What are the implications of additions/variations in Manuscripts?

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Nahum

Puritan Board Freshman
I have noticed while reading my Bible (ESV) that there are several passages that have either brackets or footnotes that explain that some manuscripts don't have certain passages. I have seen several skeptics argue that this means the New Testament isn't reliable, and I've also seen some Muslims claim this means that the Bible has been corrupted. I honestly have no idea how to reply to all of these things. What are the implications of these additions? Does it mean these passages are uninspired? What are the implications of this? How can one answer when someone like a Muslim uses these additions/variations to claim that since some uninspired passages made it to our Bibles then the Bible can't really be trusted and it isn't the word of God?
 

John Yap

Puritan Board Sophomore
"The variants in the NT are similar to those found in the DSS. Our Lord and his apostles confronted OT variants qualitatively similar to the ones that confront us, yet they did not hesitate to rely on the authority of Scripture. These difference did not prevent Jesus from saying that Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35), nor Paul from confessing that “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Tim 3:16). Why should the contemporary church, which is built upon Christ and his apostles, hesitate any more than they to confess the reliability and inspiration of Scripture?" Bruce Waltke
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
Don't worry about them. The Puritans and Reformers didn't. They recognized that God had preserved his word, and if we have multiple readings of this or that passage (which are remarkably few actually), it really doesn't change any meaning of Scripture, no doctrine.
 

Nahum

Puritan Board Freshman
"The variants in the NT are similar to those found in the DSS. Our Lord and his apostles confronted OT variants qualitatively similar to the ones that confront us, yet they did not hesitate to rely on the authority of Scripture. These difference did not prevent Jesus from saying that Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35), nor Paul from confessing that “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Tim 3:16). Why should the contemporary church, which is built upon Christ and his apostles, hesitate any more than they to confess the reliability and inspiration of Scripture?" Bruce Waltke
Interesting point, I hadn't thought about the issue in the light of what the apostles themselves had to confront with textual variations in the OT. I'm assuming DSS here stands for Dead Sea Scrolls, correct?
 

reformed grit

Puritan Board Freshman
For what it's worth, if it's a matter of comparison there actually are a number of variants in the Muslim Qur'an as well. Also not usually affecting an accurate transmission of the text.
 

John Yap

Puritan Board Sophomore
Interesting point, I hadn't thought about the issue in the light of what the apostles themselves had to confront with textual variations in the OT. I'm assuming DSS here stands for Dead Sea Scrolls, correct?
Yes. in Jesus time there were different transmission streams as well as the Greek Translation.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Hello @Nahum ,

Welcome to PB! This is a significant topic often discussed / debated here. Obviously when there are variations in readings both cannot be right, i.e., authentic. For an intro to the subject you may look into a number of posts and threads of mine here: Textual Posts (which appears in my signature / bottom of my posts). I take the view that God has preserved His word in a particular manner; others have different views. You will have to weigh them and decide for yourself which is true.
 

Nahum

Puritan Board Freshman
Hello @Nahum ,

Welcome to PB! This is a significant topic often discussed / debated here. Obviously when there are variations in readings both cannot be right, i.e., authentic. For an intro to the subject you may look into a number of posts and threads of mine here: Textual Posts (which appears in my signature / bottom of my posts). I take the view that God has preserved His word in a particular manner; others have different views. You will have to weigh them and decide for yourself which is true.
Thank you! I will check out your posts.
 

reformed grit

Puritan Board Freshman
Just a few things to keep in mind, which you may already know:
1) One usually encounters Muslims as challenging Bible users on the reliability issue. It's one reason various Christian groups and sects have certain original language and translation preferences, why Mormons are largely KJV Only, why JWs have their own erroneous translation, and why textual critics and translators still keep working toward an ideal original.
2) Muslims by-and-large have blinders on, as do a great many sceptics. Most Muslims view the Qu'ran as only authoritative in original Arabic, and believe it to be perfectly preserved (even though there are original-language variants of which they're often unaware). They have a spirit of deception upon them and cannot truly see apart from the Holy Spirit. They cannot be argued into God's kingdom. Though a Christian ought to have a ready defence, it will never by itself be a convincing defence.
3) As has been stated, various Christians (& PBers here assembled) have various views on what "full plenary verbal inspiration" of Holy Scripture entails. Most limit such to only the original Scripture manuscripts as directly communicated through God. There are a minority who may carry this through to an original language tradition or even English translation. There is virtually no one who would argue that Holy Scripture can be properly communicated and transmitted apart from the person and indwelling work of the Holy Spirit.
4) Christians, while personally indwelt by the Holy Spirit, have an imperfect recognition of a perfect revelation. Holy Scripture is itself perfect, but not our recognition of it. We REQUIRE the help of the Holy Spirit. Something quite beyond a Muslim or sceptic valuation. It's as different as a Saul on the Damascus road, prior to and then after a personal encounter with the resurrected Jesus. Various groups of folk under a Christian banner have whole book additions to what the Reformed or Protestant accept per our recognition. Even the original Geneva Bible of the continental Reformed & the original KJV gave inclusion and some recognition to extra books included in the Roman Catholic Bible of the time. Protestants largely came to view these as unworthy to be included with Holy Writ.
 
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