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To be sure, of all the hundreds of thousands of textual changes found among our manuscripts, most of them are completely insignificant, immaterial, of no real importance for anything other than showing that scribes could not spell or keep focused any better than the rest of us. Misquoting Jesus (p. 207)

From this section of Ehrman’s book, we get the impression that he too agrees that ‘most of the hundreds of thousands of textual changes are completely insignificant,’ and are able to be restored. In other words, textual scholarship has no problem discerning what the correct reading is, and what is not the correct reading. In another place in Misquoting Jesus, Ehrman uses another strong adjective to describe the level of agreement among textual scholars being able to restore the text where scribes had made intentional changes.

In a remarkable number of instances—most of them, actually—scholars by and large agree. It is perhaps useful for us here to consider an array of the kinds of intentional changes one finds among our manuscripts, as these can show us the reasons scribes had for making alterations. Misquoting Jesus (p. 94)

Here again, we offer an example, where we would agree with Ehrman’s assessment. Most textual scholars agree on the vast majority of intentional and unintentional changes. If we search throughout his book and find these isolated comments, it seems that one picture of Ehrman emerges. One that places him in the same camp with modern-day textual scholarship that believes the restoration of the original New Testament is quite possible. Let us investigate another quoted portion.

Moreover, in the early centuries of the church, some locales had better scribes than others. Modern scholars have come to recognize that the scribes in Alexandria—which was a major intellectual center in the ancient world—were particularly scrupulous, even in these early centuries, and that there, in Alexandria, a very pure form of the text of the early Christian writings was preserved, decade after decade, by dedicated and relatively skilled Christian scribes. Misquoting Jesus (p. 72)

Here again, Ehrman is right on the mark with modern textual scholarship, in that the Alexandrian scribes produces a very pure form of text, because they viewed literature in a whole other way, as opposed to the rest of the Roman Empire. However, this does not negate that early Christianity as a whole respected the books they possessed and viewed them as Scripture on par with the Old Testament. Moreover, the modern scholarship also believes that if other early manuscripts from throughout the Roman Empire would have survived, they would have differed very little from the Alexandrian papyri. Textual scholar Philip W. Comfort writes, “The early papyrus manuscripts represent not only the Egyptian New Testament text but also the text of the entire early church.” (P. W. Comfort 1992, 34) Kurt Aland of the Nestle-Aland critical text also affirms this position.

When did the church begin to use professional scribes to copy its texts? There are good reasons for thinking that this happened sometime near the beginning of the fourth century. Misquoting Jesus (p. 72)

However, we find a conflicting statement on the very same page. We had just established the pure quality of the Alexandrian manuscripts “in the early centuries of the church,” and now Ehrman is saying that the church did not begin to use professional scribes until the fourth-century. I am certain that he would agree that the following were done by a professional scribe: P4,64,67, P30, P39, P46, P66, P75, P77 + P103, P95, P104.

The scribes—whether non-professional scribes in the early centuries or professional scribes of the Middle Ages—were intent on “conserving” the textual tradition they were passing on. Their ultimate concern was not to modify the tradition, but to preserve it for themselves and for those who would follow them. Most scribes, no doubt, tried to do a faithful job in making sure that the text they reproduced was the same text they inherited. Misquoting Jesus (p. 177)

Here again, we agree. One could almost get whiplash in trying to get a clear picture of Ehrman’s trustworthy or not trustworthy. As soon as you feel he is suggesting that we can get back to something, or that something is trustworthy, or that the most of something is easily resolved, or that most textual scholars agree, you get just the opposite view in other places in Misquoting Jesus. At times, this takes place on the same page. With no disrespect intended, it is as though he has two personalities that are at odds with each other: his textual scholarship personality versus his liberal scholarship personality. Of the 7,956 verses and 138,020 words in the critical Greek text, only one percent is significant to the point that they affect the text as to meaning. However, the evidence to make a textual decision leans in one direction, and once again, we have no problem restoring the original.

