Authenticity of Scripture

Old Testament


   1. Internal claims - evidence from inside or about itself (the Bible declares itself to be the inspired Word of God)
   2. External claims - evidence from other sources (Historical,Archeological)
   3. Method of transmission

   We no longer have the original manuscripts ( the technical term for the o.m. is autographs.) How then can we be sure that the manuscript copies we have are still the Word of God? To answer this question, we need to explore the way scribes copied the o.m.'s of the O.T. and passed the copies along to us. Scholars call this process textual transmission.
   When the O.T. writers finished their scrolls, there were no copying machines or printing presses to duplicate their writing for the public. They depended on scribes-men who patiently copied the Scriptures by hand when extra copies were needed and when the original scrolls became too worn to use any longer. The scribes attempted to make exact copies of the original scrolls, and the scribes who followed them attempted to make exact copies of the copies.
   By the time Jesus was born, the most recent Old Testament book (Malachi) had been copied and recopied over a span of more than four hundred years; the books that Moses wrote had been copied this way for more than fourteen hundred years. Yet during that time the scribes guarded the Old Testament text very well. It has been computed that, on the average they mistakenly copied one out of every 1,580 letters; and they usually corrected these errors when they made new copies.
   Jeremiah is the first to mention the scribes as a professional group: "How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us? Lo, certainly in vain make he it; the pen of the scribes (sopherim) is in vain" (Jer.8:8).
   The word sopherim literally means "the counters"; the early scribes earned this title because they counted every letter of every book of Scripture to make sure they didn't leave out anything.
   After the Jews returned from Exile, they formed communities of scribes to preserve and circulate the Scriptures that had become so precious to them. These scribes ( later called the Masoretes ) tried to explain the variations in different manuscripts. They eventually developed a system of vowel pointing that preserved the pronunciation of the Hebrew words.
   Before he began his work each day, the scribe would test his reed pen by dipping it in ink and writing the name Amalek, then crossing it out (cf. Deut. 25:19). Then he would say, "I am writing the Torah in the name of its sanctity and the name of God in its sanctity." The scribe would read a sentence in the manuscript he was copying, repeat it aloud, and then write it. Each time he came to the name of God, he would say, " I am writing the name of God for the holiness of His name." If he made an error in writing God's name, he had to destroy the entire sheet of papyrus or vellum that he was using.
   After the scribe finished copying a particular book, he would count all of the words and letters it contained. Then he checked this tally against the count for the manuscript that he was copying. He counted the number of times a particular word occurred in the book, and he noted the middle word and the middle letter in the book, comparing all of these with his original. By making these careful checks, he hoped to avoid any scribal errors.
   An important change in the Hebrew language occurred around 500 B.C. when the sopherim began using a square Aramaic script that they learned in their exile in Babylon. ( Aramaic had been introduced to Babylon in the Persian royal letters.)
   From the time of King David, the Sopherim had used a round Paleo-Hebrew ( early Hebrew) script to copy the O.T. manuscripts because they could write it on parchment, unlike the wedge-shaped cuneiform script of the Cannanites. But by 500 B.C.., Aramaic had become the common language of commerce and education in the Near East, so the Hebrews adopted its writing system.
   Papyrus manuscripts from a Jewish colony on Elephantine Island (in the N. delta) prove that the old cursive script was no longer used in 250 B.C.. The Dead Sea scrolls cover this period of transition; some of them are written in the rounded Paleo-Hebrew script, but most are in the square Aramaic.
   Note that the Hebrew scribes did not begin using the Aramaic language; they simply borrowed its script and used it to express their own Hebrew words. They could do this because both Hebrew and Aramaic were Semitic languages, and their scripts stood for the same alphabet, which in turn signified many of the same sounds in both languages. ( We see a modern example of this in English and French. Since they were both shaped by the same classical language, Latin, their alphabets and some of their sounds are the same.)
   When Hebrew scribes had borrowed the Aramaic script, they also started borrowing Aramaic words and phrases to express traditional Hebrew ideas just as we commonly use the French words coiffure and lingerie). Gradually they came to insert Aramaic words into the text to take the place of older Hebrew words that they no longer used. And sometimes they added editorial notes in Aramaic to clarify what the text said; Jeremiah 10:11 is such a note.
   Paleo-Hebrew had no vowels, and early scribes probably used dots to separate their words, as the Phoenicians did. they did not put spaces between words, as we do. In the tenth century BC., the Arameans (who lived in what is now Syria) had begun putting special letters at the end of each word to indicate final long vowels. Two centuries later, Moabites of Canaan began doing the same, and they passed the idea on to the Hebrew scribes.
   After the Exile, Hebrew scribes began to associate four of the Hebrew consonants with vowel sounds (Aleph=a, heth=a, vav=o, ayin=i). Language experts call these letters the matres lectionis (Latin, "mothers of reading"). But the Hebrew scribes did not develop a system for showing the vowel sounds until after AD. 500.
   A person who read an Old Testament manuscript in the time of Jesus found a continuous string of letters, and had only the three simple devices (dots between words, final long vowels, and the matres lectionis) to guide him in identifying, breaking up and pronouncing the words. He had to supply a good deal, in fact, from memory.
   For example, let us say we were going to write Isaiah 61:1 (in English!) the way it would have appeared in the scroll that Jesus read in the synagogue of Nazareth (Luke 4:18): "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me..." If we use the letters from our English translation but write it in the old Hebrew style, it would look something like this:

