That’s a really good, honest question because if the bible’s been translated so many times maybe it’s been changed.
So how can you know whether or not that the bible you have today is what they actually wrote back then? And it really doesn’t matter whether or not you believe what the bible says today.
The question still remains, “Is what we have today what they wrote back then?”
People are worried about this because they think it’s a lot like the telephone game. If you’re familiar with the telephone game, it’s pretty simple and it can be pretty fun:
You get a group of people and you put them in a circle. You have a message. You take the message and you whisper it into the ear of the first person.
Then that person’s gonna take it and whisper it into the ear of the next person, so the message gets passed along the chain.
Now of course some people are going to change the message. They’re going to change it maybe because they think it’s funny. They’re going to change it because they don’t like the original message. They’re going to change it just because they’re being jerks. They’re going to change it just because they didn’t hear it accurately as it was whispered in their ear.
One way or another you start out with the original message that says: “Ten turkeys were tied to a toad on Ted Turner!”, and you end up in the end with a message that says: “Two llamas are reciting the Declaration of Independence on the beach this afternoon!”
When you hear the message at the end you’ve got to wonder if that is the original message? Well how are you gonna to find out? Duh: Go and check the original message! That’s how you would find out.
We have to do the same thing when it comes to ancient literature. The ancient literature that we have today isn’t what they wrote back then. The only way to check is to go back to your oldest documents and compare them. Scholars call this the Bibliographic Test. Now the Bible passes the bibliographic test better than any other ancient document ever written in any language.
Let me show you:
If we do a bibliographic test on Plato. You ever heard of Plato? He’s the greek dude that you have to study in college and you really don’t want to. But anyway you’re studying Plato. The oldest documents that we have of Plato’s work are 1,300 years older than when Plato was actually writing, and we only have seven of those. That’s not a lot of things to check for Plato.
Julius Caesar was an emperor. Everybody remembers Julius Caesar because Robin Williams went, “Et Tu Brute” in Aladdin. But anyway, Julius Caesar wrote the Gallic Wars in 44 B.C. Ten copies is all that we have to check, and the oldest of these is 900 years after Caesar was writing. So we don’t have a whole lot of things to check.
The best ancient document we have outside of the Bible is The Iliad by Homer. I’m not talking about “Doh” Homer Simpson. I’m talking about Homer the Greek writer. He wrote The Iliad and we have about 643 ancient copies of that work. 643 sounds like a lot of documents. The oldest one is 400 years after when Homer was writing. 400 years is a pretty big gap but not that bad in terms of ancient literature.
So what about the Bible? Well when we do a bibliographic test on the New Testament we find 24,970 ancient documents. 24,970! That’s ten times better than all other ancient documents combined. That’s just for the New Testament. We have 14,000 copies of portions or the entirety of the Old Testament or portions of it as well. That’s a lot of copies to check.
Of those 24,970 copies we have of the New Testament, most of them were written between 60 and 100 years after the originals. That’s really close in terms of ancient literature. In fact the truth is there’s only two percent of the entire New Testament that’s in doubt. That’s only 400 words, and of those 400 words, none of them affect the meaning of any teaching at all.
What’s even more interesting is we have 30,000 plus quotes from other ancient literature that’s quoting the Bible. Old letters, old diaries outside the Bible that are quoting the Bible. We could rebuild the entire New Testament all but 11 verses just from those quotes alone.
So the truth of the matter is the Bible passes the bibliographic test better than any other ancient document ever written in any language. Period!
Now of course that doesn’t mean you have to believe what the Bible says. It just means that what it says today it’s what they wrote back then. Now of course you need an accurate translation as well. And that’s for another video.
But I’ll just tell you real quick that if you’re reading the King James Version, the New King James Version, the N.I.V., the New Living Translation: these are all good translations. American Standard Version is good, but we’ll get to that in another video.
So the bottom line is the Bible passes the bibliographic test better than any other ancient document. What does that mean? It means that you can trust that what they wrote is what you’re reading. If you’re reading it. So remember, be good, don’t do anything evil, and we’ll see you next time.