Canonical Gospels and Apocryphal Gospels

Four such Gospels became most widely used—those of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament—but many others were written. We still have some of the others: for example, Gospels allegedly by Jesus’s disciple Philip, his brother Judas Thomas, and his female companion Mary Magdalene. Other Gospels, including some of the very earliest, have been lost. We know this, for example, from the Gospel of Luke, whose author indicates that in writing his account he consulted “many” predecessors (Luke 1:1), which obviously no longer survive. One of these earlier accounts may have been the source that scholars have designated Q, which was probably a written account, principally of Jesus’s sayings, used by both Luke and Matthew for many of their distinctive teachings of Jesus (e.g., the Lord’s Prayer and the Beatitudes). Misquoting Jesus (p. 24)

I dealt with the Q document in chapter five, so there is no reason to take it up again here. However, I am going to examine the worth of Apocryphal writings in comparison to the Canonical[1] writings because Ehrman appears to equate them equally. What should trouble the reader is the scholarship of a person that equates the Apocryphal Gospels on the same level as our four canonical Gospels. Commenting on such post-apostolic Apocryphal writings, Bible scholar, Norman L. Geisler states:

During the first few centuries, numerous books of a fanciful and heretical nature arose that are neither genuine nor valuable as a whole. Eusebius of Caesarea called these “totally absurd and impious.” Virtually no orthodox Father, canon, or council considered these books canonical and, so far as the church is concerned, they are primarily of historical value, indicating the heretical teaching of gnostic, docetic, and ascetic groups, as well as the exaggerated fancy of religious lore in the early church. At best, these books were revered by some of the cults and referred to by some of the orthodox Fathers, but they were never considered canonical by the mainstream of Christianity.[2]

When Were the Canonical Gospels Written and by Whom?

Many factors support that the Gospel of Matthew was written sometime between 50-55 C.E. It was written before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. (Matt 24:1-2, 15; 27:53) The early church supports that Matthew was the first Gospel to have been penned in Hebrew and shortly thereafter translated into Greek. There being closer to the date certainly gives them the better position to know. Since most date Luke to about 60 C.E., and he speaks of other Gospels, this would put Matthew and Mark prior to this date. Since Matthew is considered earliest, this would mean Mark, who had the help of Peter, was second, likely between 55-60 C.E. John wrote his Gospel after his arrival back from banishment on the island of Patmos. (Rev. 1:9) The Roman emperor Nerva, 96-98 C.E., returned many who had been banished at the close of the reign of his predecessor, Domitian. After penning his Gospel in about 98 C.E., John is believed to have died at Ephesus in the third year of Emperor Trajan, 100 C.E.

Those who had spent time with Jesus while he was alive were around for his death and resurrection were still living then; they could confirm the Gospel accounts. They could also definitely make known any inaccuracies as well. Professor F. F. Bruce observes,

One of the strong points in the original apostolic preaching is the confident appeal to the knowledge of the hearers; they not only said, ‘We are witnesses of these things,’ but also, ‘As you yourselves also know’ (Acts 2:22). (Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are they Reliable? 1981, 43)

What do we know about the writers of the canonical New Testament? Some of the apostles were moved to pen books, and it was they who had traveled with Jesus in his three and a half year ministry. Matthew, who penned what is considered to be the first Gospel, was an apostle. James and Jude penned a letter each and were Jesus’ half-brothers, both being doubters during Jesus’ ministry and death. These two and Mark, who penned one of the Gospels, were likely present on the day of Pentecost in 33 C.E., at the birth of the Christian congregation. Luke, who penned a Gospel and the book of Acts of Apostles was a traveling companion of Paul and was closely involved with the older men in Jerusalem. Peter was an apostle and penned two letters. Jesus selected Paul personally, after he was visited by him on the road to Damascus, and penned 14 books. John was an apostle, the beloved of Jesus, who penned one Gospel, three letters, and the book of Revelation.—1 Corinthians 15:1-7; Acts 15:2, 6, 12-14, 22; Galatians 2:7-10.

Mathew. There is both internal and external evidence that the Gospel bearing the name Matthew was, in fact, written by Matthew even though the title “According to Matthew” was added in the second century. There are many references to money throughout this Gospel, which one would expect from a tax collector. Moreover, the humility of multiple references to his being a tax collector. His ability as a record keeper is borne out in his recording the long discourses of Jesus. That Matthew is the author of this Gospel is also established by the church Fathers as far back as Papias of Hierapolis (written works published about 130-140 C.E.), also by Justin Martyr, by Hegesippus, Irenæus, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, Clement, Tertullian, and Origen.

