Daniel Wallace on the Reliability of the New Testament Documents

“The average classical Greek or Latin writer has less that 20 manuscripts of his works still in existence.  [By contrast,] we have 5,600 manuscripts of the New Testament, (a manuscript being a handwritten copy produced prior to the invention of the printing press)…  The New Testament is far and away the best attested text of the ancient world.”  – Daniel Wallace

Daniel Wallace: Is What We Have Now What They Wrote Then? Part 1 – Biola Chapel  (27:03)

Daniel Wallace: Is What We Have Now What They Wrote Then? Part 2 – Biola Chapel (21:54)

Resources – Reliability of the Scriptures

The following links give scholarly support that the Scriptures we have are what was originally written:

The Gospels:

Craig Blomberg Talks About The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel on the Janet Mefferd Show | Bible Geek Gone Wild

Craig Blomberg provides 59 Confirmed or Historically Probable Facts in the Gospel of John (source: Truthbomb Apologetics)  February 12, 2012

Mike Licona explains the As, Bs, Cs, Ds and Es of New Testament reliability « Wintery Knight (focuses on the four gospels)

Who Wrote the Gospels? by Timothy McGrew, presented January 23, 2012; uploaded February 7, 2012)  (video 1:22:15, power-point presentation with audio of speaker)  (courtesy of Apologetics 315 YouTube channel)

Undesigned Coincidences (evidence for the historicity of the Gospels) from Timothy McGrew (a 9:30 video presentation)

Are the New Testament Gospels Reliable? by Mark D. Roberts  (courtesy of Apologetics 315)

When Were The Gospels Written?  (courtesy of Apologetics 315)

Acts:

84 Confirmed Facts in the Last 16 Chapters of the Book of Acts  (courtesy of Apologetics 315)

Gospels and Acts:

The Gospels and Acts as History by Dr. Timothy McGrew, presented November 7, 2011 for Reasonable Faith Belfast, uploaded December 7, 2011 (video 1:46:12; power-point presentation with audio of speaker).  This presentation repeats some of the information from Who Wrote the Gospels? above by the same author.

New Testament:

Modern Myth: All but 11 verses of the NT could be constructed from the writings of the early church fathers  (courtesy of Apologetics 315)

Has The New Testament Been Substantially Edited Since It Was First Penned?  (courtesy of Apologetics 315)

Ehrman Project (a web site offering scholarly refutation of Bart Ehrman’s views on reliability of the New Testament texts)

Is The Original New Testament Lost? :: A Dialogue with Dr. Bart Ehrman & Dr. Daniel Wallace (a two-hour debate on video)

Daniel Wallace describes his third debate with Bart Ehrman about the reliability of the New Testament in EHRMAN VS WALLACE: ROUND THREE, February 1, 2012; posted February 5, 2012 (courtesy of Parchment & Pen Blog)

Is What We Have Now What They Wrote Then? Audio and Video by Daniel B. Wallace  (courtesy of Apologetics 315)

The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (Dallas, TX; Daniel B. Wallace, Director)

Orality:

“Orality”, “Textuality” and the Material Evidence, January 31, 2012, blog post by Larry W. Hurtado

More Material Evidence on Reading in Roman Antiquity, February, 1, 2012, blog post by Larry W. Hurtado

Last updated February 15, 2012

The New Testament Teaches a Progression from Flesh to Spirit

Beginning with the gospels and continuing throughout all the New Testament books that follow, there is an emphasis away from flesh and toward spirit – that is, away from visible things and toward invisible things, away from physical things and toward spiritual things.

How then do people say that this progression is to be consummated by Jesus Christ coming again in the flesh?

1 Timothy 3:16 says that He who was revealed in the flesh was vindicated in the spirit.  Why then do some people want to rewrite this and say Jesus is to be vindicated in the flesh?

2 Corinthians 5:16 says that though we have known Christ according to the flesh, we know Him thus no longer.  Why then do some people long for what the Bible says is not to be?

Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again and the reason so many people who are otherwise devoted to Him haven’t recognized this is that they’ve never embraced the New Testament’s instruction to forsake the flesh and walk in the spirit.

Six Objections to the Trinity

  1. The Trinity concept contends for attention with the New Testament’s focus on Christ (that is, it obscures God’s mystery, Christ, and replaces it with man’s mystery, the Trinity).
  2. The apostles did not articulate it as it has been articulated by post-apostolic fathers and people today (i.e. it is not explicitly taught in Scripture, that is, not explicitly taught by prophets, apostles or the Lord; and it is an inadequate and unsatisfying explanation of what is taught by them).
  3. There was not a Binity recognized in the Old Testament even though the Father and Holy Spirit had been revealed.  If we should accept a Trinity from the New Testament, there should be a Binity in the Old Testament.
  4. The Trinity concept defies understanding and logic (How can 3=1?); it must simply be accepted without understanding (to say 3 persons in 1 being is dodging the Deuteronomy 6:4 issue with verbal gymnastics).  Scripture may instruct us to accept a stated truth that we cannot understand, but there is no reason for us to infer propositions from it that cannot be understood.
  5. There are no types, patterns, or analogies for it in Scripture (and perhaps elsewhere either) even though God commonly gives types, patterns, and analogies for those things He wants us to learn.
  6. The Trinity concept is an impractical way to relate to a God who wants us to trust, love, and obey Him (i.e. when you’re praying do you pray to your Father or your Lord; or do you just pray to the two of them knowing they will say the same thing, and if they’ll say the same thing, why do you need two of them – why doesn’t one of them do something else while you are praying?)

