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Historians use bibliographical evidence to confirm the authenticity of the New Testament.

Given any historical document, historians ask:

How do I know if the document that I hold in my hand has the same content as the original?

After all, there were no copy machines or electronic files on computers to ensure that the content remained the same.  All historical documents, not just the Bible, had to be hand-copied because the papyrus and scrolls on which the originals were written simply decayed.


In order to determine whether or not accurate copying was done, historiographers look for the number of ancient copies (manuscripts) we possess.

For example, if we only had one copy in existence, we would have no idea if there were any corruption or errors introduced during the copying process, since the original and any subsequent copies are no longer in existence.
If there were three copies total, we would have a slightly higher level of confidence; however if there were any differences between the copies, we would not have much confidence about which is the more accurate copy of the original.
If there were thirty copies in existence, you can imagine that even if there were differences, one could potentially look at the other copies (especially if some of them are earlier) and arrive at a more accurate approximation of the original.
Because of the sheer number of manuscripts available for comparison, the New Testament documents enjoy an extremely high level of reliability.
Even if we have many copies of a certain historical document, how do we measure the accuracy of these copies? By how long of a time gap there is between the original document and when the first known copy was written. The shorter the time gap, the greater confidence we have in the copy's accuracy.
Check out our “Historian’s Eye Exam” exhibit to see the importance of the time gap.
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What does it all mean? So what if the New Testament today is what the authors wrote back then?
it means the the Bible we have today is an
accurate copy of the original
written by Jesus’ contemporaries, and we can safely dismiss the popular “legendary accumulation” theory, which claims that legendary tales accumulated through hundreds of years of rewriting and copying.
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