Reliability of the New Testament

By Luke Lancaster




Is the New Testament historically reliable? Sometimes we might question this, or maybe somebody questions us, and we do not know how to answer the question. Could it be that the New Testament is some fairy tale made up at some point and does not have any historical basis? To answer this, let's look at some background to ancient manuscripts, and at how many manuscripts we have of the New Testament.


Ancient manuscripts were not written on paper or in books like we have today. The invention of the printing press in the 1400's was how paper became mass produced. Until then, however, everything was copied by hand. So, there typically is not too many copies of manuscripts. Manuscripts were also not preserved all that well, either. Consider how they did not have A/C, so humidity could ruin them. The manuscripts were not written on paper, but were written on either papyrus or parchment. Papyrus was a plant, and parchment was sheep skin.


To give an idea of the ancient record of manuscripts, consider the written work "Caesar's wars." It was written in 55 AD, and we have nine copies of it before the printing press. Or consider the Iliad, written by Homer around the 8th century. This is considered the second most copied manuscripts in antiquity. And how many manuscripts do we have? Around one thousand hand-written copies. But what has the most number of manuscripts?


There are 25,000 manuscripts of the New Testament, which are either complete (all 27 books), partial (maybe just the Gospel of Matthew), or fragmentary (maybe just Acts 2:4-38). This makes the New Testament the oldest manuscript of antiquity by a long shot! This would make sense, considering the rich historicity of Christianity.


There is no reason to doubt the historicity of the New Testament. According to history, we have tons and tons of copies. Let's share this information!

© March 19, 2020
St. Peter Institute for Scripture and Evangelization.

1098 Ann Arbor Rd. West PMB 3069,

Plymouth, MI 48170

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