Why trust the Bible?


2... Why trust the Bible?

2a... Isn’t it circular reasoning when the Bible prophesies something and then later says it was fulfilled?

David prophesied specific details of Christ’s death hundreds of years before Christ’s birth. Or was David's prophecy added to the Bible after Jesus’ death? The Bible isn’t truth just because it says it is. This page shares some reasons why we can trust the Bible’s history and moral teaching.

2b... Why are Old Testament quotes appearing in the New Testament not verbatim?

2c... I don't care if the Bible is textually reliable.

It is an immoral book that supports genocide and slavery.

This page mostly examines the textual reliability of the Bible. But what about its message? Is the Bible an evil book?


Table of contents:

2c... I don't care if the Bible is textually reliable.

It is an immoral book that supports genocide and slavery.

A... Google, not academic research

B... Works for me, Your mileage may vary.

C... Truth

Relative truth

D... I didn’t know where to put this

E... Standard Christian answers

F... Bible manuscripts

G... Errors in the Bible

Metaphorical language


2b... Why are Old Testament quotes appearing in the New Testament not verbatim?

Differences between multiple accounts of the same event

Assuming a Partial Report Is a False Report

The Bible was written in an oral culture.

H... History is speculation.


This font... Quotes from the ESV bible
This font... Quotes from the internet
Underlined text... Key words... the moral of the story... Why I chose the verse

This font...

My comments


2c... I don't care if the Bible is textually reliable.

It is an immoral book that supports genocide and slavery.

Genocide and stuff are addressed here

Slavery is addressed here

A... Google, not academic research

This required a lot of googling, because I’m not a textual critic or whatever they’re called. I did not have the patience or interest to read all the technical stuff or complete a comprehensive search, in part because I trust the Bible and no longer really question it. So here is what I cherry-picked...

B... Works for me, Your mileage may vary

I don’t trust the Bible primarily because of the reasons presented below, but because of my personal experience over time. I’m trying to follow Jesus. Trusting a person doesn’t happen overnight. It happens as you spend time with them. I’ve read the Bible a couple times and think it’s amazing, relevant, helpful, deep, poetic and beautiful.

I heard a Christian teacher say, “It works”, speaking about observing Christian families and principles in action over the years. It’s easy for a Christian to say that. The Bible means something different to Christians and non-Christians.

Ask, and It Will Be Given

7Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

(Matthew 7:7-11)

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Proclaiming Christ Crucified

1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Wisdom from the Spirit

6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,

nor the heart of man imagined,

what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

(1 Corinthians 1:18 - 2:16)

C... Truth:

It's hard to reason someone out of a belief they didn't reason themselves into.

(from https://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/163u2w /atheists_have_no_moral_compass_without_the_bible/ )

Relative truth:

When someone says that truth is relative, what he normally means is that there is no absolute truth. Some things may appear true to you but not true to me. If you believe it, it is true for you. If I don’t believe it, it is not true for me. When people say things like “that’s fine if God exists for you, but He doesn’t exist for me,” they are expressing the popular belief that truth is relative.

The whole concept of “relative truth” sounds tolerant and open-minded. However, upon closer analysis, it is not open-minded at all. In essence, to say that “God exists for you but not for me” is to say that the other person’s concept of God is wrong. It passes judgment. But no one really believes that all truth is relative. No sane person says, “Gravity works for you, but not for me,” and proceeds to jump off tall buildings believing no harm will follow.

The statement “truth is relative” is, in fact, a self-refuting statement. In saying, “Truth is relative,” one states a purported truth. But, if all truth is relative, then that statement itself is relative as well--which means we can’t trust it to be true all the time.

Certainly, there are some statements that are relative. For example, “the Ford Mustang is the coolest car ever made” is a relative statement. A car enthusiast may think this to be true, but there is no absolute standard by which to measure “coolness.” It is simply one’s belief or opinion. However, the statement “there is a red Ford Mustang parked outside in the driveway, and it belongs to me” is not relative. It is either true or false, based on objective reality. If the Mustang in the driveway is blue (not red), the statement is false. If the red Mustang in the driveway belongs to someone else, the statement is false—it does not match reality.

Generally speaking, opinions are relative. Many people relegate any question of God or religion to the realm of opinion. “You prefer Jesus--that’s fine if it works for you.” What Christians say (and the Bible teaches) is that truth is not relative, regardless of the subject matter. There is an objective spiritual reality, just as there is an objective physical reality. God is unchanging (Malachi 3:6); Jesus likened His teachings to a solid, immovable rock (Matthew 7:24). Jesus is the only way of salvation, and this is absolutely true for every person at all times (John 14:6). Just like people need to breathe in order to live, people need to be born again through faith in Christ to experience spiritual life (John 3:3).

(from http://www.gotquestions.org/is-truth-relative.html )

There is only one truth. Conflicting statements can’t both be truth.

D... I didn’t know where to put this:

It has inspired some of the great monuments of human thought, literature, and art; it has equally fuelled some of the worst excesses of human savagery, self-interest, and narrow-mindedness. It has inspired men and women to acts of great service and courage, to fight for liberation and human development; and it has provided the ideological fuel for societies which have enslaved their fellow human beings and reduced them to abject poverty. ... It has, perhaps above all, provided a source of religious and moral norms which have enabled communities to hold together, to care for, and to protect one another; yet precisely this strong sense of belonging has in turn fuelled ethnic, racial, and international tension and conflict.

