The Old Testament
How was the Old Testament preserved? Have hundreds of errors, after centuries of making countless copies, crept into the text? Are exact copies of the Bible possible? Did ancient Israel have a master copy of the Scriptures and, if so, WHERE did they put it?
This article briefly examines how the Old Testament scriptures were preserved and whether or not we can place our trust in what we read.
Have ERRORS crept in?
Skeptics have pointed out that the most ancient extant version of the Old Testament has existed for less than 1,500 years. They state that, after centuries of copies, errors HAD to have crept into the original language text used to create a Bible translation.
This point is well taken. The argument reminds one of the game where about twenty children sit, in a circle. The first one whispers a sentence into the ear of the second child. The second child whispers the same message into the ear of the third child. The message is whispered all the way around the circle. By the time it reaches the ear of the last child, it is usually a very different message than what came out of the mouth of the first child. The accurate preservation of the Old Testament should be a concern for all Christians.
Biblical Preservation begins
The start of what we now call Biblical preservation began with Moses (Deuteronomy 31:24-26). The tribe of Levi was charged to protect the Scriptures. Starting at the time of Moses Israel's religious leaders zealously preserved the writings that would become the first part of our modern Bibles.
Joshua also told the children of Israel to place special emphasis on God's words (Joshua 8:34). As a side note, many people assume that Paul wrote more of the Bible than anyone did. Actually, Paul wrote more books than anyone did, but Moses wrote more in terms of volume. Moses wrote about three times more raw material than the apostle Paul did.
God knew that eventually the Israelites would want to be ruled by a king that was human, so he gave them instructions on what the new king should do. Any new king was required to write for himself a copy of God's law so that he could study it all his life and observe what it said (Deuteronomy 17:18-19).