Why? Time - the books were written on scrolls made out of papyrus, an early form of paper, most of which simply suffered from the ravages of time Persecution – at difference periods of history the books of the NT were burned.
There are three main types of texts that have been discovered:
- The Greek historian Heroditus lived and wrote about the year 450 BC. The earliest copies we have of his writings are dated 400 yrs from his lifetime, and there are only 75 copies.
- The Roman historian Livy lived and wrote at the start of the first century (AD 17), and yet it isn’t until 400 yrs later that we have an existing copy of his work, and there are only 27 copies of it.
- Tacitus and Suetonius were late first century / early second century historians, around the same time as the NT was written, and yet 650-700 years elapse between when they wrote the originals and the first copy we can find. There are only 3 copies of the work of Tacitus; Suetonius, over 200 copies.
Types of variants:
2. Many variants were just good old fashioned typos. A scribe might skip a word or line of text he was copying, or double a word or line. Or misread one letter. Let me show you some examples.
In none of these cases is there a major belief of Christianity at stake.
For More Information
If you would like to see pictures of thousands of manuscript fragments, check out this wonderful website: