THERE is solid evidence that the Bible, the inspired Word of God, has been accurately copied and transmitted down to us. The evidence consists of ancient manuscripts available today—perhaps 6,000 of the entire Hebrew Scriptures or portions of it and some 5,000 of the Christian Scriptures in Greek.
The original Bible writings were handwritten on perishable materials such as papyrus and vellum; none of the originals are known to exist today
Copies—Hebrew or Greek
Soon after the originals were written, manuscript copies began to be produced. The copyists exercised great care to transmit the text accurately; the Masoretes counted even the letters that they copied
To make the Scriptures available in other languages, Bible translation became necessary. There exist today manuscripts of such early versions as the Septuagint (a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, from the third and second centuries B.C.E.) and Jerome’s Vulgate (a translation of Hebrew and Greek texts into Latin, originally produced c. 400 C.E.)
By a comparative study of hundreds of existing Bible manuscripts, scholars have prepared master texts. These printed editions of original-language texts suggest the best readings available while drawing attention to variations that may exist in certain manuscripts. Texts of the Hebrew Scriptures with comparative readings in footnotes have been prepared by such scholars as Ginsburg and Kittel. Included among the master texts of the Christian Greek Scriptures are those published by Westcott and Hort as well as by Nestle and Aland
Bible translators today generally use original-language master texts to produce modern translations
Christian Greek Scriptures
Comparative study of the thousands of ancient manuscripts provides evidence that the Scriptures have come down to us in reliable form. As Sir Frederic Kenyon said: “The general result of all these discoveries and all this study is to strengthen the proof of the authenticity of the Scriptures, and our conviction that we have in our hands, in substantial integrity, the veritable Word of God.”—The Story of the Bible, 1937, p. 144.