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Faith Facts - Scripture Support - NT

 
There are more than 24,600 ancient documents of the New Testament coming down from the period of the early Church that exist today. Some of these are called "Codex" and are complete manuscripts containing all 27 books of the New Testament. Others are complete books of the New Testament or portions of those books. We have a great wealth of historical documents that makes the text of the New Testament very trustworthy. In addition, we have 80,000 ancient writings of the early church fathers who quoted the New Testament repeatedly in their writings. In fact, if we didn't have the New Testament ancient documents, we could reconstruct the entire New Testament with the exception of less than a dozen verses from these writings alone.  
In 1890 a Russian agnostic by the name of Ivan Panin stumbled on a remarkable structure in scripture. Both in Hebrew and Greek, there are no distinct symbols for numbers. Instead, the symbols for letters are used as numbers by placing a mark next to them. Dr. Ivan found that by replacing letters in the Biblical manuscripts with their corresponding numbers, a mathematical pattern appears. After years of study he could accurately predict which word should appear next in a given Biblical text. If two manuscripts disagreed on a particular word, the answer could be found through these mathematical patterns. That single, amazing discovery brought his conversion and was the catalyst for his devotion to the study of gematria the rest of his life.  
Although some question the exclusion of various books from the canon of New Testament scripture as arbitrary, there is ample evidence that the 27 books of the New Testament we have today was the accepted standard at a very early date. Irenaeus (A.D. 180), a disciple of Polycarp (disciple of John), wrote of these being the standard in his work "Against Heresies."  
In A.D. 303, Emperor Diocletian issued an official command to kill Christians and burn their sacred books. Churches were burned and Christians deprived of their liberty. In spite of this persecution numerous manuscripts were widely distributed throughout the empire. There are almost 100,000 manuscripts and letters from the first few centuries composed by those early Christian writers. If Rome had been successful in totally destroying every New Testament 98% of it could have been compiled from just the quotations in these books! There is no doubt we have a New Testament with the highest historical integrity.  
Josephus described John the Baptist's death in his book Antiquities of the Jews. "Now, some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to a righteousness towards one another, and a piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away, [or remission] of some sins [only] but for the purification of the body: supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now, when [many] there came to crowd about him, for they greatly moved [or pleased] by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion [for they seemed ready to do anything he s  
In 1971, a Spanish biblical scholar named Jose O'Callaghan studied some small fragments of scrolls discovered in Cave Seven at Qumran (Dead Sea). The fragments he examined are quite small, containing only small portions of each verse, the elements and insects having significantly damaged these manuscripts. After close examination, Dr. Jose O'Callaghan identified eight different scroll fragments that appear to be quotes from New Testament passages. The fragments appeared to O'Callaghan to be portions of the following verses from the Gospels and Paul's Epistles: Mark 4:28, Mark 6:48, Mark 12:17, Acts 27:38, Romans 5:11-12, 1 Timothy 3:16, James 1:23-24. If O'Callaghan is correct, these fragments would be the earliest Christian writings found thus far, placing the earliest accounts of Jesus at no later than 35 years after his death.