Archive for the ‘FF Bruce’ Category

Bible – Reliability (Manuscript evidence)

July 28, 2009

Perhaps we can appreciate how wealthy the New Testament is in manuscript attestation if we compare the textual material for other ancient historical works. For Caesar’s Gallic War (composed between 58 and 50 BC) there are several extant MSS, but only nine or ten are good, and the oldest is some 800 years later than Caesar’s day. Of the 142 books of the Roman History of Livy (59 BC-AD 17) only thirty five survive; these are known to us from not more than twenty MSS of any consequence, only one of which, and that containing fragments of Books iii-vi, is as old as the fourth century. Of the fourteen books of the Histories of Tacitus (c. AD 100) only four and a half survive; of the sixteen books of his Annals, ten survive in full and two in part. The text of these extant portions of has two great historical works depends entirely on two MSS, one of the ninth century and one of the eleventh. The extant MSS of his minor works (Dialogue dc Oratoribus, Agricola, Gcrmania) all descend from a codex of the tenth century The History of Thucydides (c. 460-400 BC) is known to us from eight MSS, the earliest belonging to c. AD 900, and a few papyrus scraps, belonging to about the beginning of the Christian era The same is true of the History of Herodotus (c. 488-428 BC). Yet no classical scholar would listen to an argument that the authenticity of Herodotus or Thucydides is in doubt because the earliest MSS of their works which are of any use to us are over 1,300 years later than the originals.

FF Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are they Reliable? Chapter 2

Bible – Reliability

July 28, 2009

“The earliest preachers of the gospels knew the value of… first-hand testimony, and appealed to it time and time again. ‘We are witnesses of these things,’ was their constant and confident assertion. And it can have been by no means be so easy as some writers think to invent words and deeds of Jesus in those early years, when so many of Jesus’ disciples were about, who could remember what had and had not happened.

And it was not only friendly eyewitnesses that the early preachers had to reckon with; there were others less well disposed who were also conversant with the main facts of the ministry and death of Jesus. The disciples could not afford to risk inaccuracies (not to speak of willful manipulation of the facts), which would at once be exposed by those who would be only too glad to do so. On the contrary, one of the strong points in the original apostolic teaching is the confident appeal to the knowledge of the hearers; they not only said, ‘We are witnesses of these things’ but also, ‘As you yourselves know’ (Acts 2:22). Had there been any tendency to depart from the facts in any material respect, the possibility of hostile witnesses in the audience would have served as further corrective.”

F.F. Bruce, NT Documents, p.46