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Acurate & Reliable: Defending the Faith


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.”[1]


Another authority on the Scriptures is F.F. Bruce and he writes:


“There is no body of ancient literature in the world which enjoys such a wealth of good textual attestation as the New Testament.”[2]


In fact, the quotations from the New Testament documents are so numerous and widespread that if we were to lose the manuscripts, the New Testament writings could be reproduced by the writings of the apostolic fathers alone. When one compares the quotes from the early fathers with the writings from the manuscripts it becomes evident that what has come down to us as the inspired Word of God has been maintained in its original form; there is no redaction or editing that can be verified but instead the integrity of the original words are maintained.


Sir David Dalrymple stated that he had “found the entire New Testament except eleven verses”[3] in the writings of the early church fathers. From the writings and materials that

Dean Brugon compiled we have over 85,000[i] quotations from the New Testament written by the patristic fathers. Based upon the above evidence from bibliographical, internal and external tests, which is really barely scratching the surface of all the evidence we do have, one can conclude that the New Testament is amply proven to be valid and accurate.


With regards to the internal test one must, as Prof. John Warwick Montgomery states, still follow Aristotle’s dictum that “the benefit of the doubt is to be given to the document itself, not arrogated by the critic to himself.”[1] Paul, in writing to the Corinthians expresses to them that his own office of apostle was validated before them through signs, wonders and miracles (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:12). This would have been ludicrous on the part of Paul if he wasn’t speaking the truth. This second letter to the Corinthians was written to those whom he had ministered personally and could have easily been refuted by the Corinthians themselves if Paul had been lying.


When Paul stood before King Agrippa and gave testimony to the validity of the Christian faith he expressed that all these things, the life of Jesus, the crucifixion, death and burial and even the resurrection were not “done in a corner”[2]. Once again, if the Apostle had been lying surely King Agrippa would have stated that at Paul’s trial. But King Agrippa doesn’t deny the testimony of Paul but is nearly persuaded by it. These few instances show that the internal test for integrity within the New Testament documents remains intact and is passed.



When the New Testament is brought to the bar of the external test for accuracy, faithfulness and integrity one is forced to face an abundance of evidence once again. The question to be answered by the external test is whether or not other historical materials confirm or deny the internal testimony provided by the documents themselves. With regard to the integrity of the New Testament documents and manuscripts the weight of evidence is on the side of the validity of these documents. One can compare the patristic citations of Scripture as witnesses both to the compilation of documents that have come down to us as the inspired Word of God as well as the very words themselves.



The quotations from the New Testament documents are so numerous and widespread that if we were to lose the manuscripts, the New Testament writings could be reproduced by the writings of the apostolic fathers alone. When one compares the quotes from the early fathers with the writings from the manuscripts it becomes evident that what has come down to us as the inspired Word of God has been maintained in its original form; there is no redaction or editing that can be verified but instead the integrity of the original words are maintained. Sir David Dalrymple stated that he had “found the entire New Testament except eleven verses”[1] in the writings of the early church fathers. From the writings and materials that Dean Brugon compiled we have over 85,000[i] quotations from the New Testament written by the patristic fathers.


Based upon the above evidence from bibliographical, internal and external tests, which is really barely scratching the surface of all the evidence we do have, one can conclude that the New Testament is amply proven to be valid and accurate. Now you have a little more information on the validity of the New Testament Documents. Hopefully this will help you defend the faith just a little bit better.



[1]Bible is the word of God / by R. A. Torrey, Our Bible: I. How we got it, Colportage library; ed. 1898, no. 64 (Chicago: Bible Institute Colportage Association, 1898). Dalrymple, as cited on p. 35

[i]Josh McDowell, and comp, More evidence that demands a verdict: historical evidences for the Christian Scriptures, rev ed. (San Bernardino, CA: Here's Life Publishers, 1981). “Leo Jaganay, writing of the patristic quotations of the New Testament, writes: ‘Of the considerable volumes of unpublished material that Dean Burgon left when he died, of special note is his index of New Testament citations by the church fathers of antiquity. It consists of sixteen thick volumes to be found in the British Museum, and contains 86,489 quotations.”

[1]Warwick Montgomery, and John, Faith founded on fact: essays in evidential apologetics (Nashville: T. Nelson, 1978).


[2]R.C. Sproul, and general, The Reformation study Bible: English Standard version, containing the Old and New Testaments (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 2005). Acts 26:26

[1]Frederic Kenyon, and Sir, The Bible and archaeology (New York: Harper, 1940).


[2]F.F. Bruce, The books and the parchments: how we got our English Bible, rev. and updated. (Old Tappan, N.J.: F.H. Revell, 1984). p.178


[3]. Bible is the word of God / by R. A. Torrey, Our Bible: I. How we got it, Colportage library; ed. 1898, no. 64 (Chicago: Bible Institute Colportage Association, 1898). Dalrymple, as cited on p. 35

[i]Josh McDowell, and comp, More evidence that demands a verdict: historical evidences for the Christian Scriptures, rev ed. (San Bernardino, CA: Here's Life Publishers, 1981). “Leo Jaganay, writing on the patristic quotations of the New Testament states: ‘Of the considerable volumes of unpublished material that Dean Burgon left when he died, of special note is his index of New Testament citations by the church fathers of antiquity. It consists of sixteen thick volumes to be found in the British Museum, and contains 86,489 quotations.”

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