The Old Testament Text

The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02

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Edward D. Andrews
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored ninety-two books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

The Old Testament, the inspired Word of God, how was it copied, maintained as to the textual reliability, and handed down throughout the past three thousand years?

It should be appreciated that what we possess today is nothing short of Word of God that the Old Testament writers penned throughout a 1,600-year period, from the time of Moses to Malachi. While it certainly is not provable that God personally preserved these documents by the same way that he miraculously inspired the Scriptures to be error free; there is little doubt that he blessed the work of those who worked on the copies and has blessed our attempts at restoring the text. Skeptics would consider it as mere coincidence that, we have a storehouse of manuscript treasure for both the Old Testament and New Testament documents while secular writings are nowhere near so fortunate. The secular writings of antiquity are reflected in but a handful of manuscripts for any given author. Moreover, they are hundreds of years removed from the date of the original copy, making them less trustworthy; while the Old Testament and New Testament are preserved in tens of thousands of manuscripts, with a number being within a century or two from the original copy[1] (especially the NT).

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS WHY DON'T YOU BELIEVE

Isaiah 40:8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

8 The grass withers, the flower fades,

    but the word of our God will stand forever.

The Bible reader has every right to ask if the book that he carries has been tainted throughout the centuries of copying and recopying. What we possess today, is it a complete reflection of what was penned so many centuries ago? Does the evidence suggest that the manuscripts have been transmitted faithfully from the original-language texts so that the reader of God’s Word can feel safe that the Bible is trustworthy? We know that scribal errors have crept into the text, after centuries of copying by hand, but have the textual scholars been able to ascertain what the original text was?  There are many excellent books that cover the trustworthiness of the text of the Old and New Testaments; we will not be able to go into in great detail herein, because of limited space, but we can lay an excellent foundation, and suggest further reading.  However, what is covered will be very informative and beneficial to examine.[2]

DEFENDING OLD TESTAMENT AUTHORSHIP Agabus Cover BIBLICAL CRITICISM

Men that were chosen by God penned the original manuscripts in Hebrew and a very small portion in Aramaic languages. Moses was the first in the late 16th-century B.C.E.,[3] who wrote the first five books of the Bible, down to about 443 B.C.E., with Malachi penning the book that bears his name, and Nehemiah writing the book that bears his name, totaling 39 canonical books for the Hebrew Old Testament. There are no original manuscripts in existence today. Around 642 B.C.E., in the time of King Josiah, Hilkiah, the high priest “found the Book of the Law” of Moses, very likely the original copy, which had been stored away in the house of God. At this point, it had survived for some 871 years. Jeremiah was so moved by the particular discovery that he wrote about the occasion at 2 Kings 22:8-10. About 180 years later, in 460 B.C.E., Ezra wrote about the same incident as well. (2 Chron. 34:14-18) Ezra was very interested in this, not only because of the importance of the event itself but he “was a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses, which Jehovah, the God of Israel, had given.” (Ezra 7:6, UASV) Considering Ezra’s position, the fact he was a historian, a scribe, he would have had access to all of the scrolls of the Old Testament that had been copied and handed down up to his time. In some cases, some were likely the inspired originals from the authors themselves. It would seem that Ezra was well qualified to be the custodian of the manuscripts in his day.–Nehemiah 8:1-2

Digging Deeper

HEBREW TEXT: The Hebrew Texts

HEBREW TEXT: The Hebrew Language

HEBREW TEXT: Preservation of the Text

HEBREW TEXT: Preservation of the Text

HEBREW TEXT: Who Were the Masoretes?

HEBREW TEXT: Earliest Translated Versions

Why Can We Trust the Transmission of the Hebrew Text?

HEBREW TEXT: Early Period of Manuscript Copying

HEBREW TEXT: Copyists Preserved God’s Word

BIBLICAL CRITICISM BIBLICAL CRITICISM - Beyond the Basics

[1] When we use the term “original” reading or “original” text in this publication, it is a reference to the exemplar manuscript by the New Testament author (e.g., Paul) and his secretary (e.g., Tertius) from which other copies was made for publication and distribution into the Christian communities. It should be noted that the author likely penned some books without the use of a secretary, such as the apostle John in First and Second John.

[2] THE TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT: The Science and Art of Textual Criticism by Don Wilkins and Edward D. Andrews, ISBN-13: 978-1-945757-44-0

[3] B.C.E. means “before the Common Era,” which is more accurate than B.C. (“before Christ”). C.E. denotes “Common Era,” often called A.D., for anno Domini, meaning “in the year of our Lord.”

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