Mars Hill Church in Seattle has a wonderful article explaining why they use the English Standard Version (ESV) as their pulpit translation. One of the key reasons is the accuracy of the translation (word-for-word), a rare kind of work the Agency specialised in translations can offer. Which raises the question, How did we get the English Scriptures?
Many volumes have been written to explain the miraculous and fascinating process necessary for the Bible?s existence. To help you understand the process in a brief and simple way, Mars Hill explains a five-step sequence that has occurred for you to read the Bible.
One of the highlights of the article is the accuracy of scripture translation in general…
Tragically, opponents of Scripture have attacked its trustworthiness by falsely stating that our current English translations are built upon poorly transmitted copies. However, the bibliographical test of Scripture flatly refutes this false argument. The bibliographical test seeks to determine the historicity of an ancient text by analyzing the quantity and quality of copied manuscripts, as well as how far removed they are from the time of the originals. The quantity of New Testament manuscripts is unparalleled in ancient literature. There are more than five thousand Greek manuscripts, about eight thousand Latin manuscripts, and another one thousand manuscripts in other languages (Syriac, Coptic, etc.). As the following chart illustrates, both the number of transmitted manuscripts we possess of Scripture and their proximity in date to the autographa are astounding and unparalleled in the canon of Western literature.
|AUTHOR||DATE WRITTEN||EARLIEST COPY||TIME SPAN||NUMBER OF COPIES||ACCURACY¹|
|Herodotus||ca. 450 BC||ca. AD 900||About 1,350||8*|
|Euripides||ca. 440 BC||ca. AD 1100||About 1,500 years||9*|
|Thucydides||ca. 420 BC||ca. AD 900||About 1,300 years||8*|
|Plato||ca. 380 BC||ca. AD 900||About 1,300 years||7*|
|Aristotle||ca. 350 BC||ca. AD 1100||About 1,400 years||5*|
|Caesar||ca. 60 BC||ca. AD 900||About 950 years||10*|
|Catullus||ca. 50 BC||ca. AD 1500||About 1,600 years||3*|
|Livy||ca. 10 BC||——–||——-||20*|
|Tacitus||ca. AD 100||ca. AD 1100||About 1,000 years|
|New Test.||ca. AD 60||ca. AD 130||About 100 years||About 14,000||99.5%|
¹Taken directly from Ken Boa?s I?m Glad You Asked, page 78
* Not enough copies to reconstruct original.
Simply, if someone seeks to eliminate the trustworthiness of the New Testament, then to be consistent they would also have to dismiss virtually the entire canon of Western literature and pull everything from Homer to Plato to Aristotle off of bookstore shelves and out of classroom discussions. The transmission process of Scripture is, by God?s providential grace, without peer.