Imagine if the title of this Nugget was actually a newspaper headline. On one particular night all of the ancient witnesses (manuscripts or portions) to the New Testament of the Bible were burnt up and lost. That would have to have been an extraordinary fire because the 30,000+ documents are not all stored in one place. Some are stored in the libraries and museums of England, Germany, France, Switzerland and other places. Many are the United States in libraries and museums spread a considerable distance apart. It would have to have been a fire which touched down all over the world in specific places where New Testament documents are housed. Imagine the reaction world wide. All of the ancient manscripts are gone. We would never again be able to check the text against modern copies, i.e. the Bibles we have in our possession.
In the unlikely situation of that happening, perhaps rather by fire but at the hand of other religious extremists, there is still no need to be concerned. The remarkable fact is that even if we lost all ancient documents of the NT we would still be able to reconstitute the Bible text from another source. I am talking about the 35,000 copies of documented evidence of the text of the New Testament from the era of the Church Fathers. Using those letters we could reconstitute 98% of the text of the New Testament. In the letters of Church Fathers (Pre-Nicean, Nicean and Post-Nicean) there are quotes from the text of the New Testament. As they wrote to one another discussing the text and its meaning they often quoted the verses of the NT. If those quotes are all compiled they amount to 98% of the NT text. That is astounding.
For example, Church Father Origen writing to Church Father Julius Africanus discussing a particular reading in Paul’s letter to the Romans and quoting back and forth portions of the text Paul wrote. They quote from here and there in the midst of their discussion. It is these quotes which when gathered together enable us to regain 98% of the text should we have lost it. Of course that is not possible to happen now that Daniel Wallace and his team at The Centre for The Study of the NT Manuscripts are working to digitalize all 30,000 manuscripts and portions of the New Testament and make them available. (see the previous Nugget – The Value of the Bible Documents)
So don’t allow anyone to tell you the text of the New Testament is seriously in doubt and can’t be trusted. It is simply not true. The New Testament of the Bible is the best attested document on the planet.