Mark. Mark had a history with many of the major people in the birth of Christianity. He was a cousin of Barnabas and traveled with the missionaries. His mother, Mary’s home, was used as a place of worship. He was the young man that fled the night of Jesus’ betrayal, meaning he was a follower of Christ before Jesus’ execution. He was a friend of the Apostle Peter. The person who penned the Gospel entitled Mark was familiar with the geography of the land and Jerusalem, knew Aramaic, and understood Jewish traditions and customs, familiarity with James, Peter and John. Most agree that Mark penned the letter, but it was mainly through the recounting of Peter. Some of Peter’s characteristics are to be seen in Mark’s style, which is impetuous, living, energetic, dynamic, and expressive. It seems Mark (Peter) can scarcely relate events fast enough. For example, the word “immediately” or “at once” occurs 23 times in this short Gospel, transporting the story along in intense style. It was Peter who referred to Mark as “my son.” (1 Pet. 5:13) Again, Papias attributed the Gospel to him along with many other early church Fathers (Irenaeus, Clement of Alexander, Justin Martyr, Tatian, Tertullian, Origen, Jerome, and Eusebius).

Luke. Luke was a traveling companion of the Apostle Paul, as he uses the first person in parts of Acts. (16:10, 17; 20:6; 27:1) Both Timothy and Mark are referred to in the third person. (20:5) The use of medical terms fits Luke, as he is a physician. Luke uses more than 300 medical terms or words to which he gives a medical meaning.[3] The earliest Gospel manuscripts bear the name Luke. Again, the early church Fathers supported him as the author, such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement, Origen, Gregory of Nasianzus, Jerome, and Eusebius. The Muratorian Fragment (c. 170 C.E.) attributes the Gospel to Luke.

John. In this final Gospel, the writer is referred to as the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” (20:17) this and comparable expressions being used numerous times in the record, though the name of the apostle John is not ever mentioned. Jesus is here quoted as saying about him: “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” (John 21:20, 22) This certainly fit the historical facts, because John lived a life that is decades beyond the others. He was a follower of John the Baptist (1:35-40), and one of the first to follow Jesus (1:40). He was one of the three disciples (James, Peter, and John) that were pulled aside by Jesus at times, into an inner circle (Matt 17:1). The author was a Jew, who had a good knowledge of the customs, traditions, and the Old Testament. He knew the geography and topography of the land. He was an eyewitness to persons, time, numbers, places, and other details. (21:24) What is known as P52, the John Ryland’s papyrus fragment, dating to between 110-125 C.E., evidence that John was written in the first-century. Also, Irenaeus of Lyons (b. 120-140 – d. 202 C.E.), knew Polycarp (69-155 C.E.), who had studied under John the Apostle. The Muratorian Fragment (c. 170 C.E.), Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Eusebius attribute the Gospel to John.

Who Selected the Books to go into the Canon?

Some liberal scholars have claimed that the canon of the Gospels was chosen centuries after the fact by the church that was an established power in the direction of Emperor Constantine. Nevertheless, the facts show otherwise.

For example, note what Professor of Church History Oskar Skarsaune states: “Which writings that were to be included in the New Testament, and which were not, was never decided upon by any church council or by any single person . . . The criteria were quite open and very sensible: Writings from the first century C.E. that were regarded as written by apostles or by their fellow workers were regarded as reliable. Other writings, letters, or ‘gospels’ that were written later were not included . . . This process was essentially completed a long time before Constantine and a long time before his church of power had been established. It was the church of martyrs, not the church of power; that gave us the New Testament.”

Carl F. H. Henry writes,

Jesus altered the prevailing Jewish view of Scripture in several ways: (1) he subjected the authority of tradition to the superior and normative authority of the Old Testament; (2) he emphasized that he himself fulfills the messianic promise of the inspired writings; (3) he claimed for himself an authority not below that of the Old Testament and definitively expounded the inner significance of the Law; (4) he inaugurated the new covenant escalating the Holy Spirit’s moral power as an internal reality; (5) he committed his apostles to the enlargement and completion of the Old Testament canon through their proclamation of the Spirit-given interpretation of his life and work. At the same time he identified himself wholly with the revelational authority of Moses and the prophets—that is, with the Old Testament as an inspired literary canon insisting that Scripture has sacred, authoritative and permanent validity, and that the revealed truth of God is conveyed in its teachings.[4]

Norman L. Geisler writes,

First, a book is not the Word of God because it is accepted by the people of God. Rather, it was accepted by the people of God because it is the Word of God. That is, God gives the book its divine authority, not the people of God. They merely recognize the divine authority which God gives to it. Further, this view shifts the “locus of authority” from God to man, from the divine to the human. Thus, the divine authority of Scripture is determined by man. Finally, the final acceptance of a book by the church of God often did not come for many generations, even centuries.[5]

