Has the Bible Been Changed or Tampered With?

Has the Bible Been Changed or Tampered With?

 No. A comparison of ancient manuscripts shows that the Bible is basically unchanged despite millenniums of recopying on perishable materials.

Does this mean that mistakes in copying were never made?

 Thousands of ancient Bible manuscripts have been found. Some of these contain a number of differences, indicating that mistakes were made in copying. Most of these differences are minor and do not change the meaning of the text. However, a few significant differences have been discovered, some of which appear to be deliberate attempts made long ago to alter the Bible’s message. Consider two examples:

  1.   At 1 John 5:7, some older Bible translations contain the following words: “in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” However, reliable manuscripts confirm that these words were not in the original text. They were added later. a Thus, reliable modern Bible translations have excluded them.

  2.   God’s personal name appears thousands of times in ancient manuscripts of the Bible. Yet, numerous Bible translations have replaced it with titles such as “Lord” or “God.”

How can we be sure that there are not many more errors waiting to be found?

 At this point, so many manuscripts have been discovered that it is easier than ever before to detect errors. b What has a comparison of these documents revealed regarding the accuracy of the Bible today?

  •   Commenting on the text of the Hebrew Scriptures (commonly called the “Old Testament”), scholar William H. Green stated: “It may be safely said that no other work of antiquity has been so accurately transmitted.”

  •   Regarding the Christian Greek Scriptures, or “New Testament,” Bible scholar F. F. Bruce wrote: “The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater than the evidence for many writings of classical authors, the authenticity of which no one dreams of questioning.”

  •   Sir Frederic Kenyon, a noted authority on Bible manuscripts, stated that one “can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds in it the true Word of God, handed down without essential loss from generation to generation throughout the centuries.”

What additional reasons are there for confidence that the Bible has been transmitted with accuracy?

  •   Both Jewish and Christian copyists preserved accounts that expose the serious mistakes made by God’s people. c (Numbers 20:12; 2 Samuel 11:​2-4; Galatians 2:​11-​14) Likewise, they preserved passages that condemn the Jewish nation’s disobedience and that expose man-made doctrines. (Hosea 4:2; Malachi 2:​8, 9; Matthew 23:​8, 9; 1 John 5:​21) By copying these accounts accurately, the copyists showed their trustworthiness and their high regard for God’s sacred Word.

  •   Is it not reasonable that God, having inspired the Bible in the first place, would also preserve its accuracy? d (Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 1:​24, 25) After all, he intended it to benefit not only people of long ago but also us today. (1 Corinthians 10:11) In fact, “all the things that were written beforehand were written for our instruction, so that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.”​—Romans 15:4.

  •   Jesus and his followers quoted from copies of the Hebrew Scriptures without expressing any concern about the accuracy of those ancient texts.​—Luke 4:​16-​21; Acts 17:​1-3.

a These words are not found in the Codex Sinaiticus, the Codex Alexandrinus, the Vatican Manuscript 1209, the original Latin Vulgate, the Philoxenian-Harclean Syriac Version, or the Syriac Peshitta.

b For example, over 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the so-called New Testament, or Christian Greek Scriptures, have been discovered.

c The Bible does not portray God’s human representatives as infallible. It realistically acknowledges: “There is no man who does not sin.”​—1 Kings 8:​46.

d The Bible states that although God did not dictate all its contents word for word, he did guide the thoughts of the human writers.​—2 Timothy 3:​16, 17; 2 Peter 1:​21.