Can our rabid skeptic get any worse? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
It’s been awhile since we’ve continued these series as other pressing issues came up, but now it’s time to return to look at the great red flag that our skeptic, who does not deserve to be named, has brought forward.
“6)…100% FACT: we have nothing close to an original of any gospel book (besides a single fragment from the 1st century and a dozen or so from the 2nd century one has to around 200 AD before we get any real readings from the gospels) …RED FLAG!!!!”
We eagerly await to find how this standard will be met in other works of ancient history. Do we have an original of Tacitus? Not at all. In fact, we know from what we have that some of the material that Tacitus wrote is missing, yet what we have is seen as accurate. Those who have seen the charts on the NT in comparison to other ancient works know that the NT stands out above the others.
For the NT, we have more copies of the manuscripts than we do any other work. We have more copies in more languages. We have more copies in more languages closer to the time that they were written than we do any other ancient work. In fact, the textual evidence we have for the NT is best described as “an embarrassment of riches.”
Of course, this does not mean anything per se about the content of the NT. That a work has been handed down accurately does not mean that the content of that work is thereby true. Unfortunately, I have seen several who have made this claim, but I have not seen anyone who is an apologist making this sort of argument. It is a straw man that is put forward by skeptics.
If our critic wishes to make much of this kind of claim, then we need to see why it is that he can accept the accounts of Plutarch, Tacitus, Polybius, or any other ancient work as being handed down accurately when we do not have the evidence that we do for the NT with them.
Our critic could also bear to read some works on textual criticism. In fact, even those who are already Christians should read some works on textual criticism. Of course, for the skeptical side, there is Bart Ehrman and anyone who is wanting to get to read both sides should read Ehrman, but there should be other works that are read.
For instance, one could read “A Student’s Guide To Textual Criticism of the Bible” by Paul Wegner. In fact, if I could just recommend one book on the topic, this would be it. Other works include those by Metzger on textual criticism and The Reliability of the New Testament edited by Stewart which features a debate between Bart Ehrman and Daniel Wallace, who is one of the leading if not THE leading conservative NT textual critic today.
We also recommend the work of JPH on this same objection here.