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concluded that all thirteen New Testament   500 eyewitnesses verified the death, burial,
        letters that claimed to have been written by   and resurrection of Christ (1Cor 15:5-8).
        Paul were authentic.                 Since these historical events have been
                                             confirmed, it is reasonable for us to believe
        Conclusion                           the theological claim that hinges on these
          Since Christian doctrine is rooted in his-  events: Christ died for our sins. Faith, then,
        tory, the great Christian Document must be   is not leaping into the dark, but confidently
                                             standing in the light of verifiable history
        historically reliable. The Lord Jesus said in   and in the illumination of reasonable truth:
        John 3:12, “If I have told you earthly things   “The hope of eternal life, which God, Who
        and you do not believe, how can you be-  never lies, promised before the ages began,
        lieve if I tell you heavenly things?” (ESV).   and at the proper time manifested in His
        Paul reminded the Corinthians that over   Word” (Titus 1:2-3, ESV).

        A View on Versions – What is Textual Criticism?        continued from p. 7

        over a later, will almost always end up   evidence cannot be entirely objective, but
        favoring a minority reading. An approach   neither is it arbitrary. Clearly identified and
        that gives the greatest weight to the most   well-understood principles lie behind the
        common reading will, inevitably, end up   decisions critics make. There is an unfortu-
        with a text based on the most recent manu-  nate tendency to launch ad hominem attacks
        scripts. Arguments can be made for both   on textual critics and their beliefs, rather
        positions, and both have their advocates.   than interacting with their work, which
        In practice, almost all editors adopt an   does little service to the truth.
        approach called “reasoned eclecticism,”   Critics are not infallible. One has only
        a position somewhere between these two   to read a selection of the ongoing debates
        extremes.                            to realize that there is often disagreement
          In addition to weighing external evi-  between critics, which means that at least
        dence, textual critics carefully evaluate the   some, and possibly all, are wrong. These
        internal evidence for particular readings.   scholars attempt to answer complex ques-
        There are a number of principles that guide   tions with evidence that is often fragmen-
        editors in deciding between different read-
        ings. Two of the most important principles   tary and sometimes  contradictory. We
        are known as lectio difficilior (more difficult   would not, and should not, elevate them to
        reading) and lectio brevior (shorter reading).   the status of prophets, or impute to them
        These principles express the assumption   infallibility, but neither should we be insen-
        that a scribe is more likely to change a dif-  sible to the value of their work. With some
        ficult reading to an easy one than vice versa,   exceptions, textual criticism has produced
        and to add material, rather than leaving   only minor changes in the text of our Bibles.
        it out. The textual critic applies these and   As it continues to identify and analyze the
        other principles to identify the reading that   evidence of ancient papyri, it allows us to
        best explains how variant readings might   be confident in the text of Bibles we read,
        have arisen. That reading is the most likely   and should cause us to praise God Who
        candidate to have been original. Again, the   has preserved His Word from the time of
        process of sifting and weighing the internal   its writing to our own day.

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