Why Textual Variants Matter for the Rest of Us

In this thread I am discussing why it matters that there are so many variants in our surviving manuscripts of the New Testament.  It does not matter because there are any “fundamental Christian doctrines” at stake, per se, but for other reasons.  As I sketched in my previous post, it should matter for anyone who believes that God gave the very words of the Bible, since the facts that we don’t *have* the original words in some cases and that in many other cases the words themselves are in doubt, should call that belief into question.  (I should point out that with the Hebrew Bible we are in MUCH worse shape in knowing what anything like the “original”  -- whatever that might be – was.  The textual situation there is really quite dire.) The second group that the variants should interest would include just about anyone -- whether scholar, student, or general reader – who is interested in knowing what the various authors of the Bible had to say about this, that, or the other [...]