Dear Aby #17 – Bible is full of errors?

Hi Aby,

One objection people raise about the Bible is that it is full of errors. How confident can we be that the Bible we have in our hands is a faithful reconstruction of the original text? The fact that there are multiple early copies of the biblical text gives textual scholars an extremely high degree of confidence in the accuracy of the Bible we possess today.

The Bible has more empirical support, a shorter gap between original documents and surviving copies, and a greater number of source manuscripts than any other ancient work, by far. Most ancient books have fewer than 10 existing manuscripts. But for the New Testament there are over 5,800 partial or whole Greek manuscripts in existence.

For example, look at these comparisons of the gaps between the original manuscript and the oldest existing copies. Note also the number of existing copies.

Manuscript  Oldest Existing Manuscript Existing Copies



New Testament

1,200 years later

900 years later

1,400 years later

30-100 years later





Some recent critics, such as Bart Ehrman, author of “Misquoting Jesus,” have claimed that there are too many variants across biblical manuscripts to reconstruct the original with confidence. But this conclusion is not valid since 95 percent of the variants among biblical manuscripts are simply spelling or minor copying errors that are easily accounted for. While there are a handful of minor texts upon which New Testament scholars disagree, there is no textual variation that affects any central Christian doctrine.

Regarding the date between original documents and surviving copies, as noted above, most ancient works have a gap of more than 700 years, with some works, such as Plato and Aristotle, having twice that. In contrast, there are fragments of the Gospel of John possibly dating within 30 years of the original composition, and a near complete copy of the New Testament within 100-150 years of its original composition.

Manuscripts that date within 200 years of the source manuscript are considered extremely reliable. If the New Testament was written between A.D.45 – A.D.90 (as some believe) and fragments of existing Greek texts date back to as early as A.D.120, that’s within 30-85 years of the source manuscripts written by Paul, John, Luke and others.

From a textual point of view, the New Testament documents are exceptional, accurate and reliable documents. Even if all the existing manuscripts of the New Testament were destroyed, we could still reconstruct the entire New Testament (except for 11 verses) through quotes from the writings of the Early Church Fathers.

The fact that there are over 5800 New Testament Greek manuscripts existing today enables scholars to compare these many copies and eliminate possible copying mistakes. Thus, we can be assured (some say as high as 99% ) that the biblical text we possess today accurately reflects the text of the original documents.

Whether or not someone agrees with the message of the Bible, any honest, objective person would have to conclude that the Bible we hold in our hands today is an accurate reflection of the documents as they were originally written by the biblical writers.

(Source: Sean McDowell)

Love you, Grandpa Larry

Note from Larry Ballard on these letters:
Dear friends,

Thank you for your interest in these letters I am sending to my granddaughter in preparation for college. You are welcome to use them in any way you wish. You can alter them by adding or deleting from the text. There is no need to give any credit to me. You can personalize them or forward them on as written. These letters were not written with a wider audience in mind. In one sense, I am letting you listen in on my communication with Aby. These messages will be brief and focused, rather than exhaustive. I do not claim to be an apologist. However, I do claim to be a caring grandfather with a desire to help my granddaughter be able to “defend” her faith as she transitions from home to college.
Most of what I have included in these letters comes from respected Christian apologists: Ravi Zacharias with RZIM, Greg Koukl with Stand To Reason, Josh McDowell, etc.
Blessings, Larry