Sunday 15 June 2014

Do textual variants refute the Bible's inspiration?

I have seen both atheists, Rabbinic Jews and Muslims make a mountain out of a molehill when it comes to textual variants and often assume that the scribes deliberately corrupted the text of the NT.

Firstly, with any document you will have textual variants, the TANAKH included. Even if the the TANAKH would not have the same kinds of variants as the NT such as a verse added or taken out, this would not prove the NT to be a fraudulent document.

Any document of antiquity is subject to scribal errors and this is where Lower Criticism comes in.

Lower Criticism seeks to try to get as far back to the original text as best as you can.

We cannot get back to the original manuscripts of the TANAKH and the NT and and even if Muslims claim to have the original manuscripts of the Qur'an, thus wouldn't demonstrate the Qur'an being inspired and also most Muslims fail to mention that the Quran is a medieval document, not ancient.

Eventually it may become ancient but still the TANAKH and the NT, both ancient, came before the Quran, hence you would have documents closer to the time of the originals only on the basis of being younger.

Most textual variants would not impact the meaning of a document or refute doctrines taught in said documents.

 This is worth thinking about.

Answering Judaism.

1 comment:

  1. For the benefit of your readers, let me point out a few things. The textual variants in the Christian Bible is hardly a "molehill". If one compares the accuracy and consistency of the Christian Bible with the Torah the differences are quite significant.
    Despite the fact that the Christian Bible is approx. 1700 hundred years younger, and Christians have never undergone the dislocations, exiles and persecutions of the Jewish community, the Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, a book written to prove the validity of the New Testament, says: ” A study of 150 Greek [manuscripts] of the Gospel of Luke has revealed more than 30,000 different readings… It is safe to say that there is not one sentence in the New Testament in which the [manuscript] is wholly uniform.” Other scholars report there are some 200,000 variants in the existing manuscripts of the New Testament, representing about 400 variant readings which cause doubt about textual meaning; 50 of these are of great significance.

    Compare this with the Tanach. Despite the fact that the Tanach is centuries older and despite the fact that Jewish scribes and communities have been exiled to all corners of the globe, if one examines the oldest Torah scrolls from all over the world of the approx. 304,000 letters in the Torah, only in the Yemenite scrolls, which were isolated from the global community for hundreds of years are variants found. How many variants? There are a total of 9 letter variants between the Yemenite scrolls and all others and these differences do not alter the meanings of the texts ( it is equivalent to the difference between orthopaedic and orthopedic)

    It is obvious if one examines the facts that the term "corrupted" texts can be applied to the origins of the Christian Bible. It is much more difficult if not impossible to describe the Torah in this way.