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Bible Textual Criticism


New Testament Reliability

  • Over 24,000 MSS in existence
  • 98.33% pure and clean of any errors which consists only of spelling errors, not the communication of the text.
  • All but 11 verses could be reconstructed from the writings of the Church Fatherís, over 32,000 quotations.
  • From all the Roman and Christian writings of the first century, not one eyewitness account contradicts the historical record of the Gospels in any capacity.

Old Testament Reliability

  • The word "Masoretic" means, "fence" or "wall."
  • Jewish Scribes copied the O.T. MSS 1 letter at a time. They new exactly the number of letters in a book and the number of each letter in a book and what the middle letter should be. After copying if these numbers did not line up, new copy destroyed and started all over again.
  • DSS confirm accuracy of O.T. MSS. and antiquity of prophecies of O.T.
  • Oldest inscription of the O.T., Numbers 6:24-26, dated 700 BC.
  • A Samaritan Torah, dated to 700 BC, was discovered and found to be identical to our present day Torah Masoretic MSS. This proves we have Mosesí unaltered writings of the Torah.

Hebrew Encoding

  • Hebrew Encoding called ELS meaning: Equidistant Letter Sequences.
  • Found encoded in O.T.: Hitler, Louis XV of France, Desert Storm, George Bush, Shwartchaf, etc.
  • August 1994 Statistical Science magazine confirms Legitamacy of Hebrew codes and impossibility of manís technology to duplicate.
  • Confirmed by Professor Harold Gans, examiner of intelligent codes for U.S. Army. He said it could not be by chance.
  • 1 in 50 quadrillion probability of happening by chance which is zero probability.
  • Modern Technology cannot duplicate in English or Hebrew.
  • Confirms Godís absolute control of Scripture over 3,500 years ago down to the letter and Jesusí words in Matthew 5:17-19.
  • Proves that the Torah cannot possibly be several edited documents combined, refutes Documentary Hypothesis, Mosesí authorship alone.
  • Proves that the Bible is Godís Authorship and His absolute control over the writing of every single letter in the Bible.

2 Peter 1:20-21 "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of oneís-own authority-to-loose to-cause-to-come-into-existence, for no prophecy was-ever brought-forth by the will of man, but being-brought-forth by the Holy Spirit, men of God spoke." (2 Peter 1:20-21)

2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is give-by-inspiration-of-God and profitable for teaching for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (2 Tim 3:16-17)

Mathematical Preciseness of the Text

  • Multiple of sevens in Genesis 1 and Matthew 1.
  • Cannot be duplicated by man despite modern technology.

Greek manuscripts
of the New Testament

Greek Manuscripts in Existence: 5,488 (as of 1992). 96 Papyri, 299 uncial, 2,812 minuscule, and 2,281 lectionaries. In comparison to other ancient literature: Homer's Iliad is preserved in 457 papyri, 2 uncial manuscripts, and 188 minuscule manuscripts. Among the tragedians the witnesses to Euripides are the most abundant; his extant works are preserved in 54 papyri and 276 parchment manuscripts, almost all of the latter dating from the Byzantine period. The history of Rome by Velleius Paterculus has only one surviving manuscript that was lost in the seventeenth century after being copied by Beatus Rhenanus at Amerbach. The Annals of the famous historian Tacitus is extant (Still in existence, not lost or destroyed), so far as the first six books are concerned, in but a single manuscript, dating from the ninth century. In contrast with these figures Textual Critics of the N.T. are embarrassed by the wealth of his material. Works of other ancient authors have been preserved only in manuscripts dating from the Middle Ages, far removed from the time at which he lived and wrote. However, instead of the laps of a millennium or more, the oldest papyrus manuscripts of the N.T. in extant are less than a century from the original autograph.

a codex Sinaiticus ó the only complete copy of the Greek N.T. in uncial script and closest to the original along with the codex Vaticanus.

1. a Codex Sinaiticus ó These manuscripts are given to the fourth century codex which were discovered about the middle of the nineteenth century by Dr. Constantin Von Tischendorf at the monastery of St. Catharine on Mt. Sinai. Thus why it is called codex Sinaiticus. It once contained the entire Bible written in a carefully executed uncial hand and arranged with four columns per page, measuring about 15 by 13 1/2 inches. Today parts of the O.T. have perished, but the N.T. has survived. This is in fact the only complete copy of the Greek N.T. in uncial script. Of the Alexandrian group and some Western. No first date given, but in the sixth and seventh centuries it had been gone over by some diorqwthv" correctors.

2. B Codex Vaticanus ó so designation because it is in the Vatican Library at Rome since 1475. Written about the middle of the fourth century containing both Testaments as well as the books of Apocrypha with the exception of the books of Maccabees. Forty-six chapters of Genesis are missing, thirty Psalms, pages of Hebrews 9:14 onwards including 1 & 2 Tim, titus, Philemon, and Revelation. The original writing has been retraced over except letters the corrector believed to be incorrect. Of the Alexandrian style.


Nestle and Kurt Aland 1960: The most widely used pocket edition of the Greek Testament is based on a comparison of the texts edited by Tischendorf (1869-72), by Westcott and Hort (1881), and by Bernhard Weiss (1894-1900); where two of these three editions agree, this reading is printed by Nestle." Thus the text of Nestle represents the state of nineteenth-century scholarship

Apparatus Criticus: Reference should be made to the apparatus criticus published by S. C. E. Legg at Oxford in 1935 and 1940. Choosing the Greek text of Westcott and Hort as the collating base, Legg supplied for Mark (1935) and for Matthew (1940) an enormous thesaurus of variant readings of Greek manuscripts, early versions, and patristic quotations. It is regrettable that Legg did not indicate in every case the editions of the versions and Fathers on which he relied.

Greek New Testament for the New English Bible 1964. Shortly after the publication of the New Testament of the New English Bible (1961), requests were received by the Oxford and Cambridge University Presses to issue an edition of the Greek text that inferentially lies behind the new English version. R. V. G. Tasker, a member of the Panel of Translators of the N.E.B., was entrusted with the task of preparing the edition, which was published in 1964. In an Appendix Tasker cites manuscript evidence3 for about 270 sets of variant readings that are represented in the margin of the N.E.B.

Bible Translator Edition of the Greek New Testament 1968: In 1966, after a decade of work by an international Committee,1 five Bible Societies2 published an edition of the Greek New Testament designed for the use of Bible translators and students. The textual apparatus, which provides a relatively full citation of manuscript evidence, includes about 1440 sets Of variant readings, chosen especially in view of their exegetical significance. There is also a punctuation apparatus that cites meaningful differences of punctuation in about 6oo passages, drawn from five editions of the Greek New Testament and from ten translations in English, French, and German. A companion volume, providing a summary of the Committeeís reasons for adopting one or another of the variant readings, has been prepared by the present writer, and is scheduled for publication toward the close of 1968.

This information comes from:

  1. Bruce M. Metzgers book on Textual Criticism titled: The Text of the New Testament, copyright 1992.
  2. And from Kurt & Barbara Aland's Book titled:  The Text of the New Testament, 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI:William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989.

Next:  Two-Thousand Years of Transmission

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