J. I. Packer writes,

The Church no more gave us the New Testament canon than Sir Isaac Newton gave us the force of gravity. God gave us gravity, by His work of creation, and similarly He gave us the New Testament canon, by inspiring the individual books that make it up.[6]

Edward J. Young writes,

When the Word of God was written it became Scripture and, inasmuch as it had been spoken by God, possessed absolute authority. Since it was the Word of God, it was canonical. That which determines the canonicity of a book, therefore, is the fact that the book is inspired by God. Hence a distinction is properly made between the authority which the Old Testament possesses as divinely inspired, and the recognition of that authority on the part of Israel.[7]

1 Corinthians 12:4, 10 English Standard Version (ESV)

 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kind of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

According to Paul, one of the gifts of the “Spirit” was the ability “to distinguish between spirits.” Therefore, just like those that were given the superhuman ability to speak in tongues, or inspired to pen Scripture, these were given the ability to discern inspired writings from uninspired writings. Therefore, we can be most confident that the 66 books that are found in our Bibles were recognized as inspired.

It is true that the canon was mentioned in the writings of second and third-century writers. However, as the above Bible scholars testify, these church Fathers did not determine canonicity, they merely acknowledge what God has already established through representatives there were gifted by the “Spirit.”

What Are the Differences Between Apocryphal and the Canonical?

Internal evidence sanctions the clear separation that was made between the canonical writings and writings that were false or uninspired. The Apocryphal writings are substandard and often imaginary and juvenile. They are often erroneous. Note what the following scholars have to say about the noncanonical books:

M. R. James writes,

It will be very quickly seen that there is no question of any one’s having excluded them from the New Testament: they have done that for themselves.[8]

G. Milligan writes,

We have only to compare our New Testament books as a whole with other literature of the kind to realize how wide is the gulf which separates them from it. The uncanonical gospels, it is often said, are in reality the best evidence for the canonical.[9]

N. R. Lightfoot writes,

Anyone who doubts about the New Testament Canon should take the time to read some of the New Testament Apocrypha. Here are a few examples of what one may find: (1) Infancy Story of Thomas. When a child bumps his [Jesus’] shoulder, Jesus strikes him dead. (2) Gospel of Peter. Three men come out of Jesus’ tomb, with a cross following them; the head of two of them reaches to heaven, the head of the other overpasses the heavens. (3) Protevangelium of James. Mary is brought up in the temple, dedicated as a virgin from the age of three. (4) Acts of John. John, on finding bedbugs in his bed at an inn, commands the bugs to leave and behave themselves. (5) Acts of Paul. Paul baptizes a lion, who later spares him from death in an amphitheater at Ephesus.[10]

As we can see from the few examples given to us from Lightfoot, the apocryphal  writings are very different from the canonical writings. The apocryphal books are not written by any of the people they claim as authors, and were penned about 150 C.E. and later. The picture portrayed in these Pseudepigraphal gospels of Jesus and Christianity is nothing like the canonical Gospels.

The Gospel of Thomas has Jesus saying that he will transform Mary into a man so that she would be eligible to enter the Kindom of heaven. The apocryphal Acts of Paul and Acts of Peter stress complete self-denial of sexual intercourse and even portray the apostles as advising women to separate from their husbands. The Gospel of Judas portrays Jesus as laughing at his disciples for praying to God in reference to a meal. Of course, these are in contrary to what we find in the canonical books.—Mark 14:22; 1 Corinthians 7:3-5; Galatians 3:28; Hebrews 7:26.

Numerous apocryphal writings reflect the beliefs of the Gnostics.[11]  They believe that the Creator, Jehovah God was evil. In addition, they believed that the resurrection is not literal because to them physical matter is also evil. Also, they believed that it was Satan, who was behind marriage and procreation.

Apocryphal and Apostasy Prophecy

Acts 20:30 English Standard Version (ESV)

30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.

2 Thessalonians 2:3, 6-7 English Standard Version (ESV)

3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. 6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.

1 Timothy 4:1-3 English Standard Version (ESV)

1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

2 Peter 2:1 English Standard Version (ESV)

1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

John 2:18-19 English Standard Version (ESV)

18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

1 John 4:1-3 English Standard Version (ESV)

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

More could have been listed, but in the above, you will find numerous warnings about a coming apostasy. The apostles were to be a restraint to this great apostasy that was coming. As long as they were alive, it would not fully infiltrate and cause divisions. However, as we see, John tells us that at the time of his writing, it was “the last hour,” meaning that he was about 98 years old, serving as the last restraint, and his death was imminent. Therefore, in essence, he was in the last hour of his life. Is it mere coincidence that all of the more than fifty Pseudepigraphal gospels started to be penned within decades of John’s death?

