Bible scholars, as BR readers know all too well, spend a lot of time quibbling over what the Bible says.
Many of the disagreements arise because we do not have a single original text to work from. For the New Testament, the earliest manuscripts date to around 200 C.E., but they are only a scrap or two. Most existing manuscripts come from the fourth century C.E. or later, and all of these are copies of copies of copies. Variations among the manuscripts are often blamed on the copyists, who may have changed passages for stylistic or theological reasons or tried to harmonize differences among different passages, or who may simply have made mistakes.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had the original manuscripts? Then we’d know the precise words Paul used to excoriate the Corinthians, say, or just how Mark described Jesus’ miracle working in Galilee.
Or would we?