Biblical Greek Manuscripts: Why Plenty of Copies and Variations?

To explain why there are so many different Greek manuscripts and why today we have Greek texts that differ from each other, we have to go back to the time of Christ. There, cellphone reception was scarce and letters were scrawled on pressed down papyrus reeds… welcome to the first century A.D. … As soon as Paul wrote and sent off his first letter it became (from a wordly perspective) vulnerable to change in both unintentional and intentional ways.

Dr. Darryl Burling

In this video, Dr. Darryl discusses how the changes with the Manuscripts and the fact that we have plenty of them (5,800+) may have happened from the time of the Apostles, early church fathers, and beyond. This is important because non-Christians and atheists alike use these changes to advance their disagreement against the biblical truth.

You’ll also learn here, according to Dr. Darryl “how these differences can actually HELP our understanding of the intended meaning of the authors, preserved over two thousand years!”

The number of New Testament manuscripts and variations should not cause us to doubt the Biblical Text but give us a higher level of confidence that we have the infallible and inerrant word of God. Here’s what Metzger and Ehrman wrote,

“The textual critic of the New Testament is embarrassed by the wealth of material… Besides textual evidence derived from the New Testament Greek manuscripts and from early versions, the textual critic has available the numerous scriptural quotations included in the commentaries, sermons, and other treatises written by early Church fathers. Indeed, so extensive are these citations that if all other sources for our knowledge of the text of the New Testament were destroyed, they would be sufficient alone for the reconstruction of practically the entire New Testament.”

Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament, 4th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 51, 126.


  • Unintentional Errors: poor eyesight, faulty hearing, mental errors, & judgment
  • Intentional Changes: spelling, grammar, harmonistic, geographical, conflation, doctrinal
  • Families of Text Types: Western text type – used by early fathers (e.g. Codex Bezea), Alexandrian Text type – used by Origin, Athanasius, etc. (e.g. P66, p75), & Byzantine Text Type – used by Basil the Great, Chrysostom (e.g. Codex Alexandrinus – 5th century)
  • How texts age (Methods and Materials)
  • Recommended book: The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (4th Edition) by Bruce Metzger


ὅτι ἐξ αὐτοῦ καὶ δι’ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν τὰ πάντα· αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, ἀμήν. ~ ΠΡΟΣ ΡΟΜΑΙΟΥΣ 11:36

Published by Jeff Chavez

Sinner saved by grace

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