More on the Reliability of the New Testament

“Is the Bible we have today what the authors originally wrote?” or “Is the Bible historically reliable?”

In my last blog (Reliability of the New Testament ) I answered both of these questions with a “Yes” and a “Yes” by showing that the New Testament has more manuscript evidence than any other ancient writing. Another affirmative testimony to these questions is the time gap between the original New Testament writings and the earliest known copies; the greater the time span between the two, the greater the chance for copying errors.

Scholars believe the John Rylands Fragment of the Gospel of John was written about A.D. 125 – some 35 years after the original.

A majority of the writings of the New Testament are found in the Bodmer and Chester Beatty papyri, written between  A.D. 175-250 … only 100 to 150 years from the original writings.

Consider the time span between the originals and existing copies of other ancient writings:

  • Virgil – 300 year gap.
  • Homer’s Iliad – 500 year gap
  • Caesar’s War Commentaries – 950 year gap.
  • Plato’s Tetralogies – 1250 year gap
  • Writings of Aristotle – 1450 year gap

Dr. Norman Geisler (Professor of the Bible, Theologian, and Pastor) stated, “The average gap between the original composition and the earliest copy is over 1,000 years for other books.”

Sir Frederic Kenyon  (Director and Principal Librarian of the British Museum and leading New Testament authority) says, “Besides number, the manuscripts of the NT differ from those of the classical authors. . . In no other case is the interval of time between composition of the book and the date of the earliest extant manuscripts so short as in that of the New Testament. The interval then between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact neglible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed.”

So again, the answer to the opening questions –  Absolutely!


Lanny Johnson

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