There are three secular standards historians apply to ancient documents in order to test for authenticity and accuracy:
1) The number of surviving copies (for sake of comparison)
2) The age of the earliest copies (how close to the original)
3) Consistency between the existing copies
When you have several different copies (whether complete or partial) from different locations and generations, you can discover a lot. Let’s look at three secular manuscripts that modern scholars have no reluctance treating as both authentic and accurate:
A: Plato’s Works (400 BC): 7 copies and 1.200 years from earliest fragment to original.
B: Aristotle’s Works (350 BC): 49 copies and 1,100 years of “gap”.
C: Homer’s Iliad: (1200 BC): 643 Greek copies and 900 years of gap (the most copies of any ancient writing outside of the Bible.)
D: The quantity of New Testiment material is almost embarrassing in comparison with other works of antiquity: 24,000 copies and the earliest fragment has a 30 year gap!
There’s simply nothing else like it….or even close. The Iliad has 643 Greek copies; the New Testament has 6,000 Greek copies AND 8,000 Latin copies AND 10,000 copies in other languages; from various locations and generations to be compared and cross-referenced.
The consistency between the 24,000 copies is staggering: only 1/2 of 1% variation. They are virtually, unbelievably identical! the .5% variants are easily accounted for by comparing them to the multitudes of samples that don’t contain the typo, the single word omission, or the double word repetition. And these minor issues never affect the central content or the message of the Gospel.
Our Bible has an unequaled reputation of fidelity.
– Bruce Wersen, Pastor of His Place Church
Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.
– Matthew 24:35
“There is a growing mass of evidence from archaeology that the Bible accounts deal with real people living in real places…..If the Bible was false, we would expect new archaeological discoveries to (disprove) this.
“In fact, there is no known case where archaeology decisively disproves the Bible. This itself is strong evidence for the truth of the Christian message.”