So I heard the most amazing fact from this week’s podcast on Stand to Reason. Dr.Dan Wallace from the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts was speaking about 7 newly found New Testament papyri manuscripts that date to the 1st and 2nd Century A.D. Now this is an astounding discovery because of the fact that the more manuscripts we have the better. What this allows for is even more evidential support of the documents of our faith. At least one of these manuscripts is said to date to probably the 1st Century A.D. which would place it less than 100 years from the original writings.
If this doesn’t seem impressive or interesting to you, let’s consider some historical facts concerning other writings of antiquity. Caesar (Gallic Wars) was written around 100-44 B.C. and the earliest found manuscript of that work has a 1,000 year gap between them and only 10 copies in existence. Homer’s Illiad written around 800 B.C. has an earliest manuscript dating of 900 A.D. which accounts to a 1800 year gap.
Any work of Plato’s from around 400 B.C. has a 1300 year gap between the writing and the earliest known manuscript with only 7 in existence.
So what does all this mean? Well, our New Testament composed between 50-95 A.D. has its earliest fragment in 110 A.D. with only a 10-30 year gap. And, oh yeah, there are a total of over 5,752 manuscript copies. The more manuscripts we have the better the translation.
Dr. Wallace uses this to illustrate the truth. If you were to stack the copies of all the manuscripts of classical Greek authors, they would total 4ft. high. Do the same with the manuscripts of the Bible, and they would total over one mile high stacked. Get the picture. And you have to remember that these manuscripts were preserved even under the persecution of Roman emperors such as Trajan and those that followed. Under some of these emperors, the Scripture manuscripts found were destroyed or burned.
The big picture takeaway from all of this is that if anyone wants to try and discredit the Bible because of lack of evidence, they will certainly have to do the same with all of our ancient writings and we would be left with nothing of historical value. Our writings of the Christian faith have more evidential weight behind them than any other writings in all of history. And as was shown at the beginning of this article, new copies of the biblical manuscripts are still being found. That evidence just keeps on rising and so does our mile high stack of historical proof! God saw to it that His Word was preserved. If others try to question historical reliability, they have a lot of explaining to do. Let this encourage your faith!