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Bible Babylon (part 5)

Manuscript Evidence for the Reliability of the New Testament

Left: a leaf from Codex Vaticanus. Click on the image to see a larger view.

When we say that the Bible has over 25,000 early manuscripts that prove its reliability, we are talking about mainly documents from the fifth century onward. These are “early” compared to the documents supporting most other ancient works. Yet there are about one hundred early manuscripts from the second to the fourth century that were not known to us until the late 1800s and the most significant of these have been rediscovered in the last 60 years.

To understand why so many of the early manuscript copies have been lost, we need to first look at two mediums for writing that were used in ancient times, papyrus and vellum.

Papyrus is similar to modern day paper – it was durable and inexpensive – yet most papyrus could not last more than a few hundred years without crumbling into dust. Therefore, most of the papyrus manuscripts from more than 1500 years ago are fragments, decaying pages or at best books with significant parts missing.

Vellum is made from animal skins processed into parchments used for writing. The oldest scrolls and books from ancient times are parchments of the highest quality. The problem with vellum is that even though it was available during the time of the first writing of the New Testament, it was expensive and only became a common medium for the New Testament when the church became state-sponsored at the time of the Emperor Constantine in 325 A.D.

In fact, Constantine commissioned Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea to produce 50 copies of the complete Bible on vellum in 332 A.D. The two oldest nearly complete biblical manuscripts we have from ancient times, Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus were probably copied sometime between 325 to 350 A.D. Many think that these are copies from one of Eusebius’ manuscripts and perhaps two of the original 50 manuscripts, although some think Vaticanus may be a few years older than Eusebius’ copies.

Codex Vaticanus contains nearly the entire Bible except for Genesis 1:1–46:2 and ends abruptly at Hebrews 9:14 lacking also 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon and Revelation. Thus the beginning and end of the manuscript were lost. Yet despite its great importance, Vaticanus was almost unknown prior to the 1800s. It had been in the possession of the Vatican library since at least the 1300s, hence the name, but no one knew exactly how old it actually was and was inaccessible to scholars until the end of the 1800s.

Likewise, Codex Sinaiticus was discovered in 1859 by Constantin Tischendorf in a convent at the foot of Mount Sinai. Tischendorf wrote that the codex was actually in a pile of parchments waiting to be burned as trash when he rescued it! Sinaiticus contains the entire Greek Bible, plus the Epistle of Barnabas and most of the Shepherd of Hermas (early Christian writings which were widely used in teaching). It is believed to be from the fourth century, but later than Vaticanus. The two great codices are in general agreement and both attest to the general reliability of the received text. In fact, Codex Vaticanus was later used by Hort and Westcott in their edition, The New Testament in the Original Greek (1881).

For those wanting to research for themselves the textual reliability of the New Testament over two millennia, I suggest purchasing an interlinear Greek New Testament that has a literal word for word rendering in English above each Greek word in the text and usually a modern English translation of the scriptures in the side column. The simple conclusion any honest inquirer will draw is that the New Testament scriptures have come down to us in virtually unaltered form.

Your comments are welcome!

Textile Help

The Beast of Revelation IdentifiedThe Beast of Revelation: Identified (DVD)

Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?

Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!

Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.

Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)

Running Time: 145 minutes

$17.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

Welcome to the Second American Revolution!

This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

$14.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

Download the Free Study Guide!

Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

Running Time: 257 minutes

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


The Silent Scream (DVD) Eight Languages

“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981

Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.

The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.

“…a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine

Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese

Running Time: 28 minutes

$17.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information

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