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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 Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of ChristThe Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of Christ (DVD)

Who is the Real Jesus?

Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.

Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.

The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.

Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.

Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!

Running Time: 130 minutes

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A Revival Account: Asbury 1970 (DVD)

What is true Revival and Spiritual Awakening?

Discover the answer in this eyewitness account by Dennis Kinlaw, President of Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky, who recounts the story of a visitation of the Holy Spirit in 1970. This is the presentation that has continued to spark the flames of Revival in the hearts of people around the world. Contains eyewitness footage from the Revival at Asbury College in 1970 in Wilmore, Kentucky.

Certain to challenge you to greater holiness and a deeper commitment to full-scale revival. Original news and private footage has been included. If you are a student who longs to see a spiritual awakening at your school, you must see this video!

“This simple video does a wonderful job of conveying something of God’s heart and power, Everyone we have ever shown this to has received an immediate impartation of faith for revival and the power of prayer.”
— Bob and Rose Weiner, Weiner Ministries Int’l

Running Time: 40 minutes

$19.95 — 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.)

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - A Christian Manifesto (DVD)

That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!

Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.

Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

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God's Law and SocietyGod's Law and Society (DVD)

Download the Free Study Guide!

God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.

Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!

Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:

1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?

Perfect for group instruction as well as personal Bible study.

Ten parts, over four hours of instruction!

Running Time: 240 minutes

Watch over 60 on-line video interviews from God’s Law and Society.

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