Studies In Mormonism (Three)

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It is written:

Psalm 12:6-7-The words of the LORD are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times.7  You shall keep them, O LORD, You shall preserve them from this generation forever.

Matthew 24:35-Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

Our Mormon friends tell us that the Bible was corrupted over time, so that we needn’t the Gospel restored to us through the Book of Mormon.

1 Nephi 13:38-“Wherefore thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God”

Of course, this claim is at odds with the textual scholars who have carefully studied the Bible manuscripts.

For example:

“The last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed.”6”. (Frederic Kenyon, The Bible and Archaeology (New York: Harper, 1940), 288)

Consider that of the original manuscripts of the Bible have today:

Greek Manuscripts: 5, 000 +

Early Versions: 24, 000 +

Church Father Quotations: 36, 289

Indeed, if we were to lose all of the early manuscripts of the Bible and the versions of it into other languages, we could still reproduce almost all of the entire New Testament from the writings of the church fathers!

“What is more, if we compile the 36,289 quotations by the early church Fathers of the second to fourth centuries we can reconstruct the entire New Testament minus 11 verses.”. (Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia Of Christian Apologetics, 532 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)

Consider some of these amazing manuscript discoveries which confirm the authenticity of the Bible:

Manuscripts 7Q4.1 & 7Q4.1; 7Q5; 7Q6; 7Q6.2; 7Q7; 7Q8; 7Q9; 7Q10. Contains 1 Timothy 3:16-4:3; Mark 6:52-53; 4:28; Acts 27:38; Mark 12:17; James 1:23-24; Romans 5:12; 2 Peter 1:15. Discovered among Dead Sea Scrolls. Other scrolls in that section date back to no later then 50 A.D. Of these manuscript discoveries, Geisler has noted:

*“Jose *O’Callahan, a Spanish Jesuit paleographer, made headlines around the world in 1972 when he announced that he had translated a piece of the Gospel of Mark on a DSS fragment. This was the earliest known piece of Mark. Fragments from cave 7 had previously been dated between 50B.C. and A.D. 50 and listed under “not identified” and classified as “Biblical Texts.” O’Callahan eventually identified nine fragments….A date beforeA.D. 50 leaves no time for mythological embellishment of the records. They would have to be accepted as historical. It would also show Mark to be one of the earlier Gospels. Further, since these manuscripts are not originals but copies, it would reveal that the New Testament was “published”—copied and disseminated—during the life time of the writers. It would also reveal the existence of the New Testament canon during this early period, with pieces representing every major section of the New Testament: Gospels, Acts, and both Pauline and General Epistles.” (Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia Of Christian Apologetics, 188 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)

The Oxyrhynichus Papyri. Group of Greek and Latin manuscripts found in a garbage dump in the town of Oxyrhynichus, Egypt. Several ancient copes of New Testament Books found: Matthew, John, Ephesians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Hebrews, James, and Revelation. Dates back to the second century A.D.

Chester Beaty Papyri. Collections of ancient manuscripts mostly dating to the second-third centuries A.D. Included are P46 (all of Paul’s Epistles except the Pastorals and Hebrews) dating to the late first century A.D.; P45 (Gospels and Acts) dating to the second century; P47 (Revelation) dating to the third century.

Magdalene Papyrus **. Known as P64. Three fragments which contain 24 lines from the Gospel of Matthew. Textual scholar Carsten Thiede has determined that the manuscript is a copy of Matthew which was copied out around the mid 40’s A.D., putting the Gospel of Matthew firmly into the Eyewitness Period.

Cooper has documented:

** “Our attention is drawn to the work of Dr Carsten Thiede, and his book, The Jesus Papyrus (see Bibliography). Suffice it here to say that a thorough and scientific analysis undertaken by Dr Thiede of the Gospel fragments known to scholars as the Magdalen Papyrus (named after Magdalen College Oxford, where it is kept), dates this particular copy of Matthew’s Gospel to times so close to the Resurrection, that it could easily have been copied or read by an eyewitness of our Lord’s entire ministry. To be brief, the Magdalen Papyrus was copied out between the mid-40s and AD 50. But we must also bear in mind that this particular papyrus was itself but a copy of an even earlier original, though by how many removes we cannot know.” (Bill Cooper, Old Light On The Roman Church: A Consideration In Four Parts Of Certain Neglected Areas Of Church History, 599-605 (Kindle Edition).

Yet what about the claim that there are hundreds of thousands of mistakes in the Bible manuscripts? For example, Orson Pratt declared:

“It is abundantly proved by various learned writers, that the Greek copies of the New Testament are awfully corrupted in almost every text.” (Orson Pratt, Oson Pratt’s Works, 3570 (Kindle Edition); Salt Lake City, Utah; Deseret Book Company)

What isn’t stated is the facts of what these errors amounted to!

“The overwhelming majority of these four hundred thousand supposed variations stem from differences in spelling, word order, or the relationships between nouns and definite articles. In other words, a copyist simply switched a couple of letters, misheard a word, or skipped a line of text. Such variants are readily recognizable and, in most cases, utterly unnoticeable in translations!…In the end, more than 99 percent of the four hundred thousand or so differences fall into this category of variants that can’t even be seen in translations!12” (Timothy Paul Jones, Conspiracies And The Cross: How To Intelligently Counter The Ten Most Popular Theories That Attack The Gospel Of Jesus, 1527-1537 (Kindle Edition); Lake Mary, Florida; FrontLine).

IF we were to ask the scholars about this matter, what do they tell us?

“4. How significant are the variants? It is easy to leave the wrong impression by speaking of 200,000 “errors” that have crept into the text due to scribal mistakes and intended corrections. There are only 10,000 places where these 200,000 variants occur. The next question is, How significant are those 10,000 places? Textual critics have attempted to answer that question by offering percentages and comparisons. a. Scholars Westcott and Hort estimated that only about one-eighth of all the variants had any weight, as most of them merely involve mechanical matters such as spelling or style. Of the whole, then, only about one-sixtieth rise above “trivialities,” or can in any sense be called substantial variations. Mathematically that would compute to a text that is 98.33 percent pure whether the critic adopts the Textus Receptus, Majority Nestle-Aland Text, or some eclectic text of the New Testament. b. Ezra Abbott gave similar figures, saying about 19/20 (95 percent) of the readings are various rather than rival readings, and about 19/20 (95 percent) of the remainder are of so little importance that their addition or rejection makes no appreciable difference in the sense of the passage. Thus the degree of substantial purity would be 99.75 percent. c. Philip Schaff (p. 177) surmised that of the 150,000 variations known in his day, only 400 affected the sense; and of those, only 50 were of real significance; and of this total, not one affected “an article of faith or a precept of duty which is not abundantly sustained by other undoubted passages, or by the whole tenor of Scripture teaching.” d. A.T. Robertson (p. 22) suggested that the real concern of textual criticism is of a “thousandth part of the entire text That would make the reconstructed text of the New Testament 99.9 percent free from real concern for the textual critic.” (Ed Hindson & Ergun Caner (General Editors), The Popular Encyclopedia Of Apologetics: Surveying The Evidence For The Truth Of Christianity, 99-100 (Kindle Edition); Eugene, Oregon; Harvest House Publishers)

The Bible has been preserved throughout time, and the Mormon claims of its’ corruption are contradicted by the facts.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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