The original language. Multiple early sources can be compared for accuracy. For instance if you sent out a letter and this letter was hand copied by multiple people, even if you lost the original the copies could be compared with each other and if they match than you can be reasonably assured of their accuracy to the original. However, If they differed widely from each other than you would have reason for concern. Of course they didn’t have zerox machine back then.
There are more copies of the ancient Biblical texts in existence than any other ancient writing. The accuracy of our current texts is based on comparing the ancient texts to each other. They look for variants. So let’s say you have 500 copies of a certain text from the Bible. 499 of them read a sentence one way, and 1 text reads it differently. Odds are for the 499 texts being the accurate version. They compare the text of the Bible line by line that way. Because of that, odds are extremely good that our current version of the Bible is highly true to the original texts.
Generally speaking, yes, but there are certain cases where the reading attested in fewer manuscripts may be judged to have a chance of being more original than the one attested in the majority of manuscripts due to certain factors, one of which is the so-called lectio difficilior (the difficult, unharmonized reading is more likely to be authentic than the more consistent, harmonized reading).
And that is an assumption that under-girds our trust in Scripture. We trust that generations of men copied them correctly.
I love it when people make fun of Sacred Tradition dismissing it by calling it the “telephone game” - when Scripture underwent the same process throughout the generations but they’re not calling it the “telephone game.” I see that as a double standard.
I understand exactly what Bob is saying. It was very similar to a telephone game. The “copyists” were not perfect. Otherwise, we wouldn’t need to harmonize the many “versions” of the Bible. From one generation to the next, “copyist error” crept in.
The point is that God protected His Word in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture from error throughout the ages. We trust God to protect His Word through His Church.
Yes it is true the original Greek text is gone but fortunately we still have the translations from what was called the “common text.” In other words, we can go to the (Greek) common text to source any passage in question found in English. This common text was multiplied thousands in the 1st. and 2nd and 3rd. Century. These manuscripts were reliable and consistent with each other and surely plentiful in their time. Unfortunately today we get into trouble only because translators no longer use the common text but a discarded text. Why? Because these are legible and plentiful. But the discarded text do not have the consistency or reliability of the common text. Modern translations all use them and it has proven to be a disaster in terms of doctrine, this is why they were discarded in the first place. We don’t need to look at a copy of a copy of a copy. We can reach back to the common text translated into our native tongue with a sense of confidence that the translation is workable and accurate. There are certain passages that may prove to be difficult because of the English translation, but overall it can prove to be solid. The Geneva bible, a translation into English is older than the King James and used by the founders of our country, does not have some of the linguistic prejudices of the King James. Very reliable.
What other original manuscript languages could there be apart from Greek or Aramaic or Hebrew? :shrug:
We aren’t comparing actual later documents (in Latin or English) to non-existent documents. We’re comparing a later translation with an earlier physical document written in the original Greek/Hebrew language of the source/author.
And there’s no reason to presume that a non-existent earlier manuscript was more or less accurate. If I wrote a first draft or took shorthand notes or kept a rough diary which I (as the author) intended to use as the basis for my final ‘presentation’ document, why would my published work be less significant than the missing first draft(s)?