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Was the Bible Preserved Without Corruption?

The Old Testament is the Bible of the Jews. The Old Testament and the New Testament is the Bible of the Christians.

The Bible’s historical time period is preceding Muhammad.

Proverbs: 30:5-6 tells us “Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words, or He will rebuke you and prove you a liar. (NIV)

There are 192 Greek New Testament manuscripts predating Muhammad that are currently in existence available for study.

There are 33 translations of the Greek New Testament predating Muhammad that are in existence.

There are 230 manuscripts that all agree with the thousands of manuscripts that exist dating from and after Muhammad’s time up until our present Bibles.

The papyrus fragment is the earliest manuscript known. It is dated with certainty to at least AD 125.  It is housed at the John Ryland’s Library in Manchester.

There are two Greek fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls that may very well be from the Gospel of Mark and I Timothy. Both fragments date AD 70. The earliest complete copy of the New Testament is the Codex Sinaiticus, which dates to the AD 300’s. It is on public display in the British Museum in London. Between all the manuscripts there are many variants in the texts, primarily consisting of scribal errors. None of these variants affect any major or minor doctrine of the Christian faith. The content of the New Testament is not in question. The New Testament is 99.5% accurate with the other .5% in dispute fully available for study. It is not a question of the .5% being missing. This .5% is included so that none of Gods’ word is mistakenly excluded. The .5% cannot contaminate the 99.5%. God will and has preserved His word.

The most significant attempt known to change versions of the Bible was before the time of Muhammad by Marcion (died AD 160). Because of his theological ideas he rejected the entire Old Testament, and only accepted ten of Paul’s epistles and changed the Gospel of Luke omitting all Old Testament references. He also did not believe that Jesus was a man but only appeared to be.

The most modern attempt to change the Bible was by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Although they did not try to change the original text of the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic translations they tried to correct all other English translations of the Bible, which they believed to be corrupt. Yet none of the translators had a degree in Greek or Hebrew. Their translations are all done to line up with their particular peculiar doctrines. Their lack of success can be seen in that this sect is the only one who uses this translation.

Principles of Translations:
Since there are so many translations, does it mean there are many Bibles instead of just one? No, these translations are all translations from the Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew languages used for the original text of the Bible. They are considered the Word of God. Islam’s view of the Qur’an is a contrast here. The Arabic Qur’an is held to be the only authentic version. Other translations are viewed as merely conveying the meaning or interpretation of the Qur’an and so do not deserve to be called “the Qur’an. There is a Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint, which was in use alongside the Hebrew Old Testament at the time of Jesus. Jesus never referred to this translation but is believed to have quoted from it. Since he grew up in Northern Palestine he had a strong Greek speaking influence and spoke Aramaic. He also knew Hebrew and could read it fluently. The Septuagint Version, which was completed in 180 BC, was a translation of the entire Old Testament into Greek.

The Apocrypha
The books of the Apocrypha are books of ancient Jewish literature and are believed to be written between 300 B.C. and 100 A.D. They have been found to have historical inaccuracies and theological contradictions that disqualify them from being Scripture. None of them were written by a genuine prophet and were not included as Scripture by the Jews of Jesus’ time. Jesus never quoted from any of them. When the Jewish bible was translated into Greek (the Septuagint version) the Apocrypha was included in the translation, but it was clearly understood which books were Scripture and which were not. Later, some Christians began to wander away from the true Bible’s teaching and set up ways of doing things, which were not what God had said He wanted. At the same time the books of the Apocrypha came to be seen as being true Scripture, even though they were not. The Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Churches, who are ruled by Popes and patriarchies officially, recognized the Apocrypha as Scripture. Roman Catholic Bibles contain 15 books of the Apocrypha. Greek Orthodox Bibles contain 10 books of Apocrypha. However, even Greek Orthodox scholars now see them as being “less inspired.” When the Protestant churches separated from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16the and 17the centuries, the Anglican Church chose to keep the Apocryphal books in the Bible, but defined clearly that they were not fully Scripture. Most Protestant churches have removed them altogether, returning to the original Jewish way.

Other Facts Regarding the Apocrypha
1.  None of the writers write with a message from Jehovah and are without true prophetic element.

2.  It contains many historical, geographical and chronological errors.

3.  It teaches doctrines contrary to the canonical Scriptures such as lying suicide and assassination are justified. Salvation by works, magic, prayers for the dead, etc, are taught and approved.

