Essential Theology – Lesson 10

Continuing with the Doctrine of Scriptures, Pastor Scott Craig illuminates more on the Canonization of the Bible.

» How do we KNOW the Bible we have today IS the same as the scriptures of origin? = The Masoretes (traditionalists) between A.D. 600 and 950 added accents and vowel points and standardized the Hebrew text. They also devised complicated safeguards for the making of copies: They checked each copy carefully by counting the middle letter of pages, books, and sections.

» Targums are early translations of the Hebrew Bible into Aramaic. They cover the entire Hebrew Bible except Ezra–Nehemiah (probably originally one book) and Daniel, portions of which are already in Aramaic; some of the books of the Bible have several different Targums. The Targums also demonstrate the diversity of ancient Judaism, sometimes disagreeing with each other, sometimes differing in interpretation from material found in the Mishnah or the Talmuds. Some of the Targums, particularly Onqelos on the Torah and Jonathan on the Prophets, are still used extensively in Orthodox Judaism today.

» How we KNOW the Bible, an ancient text, is “real”.
= Besides the fact that the “Talmud” has be kept for generations since its origin; more than 5,000 manuscripts of the New Testament exist today, which makes the New Testament the best-attested document in all ancient writings. The contrast is quite startling.
== Caesar’s Gallic War (composed between 58 and 50 B.C.) there are several existing copies, but only nine or ten are good, and the oldest is 900 years later than Caesar’s day.
== Of the fourteen books of The Histories of Tacitus (c. A.D. 100) only four and a half survive; of the sixteen books of his Annals, ten survive in full, and two in part. The text of these extant portions of his two great historical works depends entirely on two MSS, one of the ninth century and one of the eleventh.
== There are approximately seventy-five papyri fragments that date from A.D. 135 to the eighth century and cover parts of twenty-five of the twenty-seven N.T. books and about 40 percent of the text.
== there are 2,000 lectionaries (church service books containing many Scripture portions), more than 86,000 quotations of the New Testament in the church Fathers, old Latin, Syriac, and Egyptian translations dating from the third century, and Jerome’s Latin translation. = All of this data plus all of the scholarly work that has been done with it assure us that we possess today an accurate and reliable text of the New Testament.

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Israel Antiquities Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library