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“More differences among manuscripts than words in the New Testament”

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Taken from Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus, page 10:

“This kind of realization coincided with the problems I was encountering the more closely I studied the surviving Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. It is one thing to say that the originals were inspired, but the reality is that we don’t have the originals—so saying they were inspired doesn’t help me much, unless I can reconstruct the originals. Moreover, the vast majority of Christians for the entire history of the church have not had access to the originals, making their inspiration something of a moot point. Not only do we not have the originals, we don’t have the first copies of the originals. We don’t even have copies of the copies of the originals, or copies of the copies of the copies of the originals. What we have are copies made later—much later. In most instances, they are copies made many centuries later. And these copies all differ from one another, in many thousands of places. As we will see later in this book, these copies differ from one another in so many places that we don’t even know how many differences there are. Possibly it is easiest to put it in comparative terms: there are more differences among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament.”

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1 Comment

  1. Origen, for example, once registered the fol-
    lowing complaint about the copies of the Gospels at his disposal:

    The differences among the manuscripts have become great, either
    through the negligence of some copyists or through the perverse
    audacity of others; they either neglect to check over what they have transcribed, or, in the process of checking, they make additions or deletions as they please. 9

    Like

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