4.  The miracles and the description of the deeds and supernatural beings are silly and unbelievable.
5.  They were not considered canonical and authoritative for doctrine until the Roman Catholic Council of Trent in 1546 A.D.

6.  When reading the Old Testament and the Apocryphal one can see a vast difference in the spiritual and moral content.

7.  There are 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament.

The Gospel of Barnabas
Many Muslims claim that the Gospel of Barnabas is the real gospel that Jesus gave to his disciples. An Italian version of this book came to light in the early 1700’s. Many of the events and discourses it records are not in agreement with the four Gospels. It has proven to be a forgery, almost certainly written in 1585. It has historical, geographical, and doctrinal errors that prove it could not have been written by Barnabas, (the disciple of Jesus in the early church). It also contradicts the Qur’an in many places, for instance calling Muhammad the Messiah rather than Jesus, and saying that Mary did not suffer birth pangs in childbirth.

Conclusion: Ten Reasons Why Corruption of the Texts was Impossible Before the Time of Muhammad
1.    Since before the time of Jesus, the Jews regarded the books of the Old Testament as the Word of God. Since the days of the Apostles, the Christians regarded the books of the Old and the New Testaments as the Word of God.

2.   Christians and Jews were spread throughout the world with their texts. They had no opportunity to gather all the texts and change them or destroy all the others.

3.   There were to many copies of the Biblical texts in circulation to change. The texts were in too many different languages for a change to be made.

4.   Christians and Jews were hostile to each other. Differing sects among Christians and Judaism would have disagreed with mainline groups for any alterations.

5.   The Jews have never accused Christians of changing the Old Testament text. In the first six centuries of existence, no one accused the Orthodox Christians of corrupting their texts.

6.   There is no motive or reason to explain why the Jews or Christians would want to change their texts to the degree it would take to agree with Muslim assertions.

7.   Jesus himself held the Old Testament to be without error. He promised he would give his disciples revelation through the Holy Spirit.

8.   The Old and New Testament give remarkable agreement about Jesus. The Old Testament gives precise predictions of the Messiah’s life and ministry, and the New Testament records their fulfillment in Jesus.

9.   The Old Testament was recorded, collected, copied, and preserved carefully through the 1000 years of its revelation.

10.  The Jews treasured it and protected it with diligence and devotion. Jesus confirmed this in his devotion and obedience to it. The Christians likewise treated the New Testament with the same treasured care. They considered both books to be necessary to their Scriptures.

Relationship of Old to New Testament
A significant line of evidence supporting the Bible’s trustworthiness is seen in the harmonious relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament. These books agree with each other and complement each other to an extent not seen in any other literature of their kind. They were written over a 1500-year period with God using at least 40 human authors. Basically the Bible is divided into two testaments. The Old Testament includes, among other things, the laws God wanted His people to follow until Christ instituted His church. The New Testament includes the law God wants us to follow today.

The Old Testament is broken down into three divisions: Historical, Poetical and Prophetic. The New Testament is divided into four categories: The Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Revelation. The Historical Books of the Old Testament are the story of the rise and fall of the Hebrew Nation. The Poetical Books belong to the Golden Age of the Hebrew Nation. The Prophetical Books belong to the fall of the Hebrew Nation. The New Testament covers the life of Christ in the Gospels, the acts of the Apostles in Acts, the writings and teachings of Christ’s apostles in epistles, and the revelation made to John in Revelation.

The Bible clearly states that the Word of God is complete. The clearest example of this idea is in Galatians 1:6 , “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really not gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned. As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned.

Timeline of the Old Testament

1400-400 BC
Writings of the Hebrew Prophets are collected and kept in the Tabernacle  and then the Temple.

400 BC- AD 30
The same Old Testament writings were recognized as Scripture by all Jews  and well as by Jesus.

AD 30-100
Following Jesus’ example, the early Christians (Jewish and Gentile) used the Old Testament as their main Bible and copied and circulated the New Testament books as they were written, recognizing them as Scripture alongside the Old Testament.

AD 100-200
Many heresies arose together with heretical scriptures. The Church was challenged to respond to heretical books and Christian books as they began to circulate alongside authentic books of Scripture and cause confusion as to the contents of Scripture.

AD 200-400
More heresies arose causing the Church to respond with further clarification and defense of the contents of the Bible.

AD 400
Contents of the Bible were recognized fully and completely.