Biblegems # 60
Luke 24:44 He [Jesus] said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
If Jesus believed the Bible, then it should be trustworthy and accurate, right?
Did you know that the Bible translation most often quoted by Jesus and the apostles in the New Testament is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament? Sometimes they quoted directly from the Hebrew, and sometimes they mixed their quotes with both the Hebrew and Greek! Like most Christians today, Jesus and the apostles understood that God has preserved His Word through time and cultures by using translations into new and changing languages.
Last week’s blog highlighted the importance of manuscript evidence used in Bible translations. Today we will focus on how those manuscripts help provide accuracy and confidence in God’s Word.
There is a common misconception that there is one single Hebrew (OT) and Greek (NT) manuscript of the Bible. That is not the case. The truth is there are literally thousands of ancient manuscripts, and portions of manuscripts, of biblical texts spanning 2,000 years in composition and copying over countless languages. All agree in content and meaning and prove the reliability and accuracy of Scripture!
Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest OT manuscripts available were from about 900 AD (the OT was completed about 1300 years earlier!) The translators developing the KJV had available to them an edited Greek text from the 5th century A.D. They relied upon this and the Latin Vulgate (383 A.D.) to bring to English speaking people a new, dependable translation which the average person could read.
Now, through archeological research, we have discovered OT manuscripts dating from before the time of Christ. We have also discovered manuscripts of the Greek New Testament that are far older than anything previously available. These confirm the accuracy of the texts we already had. Where there are differences, these older manuscripts often help provide greater accuracy in determining a specific word or phrasing. Translations that take full advantage of these ancient manuscripts help bring us closer to the inerrant originals as composed by Moses, Paul, John, Isaiah, etc.
For example, Isaiah 2:22 in the KJV reads:
“Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?”
The NIV reads:
“Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?”
The same passage translated from the “Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa)” discovered in the Qumran caves at the Dead Sea that is nearly a thousand years older than any OT manuscript we had before this discovery reads:
“Stop focusing on mortals, who have only breath in their nostrils – for what are they really worth?”
What a beautiful reminder to trust God for the preservation of His Word as He uses human hands to bring it to new generations of Bible readers!