Some liberal scholars get overly absorbed in them, because they go back to 150 C.E. forward, meaning that they are very early. However, what if scholars almost 2,000 years from now were to look back to 2012, and gather up a bunch of tabloid magazines. Just because they date back almost 2,000 years to the time in American history that they are interested in, would the gossip and lies within them be accepted as historical facts, simply because the dated early to the beginning of the 21st century?

That would hardly be the case. Therefore, we should see the more than fifty Pseudepigraphal gospels as nothing but tabloid gossip trying to be passed off as official Gospels, such as the claim Jesus married Mary Magdalene.

A Scrap of Historical Criticism

Would any Christian living in 1700 C.E. have ever doubted the Bible was the Word of God? Hardly! So how did historical criticism[12] (a principal aspect of higher criticism) become the predominant view among Bible scholars? All it took was for some leading professors at major universities to plant seeds of doubt within their students. Being at the entrance of the era of skepticism of the mid-19th century to the early 20th century, this historical criticism had a well-cultivated field in which to grow. You had liberal scholars mixing rationalism and Christianity. It created a domino effect as a few scholars produced a generation of students, who would then be the next generation of scholars, and so on.

As we moved into the twentieth century, these questions had become “facts” in the eyes of many; in fact, it became in vogue to challenge the Bible. Leading schools and leading scholars of historical criticism were the norm, and soon the conservative Christian was isolated. The twentieth-century student received a lean diet from those few scholars who still accepted God’s Word as just that, the Word of God, fully inerrant, with 40 writers of 66 books over a period of about 1,600 years. No, these students would now be fed mostly liberal theology, and any who disagreed were portrayed as ignorant and naïve. This planting of uncertainty or mistrust, with question after question bringing canonical books into doubt, with most literature focusing on this type of propaganda, would create the latest generation of scholars, and today they dominate the world of scholarship.

How did this progressive takeover come off without a hitch? The conservative scholarship of the mid-19th century to the early 20th century saw these liberal naysayers as nothing more than a fly at a picnic.[13] Most did not even deem it necessary to address their questions, so by 1950–1970, the historical criticism machine was in full throttle. It was about this same time that the sleeping giant finally woke to find that conservative scholarship had taken a backseat to this new creature, liberal scholarship. It is only within the last 30–40 years that some very influential conservative scholars have started to publish books in a move to dislodge this liberal movement.  Was it too little, too late?

It is possible to displace historical criticism, but many factors stand in the way. For one, any opposition is painted as uninformed and inexperienced regarding the subject matter. Moreover, the books that tear down the Bible with all their alleged critical analysis sell far better than those do that encourage putting faith in God’s Word. In addition, many conservative scholars tend to sit on the sideline and watch as a few leading scholars attempt to do the work of the many. In addition, there are liberal scholars continually putting out numerous articles and books, dominating the market. Unlike the conservative scholars in the first part of the twentieth century, these liberal scholars in the first part of the twenty-first century are not slowing down. Moreover, they have become more aggressive. I will not make the possible correlation, but will only mention that early textual scholarship of the 19th century believed that it was possible to restore the original text. As liberal scholarship has overrun our universities throughout the last one hundred and fifty years, is it a mere coincidence that now many textual scholars do not talk about getting back to the original, but to the earliest form, and other middle of the road scholars are just more careful in their commitments? Since this is the crucial point that Misquoting Jesus is really all about, we will address this briefly one more time in our concluding section.

Getting Back to the Original

 When we discuss getting back to the original, it is really the originals, because each of the books was penned outside of each other, and had their own history of being copied and recopied. We do not find the New Testament as a whole until the fourth century. As we discussed earlier, the Sinaiticus manuscript (325 C.E.) contains the whole New Testament, and the Vaticanus manuscript (350 C.E.) did at one time as well. As you may recall, up until the fourth-century, there were many groupings that circulated together, such as P72 (Peter’s letters and Jude),  or P45 (Gospels with Acts), or P46 (Paul’s letters). In fact, individual books have been copied by themselves as well: P1 (Matthew), P88 (Mark), P69 (Luke), P5 (John), or P18 (Revelation). Therefore, each of the books needs to be recovered based on itself, and the manuscripts that would be most beneficial to its recovery.

