The Great Bible Debate – Part IV


In the previous lessons we discussed some of the reasons behind the corruption of the Word of God and how some of that came about.  We looked at some examples of what the corruption looks like by comparing the Majority Text (KJV) with the most popular modern translation.  It was pretty easy to see that there’s been some tampering going on over the years and that there is an agenda for all of this.


As you continue to study the Word of God, one of the arguments that you will run up against when discussing the relative merits (or lack of same!) of the modern versions is this concept of “oldest and best” manuscripts.  The supporters of the counterfeit bibles like to use the argument that their bible is better, hence more accurate based on the idea that it comes from the oldest manuscripts which places their document closer to the originals than your KJV.


While this argument may seem logical it is based on a false premise.  Playing on the idea that antiquity implies accuracy the people that hold to this view simply have not thought the matter out.  As can be seen by the behavior of some people, antiquity does not guarantee accuracy.  In fact, antiquity causes decay in the accuracy of information.  As a person gets older, his memory of the past can become fragmented, inaccurate – or he can even forget relevant facts.  If this is the case with the age of people, then why should a document be accurate just because it’s old?


Knowing this, then, how could God pull off the preservation of his word over centuries of time?  To start with, let’s understand that God promised to preserve his word and keep it safe.


Psa 12:6-7  The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.   Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation forever.


A couple of points to keep in mind here as we proceed:


1) God promised to preserve his words.  Note here that he didn’t promise to preserve a particular physical document he promised to preserve his words.

2) Note in the verse above that he says the words are pure.  He didn’t say the ideas were pure, he said the words were.

3) God said that he would preserve them forever.


The very concept of the preservation of the words themselves and not just the ideas or the storage medium for the words is the concept we need to drive home here.  


There are some who say that God’s word was inspired only in the original manuscripts.  True – God inspired the words written in those manuscripts.  However – are the words still inspired if a copy of them is made?  Anyone with half a brain would answer ‘yes’ to that question.  A copy of a sign that says “No Smoking” still means the same thing if it is copied many, many times. If you’re caught smoking in a no-smoking area you’re not going to get away with the excuse that the sign only meant “no smoking” in it’s original writing.  Sorry - that one just doesn’t wash.


However, lest this lesson be tossed onto the pile of man’s opinion, let’s open up the Word of God and see what he has to say about how his word is transmitted from generation-to-generation.


Exo 34:1  And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.


Deu 10:1-2  At that time the LORD said unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto me into the mount, and make thee an ark of wood.  And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark.


As you might remember, God wrote his 10 Commandments on two tables of stone the first time Moses was up in the mountain with him.  When Moses returned and found Israel having a sin party he smashed the two tables.  As you can see above God’s inspired words were placed on the first tables (original manuscripts) and after having been broken God made another copy of the words for Moses.  If the original manuscript was the issue then why didn’t God make a bigger deal out of this?


However, someone will say that the 2nd set of tables were still original copies (even though God himself said he would write the same (I.E. copies of the words not new words on the new tables) because God cut them.  OK … still need more proof huh?  Let’s move on.


Deu 31:9  And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and unto all the elders of Israel.


Deu 31:24-26  And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished,   That Moses commanded the Levites, which bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying,   Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.


Obviously the Lord was giving Moses additional information beyond the 10 Commandments – because he wrote it in a book and put the book in the Ark of the Covenant.


Deu 17:14-20  When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;   Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.   But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.   Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.   And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:   That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.


We begin to see right here that God considers copies of his law to be just as valid and just as inspired as the original manuscripts.  Of course the more stubborn (or disillusioned – you pick!) of us could still say the text of the first copy was still based on the “oldest and best” manuscripts.  However this brings up another question.  Aren’t all copies of the scriptures, if made accurately, still based on the original manuscripts?  Please say yes!


2Ki 11:11  And the guard stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, round about the king, from the right corner of the temple to the left corner of the temple, along by the altar and the temple. And he brought forth the king's son, and put the crown upon him, and gave him the testimony; and they made him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, God save the king.


Note here that when the King was installed he was given his own personal copy of the “testimony” – he had his own personal copy of the Word of God.  No doubt, by now, the copy he had must have been made as a 2nd, 3rd or even 10th generation copy of the original document – that is unless this particular king had access to the first copy in the Ark of the Covenant.


Deu 6:6-9  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:  And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.


Psa 119:97  O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.


Could David have had a copy of the original manuscripts sitting in the Ark of the Covenant?  No … he had a copy. Other references to the fact that God’s word spreads through a multiplicity of copies.


Prov 25:1 copied out!

Dan 9:1... Daniel had copies of what God wrote through Jeremiah. v11, v21.

Dan 10:18 Gabriel showing him what i  written in the scripture.

Zech 1:5 The words ... Not concepts.

Matt 24:15 let him who readeth (the book of Daniel) understand! If originals were required how could he direct someone to read it? His word is preserved in copies!

Luke 4:17 Jesus called a copy of Isaiah the scriptures. V4: It is written.

Acts 8:26 Ethiopian eunuch reading his own copy of Isaiah! If this was about originals then how could he do that? (v37 left out of modern versions).

Acts 15:21 Copies all over the place!

Acts 18:24 Copies in Egypt!

2 Tim 3:14 Timothy had copies of the holy scriptures.


Conclusion

This idea that a particular version of the Bible is better because it is based on the oldest and best manuscripts is a fallacy at best.  It is clear from studying the scriptures that God intended to preserve his word through a multiplicity of copies.  A more accurate way to tell if your bible is the right one is by the number of manuscripts that support it.  If the true Word of God exists it must exist in thousands of different manuscripts that are all copies of one another.  Who cares if the originals don’t exist any more – it’s not about original physical documents, it’s about accurate transmission of the text.  


Antiquity of the paper that the document is written on is no guarantee of its accuracy.  It’s existence in multiple sources is.