The Bible stands alone among religious texts. No other book has shaped the beliefs of so many people over such a long period of time. On the other hand, no other book has prompted so much scrutiny and criticism.
For instance, some scholars doubt that modern Bibles are reliable copies of the original writings. “We simply cannot be sure that we have reconstructed the original text accurately,” says one professor of religious studies. “We have only error-ridden copies, and the vast majority of these are centuries removed from the originals and different from them, evidently, in thousands of ways.”
Others question the authenticity of the Bible because of their religious background. Faizal, for example, was taught by his non-Christian family that the Bible is a holy book but that it had been changed. “As a result, I was somewhat suspicious when people wanted to talk to me about the Bible,” he says. “After all, they didn’t have the original Bible. It had been changed!”
Does it matter whether or not the Bible has been changed? Well, consider these questions: Can you trust the Bible’s comforting promises for the future if you do not know whether those promises were in the original text? (Romans 15:4) Would you use Bible principles to make important decisions about your employment, family, or worship if modern Bibles were merely flawed copies recorded by humans?
Although the original books of the Bible have disappeared, we can consult ancient copies