It is the papyrus manuscripts of the second and third-centuries C.E. that is going to get back to the original(s). These manuscripts are 50 to 240 years older than our famed Sinaiticus and Vaticanus manuscripts. Westcott and Hort were the pioneers to the idea of creating a critical text that, to them was the original(s). Of course, they did not have the papyri that we have today. Kurt Aland of the Nestle-Aland text is of the same mind as well, as he writes in his The Text of the New Testament, where he writes that the NA text “comes closer to the original text of the New Testament than did Tischendorf or Westcott and Hort, not to mention Von Sodon.” (K. a. Aland 1987, 24) Some textual scholars today will look down on any scholar suggesting such and idea.

If you think about the families of manuscripts that we have discussed thus far in this book (Western, Byzantine, Caesarean, and Alexandrian), it is the Alexandrian family that makes up the earliest manuscripts, the Egyptian text if you will. Therefore, many textual scholars shrink back from the idea that the early church manuscripts were reflective of the Egyptian New Testament text. Kurt Aland has successfully dealt with this criticism by stating that “(1) we are not sure if all of the papyri discovered in Egypt actually originated in Egypt and (2) that the text typically called the Egyptian text (as opposed to the ‘Western’ or Byzantine text) was the text displayed in the writings of the early church fathers who lived outside of Egypt―Such as Irenaeus, Marcion, and Hippolytus. (Bruce, Packer, et al. 1992, 2003, 203)

The modern man tends to believe that the ancient world was isolated from one another because travel was nothing like today. In the first three centuries, Christians benefited from the Pax Romana, or Roman Peace, with its law and order, good roads, and relatively safe maritime travel. The stable rule of law and order, the good roads, and the relatively safe maritime travel created an environment that favored the expansion of Christianity throughout the whole of the Roman Empire.[14]

Historically, we know that there as a church in Alexandria, Egypt as early as 100 C.E. Pantaenus (was a Christian theologian who became the head of the Catechetical School of Alexandria about 160-180 C.E. The fourth-century church historian Eusebius informs us that the school was already there and that Pantaenus simply took over. When Pantaenus left, it was Clement (c.150-c. 215), who then replaced him as head of the school. Around 200 C.E. Clement had built the Alexandrian school into a well-educated Christian center, which brought with it a thriving community as well.

Historically, we also know that there were Christian communities far south of Alexandria as well, in such rural places as Fayum and Oxyrhynchus, as early as 110-125 C.E. This is the area where almost all of our papyri come from. The dry air preserved the manuscripts, which would not have survived the moisture of Alexandria. Moreover, the library in Alexandria had been destroyed twice. As we have argued twice now, agreeing with Kurt Aland, Philip Comfort, and other textual scholars, if we were to find second-century manuscripts in other parts of the Roman Empire, they would resemble the Egyptian text.

[1] The word “canon” refers to the collection of Bible books that give convincing proof of being inspired of God. There are 66 books that are generally recognized as canonical and are an integral and indispensable part of God’s Word.

[2] Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, Rev. and expanded. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1996), 301.

[3] The Medical Language of Luke, 1954, W. K. Hobart, pages xi-xxviii.

[4] arl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, vol. 3: God Who Speaks and Shows: Fifteen Theses, Part Two, p. 47.

[5] Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, Rev. and expanded. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1996), 210-11.

[6] J. I. Packer, God Speaks to Man, p. 81.

[7] Edward J. Young, The Canon of the Old Testament,” in Carl F. H. Henry, ed., Revelation and the Bible, p. 156.

[8] M. R. James, The Apocryphal New Testament, pages xi, xii.

[9] G. Milligan, The New Testament Documents, page 228.

[10] N. R. Lightfoot, How We Got the Bible, page 171

[11] A pre-Christian and early Christian religious movement teaching that salvation comes by learning esoteric spiritual truths that free humanity from the material world, believed in this movement to be evil.

[12] Historical criticism comprises several disciplines, which include: (1) Source criticism, (2) Form criticism, (3) Redaction criticism, (4) Traditional criticism, (5) Radical criticism, to mention just a few.

[13] This is not to say that the 19th and early 20th century did not have any apologist defending against biblical criticism. There were some giants in this field, like R. A. Torrey, and many others.

[14] Areas touched by the Gospel in the first-century alone: SPAIN, ITALY, MALTA, Mediterranean Sea, ILLYRICUM, MESOPOTAMIA, MEDIA, PARTHIA, Caspian Sea, ELAM, ARABIA, Cyrene, LIBYA, EGYPT, ETHIOPIA, Red Sea.