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How Did We Get

Our Bible?

Your City or Church Name

The New Testament
What actually happened in the
formation of the New Testament?
How did the NT become part of the
• The facts we look at will
strengthen our faith in seeing the
leading of God in the writing of
His Word, in its transmission and
preservation. Clearly, God does
not desert us.
• Bottom Line: Our Bible IS A
• True for ALL Bibles--in ALL
languages and ALL versions within
a language!
The First Christian
Christians’ Bible is the Old

30 - 100 AD: Oral Tradition

51 AD : First NT book written -
1 Thessalonians

61 AD: First Gospel written -

51 - 95 AD: Period covering the
writing of all 27 NT
Oral Tradition
• In the days of Jesus, as well as
before and after, in Judaism, the
most important information was
committed to memory

• Therefore, all the teachings of

Jesus and all of his actions were

• Memory techniques were used that

show up in the written records.
From Oral Tradition to
Written Records
The Gentile mission called for
written documents because of the
rapid expansion of Christianity
• At least one gospel, Matthew, was
first written in Aramaic (Hebrew
• All of the NT was written in Greek,
the language of the Greco-Roman world
• From Greek: Latin, Coptic, Syriac,
Armenian, etc.--the languages used in
various locations where Christianity
The Bible for the First

Some Hebrew Manuscripts of the


Many Greek Manuscripts of the


A few copies of the Apocrypha

Second Century - 1
New Testament books carry great
authority, but are not considered
• From a practical perspective,
Jesus’ teachings carried as much or
more authority as did their Bible
(the OT).
• They just did not consider it to be
BIBLE / Canon.
• Old Testament is still the
Christian’s Bible
Second Century - 2
Early in this century the
Gospels begin to be quoted in
the same way as the OT

By the later quarter of this

century (around 180 AD),
Paul’s letters begin to carry
the same authority as the OT

Oldest copy of the NT in

existence was written --
sometime between 175 - 210.
The Bodmer Papyrus
Third Century
More and more versions are
produced, translated from
the Greek.

Church faces severe

persecution but continues to
grow quickly.

Church deals with many

heretical movements.
Fourth Century
Edict of Milan - 313 AD
Christianity becomes the State
religion by Constantine’s
decree in 313

Consequences were immense

regarding the New Testament
Results of Edict -
Christianity is no longer

Christians no longer have to

copy their Scriptures in

Free from persecution, more

money available for copying
the Bible
Two Famous Uncial
Codex Sinaiticus – ca. 350 AD

Codex Vaticanus – ca. 350 AD

These manuscripts were unknown

at the time the KJV was

[Received their names from

where they were discovered]
Codex Sinaiticus
Results of Edict - 2

Increased missionary activity

calls for more copies of the Bible

• Scriptoriums sprang up

• What was a Scriptorium? It was

their ancient duplicating system

• How did it work?

• A Scriptorium was the method used to
produce many copies of the Bible as
quickly as possible.

• One scribe would read aloud from a

manuscript in front of him to many
scribes. The scribes would write what
the reader said.

• Some scribes knew Greek characters but

not the Greek language.
New Testament

In 367 AD, for the first time, a list

of NT books was written, which list
contains the 27 books now in our NT.
Greek400 to 1400 AD
continued to be written in
uncial script (all
capitals and no spaces
until 835 AD)

From 9th century, most

manuscripts were written
in cursive (our longhand
versus printing) -- this
was much faster

First complete English

Bible in 1382
Uncial Script
Wycliff’s Bible
This Bible, written in the
language of the people,
brought a great reformation to

This English Bible was based

on the Latin Vulgate (no Greek
Bible at the time)
Fifteenth Century

Printing Invented
Gutenberg Press, 1456

Revolutionized production of

First published work was the

First Bible Printed
The Gutenburg Bible
Sixteenth Century
Erasmus publishes the first
Greek New Testament in 1516

This Greek Bible was based

on six manuscripts Erasmus
was able to locate

The oldest one dated from

the 10th century
Dutch, Roman Catholic, intellectual.

Gave us the first printed Greek New Testament,


The Erasmus Greek Text (KJV basis)

No manuscript available that was complete.

Used, therefore, several 12th century

(“Byzantine”) manuscripts.

No complete copy of Revelation in Greek so he

used Latin Vulgate for the last six verses,
translating from Latin to Greek—and these verses
still remain the Greek text of the “Received
Text” (TR) and the basis for the KJV
He added some passages from the Vulgate
not found in Greek manuscripts.

Reaction to his text was so negative

that universities in England, including
Cambridge and Oxford, prohibited the
reading of anything he wrote.

