Opinions on faith and life

Textual Criticism

2002-01-01

From The Facts On The KJO Debate, p. 40

In an important class project, Dr. Daniel Wallace illustrates the preservation of the Bible by an exercise he has done over 35 times with his students. He takes an ancient apocryphal work and tells one student to change such and such for theological reasons and another student, because they are in a great hurry, to skip a few words, etc. The original manuscript is then discarded. What remains are 20 manuscripts, several generations removed from the original. “None of them at all look like each other, and the students say, ’There’s no way we’re going to get back to the original.’ The nice thing is, I have the original. So when they work on this process [of attempting to ascertain the original text] through the normal means of textual criticism, they have come back to that original wording every single time within one word. And that one word that is missing is either ’also’ or ’to.’”

In other words, if a group of students can arrive at the original text within a single word, how much more should Christians, with the wealth of manuscript data they have, be assured that they have the original text?