Many times, as I've shared with unbelievers the Gospel, they respond with: But how can you be sure the Bible is true? OR How do you know the Bible you have is the same originally written?
Various forms of these questions are asked by those who may be sincere or they've heard how people have re-written the New Testament. Some have heard that it was the Roman Emporer Constantine who finalized what was included in the New Testament (this is a false story, a rumor). Many Christians do not know how good our literary evidence is for the Bible. So, that's what I'm writing on today.
When one compares the Gospels to other ancient documents with regard to their bibliography it becomes evident that we have an overabundance of support for the validity and accuracy as well as the reliability of the Gospel accounts. In the well-regarded book by Josh McDowell entitled The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, the following chart is given:
The importance of the overwhelming number of manuscript copies cannot be overstated. If the same tests for bibliography that are used for other ancient manuscripts are then applied to the Gospel and New Testament texts, the Gospels are proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be authentic and reliable. Sir Frederic G. Kenyon states that “besides number, the manuscripts of the New Testament differ from those of the classical authors…In no other case is the interval of time between the composition of the book and the date of the earliest extant manuscripts so short as in that of the New Testament…the interval then between the dates of the original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed.”
Another authority on the Scriptures is F.F. Bruce and he writes: