Gutenberg's printing press and Xerox's photocopy machine are
inventions that have changed the world of communication. Both are
blessing... and a curse. They are a curse, because every day
machines reproduce thousands of typographical errors.
Recently I read a book that appears to have bypassed the
There was a typographical error in nearly every chapter. When I
the first edition of the same book many years ago, it did not have
typos. Even if I didn't have that first edition copy, it was
what the original author wrote in spite of the typesetter's many
Furthermore, none of the typographical errors changed the meaning, or
the nuance, of the original text.
This is a similar situation we face when we translate the Bible from
Greek and Hebrew manuscripts (handwritten copies). We don't have
benefit of possessing Jeremiah's original scrolls, nor do we have the
original letters which Paul wrote to the churches in Europe and the
East. What we do have are thousands of handwritten copies of
of copies... And we can see some differences among those
Are the differences serious enough to cast doubt on the accuracy of the
Let's look at three typical examples.
copyist changed the word order of a sentence. For example,
Matthew 1:18 begins, "The birth of Jesus Christ..." But
copies say, "The birth of Christ Jesus..." And a few less
copies say, "The birth of Jesus..." or "The birth of
So which is correct? A majority of the most reliable manuscripts
"Jesus Christ." But does it really matter? Does
Greek word order change the meaning of the sentence? No.
copyist changed the spelling of words. Sometimes this was
accidental. Sometimes it was deliberate, as we do in our English
of the Bible. Americans spell "Savior", but the British spell
The Greek copyists did the same, adopting regionally accepted spelling
words, without changing their meaning.
copyists accidentally left words out of a sentence. But
any sensible reader can figure out what the missing word is (just as
of our newsletter readers do every month, when they find my many
Plus we have the advantage of comparing thousands of ancient
which help us fill in an occasional missing word and correct a random
in any particular copy.
Because we have so many ancient manuscripts of the Bible, the task
determining what Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John actually wrote is not
difficult. Furthermore, if you examine even the most questionable
among the manuscript copies, you will not find one variant that
a single Biblical doctrine.
I have friends who say that they lack confidence in the Bible's
because they believe that the copies from which the Bible is translated
inaccurate and unreliable. However, they are unable to identify
manuscript variant which casts a shadow on the Bible's accuracy.
truth is, those who "doubt" simply don't like what the Bible
says, so they
grab any excuse they can for a reason to justify unbelief.
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