Like No Other Book of Antiquity

“I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord.”

— Romans 16:22

Consider, if you will, the wonder of the certainty that we may have concerning the Bible. Since no original autograph of any ancient writer is extant today, we always have to rely upon copies of copies.

In many cases concerning historical writings, we cannot be absolutely certain if we have what was originally written by the author. The level of certainty primarily depends upon two factors: First, the number of manuscripts that are extant, and secondly, the time span since they were written. Obviously, if you have but one manuscript, you have no idea if it is what the author actually wrote. If you have two and there is a divergence, you can flip a coin and decide whether he went in or whether he went out. If you have three, four or five, you are beginning to move toward a little more assurance concerning the manuscript. But even this number is hardly enough to give you any great assurance.

Plato, one of the greatest philosophers of all time, has left us seven manuscripts. There are only five of any of Aristotle’s works that are extant. Thucydides, Herodotus and Suetonius, all historians, have each given us eight.

In the case of the New Testament, there are more than 5,000 extant Greek manuscripts. There are more than 10,000 additional manuscripts in other ancient languages. So we have well over 15,000 manuscripts of the New Testament. There is nothing that vaguely approaches this in any other writing of any sort whatever of antiquity. It is, indeed, unique.

Lord, we thank You that we can trust Your Word. Thank You for all the preserved manuscripts. Thank You that in spite of all the attempts to destroy the Bible, it is still the Book of books…