Lesson 1

Not wanting to add to, or take from God’s word, those who dedicated their lives to accurately preserving the words of God in the Old Testament took their vocation very seriously. Taking the admonishment from Deuteronomy to heart, if any error was found in a copy, the entire manuscript would be ceremonially buried so it could not be reproduced or mislead anyone who might read it. To those Jews, preserving the words God gave to be recorded, was of the utmost importance.

Deuteronomy 4:2 English Standard Version
2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.

The history of recording and reproducing the New Testament is very different from that of the Old Testament. Rather than having one person work on making one copy at a time, the New Testament would often be written by several people at once as they listened to the original copy being read aloud. The manuscripts that were found containing error stood out as different from the larger group. There was a desire to reproduce as many copies as possible and would most often be written on paper rather than on animal skins. This less expensive process produced the most copies. Staying true to what was originally taught still remained of supreme importance to those dedicated to reproducing copies of the original New Testament texts. The New Testament also sternly warns people to not add or subtract from the words of God.

Revelation 22:18-19 Easy-to-Read Version
18 I warn everyone who hears the words of prophecy in this book: If anyone adds anything to these, God will give that person the plagues written about in this book. 19 And if anyone takes away from the words of this book of prophecy, God will take away that person’s share of the tree of life and of the holy city, which are written about in this book.

For the most part the Bible we have today is the same as the ancient books, prophecies, and stories that it was originally compiled from. Changes that have entered into today’s Bible can be found through comparing the older texts and spotting the differences. Those differences have been documented by scholars as added text. Have you ever looked into what texts are not in the earliest copies of the Bible? When were the alterations made? How do those changes affect your basic understanding of God’s message? Why would someone want to change the original text? Does it take much of a change to alter our understanding of scripture? Would you use altered scripture to build your doctrine on?

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