How do you feel about this article? Do you believe that the New Testament we have in our Bibles are similar to the originals?


This is an easy question. Yes, I believe that the best Greek manuscript we have today is virtually an exact copy of the original documents. I have a great deal of material to back up this claim. How exact? Well, that depends on how you measure. In terms of number of words about which there is a reasonable doubt, 98+% minimum. In terms of important doctrines and theology, I would say there is no significant doubt. If you are interested, why not come to our class on this exact topic next weekend in San Diego. I see you are at UC Riverside. There are at least two coming down from Riverside for our class. Please come. It will be from 8:30-3:00 Sept 10 and Sept 17. More info is at the front page of my web site.

Muslims have VERY good reason to try to undermine the reliability of the New Testament text. I have found their treatment of this subject generally to be very sloppy and biased. The reason they do this is that if the New Testament is an accurate record of the original inspired writings, then it is impossible to be a Muslim. The Qu’ran calls the Old and New Testament scripture. It also says that Jesus was not crucified and that Jesus is not the Son of God. Well, they cannot have it both ways. The only way to save the Qu’ran is to claim the New Testament was corrupted (the same applies to the Old Testament as well). The problem with this is that the evidence simply is not there. Muslim apologists try to make ludicrous claims that Constantine changed the New Testament or that the original Bible writers never claimed that Jesus was God. These charges do not stand up to even the most shallow level of criticism.

I have looked at the web site you reference below. I will have to say that this gentleman is considerably less "sloppy" than the typical Muslim apologist, and I feel he deserves credit for this. However, you need to take all this with a big grain of salt. Who is this person? (a Muslim) What is his agenda? (to undermine belief in the New Testament at any cost) How does he weigh his evidence? (so as to maximize doubt in any way he possibly can, legitimate or not) His main sources are non-believers with a similar stake, not in arriving at a reasonable conclusion, but at discrediting the New Testament. For example he will count the number of possible errors, most of which are a single word, count each of these as a verse, then count the percent of the New Testament which has possible errors using this formula (what percent of the verses are in at least some doubt?). If the average sentence has 15 words, and the great majority of possible Bible errors are spelling of a word, a change of a single preposition, the loss or gain of a single word, then this method of calculation exaggerates the size of the supposed errors in the Bible by much more than 1000%. Now his 30% or so of doubtful text is back down to about 2%.  He makes the illogical conclusion that the more evidence we have, the more in doubt the original text is. Time and time again he commits the logical fallacy of the false dilemma (throwing any doubt on a whole area of evidence means the entire area of evidence is invalid and useless, for example).  His methodology is saturated with straw man arguments, lumping all "apologists and missionaries" together.  He does point out some biased Christian apologetical conclusions, which is legitimate, but he fails to evaluate his own methods, which are more biased than nearly all those he criticizes.

I have studied this subject for years, read many books by the most skeptical critics of the Bible, studies the manuscripts, looked a dozens of specific examples. My conclusion is that we have a nearly perfect New Testament. For virtually all the variants, the differences are either extremely minor or the most likely original can be established with great certainty. For the roughly 60 or so passages about which there is some sort of significant doubt, even most of these are still relatively small differences in terms of their impact on the meaning of the passages in question. I believe that there is no significant important Christian doctrine which is brought into doubt by any of these questions about which there is a significant doubt. Again, to establish this conclusion would require a very long discussion, so I suggest you come to our class next week!

This brings me back to the Muslim apologist writing this extremely biased paper. What is his purpose? It is quite obvious if you read the Muslim apologists. Their entire purpose in this venture is not to establish the truth. This is abundantly clear. The ONLY reason they study this subject is so that they can cast as much doubt on the reliability of the New and Old Testament as possible. Why? Because the Qu’ran declares the writings of the Old Testament and the New Testament to be inspired prophecies and because there are unmistakeable contradictions with the Qu’ran. The ONLY way for Islam to be saved in this intolerable situation is to try to undermine the reliability of our received text.

Here is where their efforts fall completely flat. The contradictions between the New Testament and the Qu’ran are in areas that even the most radical critic of the text cannot claim the New Testament is in doubt about. Here is why. The Qu’ran states unequivocably that Jesus was not crucified. Does any supposed textual change put into doubt that the original New Testament writings had Jesus being crucified? The Qu’ran also is quite clear that Jesus was not God. Do these supposed big New Testament manuscript changes bring into doubt whether the New Testament writers believed Jesus was divine? Obviously not. There are other problems with the Qu’ran. It has John the Baptist’s father’s period of being mute to be three days rather than nine months. This clearly cannot be justified. Is the passage in Luke on this topic subject to a manuscript error? Of course not! The efforts of this man amount to a red herring. Unless he can make the blatant errors of fact in the Qu’ran, if compared to the New Testament’s depiction of Jesus, go away, then why are we even talking about this? The purpose of this man is to find a way to simply ignore the New Testament, and to claim that the Qu’ran got Jesus right and that the New Testament does as well, except that it was changed later. This thesis absolutely CANNOT be sustained by even the most radical interpretation of the evidence. Therefore, his argument is in vain, in my opinion.

John Oakes 

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