One severe criticism was that he had

left out 1 John 5:7-8 [“the Father, the
Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three
are one.”]

Erasmus said he had done so because it

was not in any Greek manuscript (it was
only in the Latin Vulgate).

He said he would put the verses in if someone

could produce a Greek manuscript which
contained them.

Not too long afterwards, one was “made to

order!” (Ink was still wet.)
Erasmus’ Greek NT
The Textus
Called the “Received Text”

• This Greek text was put together

from six late Greek manuscripts
(12th to 15th centuries), edited
by a Roman Catholic

• The foundation for all of the

English versions, including the
KJV, until 1881 when the English
Revised Version was published
Textus Receptus -
2The Greek text put together by
Erasmus in 1516 was used by
Stephanus who gave us our
verse divisions in 1551
The designation “Received
Text” did not appear until
By the time the KJV was
translated, there were around
25 Greek manuscripts known
Textus Receptus -
In 1624, the Dutch brothers and
(Elzevir) used the
Erasmus Greek text.

• They mentioned in the preface of

the 1633 edition that the reader
has “the text which is now
received by all, in which we give
nothing changed or corrupted.”

• Hence the “Received Text”—TR.

Later to be “authorized” by the
William Tyndale
We owe more to this
man than any other
for the enduring
beauty of the
English translation
of the Bible

He used the Greek NT

text of Erasmus,
third edition from
Tyndale’s Bible
- Romans -
Tyndale’s Letter - 1535
English Bibles
(all based on Erasmus’ Greek NT and Tyndale’s
English translation)
1535 -- Coverdale’s Bible -
1537 -- Matthew’s Bible -
1539 -- The Great Bible
1560 -- The Geneva Bible
1568 -- The Bishops’ Bible
1582 -- The Rheims Bible
The Great Bible -
It came out three years
following Tyndale’s martyrdom--
It was essentially Tyndale’s
It was “authorized” by King
It was commended by the clergy,
including Bishop Tunstal--who
worked so hard to destroy
Tyndale’s work
The very copy of the Bible
Tunstal had tossed into the
bond fires, he was now
endorising--not knowing he was,
of course
The Geneva Bible -
1560 “Geneva” because it was
produced in Geneva where
reformers fled under the five-
year reign of Queen Mary, a

Its anti-Catholic notes

prevented universal acceptance

It was the pilgrims’ Bible and

remained the most popular Bible
for nearly a 100 years after the
KJV was published
The Geneva Bible -
The Bishop’s Bible -

Supported by the clergy

Second bible to be
The King James
1611 - The King James Version

Based on the Erasmus Greek NT

- a few years later to be
known as the Textus Receptus

Did not replace the Geneva

Bible in the church for 100
KJV Title Page
- 1611 -
James I
First Bible Printed in
Nineteenth Century
Discovery of Codex Sinaiticus
in 1844

Publication of the English

Revised Version in 1881

(This version was used

immediately and repeatedly
by Ellen White)
Modern Speech
In 1897, the Oxyrhnchus
papyrii were discovered

These papyrii showed that the

Greek of the NT was the
language of the man on the

Result: translations came out

that reflected this
Modern Speech
Weymouth - 1903 (+ 4
Moffatt - 1913
Goodspeed - 1923
Philips - 1958
This Afternoon
• The nature of scribal mistakes
and why they do not affect the
infallibility of God’s Word -
the inspiration question
• How do we choose between
variations in the manuscripts
• The King James Debate
• Which version should one use?
he Inspiration of the
From Selected Messages

• The writers of the Bible

had to express their ideas
in human language. It was
written by human men.” - 19

• “The Bible was given for

practical purposes.” - 20
he Inspiration of the
From Selected Messages
• The Bible is written by
inspired men, but it is not
God’s mode of thought and
expression. It is that of
humanity. God, as a writer, is
not represented. Men will often
say such an expression is not
like God. But God has not put
Himself in words, in logic, in
rhetoric, on trial in the Bible.
The writers of the Bible were
God’s penmen, not His pen. Look
at the different writers. – 21
he Inspiration
The Bible is not of
given tothe
us in
From Selected Messages
grand superhuman language. - 20

“Some look to us gravely and say,

‘Don’t you think there might have
been some mistake in the copyist or
in the translators?’ … All the
mistakes will not cause trouble to
one soul, or cause any feet to
stumble, that would not manufacture
difficulties from the plainest
he Inspiration of the
From Selected Messages
It is not the words of the Bible
that are inspired, but the men that
were inspired. Inspiration acts not
on the man’s words or his
expressions but on the man himself,
who under the influence of the Holy
Ghost is imbued with thoughts. But
the words receive the impress of the
individual mind. The divine mind is
diffused. The divine mind and will
is combined with the human mind and
will: thus the utterances of the
man are the word of God. - 21
Differences in the Temptation
Matthew 4:3: “And the tempter came and
said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God,
command that these stones become

