One of the most popular apologetics resources in the 20th Century was the classic Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell. In many ways, Josh set the standard for apologetics work that would follow. Perhaps the most compelling evidence for the validity of the claims of Christianity is the increasing volume of manuscripts continually discovered by archeologists.
Well Josh McDowell is back with some new manuscript research. I interview him about this new discovery, about inherency, and his perspective on the future of the evangelical movement. Here is one of my questions:
You commissioned a team to examine these new Egyptian manuscripts. What new light will these shed on textual criticism and translation work?
Some of these discoveries from New and Old Testament fragments I recently acquired are some of the earliest known manuscript passages in existence. I don’t want to over-blow the importance of our part in what is being called an avalanche of new evidence in manuscript discovery in the entire body of Christ. Biblical archaeology is an ongoing pursuit and scientists are continually making new discoveries, literally every week. Each time we discover more fragments such as these, they add to the already massive numbers of Old and New Testament manuscripts. Today, there are more than 24,000 New Testament manuscripts in libraries, universities, and private collections throughout the world, and over 66,000 scrolls and manuscripts of the entire Bible. We expect another 1,000 Greek manuscripts will likely be discovered in the next few years.
Something is happening here that is reinforcing manuscript authority. In my recent discovery in an ancient codex, we found two of the oldest fragments from the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 6:33 (Seek you first the kingdom of God) and Matthew 7: 4 (Take the log out of your own eye first). These discoveries take us back to around 300 AD. That’s ancient, and it bridges many years of manuscript copies on the Sermon on the Mount. That’s what these manuscript discoveries do; they help us reconstruct the actual wording of scripture and the exact lettering of that time.
In fact, a top Greek scholar of biblical artifacts recently said that in all these manuscripts that are being discovered today, you could now intellectually say that we possess the exact wording of Jesus in the New Testament, though we don’t know exactly what that is yet. With current technology, maybe in five to six years, we could possibly reconstruct a New Testament of the original wording stated by Jesus. I never dreamed this could happen in my lifetime.
You can read the rest of the interview here: