Communication was difficult, and transportation methods were slow in earlier times. Thus, it took many, many centuries to finalize the acceptance of all 66 books in the Canon of Scripture.
Of course, the people of God accepted many writings without delay, such as the writings of Moses and the Apostle Paul. But other writings had to endure much scrutiny and withstand the test of time.
HOW CAN WE KNOW THE BIBLE IS STILL ACCURATE?
The story of how our Bible came to us in the form we now have it, is a long one. It is filled with the miraculous events of God’s preservation of His precious Word.
It all begins with the original documents being penned by holy men of
God “as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:20-21; II Tim 3:16).
THE OLD TESTAMENT
Not A Single Mistake
The Old Testament Scriptures were undoubtedly written and copied onto the skins of animals. Leather was far more available than paper when the Old Testament was written.
Rolls were made by sewing many animal skins together. The rolls could be as short as a few feet, or as long as 100 feet – or longer. These rolls were rolled onto one or two sticks.
The Jews who acted as the Scripture copyists had an intense reverence for the Scriptures. Because of this, they worked diligently with an almost fanatical discipline to be absolutely accurate in their copying of the Scriptures.
They had a very complicated system of cross-checking their work. Every single letter, word and verse was counted! They would even measure the spaces between words, and knew exactly how much space was needed to copy a full book.
Using such minute measurements, they would carefully check each new copy. If the letter or word count differed from the original, the copyists would search until the error was located and corrected. If there was a single mistake, the entire page was destroyed!
Complete And Undamaged
The scribes’ attention to detail was so successful that the accuracy and detail of the Old Testament has been protected and preserved. Though we do not have the original documents, we can be assured of the accuracy of the copies we now have.
These original documents no longer exist. The reason we do not have the remains of the originals is due to the reverence and care of the Jewish scribes. Whenever a manuscript showed signs of age or was accidentally damaged, it had to be either buried or burned after a new, exact duplicate had been made.
This was done to protect the integrity of the copies made of each prior manuscript. Can you imagine having a copy of only half the Psalms because the copy you were reading was made from a damaged or incomplete original?! God has gone to great effort to preserve the Scriptures for us!
Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (see chapter 2 of this article), our oldest copies of the Hebrew text were dated around 900 A.D. These Dead Sea Scrolls documents, written on leather, are dated between 200 B.C. and 68 A.D. One of the scrolls is a complete copy of Isaiah – making this manuscript a thousand years older than any previous copy scholars possessed!