It cannot be emphasized too strongly that the analysis of these views has been brief and cursory. There is much more that could have been said on behalf of each, and the interested reader is encouraged to read at least the works cited for further information. It is hoped, however, that each view has been described sufficiently for the reader to understand its basic premises and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses.

Given the variations between the manuscripts, can we trust the text of the Bible we have? Can we say “this is the Word of God” when we hold our translation of the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts? Certainly. The fact is that, while there is dispute over many minor variants, within the textual tradition we do have the original readings; the object of Textual Criticism is to determine which of those readings was part of the original text. In the meantime, since the vast majority of these variants do not seriously affect Christian doctrine, it is safe to say that the adopted text in any edition of the Greek New Testament may turn out one day to be proven to be original, but the closeness of all the manuscripts to one another gives us confidence that we have, essentially, God’s Word as it was originally transmitted. And insofar as the translation you have is faithful to the Greek and Hebrew, it can claim to be the Word of God. It should also be said that since critical editions of the Greek New Testament, and the vast majority of committee-based translations, all make note of significant variant readings, once again, we can be sure that within our Bibles we have the original text, either in the body of the text itself, or within the footnotes and apparatus.

The debate over text critical methodologies, while very important, is not one that separates between Christian brethren and non-Christians. That said, the reader is encouraged to think carefully and be informed about this issue. There are many people, both inside and outside of the church, that use a little knowledge with a lot of ignorance to cause dissension, and this subject is one that is often used by such people in that way. Anyone that has visited this site on a regular basis over the past six months will also be aware that many Muslim apologists try to make use of variant readings to disprove the veracity and inspiration of the Bible. It is only by understanding the issues, both in terms of church history and the manuscript evidence, that sanity and clear thinking can be maintained on this subject, and a clear and sound apologetic can be presented.

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