TH.SPRT.F.TH.LRD.S.PN.ME.


   That's not easy to read, is it? But Hebrew and other Semitic languages ran from right to left; so to get a better picture of what the verse looked like, try this:

.EM.NP.S.DRL.HT.F.TRPS.HT


   The Old Testament has come own to us in other languages besides Hebrew. Around 300 BC., Greek versions began appear. A community of 70 Greek-speaking Jewish scholars in Alexandria compiled a Greek version of the Old Testament called the Septuagint or LXX.
   After A.D. 200, Jewish scholars began compiling Aramaic paraphrases of the Old Testament. We call these Aramaic versions "targums". The targums were made from Hebrew manuscripts written in the time of Jesus or later.








Authenticity of the New Testament

1. Internal proofs
   a. Given by God then kept by God (theistic view)
   b. Theme and Scope - explained O.T.; speaks to every human need
   c. Fulfilled prophecy

2. External proofs
   a. Apostolic Martyrs--why would they die for a lie?
   b. Early Christian Martyrs--same again; why?
   c. Historical corroboration--Archaeology, secular writings (even they agree w/scripture)
   d. the Church--the fact that we are still around

3. Canon
   a. Greek "Kanon"- rod    Hebrew "Qaun"-reed; A measuring devise. Word used to describe those books of the Old & New Testament that measured up to the standard of scripture.
   b. Features of the New Testament Canon of scripture
      1) Must have Apostolic:
         Authorship- Written by one of the Twelve
         Authorization- Written at the direction of one of the Twelve
         Approval- Included at the direction of one of the Twelve

       2) Must have been accepted from the beginning by the church as scripture. Did not Gradually attain to the status of scripture; Immediate acceptance and recognition by the church as scripture
   c. Canon complete
      1) by the close of the first century
      2) not all books available in every location at first ( the fragment; 170 A.D.)
      3) Clement of Rome Writing in 90 AD--mentions or quotes Mat, Luke,Rom,1 Cor, and Heb
      4) Irenaeus ( 130-200 AD)--lists almost all of the N.T.
      5) Origen ( 185-254 AD)--Alexandria--mentions all 27 books

4. History of Transmission
   a. Pre-press
      1) Hand copied Manuscripts
      2) N.T. Sopherim - counters
      3) Destruction of mistakes
      4) Disposal of worn out
      5) rarity, costliness, fragility-40 years of a roman soldiers wages to own 1 copy!

NOTE! - Knowing this information, can we really believe that anyone would purposely not use a bible manuscript if they had one? why are there some 'recently discovered' manuscripts that are centuries older than any other confirmed ones? Could it be that they had errors in them and were destined for the burn-pile (so to speak) and never quite made it? If it weren't for the fact that most manuscripts before 900 AD. are not in agreement with the majority text, I might be able to buy that they are genuine (preserved by God). But since they create doctrinal conflict....I have to stick to what we have. You should research this yourself, and come to your own conclusion. My personal preference is for NKJV, but I study from the Greek & Hebrew, so version is not THAT important (to a point).

   b. Post-press---Guttenburg (first book ever printed was the Bible)
5. Translations
   a. Jerome's Latin Vulgate-common, everyday Latin
   b. Eastern Greek, Syriac, Aramaic
   c. Wycliff, Tyndale--170 translations today because of Wycliff
   d. KJV vs NIV-KJV built on Vulgate & wycliffs translations=textus receptus
     NIV built on 3 separate codex which are not even in agreement w/each other!
   e. Textus Receptus-majority text

This document is by no means meant as a "final authority" nor is it completely indepth. it is meant as a basic backround to get you started. If it really fascinates you, check deeper on your own.


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