Can anyone answer this ?

Hi I was wondering if we only have a portion of the orginal manuscript for the gospels then how did we get the rest of it and how is it accurate - I know the bible is true btw I’m just wondering

Thanks :slight_smile:

Copies were created through the centuries. Don’t over focus on the Bible, though.

It’s helpful to keep a 10,000 ft. view of the whole of Divine Revelation. (A good, relatively short read would be to read the Church’s Constitution on Divine Revelation - Dei Verbum. It’s only about six chapters, I think, and explains the Church’s viewpoint of Divine Revelation. It’s not just the Bible.

When Jesus walked the earth, He never wrote a book. Nor did He tell anyone else to write a book. He taught orally. They called Him “Rabbi,” which means teacher. He selected 12 Apostles and taught them for the better part of three years…orally. He promised to send the Holy Spirit to lead this Church into all truth and to remain with this Church till the end of time.

So, it wasn’t a book that Jesus left us to learn His truths. It was the Church. The Catholic Church (since there was no other for the first 1000 years of Christianity). The Apostles taught Jesus’ truth orally at first. This oral teaching is called Sacred Tradition (the word “Tradition” here is not to be confused with our word for “tradition,” meaning mere customs.). Eventually, the Apostles started dying off and SOME of what was being taught orally was written down. (Not ALL, but SOME. See John 21:25.) Those writings eventually found their way into the New Testament in the fourth century. Before then, most teaching was oral because the vast majority of people, worldwide, could neither read nor write. (It’s only been since the late 1800’s/early 1900’s, that mankind as been interested in universal literacy .) When the Pope and the Magesterium (the bishops in union with the Pope) met at the Councils of Hippo (393 A.D.) and Carthage (397 A.D.) to decide which books were divinely inspired and which were not, they had over 300 books and letters that were considered worthy of consideration. Of these, only 27 made the cut into the New Testament.

The Old Testament was another story. The Catholic Old Testament differs from the Protestant Old Testament. Why? Because before Christ, the Jews mostly wrote Scripture in Hebrew. But Egypt, the bread basket of the Mediterranean area, had a very large contingent of Jews who were engaged in commerce, etc. They spoke the common language of the Mediterranean, Greek, and requested a Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures. So, one was translated. The Greek version was called the septuagent. Approximately 80% of the direct and indirect references to the Old Testament in the New Testament came from the Septuagent version, not the Hebrew version. So, that’s what was used from the beginning for Christians. The Jews, in the late 1st, early 2nd century, decided that they needed a canon for their Scriptures, so they had a council and made one. One of the criteria was that only Sciptures written in Hebrew, written on Hebrew soil, would be used. This would get rid of some of the books of the Septuagent, which the early Christians were using to convert Jews to Christianity (which didn’t sit to well with them). When Martin Luther came along in the early 1500’s, he replaced the Septuagent version with the Hebrew version. One of the reasons is that 2 Macc. 12:46 supported the doctrine of Purgatory, with which he disagreed.

Sure I can answer this…

I don’t know…:shrug:

Didn’t say my answer would be helpful…:smiley:

Seriously - My understanding is that we have very early “complete” copies and it is from these, along with the Oral tradition and authority of the Church that we derive our confidence in Scripture as we have received it.

I’m sure others will flesh this out…


No original gospel manuscripts exist. We have several whole or partial manuscripts in different languages from as early as about the third century, and fragments of several dating from the second century and possibly even the late first century.

What is most striking is the consistency of the language in each when translated. The early church kept very careful stewardship of the words of Christ.

We don’t have original copies of Homer’s “The Odyssey” or Plato’s “Republic” either. They didn’t have archival quality paper back then. :stuck_out_tongue:

People made copies of the originals. And then copies of those copies. And copies of the copies of the copies.

But when you look at several copies from several places, you see that there are remarkably few discrepancies. People had better memories back then. :slight_smile:

We have many more and much older copies of Scripture than any other ancient document. And yet you don’t have people questioning the accuracy of Virgil. :wink:

Thanks for all your comment yes I know what your saying and I get it but becuase we only have portions of the early writings a manuscripts where did the other half come from how did we know the rest if only half was there and accuracy would there have been other Christians to say no this is wrong if it had been corrupt or wrote down wrong and other manuscripts to go by so there more than one to check it against ?

Consider this by moving forward instead of backwards. Let’s just take one Gospel - Luke - as an example.
So St Luke writes down his account for the benefit of Theophilus (and all who have followed). Theophilus reads this account and determines that others would benefit from it so he hires scribes to copy it. Now these are not just any ole person who can write. These are men trained in copying. They are the “zerox” of their day, charged with being accurate, and correct in all detail - making no changes. So they set out to make copies of Luke’s Gospel. These are then distributed.
Then someone who received a “First edition” copy, likewise determines to make some copies and again, hires scribes to do the work. Remember - at this time the original is still in existence and if there IS an error noted in one of the copies, the original can be consulted.
So now - we have multiple copies - 20, 50, 100? - all extremely accurate to the original in every detail.
This goes on over time…But also over time, the original is lost, through fire, flood or some other means. Yet there remain copies that had been made and checked against that original.
But the copying continues on and the same careful attention to detail continues as well. After all, the ability of a scribe to earn a living depends on his accuracy.

And so - down through the centuries, even though the original was lost the copies continue to be accurate.

Get the idea?


Oh thankyou I get it now :slight_smile: one other question though wouldn’t the other religions like Islam say the same thing about there’s ?

Having an original copy doesn’t mean it’s right. It just means they have the original.

Islam makes no claim. Interestingly enough, back in the day, the Arabs weren’t really that much into writing. If they didn’t have paper, they were perfectly happy writing on a plant leaf, a piece of wood, a brick, the shoulder bone of a camel (which part of the Koran was originally written on!), etc. When Mohammed dictated the Koran, it was written on all sorts of pieces of material (wood, leaves, camel’s shoulder bone, etc.), and put into a chest. Only after he died, did they decide to try to put all these things into one book. While doing so, some farm animals wandered over and ate some of them. LOL Also, there’s no particular order. They just took 'em out of the chest, one by one, and processed them. There is a principle in use when it comes to the Koran, that if one verse contradicts another (and there are some), then the latter verse supersedes the earlier verse. A case in point is Surah 2, that says basically, everyone should get along, regardless of religion. Surah 9 says to slay the unbeliever (non-Muslim) wherever he is found. Surah 9 cancels out Surah 2.

Bottom line, though, is it comes down to faith. Faith is believing something we cannot prove absolutely. But it doesn’t mean blind faith. We need to have reasons why we believe. And we Catholics believe we have excellent reasons. :slight_smile:

Having accurate copies of the originals is a separate question from whether or not the content of the document is true. I could make up a bunch of stuff and commission thousands of copies to be made that accurately reiterate every detail of my original. But the content would still be made up.

you may read all about it in this article.

I remember hearing Dr. Michael Barber say on his cd set “Understanding The Dead Sea Scrolls” that when they discovered the scrolls that they also found a copy of the book of Isaiah that pre-dated Christ, and when they translated it that it was almost completely the same text we have today of Isaiah. He also stated that the mistakes were minor like misspelling of words, and that the errors were primarily done by the person who copied Isaiah at Qumran where the scrolls were found. Also the Bible is to most copied ancient text ever, and people over the centuries took copying the Bible seriously and where painstakingly cautious to preserve the text.

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