One of the studies that fascinated me the most while I was completing my work in Biblical Hermeneutics was the study of textual criticism. I will share some of my thoughts and academic writings about it today in this post. Textual criticism is an in-depth study of the ancient languages found in Old Testament and New Testament manuscripts. It also focuses on the differences among these texts while determining the most accurate readings. It provides methods for understanding, preserving, and analyzing scripture.
The science and art of textual criticism is necessary because we no longer have the original autographs. Because the writings have been passed down through the ages and have been written and re-written again and again by scribes, we find that there are slight differences among translations. It is important to stress that these differences are typically minor mechanical errors. They do not alter the intended message of God’s words. It is through the means of textual criticism we continue to preserve the truths of the authentic, inspired messages that were in the original autographs.
Textual criticism is actually a valuable demonstration of how accurately the scripture has been preserved. It can be used to affirm that the versions that we have in our possession have been reproduced with great precision. Textual Criticism offers a great deal of evidence that proves how today’s translations are inspired and inerrant because they faithfully and accurately represent the original, inspired autographs of God’s word.
As I have mentioned in my previous article, Does Biblical Inerrancy Matter?, I believe in the inerrancy and the inspired nature of biblical scripture. Many find that the necessity for textual criticism and the variants found in the different manuscripts is a wall of evidence against the authority and reliability of the Bible. I think it is actually quite the opposite. I think that God’s providence is showcased in the history, preservation, and unification of His Word.
Despite the sinful nature of humanity, natural decay, grammatical errors in human writing, and huge cultural changes over the centuries, God still brought together and provided to us a perfect guidebook for our lives. When we step back and look at the process and the story that produced the Bible sitting on our own bedside tables, we should actually have feelings of awe. God chose to do this through humanity, picking out the correct channels and people that would carry His words through the vast passage of time.
The Bible is inerrant in the respect that it still accurately conveys the messages God wanted us to know. Yes, there are mechanical errors in the writing of the human scribes that produced it, there are variants in certain translations, and sometimes extra information is added and/or omitted, but astoundingly through the generations, this does not affect the inerrancy of the messages and information God provided to us. The foundation of his word and his message still remains untouched. God is truly great. It is my view that the study of textual criticism and the history of the biblical text has successfully strengthened and affirmed the case for the Bible’s inspiration and reliability.
 International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. (Chicago: International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, 1978).