• Luke 4:3: “And the devil said to Him,

‘If You are the Son of God, tell this
stone to become bread.’"
Differences in the Temptation
• Matthew 4:6: “...and said to Him, ‘If
You are the Son of God throw Yourself
down; for it is written, 'He will give
His angels charge concerning You'; and
'On their hands they will bear You up,
Lest You strike Your foot against a

Luke 4:6: “And he led Him up and showed
Him all the kingdoms of the world in a
moment of time. And the devil said to
Him, ‘I will give You all this domain
and its glory; for it has been handed
over to me, and I give it to whomever I
wish. Therefore if You worship before
me, it shall all be Yours.’"
Differences in the Temptation
• Matthew 4:8-9: “Again, the devil took
Him to a very high mountain, and
showed Him all the kingdoms of the
world, and their glory; and he said
to Him, ‘All these things will I give
You, if You fall down and worship

• Luke 4:9: “And he led Him to

Jerusalem and had Him stand on the
pinnacle of the temple, and said to
Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw
Yourself down from here.’”

Phil. 2:8-11: “And being found
in fashion as a man, he humbled
himself, and became obedient unto
death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted
him, and given him a name which is
above every name: That at the name
of Jesus every knee should bow, of
things in heaven, and things on earth,
and things under the earth; And that
every tongue should confess that Jesus
Christ is Lord, to the glory of God
the Father.
Different Methods
Matt. 2:15: “And was there until the
death of Herod: that it might be
fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord
by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt
have I called my son.

Hosea 11:1-2: “When Israel was a

child I loved him, out of Egypt I
called my son. The more I called
them, the farther they went from me,
Sacrificing to the Baals and burning
incense to idols.”
Baby Boys Killed
“Then Herod, when he saw that he
Matt. 2:16-18:
was mocked of the wise men,...and slew all the
children...from two years old and under,…Then was
fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the
prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard,
lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be
comforted, because they are not.”

Jer. 31:15-16: “Thus says the LORD: In Ramah is

heard the sound of moaning, of bitter weeping!
Rachel mourns her children, she refuses to be
consoled because her children are no more. Thus
says the LORD: Cease your cries of mourning, wipe
the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have shown
shall have its reward, says the LORD, they shall
The Original
Today, there are over 5,700
copies of handwritten
manuscripts containing all or
parts of the New Testament.

None is the original (the one

actually written by Matthew,
Paul, James, etc.).

No two of these manuscripts

agree 100 percent.
HOLD ON: How Can This Be?

This being the case, how do we

know if we have the reading of
the original?

How do we choose which reading

within a manuscript is either
the original or closest to it?
This Afternoon...
How is the decision made for
selecting the best reading
when the manuscripts differ?
• We will also look at the
strengths and weaknesses of
various versions
(acknowledging that even the
poorest translation is still
God’s Word)
The Nature Of Variants In The Text

Areas covered are the very human aspects of:

• Errors Due to Hearing

• Errors Due to Eyesight

• Errors Due to the Mind

Clearly, such recognized textual variations

in the Greek manuscripts have no impact on
the meaning of the biblical text, as
evidenced in the following examples.
Manuscript 22: Please pass me their copy
of the book.
Manuscript 32: Please pass me there copy
of the book.
Manuscript 42: Please pass me thier copy
of the book.
Manuscript 52: Please pass me their xyca
of the book.

Manuscript 32: The work is done in the

laboratory in the center of
Manuscript 22: The work is done in the
labouratory in the centre of

Manuscript 22: He turned on the light.

Manuscript 62: He turned on the lite.
A. Errors Due to Hearing:
(When scribe wrote from dictation)
1. Vowel Sounds [See English examples
on the words “there” and “their;”
“to,” “too,” and “two”]

2. Typos. Thousands of the so-called

“errors” in the NT manuscripts are
from this category—and have no
significance whatsoever]

Example: thier for their

B. Errors due to
1. Confusion of Letters

D/ L
LL / M

O / Q

S / E ( X)

2. Confusion of Words

effect / affect
C. Errors Due to the Mind

1. Substitution:

• concerning / on behalf of
• out / from

2. Synonyms:

• working / laboring
• immediately / quickly

[When a thinking scribe could be dangerous—

alterations made in good faith, noble motivation]

Areas covered:

Marginal Notations
Explanatory Additions
Elimination of Obscurities
I. Clearing up Historical Difficulties

Matt. 27:9:
“Then was fulfilled what was
written in Jeremiah the

OTHER MSS have Matthew saying:

“Then was fulfilled what was
written in Zachariah the

[or they omit Jeremiah]

Criteria For Selection Of A Reading

A. The date of the manuscript - the oldest is


B. The geographical distribution of the witnesses

that agree in supporting a variant.

