So, Mormons believe the Bible “so far as it is translated correctly.” This is what you were taught from birth, so I know it's in your head. This is wrong. It was curious to me, so eventually I started asking Mormons, well, which parts aren’t translated correctly? I almost always got blank faces. Before, I didn't have much knowledge myself if they had answered anything. I wouldn’t have known if they were right or pulling my leg. But now I’ve studied textual criticism (part of completing my certification from BIOLA), which is the science of dating ancient manuscripts, both religious and secular. I now know what the methods used and how reliable the scriptures really are.
So before we get into that, the first thing a “new” prophet, teacher or guru does when trying to start some new movement is what? Cast doubt on the Bible.
ALMOST EVERY SINGLE ONE.
Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell, L. Ron Hubbard, Mohamed, Mary Baker Eddy, any of the New Age gurus and many more, always attack the Bible first. If they can get people doubting the reliability of the Bible, they’re halfway there. But I’m telling you, in the scholarly world, the Bible is the most reliable ancient document we have. Not to mention the sheer numbers of manuscripts. You may be saying, so what? The reason this is important is because we can then compare manuscripts with all the others we have found and see where scribal mistakes were made.
One manuscript may say “John went to the marketplace,” but compared to the other 300 manuscripts which say “Timothy went to the marketplace,” we can then tell that the first scribe made a mistake by writing the wrong name. Therefore, we can get back to the original meaning, because we have so many copies to draw from.
In fact, here’s a comparison; If you were to add up all the other ancient manuscripts that came from antiquity, like the Iliad, the The Peloponnesian war, Julius Ceasar etc. (which no one questions their validity by the way), the stack of manuscripts would reach about 4 feet high. If you were to stack the New Testament manuscripts, it would reach a mile high! That’s how many copies we have.
Many people will say that you can’t trust them because they’ve been translated countless times from when they were first written, so we can’t possibly know what they say by now. But here are the facts, modern translations go back to the original language which was GREEK and Aramaic and HEBREW. Guess what, we have people who speak and study those languages today and can translate those old manuscripts. SO there is only ONE step in the translation process, the original language to the modern language. Every modern translation has only been translated ONCE. It’s in languages people can translate today. It's not a translation of a translation of translation etc etc, which is ridiculous. There are countless memes out there touting this. We have scholars who can read the languages. (what they really mean is transmission of the texts, but that’s a different thing).
The Bible is so reliable, no archeological find has EVER contradicted it. In fact, they keep finding things that skeptics say are just made up or myths, like King David and Pontius Pilate.
Here’s the thing, unlike any other religion, Christianity is rooted in history. It wants you to know that these things happened in certain places at a certain times, to a certain people. No other religious book does this. (BTW no archeological find has ever corroborated the Book of Mormon, nothing. Not even a coin. And these are the guys casting doubt on the Bible. (The Smithsonian Institute came out a while back and said that the BofM is not a historical guide for them.) The Bible wants you to check things out for yourself, it says to test everything (1 Thess 5:21).
Check this out: This is how Luke (considered a great ancient historian) begins chapter 3 of his gospel,
“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.”
See how he puts you right in that moment of history so that all who are reading can check it out? It’s amazing historicity. It’s been said that if you don’t believe the events of the NT, then you have to say goodbye to all other ancient figures. No more Ceasar, Plato or Alexander the Great because the NT has mountains of more evidences then them.
Ok, this is getting long, one more thing. People make a big deal about how old the manuscripts are. The gap between today and when they were written is not as important as the gap between the events happening and the time it was written down. That’s the important gap. All those secular ones we have, Ceasar, Plato, Thucydides-- all come from copies written over 1000 years after the events. The NT gap is less than 100 years, some only within 25 years after the events! THERE IS NO COMPARISON. The Bible stands alone as the best preserved literary works of antiquity. This is why we can trust what it says happened.
Look, if the same GOD that created the universe out of nothing wants to preserve his Word, He can do it. Preserving a book would be child's play after creating everything out of nothing, including any other miracle recorded. Walking on water? Healing the blind? Turning water into wine? Piece of cake.
I’ll include pages from my kids book I’m working on and a comparison chart. Anyway, if you have questions, just ask.