The Mustard Seed
February 2008


Lutheran Student Fellowship

1st Sunday of each month
2:00 PM in the SUB Chapel

Everyone is welcome!

Prove it!
(Part 3)
[series archive]

Gutenberg's printing press and Xerox's photocopy machine are wonderful inventions that have changed the world of communication.  Both are a blessing... and a curse.  They are a curse, because every day those machines reproduce thousands of typographical errors. 

Recently I read a book that appears to have bypassed the proofreader.  There was a typographical error in nearly every chapter.  When I read the first edition of the same book many years ago, it did not have those typos.  Even if I didn't have that first edition copy, it was obvious what the original author wrote in spite of the typesetter's many mistakes.  Furthermore, none of the typographical errors changed the meaning, or even the nuance, of the original text.

This is a similar situation we face when we translate the Bible from ancient Greek and Hebrew manuscripts (handwritten copies).  We don't have the benefit of possessing Jeremiah's original scrolls, nor do we have the actual original letters which Paul wrote to the churches in Europe and the Middle East.  What we do have are thousands of handwritten copies of copies of copies...  And we can see some differences among those copies.   Are the differences serious enough to cast doubt on the accuracy of the manuscripts?  Let's look at three typical examples.

(1) Some copyist changed the word order of a sentence.  For example, Matthew 1:18 begins, "The birth of Jesus Christ..."  But many ancient copies say, "The birth of Christ Jesus..."  And a few less reliable copies say, "The birth of Jesus..."  or "The birth of Christ..."    So which is correct?  A majority of the most reliable manuscripts say "Jesus Christ."  But does it really matter?  Does changing the Greek word order change the meaning of the sentence?  No.

(2) Some copyist changed the spelling of words.  Sometimes this was accidental.  Sometimes it was deliberate, as we do in our English translations of the Bible.  Americans spell "Savior", but the British spell "Saviour."  The Greek copyists did the same, adopting regionally accepted spelling of words, without changing their meaning. 

(3) Some copyists accidentally left words out of a sentence.  But any sensible reader can figure out what the missing word is (just as many of our newsletter readers do every month, when they find my many typos).  Plus we have the advantage of comparing thousands of ancient manuscripts, which help us fill in an occasional missing word and correct a random misspelling in any particular copy.

Because we have so many ancient manuscripts of the Bible, the task of determining what Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John actually wrote is not very difficult.  Furthermore, if you examine even the most questionable variations among the manuscript copies, you will not find one variant that challenges a single Biblical doctrine.

I have friends who say that they lack confidence in the Bible's authority because they believe that the copies from which the Bible is translated are inaccurate and unreliable.  However, they are unable to identify ONE manuscript variant which casts a shadow on the Bible's accuracy.  The 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.

~~Pastor Ron

Lutheran Student Fellowship
Bible Study
Every Thursday 3:30 pm
Ely 118

Everyone is welcome!

Sunday Shuttle

We provide a Sunday morning shuttle from Gallaudet to Christ Lutheran Church of the Deaf in Silver Spring.  Please email Ron.Friedrich@gallaudet.edu for time and place. 

From time to time we post announcements to the Lutheran Student Fellowship by email.  If you would like to be included, please send your email address to Ron.Friedrich@gallaudet.edu
My campus office hours are
Tuesday and Thursday afternoons
in Ely 118.
Drop in and introduce yourself!!
Pastor Ron Friedrich

[Gallaudet Office of Campus Ministry]