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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Is the Bible True?

A few years ago I preached through the series God Questions. One of the questions was, Is the Bible true?  To find a major part of the answer we must consider how the Bible has been copied and translated. This is a longer than usual blog but full of lots of information on the subject which I think you'll find very interesting.

The Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. 99% of the OT is in Hebrew. The second half of the book of Daniel is in Aramaic, because Daniel was living in Babylon, and that was the trade language used there. The NT is all in Koine Greek.
 The Talmudim (Hebrew for, “students,”) shepherded the transmission of the Torah [Old Testament] from A.D. 100 – 500.

Synagogue scrolls had to be written on specially prepared skins of clean animals and fastened with strings taken from clean animals. Each skin had to contain a certain number of columns. Each column had to have between 48 and 60 lines and be 30 letters wide. The spacing between consonants, sections and books was precise, measured by hairs or threads. The ink had to be black and prepared with a specific recipe. The transcriber could not deviate from the original in any manner. No words could be written from memory. The person making the copy had to wash his whole body before beginning and had to be in full Jewish dress. The scribe had to reverently wipe his pen each time he wrote the word “God” (“Elohim”), and wash his whole body before writing God’s covenant name “Yahweh.”  The Talmudim were meticulous.

The Massoretes

The Massoretes, who oversaw the Torah from A.D. 500-900, adopted an even more elaborate means of insuring transcriptional accuracy. They numbered the verses, words and letters of each book and calculated the midpoint of each one. When a scroll was complete, independent sources counted the number of words and syllables forward, then backward, then from the middle of the text each direction, to make sure that the exact number had been preserved. Proof reading and revision had to be done within 30 days of a completed manuscript. Up to two mistakes on a page could be corrected. Three mistakes on a page condemned the whole manuscript.

These scribes treated the text so reverently that older manuscripts were destroyed to keep them from being misread. Prior to 1947, the oldest extant Hebrew manuscript was from the 9th century. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls enabled us to check the accuracy of our current manuscripts against ones from 100 B.C.  When we compare the 100 B.C. Qumran scrolls to our 9th century manuscripts (a 1000 year gap), we find that an amazing 95% of the texts are identical, with only minor variations and a few discrepancies.

If the Talmudim were meticulous, The Massoretes were MORE meticulous.

The New Testament has 24,000 manuscripts to compare, and The English Bible is translated directly from the original languages.


Know what God's Word says - and apply it to your life. Amen?