To learn more about Christ versus the Trinity, see:

There Is No Trinity; There Is Christ

Posts to Date on the Trinity Versus Christ


Why I Love the NASB

I love the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and believe it is the most useful of all English translations of the Bible.  Here are my reasons:

1. It is the most literal of all English translations.  For a native-English-speaker who is not fluent in Greek or Hebrew, the NASB is as close as I will ever get to what the prophets and apostles originally wrote.

2. Because of its faithfulness to the what the prophets and apostles originally wrote, the NASB makes an exhaustive concordance (e.g. Strong’s) most effective.  That is, it is much easier to do study specific words with the NASB, allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture.

3. Most editions of the NASB include a cross-reference apparatus which correlates a given verse with other similar verses, many of which a concordance word study wouldn’t necessarily catch.

4. Those who created the NASB translation were convinced that the Scriptures are the word of God.  While many Bible translators have this conviction, the breadth and depth of this belief among the NASB translation committee is noteworthy.  I believe it drove them to literalness and discouraged undocumented emendations to an unparalleled degree.

The only improvement I could see to make to the NASB would be to have its Old Testament based on the Septuagint text (i.e. Greek) rather than on the Masoretic text (i.e. Hebrew).  This is because, of course, the New Testament when quoting the Old Testament seems to be referring much more often to Greek than to Hebrew renderings of the Old Testament text.

There are other literal English translations of the Bible (e.g. the King James Version, the English Standard Version, the New King James Version), and they are all useful.  There are also good translations of the Bible which are less literal (e.g. the New International Version, the Good News Bible, the Living Bible), and they, too, have their appropriate uses.  And there are certainly other worthwhile English translations which I have not mentioned specifically here.  My favorite of all English Bible translations, however, remains the NASB – for the reasons I have given.

“One of Us” – Pop Music

Joan Osborne popularized “One of Us” in the mid-1990’s.  What causes a song like this to make its way into the mainstream of music listening?  Such references to God are not commonplace in popular music, yet we do see other occasional examples (“Jesus Is Just Alright,” “Put Your Hand in the Hand,” and “Oh, Happy Day,” all from the 1960’s-1970’s).  I can’t explain why this happens – but I love it when it does.

This clip includes the lyrics below the video when you view it on the YouTube site.  The lyrics ask rhetorical questions to make the listener think.  Ironically, however, practically all the questions are answered fully in the New Testament wherein God was one of us – namely, Jesus.  Thus, the “What if God was one of us?” question is not rhetorical at all.

And, lest we forget, Jesus said, “As much as you have [helped or ignored] the least of these My brethren, you have [helped or ignored] Me.”  (Matthew 25:31-46)  Therefore, it behooves us to always act as if God was among us.  He is.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZEO1Lug25s]

Were All the New Testament Documents Written by 70 AD?

John A.T. Robinson was an Anglican clergyman and New Testament scholar who, much to his own surprise, ultimately concluded that all 27 documents that comprise the New Testament were written between 30 and 70 AD.  His assumption before engaging in the research was that the documents were produced much later than that, and this late dating was indeed commonplace in the liberal circles in which he moved.

For Robinson the telltale evidence was that none of the New Testament documents make reference to the destruction of Jerusalem’s temple in the past tense.  They only prophesy it.

Robinson wrote an account of his research and conclusions in 1976 titled Redating the New Testament.  Amazon reviews of the book can be found here.

Conservative New Testament scholars generally support earlier dating for the New Testament books while liberal scholars generally date them later.  Robinson’s view is significant because it was not one he was predisposed to hold.  In fact, he launched his study as a “joke,” expecting to show the silliness of early dating.

Why Should You Believe Anything?

James W. Sire gives this 50-minute Veritas Forum lecture, “Why Should Anyone Believe Anything At All?”  He’s addressing college students and begins by pointing out that everyone “believes” things – beginning with the time showing on our watches.

He takes pains to distinguish between causes of belief and reasons for belief.  Perhaps his most significant point is that people want – and should want – to believe what is true (i.e. what is real).  He then goes on to give three tests for truth:

1. Consistency (Logic)
2. Coherence
3. Completeness

He then offers Jesus, and the New Testament documents which present Him, as being a consistent, coherent, and complete explanation of life as we know it – though he doesn’t actually make the case in this lecture.  (It was the introductory lecture to a series.)

Sire is stronger in the beginning when he is explaining how we variously arrive at our answers about life than he is at the end when he is apologizing for the shortcomings of the church.  He would have ended much stronger if he had argued for the kingdom of God instead of church (see Seeking the Kingdom of God Instead of Church.)

I wouldn’t recommend this clip to everyone.  It’s long and its payoffs are sporadic.  Nevertheless, it lays a reasonable foundation for someone who is thinking about examining the claims for Jesus Christ in an intellectually honest way.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7RovP2Z-C8&feature=feedf]