C. The genealogical relationship of texts and

families of witnesses. The number of
manuscripts is not a factor.
D. Usually, the more difficult reading
is to be preferred (more difficult
from the point of view of the scribe).

E. Usually, the shorter reading is to

be preferred (except for obvious
reasons such as losing ones place).
Some Manuscripts Read: Other Manuscripts Read:

Mt. 5:44. But I say Mt. 5:44. But I say

to you, Love your to you, Love your
enemies and pray for enemies, bless them
those who persecute that curse you, do
you. good to them that hate
you, and pray for them
who despitefully use
[Lk. 6:27-28. But
I say to you that
[The words in
hear, Love your Luke are
enemies, do good
to those who hate carried over
you, bless those to Matthew]
who curse you,
pray for those who
abuse you.]
Unintentional 2-3
Other Manuscripts
Some Manuscripts Read:

Mt. 9:13. For I Mt. 9:13. For I came

came not to call not to call the
the righteous, but righteous, but
sinners unto sinners.

Gal. 6:17. I bear Gal. 6:17. I bear

on my body the on my body the marks
marks of Jesus. of the:
…Lord Jesus.
…Lord Jesus Christ.
…Our Lord Jesus
Intentional 1
Some Manuscripts Read: Other Manuscripts Read:
Mk. 1:2. As it is Mk 1:2. As it is
written in the written in Isaiah
prophets. the prophet...
[followed by
quotations from
Mal. 3:1 and Isa.
Acts. Disciples were
in the temple praising Acts. Disciples
God. were in the temple
praising and
Acts Disciples were in blessing God.
the temple blessing
God. 1:3. It seemed Lk. 1:3. It seemed
good to me and the good to me to write
Holy Spirit to write an orderly account.
and orderly account.
Unintentional 4-5
Some Manuscripts
Other Manuscripts Read:

John 7:8. Jesus John 7:8. Jesus tells

tells his disciples: his disciples: I am not
I am not going up to yet going up to the
the feast. feast.

[Two verses later,

Jesus goes to the
Mt. 24:36. No one Mt. 24:36. No one
knows the hour, knows the hour, not
not even the even the angels in
angels in heaven, heaven, nor the Son,
but the Father but the Father only.
Next: Versions
Examples of poor
• RSV 1 Corinthians 5:1: “It is actually reported
that there is immorality among you, and of a kind
that is not found even among pagans; for a man is
living with his father's wife.”

• KJV is better with “fornication” (a word that

covers all sexual immorality).

• NRSV made it correct: sexual immorality

Ephesians 2:14
•RSV Ephesians 2:14-16: “For he is our peace,
who has made us both one, and has broken down
the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing
in his flesh the law of commandments and
ordinances, that he might create in himself one
new man in place of the two, so making peace,
and might reconcile us both to God in one body
through the cross, thereby bringing the
hostility to an end.”

•NRSV still has it wrong and so does NIV

•KJV is correct by “commandments contained in

ordinances (also the reading of the NAS)
NIV Mistranslation

NIV 1 Corinthians 7:1: “Now for the
matters you wrote about: It is good
for a man not to marry.”
• Regardless of the differences
we find:
• In the original Greek
manuscripts or
• In the various English
• ALL contain the Word of God,
• ALL are infallible in matters
of faith and doctrine
Summary Statement
Regarding the Value of God’s
(from Preface to the RSV)
•The Bible is more than a historical
document to be preserved.

•And it is more than a classic of English

literature to be cherished and admired.

•It is a record of God’s dealing with men,

of God’s revelation of Himself and His will.
It records the life and work of Him in
whom the Word of God became flesh and dwelt
among men.

The Bible carries its full message, not to

those who regard it simply as a heritage of
the past or praise its literary style, but to
those who read it that they may discern and
understand God’s Word to men.

That Word must not be disguised in phrases

that are no longer clear, or hidden under
words that have changed or lost their

It must stand forth in language that is

direct and plain and meaningful to people
“It is our hope and our earnest prayer

that this Revised Standard Version of the

Bible may be used by God to speak to men in

these momentous times, and to help them to

understand and believe and obey His Word.”

Our prayers are for the same response to

any Bible, in any language of any age!