The original writings of Scripture, written in Hebrew, Aramaic & Greek, were without error because they were God-breathed. Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. The nature of the original writings authored by the Holy Spirit is based upon the integrity and character of God. God cannot lie. His Word is truth.
Why emphasize the original writings? We emphasize them because Scripture emphasizes them. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. All Scripture is given refers to the original acts that gave us God’s Word. This is how it happened. The word inspiration means God breathed. God breathed out the Scripture as to source. That’s what the Bible says about itself. The original writings of Scripture were perfect because of their source.
Copies and translations of the original writings were the product of men, who are not perfect. Thus copies and translations are subject to man’s imperfection. This is an important distinction to make because we no longer have the perfect original writings. But we still want to know that what we do have is accurate and true.
How can we be sure then that we have God’s Word as it was given us in the original writings? Since the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls, Bible scholars have been able to determine, through comparative studies, that the biblical texts we have inherited are accurate. *
It should be noted that Bible believers down through history have not required such affirmation. The just shall live by faith and they have. The Dead Sea discoveries came in God’s timing, affirming the faith of the just and exposing the foolish objections of unbelieving mankind.
There is a difference in meaning between original writings and original languages. The original writings are those writings which were originally penned by the prophets, by holy men of God, who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. We no longer have the original writings. Original languages are those languages used originally to record the Bible in writing.** These languages are still available to us today in copies passed down from the original manuscripts.
Keep in mind that there are good and bad translations of Scripture. The best translations are the word for word translations based on the original languages (see Which Bible?). The worst translations are those based upon what someone thinks the Bible says. Discernment should be exercised in selecting a reliable version of Scripture for personal study.
*Before the discovery of Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest available manuscripts of the Old Testament were dated from about 1000 AD. After the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls, we suddenly had OT manuscripts that predated Christ. Comparative studies of these manuscripts by Bible scholars indicated that the oldest manuscripts in our possession prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls were 95% plus in accuracy. The 5% or less discrepancy has nothing to do with Bible doctrine and can be attributed to scribal error and changed spellings.
**Scripture has not been handed down by oral tradition. The Scriptures have been written and copied by those who believed that the Bible was exactly what it claimed to be……..the Word of God. They treated it as such. God worked through these people to preserve His Word. Many paid with their lives.
The large volume of New Testament manuscripts; some full manuscripts, some partial, some in bits and pieces, have enabled Bible scholars to verify through constructive criticism the contents of each NT book. In many cases there is more historical evidence to support Bible content, than there is for much of the secular history predating Christ.
…let the word of Christ dwell (take up its life) in you richly…