When I was an atheist, my primary offensive posture with Christians came from my mistrust of the Bible. Whenever someone quoted a passage as justification for their faith, I simply said “I don’t believe the Bible is reliable.”
That stumped most people. They could not defend their faith without using the Bible. The discussion was over and I had won (depending on your point of view).
Fortunately, I learned that the opposite is actually true. The Bible (both Old and New Testaments) is the most reliable document on the face of the earth…by an order of magnitude. Josh McDowell’s “Evidence That Demands a Verdict” helped me see the facts. I’ll summarize a few of the most compelling ones
There are now more than 5,300 known Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Add to that over 10,000 Latin Vulgate and at least 9,300 other early versions and we have more than 24,000 manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament in existence. No other document of antiquity even begins to approach such numbers and attestation. In comparison, the “Iliad” by Homer is second with only 643 manuscripts that still survive.
Even the fragments of Plato’s works have only 7 known copies…and the gap from original author to these copies is over 1,200 years. Now, I feel silly trusting our understanding of Plato more than I did the Bible.
Check out this site I quoted from for more info. And, click here for more manuscript facts, summarized by Ron Rhodes.
Finally, we hear about variances between existing manuscripts. True…that can be a problem. Here is an example of some of the most difficult textual variations:
Manuscript #1: Jesus Christ is the Savior of the whole worl.
Manuscript #2: Christ Jesus is the Savior of the whole world.
Manuscript #3: Jesus Christ s the Savior of the whole world.
Manuscript #4: Jesus Christ is th Savior of the whle world.
Manuscript #5: Jesus Christ is the Savor of the whole wrld.
Wow. Maybe it’s not such a big problem after all.
Bottom line: Scripture can be trusted.
Thanks for listening.