The Text of the New Testament: Are the Textual Traditions of Other Ancient Works Relevant?
I have had three debates with Dan Wallace (author of Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament and Reinventing Jesus) on the question of whether or not we can know for certain, or with relative reliability, whether we have the “original” text of the New Testament. At the end of the day, my answer is usually “we don’t know.” For practical reasons, New Testament scholars proceed as if we do actually know what Mark wrote, or Paul, or the author of 1 Peter. And if I had to guess, my guess would be that in most cases we can probably get close to what the author wrote. But the dim reality is that we really don’t have any way to know for sure. Our copies are all so far removed from the time when the authors wrote, that even though we have so many (tons!) of manuscripts of the New Testament, we do not have many (ounces!) that are very close to the time of the originals, and it is impossible to say whether the texts were altered [...]