Many accurate copies of my holy book exist

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The Bible with annotations by the reader.
"New Testament documents are better-preserved and more numerous than any other ancient writings. Because they are so numerous, they can be cross checked for accuracy . . . and they are very consistent. [1]"

This argument is a variant of "My holy book is accurately sourced". It is often rhetorically used as an argument from uniqueness, saying no other book has been preserved to this degree.

"The number of manuscripts from it, and of quotations from it of the oldest writers in the church, is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in one or other of these ancient manuscripts. This can be said of no other ancient book in the world.[2]"

"The strongest case is made when many manuscripts are available, as close in time to the original autographs as possible. Wide geographical distribution of the copies and their textual families are likewise crucial. Of course, having complete texts is essential. In light of these criteria, the New Testament is the best attested work from the ancient world."

Gary Habermas[3]

The text of the New Testament was corrupted[edit]

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"ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors"

Joseph Smith [4]

"there are more differences among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament."

Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus p. 10

Apologists argue that the New Testament was copied in a geometrical fashion (the number of copies increased exponentially) so that the many different copies give a reliable means of reproducing the original text. [5][6]

Some of the earliest surviving Bibles dating from the 300's, like the Codex Sinaiticus (also called א or Aleph) and the Codex Vaticanus (also called B), are important examples of early manuscripts. Some earlier fragments exist, such as Rylands Library Papyrus P52, and are dated to about 90-175 CE. The modern text of the New Testament contain later insertions which are not in these early versions. [7] [8] The following sections are in neither early text and are therefore likely forgeries:

  • 1 John 5:7–8 Bible-icon.png (Comma Johanneum) which supports the dogma of the Trinity. [9]
  • John 7:53-8:11 Bible-icon.png (Pericope Adulterae) in which Jesus saves an adulterer from stoning by saying "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her" [10]
  • Mark 16:9-20 Bible-icon.png the so called "longer ending" which describes the resurrection of Jesus. [11]
  • Matthew 17:21 Bible-icon.png "But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting." [12]
  • Matthew 18:11 Bible-icon.png "For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost." [13]
  • Matthew 23:14 Bible-icon.png "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation." [14]
  • Mark 7:16 Bible-icon.png "If any man have ears to hear, let him hear." [15]
  • Mark 9:44, 46 Bible-icon.png Repetition of "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." [16]
  • Mark 11:26 Bible-icon.png "But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions." [17]
  • Mark 15:28 Bible-icon.png 'And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "And He was numbered with transgressors."' [18]
  • Luke 9:55-56 Bible-icon.png "and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." [19]
  • Luke 17:36 Bible-icon.png "Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left." [20]
  • Luke 23:17 Bible-icon.png "Now he was obliged to release to them at the feast one prisoner." [21]
  • John 5:4 Bible-icon.png "for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted." [22]
  • Acts 8:37 Bible-icon.png 'And Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."' [23]
  • Acts 15:34 Bible-icon.png "But it seemed good to Silas to remain there." [24]
  • Acts 24:7 Bible-icon.png "But Lysias the commander came along, and with much violence took him out of our hands" [25]
  • Acts 28:29 Bible-icon.png "When he had spoken these words, the Jews departed, having a great dispute among themselves." [26]

This indicates that while many early manuscripts have survived, Bible translators have been traditionally reluctant to actually use them to produce an accurate Bible translation. Some modern Bible translations omit these unreliable verses.

Of course, there is a possibility that Sinaiticus and Vaticanus were corrupted (particularly since they don't entirely agree) and other manuscripts are correct. Comparing these to the modern Bible gives rise to other insertions and questions.

The New Testament is more reliable than comparable works of ancient history[edit]

Main Article: Other historical figures are accepted on weaker evidence than Jesus

Apologists compare the number of manuscripts of ancient histories, such as Herodotus and Euripedes and point out that many more accurate copies of the New Testament survive. If we trust ancient historians that Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Augustus or even Napoleon existed, they argue we should trust the New Testament. [27]

"If the Bible cannot be trusted as being reliable because it has only a small percentage of copyist errors, then neither can the above documents be trusted that have far less textual support. [28]"
"There are more early manuscripts of the Bible available for verification than any other ancient document. [29]"
"The famous Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered from 1947 onward, added 100 scrolls to the existing Old Testament documents, while we have over 5,000 manuscripts of New Testament material in the original Greek and a total of some 20,000 sources to help us piece it all together. Other ancient works compare very badly.[30]"

The surviving New Testament manuscripts are also closer to the events they describe than many other ancient texts.

"Critics are quick to seize on these gaps as a reason for rejecting the Bible, yet ignore much bigger time-gaps for other documents which are accepted without question.[30]"

This argument is based on a faulty analogy between a work of history, which is an impartial recording of events including sources of evidence, and holy scripture which is written by believers with the aim to support a particular religion. Ancient works of history are not accepted "without question" by historians.

Also, the New Testament makes claims that are extraordinary and very unlike contemporary events. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The standard of evidence to claim miracle and strange occurrences are higher than more familiar events of wars and affairs of government which have contemporary parallels.

The number of early copies is very small[edit]

Only a handful of early manuscripts of the Bible survive. Apologists are inflating the evidence by counting duplicates which are not relevant in assessing reliability.[31]

Counter arguments[edit]

Just because a text was transmitted faithfully from an author does not mean that the author was reliable. Believers just have to assume the Biblical authors (whoever they were) were telling the truth.

"Our documentary sources of knowledge about the origins of Christianity and its earliest development are chiefly the New Testament Scriptures, the authenticity of which we must, to a great extent, take for granted."

— Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. iii, p. 712
"But more importantly, having a million copies of a false story, does not make anything in that story true. So this is not an argument for the Bible’s reliability. It is dishonest to represent it so.[31]"

The Bible was neither written by eyewitnesses or by impartial observers. It was actually written by mostly anonymous, non-eyewitnesses who lived long after the events and were trying to promote a political or religious agenda.

Broken compass[edit]

The Qur'an, the Book of Mormon and the New Testament both claim to be accurately reproduced from their originals. They both can't be true. This shows the argument is a broken compass when used by itself to support a particular religion.

See also[edit]


  1. [1]
  2. Frederic G. Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts
  3. [2]
  4. [3]
  5. [4]
  6. [5]
  7. [6]
  8. [7]
  9. 7 8
  10. [8]
  11. Funk, Robert W. and the Jesus Seminar. The acts of Jesus: the search for the authentic deeds of Jesus. Harper San Francisco. 1998. "Empty Tomb, Appearances & Ascension" p. 449-495.
  12. [9]
  13. [10]
  14. [11]
  15. [12]
  16. 44 46
  17. [13]
  18. [14]
  19. 55 56
  20. [15]
  21. [16]
  22. [17]
  23. [18]
  24. [19]
  25. [20]
  26. [21]
  27. Monser, An Encyclopedia on the Evidences: Or, Masterpieces of Many Minds, 1961, p. 377
  28. [22]
  29. [23]
  30. 30.0 30.1 John Blanchard, Why believe the Bible?, 2004
  31. 31.0 31.1 [24]