The Reliability of the New Testament Text

Dr White places great emphasis on the need of Christians to know these things about the bible and why we believe it to be true, because the attacks on the bible come thick and fast these days, so always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you 1 Peter 3:15 and do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth 2 Timothy 2:15.


An introduction to the history of the text of the New Testament.

6 minutes Naturalistic Materialism rules the day with Christianity relegated to being a myth.

7.20 Talks about Bart Ehrman (An apostate)

8.45 Shows footage of Ehrman putting forth his case that we don’t have the original manuscripts and that the scripture was written by scribes, further suggesting that all we have are copies of copies of copies from hundreds of years after the originals.

11.45 Talks about the claim that Constantine made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire when in fact in 313AD he made Christianity a Religio Licita – translated as “approved religion”, but that this did not take place until 383AD under Theodosius (Roman Emperor from 379 to 395.)

13.00 How Many variants are there? 1600 years of handwritten text of the New Testament. Critics claim there are 400,000 variants. There are only 138,162 words in the New Testament, so that works out to be 3 variants per word.

17.00 99% of all variants do not impact the text.

17.50 Talks about the moveable new in the Greek language, which is similar to ‘a’ and ‘an’ in English. Many of the variants in the NT have to do with things like moveable news. 99% of all variants do not impact the meaning of the text. Variants in spelling and word order make up the vast bulk of the variants. Therefore, 1% of 400,000 = 4000 meaningful textual variants out of 138,162 words = 2.9% or one meaningful variant every three pages. But only half of these are viable, hence there are 1500-2000 viable meaningful NT textual variants.

18.45 What does viable mean?

20:50 The more manuscripts the more textual variants there are. There are 5,700+ catalogued manuscripts of the New Testament books, the average is 200 pages long.

21.40 That is not 5,700 complete manuscripts. The average of the pages recorded of the 5,700 manuscripts is about 200 pages long which total 1.3 millions pages of hand written texts. So, 1500-2000 meaningful and viable variants spanning approximately 1500 years (prior to the invention of printing) is an amazingly accurate history of the transmission.

23.50 shows some examples of variants from actual text

24.40 The book in the NT with the fewest number of manuscripts (Revelation)

25.38 The purest textual transmission (Hebrews)

26.20 Talks about why there are variants (scribal errors) he gets to the gist of this at 29.38

32.10 Explains Homoeoteleuton (Similar endings)

33.35 Explains what uncial text is (All capital forms, no spacing, no punctuation)

33.35 The majority of the 5,700+ Greek manuscripts date from after 1000AD comprising the majority text. The earlier texts are called Papyri texts, written in Uncial or Majuscule text.

37.40 Talks about Papyrus 52 or just P52

41.40 Talks about P115

42.35 He reveals the real number of the beast from P115 and its not 666

44:40 Talks about P72

46.00 Illustrates the Granville Sharp Construction (further explanation here –

47.45 P75 and P66

49.05 P46 – The earliest collection of Paul’s writings

54.25 P91 – The book of Acts

55.53 The Codex Sinaiticus More information can be found here –

57.40 Talks about Muslims and John 14 and 16. Muslims claim that Muhammad was found in the bible! He debunks this totally.

57.20 Aside from the 5,700+ Greek texts, we have early translations into Latin, Coptic, Sahidic etc, that are important witness’s to the early texts of the NT. Combining these with the Greek texts yields over 20,000 hand written witnesses. We have more than 124 Greek Manuscript witnesses within the first 300 years after the writing of the NT. Far more than any other work of antiquity (any period before the Middle Ages (476–1453). In fact we have 12 manuscripts from the second century – within 100 years of the writing of the NT. These manuscripts contain portions of all four gospels, 9 books of Paul, Acts, Hebrews and Revelation comprising a majority of the books of the NT we possess today. No work of antiquity even comes close to this early attestation.

The average length of time between the writings of most works contemporaneous with the NT, such as the historical works of Pliny, Suetonious or Tacitus and their first extant copies is between 500 and 900 years. At 1.00:40 (He shows footage of himself putting this fact to Bart Ehrman and his response to this).

1:03.00 Illustrates the phone game and asks is this an accurate way of thinking about how this is how the NT was transmitted over time?

1:08.30 Explains how we’ve always had the same NT and how it has contrasted with the Quran in terms of its transmission.

1:14.20 Talks about textual variants

1:15.00 Gives a key theological example of textual variants from 1 Timothy 3:16 comparing the KJV with NAS.

1:17.55 The difference between the word ‘God’ and ‘he who’ in the uncial text

1:20.00 The Comma Johanneum (Explains what it is)

1:26.50 1 John 5:7 does not belong in the NT

1:27.43 Summarizes the lecture to 4 key points

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