are getting closer and closer to the original texts.

Wallace says that 99% of the textual variants do not change the meaning at all.  For example, spelling differences, such as variances in the spelling of a name like John (with one “n” or two).  There are even spelling mitsakes…but, of course, they do not prevent a reader from getting the meaning.

As for the less than 1% (roughly 1/4 of 1%) of textual variants that are meaningful, Wallace gives two examples:  Mark 9:29 (in which the uncertainty is about whether “and fasting” should follow the word “prayer” or not) and Revelation 13:18 (in which the uncertainty is about whether the number is 666 or 616).

Even the skeptical Bart Ehrman says (and Wallace cites the book and page for this quote at about 41:55):

“Essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.”

(Wallace mentions that he has debated Ehrman three times.  One of those debates was sponsored by the Ehrman Project; I made some notes on it which can be found here.)

Does the New Testament Present a Reliable Portrait of the Historical Jesus? Ehrman v. Evans

On January 19, 2012 at St. Mary’s University, Dr. Bart D. Ehrman and Dr. Craig A. Evans took part in a debate and dialogue moderated by Greg Monette on the question:  “Does the New Testament Present a Reliable Portrait of the Historical Jesus?”

Authorities on New Testament Text and/or Canon

Here are many of the scholars whose views have been included in some of the posts listed under Apostolic Apologetics.

Peter Balla  –  Professor of New Testament studies at the Faculty of Theology, Karoli Gaspar Reformed University, Budapest.

Paul Barnett (1935-) –  A teaching fellow at Regent College, Vancouver, and a visiting fellow in ancient history at Macquarie University in Australia.  He was the Anglican bishop of North Sydney fro 1990 to 2001, and is the author of Is the New Testament Reliable? and other books.

Craig L. Blomberg – Distinguished Professor of the New Testament at Denver Seminary in Colorado

Darrell L. Bock – Executive Director of Cultural Engagement and Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary.  BA, University of Texas, 1975; ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1979; PhD, University of Aberdeen, 1983; postdoctoral study, Tübingen University.  Seminary bio.

Marc Z. Brettler

F. F. Bruce (1910-1990)

D. A. Carson – Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Philip W. Comfort

Oscar Cullmann (1902-1999)  –  German professor of New Testament and Christian theologian.

James D. G. Dunn  –  Lightfoot Professor of Divinity in the University of Durham.

Bart D. Ehrman

C. Stephan Evans  –  American historian and philosopher.

Craig A. Evans  –  Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College, Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Harry Y. Gamble  –  Professor of Religious Studies and Chair of he Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.

J. Norval Geldenhuys (1918-1964)  –  Author of Commentary on the Gospel of Luke (1951) and Supreme Authority: The Authority of the Lord, His Apostles, and the New Testament (1953).

Norman L. Geisler

Ed Gravely – Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Wayne Grudem

Robert Laird Harris (1911-2008)

Charles E. Hill – Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL.  BA, University of Nebraska; MDiv, Westminster Theological Seminary; PhD, University of Cambridge.  Seminary bio.

Jeremy Royal Howard

Larry W. Hurtado

Sir Frederic Kenyon (1863-1952) – GBE, KCB, TD, FBA, FSA was a British palaeographer and biblical and classical scholar. He occupied from 1889 to 1931 a series of posts at the British Museum (including Director and Principal Librarian).

Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts: Being a History of the Text and Its Translations, 3rd edition, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1897

Handbook to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, 2nd edition, MacMillan and Company, 1912

Michael J. Kruger

Hans Lietzmann (1875-1942)  –  German scholar and Lutheran church historian noted for his investigations of Christian origins.

Paul L. Maier

Lee M. McDonald  –  Principal and Professor of Biblical Studies at Acadia Divinity College, Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Sean McDonough

Bruce M. Metzger (1914-2007)

John Warwick Montgomery – lawyer, professor, theologian, and author.  His website.

Stephen Neill (1900-1984)  –  A Scottish Anglican missionary and bishop.  He was also a scholar, proficient in Greek and Latin, and he wrote many books including The Interpretation of the New Testament, 1861-1961.

Arthur G. Patzia

Andrew W. Pitts – studied under Stanley E. Porter.

Stanley E. Porter

John A. T. Robinson (1919-1983)

James A. Sanders  –  President of the Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center and Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at the Claremont School of Theology and the Claremont Grauate University, Claremont, California.

Peter Saunders  –  CEO of Christian Medical Fellowship, a UK-based organization with 4,500 UK doctors and 1,000 medical students as members.

M. James Sawyer  –  Western Seminary

Mark L. Strauss  –  Bethel Seminary

Daniel B. Wallace – Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary.

B. B. Warfield (1851-1921)

Peter J. Williams

N. T. Wright