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Do Bible manuscripts prove its authenticity?

Christians usually say that the manuscripts of the Bible are a great historical evidence for its authenticity comparing it with manuscripts of some contemporary works and consider that the extensive number of Biblical manuscripts is a conclusive proof that the Bible we have now is an authentic book from God. However, this is not enough evidence from the Muslim point of view as the number is not the only factor that tells if it is true or not. What is more important is the time at which these manuscripts were written.

Gaps between Bible Manuscripts and Writing Dates

When we examine the manuscripts of the Old Testament, we find that the two major manuscripts are Masoretic text in Hebrew and the Septuagint in Greek. The Masoretic text refers back to the 9th century AD, while the oldest manuscript for Septuagint refers back to the 4th century AD. As for the New Testament, the oldest manuscripts are the Greek Vaticanus and Sinaiticus which are considered to be the main manuscripts used, and refer to the 4th century AD.

As we see for both the Old Testament and the New Testament, the oldest manuscripts refer to the 4th century AD. This means that there is a gap between the time of the Prophets including Jesus (Peace be upon him) and the time of writing these manuscripts, and consequently makes the claim that the Bible was fully preserved not very accurate; because it could have happened that the writers of these manuscripts were anonymous.

Do Early Fragments of the New Testament Prove its Authenticity?

Some might say that there were earlier fragments that prove that the books of the Bible were present at that time as the fragment of John Rayland for example which refers to about 125 AD, and shows some words in the Gospel of John, let’s see how it looks like:

Dates of oldest Old Testament and New Testament manuscripts and the gaps between their data and original date
A table summarizing the dates and content of the most famous Bible manuscripts

These are the oldest manuscripts for both the Old and New Testaments, as we see for the Old Testament, the oldest manuscript refers to the fourth century, and for the New Testament, the oldest manuscript refers to the beginning of the fourthcentury, and doesn’t contain some epistles, which puts a question mark concerning them, were they added to the Bible? This makes a gap between the time of the Prophets including Jesus (Peace be upon him), and the time of writing these manuscripts, and makes the claim that the Bible was fully preserved not very accurate, because it could have happened that the writers of these manuscripts were anonymous.

Do Early Fragments of the New Testament Prove its Authenticity?

Some might say that there were earlier fragments that prove that the books of the Bible were present at that time as the fragment of John Rayland for example which refers to about 125 AD, and shows some words in the Gospel of John, let’s see how it looks like:

Answering the Christian claim that the Bible has early manuscripts through a tiny fragment dated 125 AD
A fragment showing small words in Gospel John is the sole early Christian evidence that the Gospels are authentic

Actually this is not a proof even for the existence of Gospel John at that time, all what it can prove is that only these words were present at that time, but it could have been taken from another source, and it may have been that the writer of Gospel John copied it from that source,…etc., many possibilities exist, but this is not an evidence in itself.

Do Dead Sea Scrolls Prove Authenticity of the Old Testament?

This is also the same case for the Dead Sea Scrolls, all what was found in Qumran were mostly fragments, the only book which was found to be nearly complete is the book of Isaiah, but all other Old Testament books were fragments that doesn’t prove that the Bible was present the same as it is now and even some of the Biblical books like Esther and Nehemiah were totally missing. On the other hand, that a lot of Apocrypha were found among the scrolls, which puts another question mark concerning the books which were considered canonical at that time, and on what base were the books of the Bible taken as canonical and others were not? Especially that a lot of these apocrypha were present with the canonical books in the same manuscript as 1-4 Maccabees and the Prayer of Manasseh which are present in the Vaticanus with other canonical books.

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