This is a question posed by Bart Ehrman in a 30 minute video posted over at the debunking christianity website
Dr. Ehrman’s argument depends upon 2 main things: 1. that God i snot part of the replication process and 2. God is incapable of guiding his followers to replicate his word correctly.
People like Dr. Ehrman need to remove God from the process because if they didn’t their arguments would not work. The complete copying process has to be of human effort only in order to falsely attack the NT with their unsubstantiated accusations.
Also, they need God removed from any part of the NT in order to feel good about ignoring what God and Jesus said in its pages. They want John 3:16 there because they want to go to heaven but they want to get to heaven their own way not God’s. The rest of the NT can be removed in order to be able to live life as they want, to do justice as they see fit and to be inclusive where God is exclusive.
Later in the video, Dr. Ehrman talks about how Paul wrote his letters and goes as far as saying that he dictated to a scribe the words he wanted written down. Dr. Ehrman uses this unsubstantiated claim to make the accusation that the scribe made mistakes even while writing down Paul’s words as he was listening to them.
He goes, the scribe made mistakes because he couldn’t hear a word, or somebody coughed (how does Dr. Ehrman know there were more than 2 people in the room at the time?) and other distractions. Yet Dr. Ehrman seems to forget the seriousness of the transmission and the ability of the scribe to interrupt Paul and say, “I’m sorry but I didn’t hear that last word.” It seems that Dr. Ehrman has the scribe as a mute or a total incompetent who can’t even verify that he copied the words down correctly.
Dr. Ehrman also assumes that Paul had no quality control in place to double-check what the scribe wrote down. Could not Paul read what the scribe wrote to make sure his words were copied accurately? According to Dr. Ehrman, Paul had no such ability even though he was highly educated by the top rabbis of the time.
The arguments against the NT made by Dr. Ehrman and others like him are just absurd. The only evidence they present are those manuscripts which may contain errors in them but just because some manuscripts may contain errors doesn’t mean they all do.
Dr. Ehrman makes a big point about our not having the original autographs of the NT writers, so we can’t be sure what the biblical authors wrote down or what Jesus said. But this argument works against him as well as he does not have the originals to compare the other manuscripts with thus he cannot verify what is an error and what is not.
In other words, his error filled argument is moot because he can’t prove where the true errors are, if there are any. He is in need of the originals to make his argument work. Dr. Ehrman’s, and other people like him, attacks are merely evil’s way of trying to undermine the confidence of the believer in God’s word.
If the believer doubts God’s word then evil can work its destructive strategies and lure Christians away from belief in God. To find God’s word I hold to three English translations–the 1984 NIV, The KJV and the NASB– but I do not favor any recent modern translations because of the prevailing attitude in the world today, especially in those translating circles. That last part is a topic for another time.
Don’t listen to people like Dr. Ehrman as they are not believers and do not have the truth about God’s word. Doesn’t matter if they are scholars or not, Jesus did not say to follow scholars, he said to follow the Holy Spirit to the truth even when it comes to translations and ancient manuscripts.
We do have the original NT as God has promised to preserve his word. We need to have faith and trust the Holy Spirit to lead us to the correct translations.