(from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible#Views )

E... Standard Christian answers:

10 Reasons to Believe IN THE BIBLE


The Bible is painfully honest. It shows Jacob, the father of its “chosen people,” to be a deceiver. It describes Moses, the lawgiver, as an insecure, reluctant leader, who, in his first attempt to come to the aid of his own people, killed a man and then ran for his life to the desert. It portrays David not only as Israel’s most loved king, general, and spiritual leader, but as one who took another man’s wife and then, to cover his own sin, conspired to have her husband killed. At one point, the Scriptures accuse the people of God, the nation of Israel, as being so bad they made Sodom and Gomorrah look good by comparison (Ezekiel 16:46-52). The Bible represents human nature as hostile to God. It predicts a future full of trouble. It teaches that the road to heaven is narrow and the way to hell is wide. Scripture was clearly not written for those who want simple answers or an easy, optimistic view of religion and human nature....


Unbelievers often point to those who claim to believe in the Bible without being changed by it. But history is also marked by those who have been bettered by this book. The Ten Commandments have been a source of moral direction to countless numbers of people. The Psalms of David have offered comfort in times of trouble and loss. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount has given millions an antidote for stubborn pride and proud legalism. Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 has softened angry hearts. The changed lives of people like the apostle Paul, Augustine, Martin Luther, John Newton, Leo Tolstoy, and C. S. Lewis illustrate the difference the Bible can make. Even entire nations or tribes, like the Celts of Ireland, the wild Vikings of Norway, or the Auca Indians of Ecuador have been transformed by the Word of God and the unprecedented life and significance of Jesus Christ.

(from https://discoveryseries.org/courses /10-reasons-to-believe-in-the-bible/ )

2. Has the Bible changed over time, or do we have what was originally written?

Some people have the idea that the Bible has been translated "so many times" that it has become corrupted through stages of translating. If the translations were being made from other translations, they would have a case. But translations are actually made directly from original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic source texts based on thousands of ancient manuscripts.

The Old Testament's accuracy was confirmed by an archaeological discovery in 1947, along today's West Bank in Israel. "The Dead Sea Scrolls" contained Old Testament scripture dating 1,000 years older than any manuscripts we had. When comparing the manuscripts at hand with these, from 1,000 years earlier, we find agreement 99.5% of the time. And the .5% differences are minor spelling variances and sentence structure that doesn't change the meaning of the sentence.

Regarding the New Testament, it is humanity's most reliable ancient document. We have thousands of copies of the New Testament, all dated closely to the original writing. In fact, we are more sure the New Testament remains as it was originally written by its writers, than we are sure of writings we attribute to Plato, or Aristotle, or Homer's Iliad.

For a comparison of the New Testament to other ancient writings, click here: SHOW / HIDE CHART....

....5. Are there contradictions in the Bible?

While some claim that the Bible is full of contradictions, this simply isn't true. The number of apparent contradictions is actually remarkably small for a book of the Bible's size and scope. What apparent discrepancies do exist are more curiosity than calamity. They do not touch on any major event or article of faith.

Here is an example of a so-called contradiction. Pilate ordered that a sign be posted on the cross where Jesus hung. Three of the Gospels record what was written on that sign:

In Matthew: "This is Jesus, the king of the Jews."

In Mark: "The king of the Jews."

In John: "Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews."

The wording is different, hence the apparent contradiction. The remarkable thing, though, is that all three writers describe the same event in such detail -- Jesus was crucified. On this they all agree. They even record that a sign was posted on the cross, and the meaning of the sign is the same in all three accounts!

What about the exact wording? In the original Greek of the Gospels, they didn't use a quotation symbol as we do today to indicate a direct quote. The Gospel writers were making an indirect quote, which would account for the subtle differences in the passages.

Here is another example of an apparent contradiction. Was Jesus two nights in the tomb or three nights in the tomb before His resurrection? Jesus said, prior to his crucifixion, "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:40). Mark records another statement that Jesus made, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise." (Mark 10:33,34)

Jesus was killed on Friday and the resurrection was discovered on Sunday. How can that be three days and nights in the tomb? It was a Jewish figure of speech in Jesus' time to count any part of a day or night as a full day and night. So Friday, Saturday, and Sunday would be called three days and three nights in Jesus' culture. We speak in similar ways today -- if a person were to say, "I spent all day shopping," we understand that the person didn't mean 24 hours.

This is typical of apparent contradictions in the New Testament. Most are resolved by a closer examination of the text itself or through studying the historical background.

(from http://www.everystudent.com/features/bible.html )

F... Bible manuscripts:

Textual criticism (sometimes still referred to as "lower criticism") refers to the examination of the text itself to identify its provenance or to trace its history. It takes as its basis the fact that errors inevitably crept into texts as generations of scribes reproduced each other's manuscripts. For example, Josephus employed scribes to copy his Antiquities of the Jews. As the scribes copied the Antiquities, they made mistakes. The copies of these copies also had the mistakes. The errors tend to form "families" of manuscripts: scribe A will introduce mistakes which are not in the manuscript of scribe B, and over time the "families" of texts descended from A and B will diverge further and further as more mistakes are introduced by later scribes, but will always be identifiable as descended from one or the other. Textual criticism studies the differences between these families to piece together a good idea of what the original looked like. The more surviving copies, the more accurately can they deduce information about the original text and about "family histories".

Textual criticism uses a number of specialized methodologies, including eclecticism, stemmatics, copy-text editing and cladistics. A number of principles have also been introduced for use in deciding between variant manuscripts, such as Lectio difficilior potior: "The harder of two readings is to be preferred".[5] Nevertheless, there remains a strong element of subjectivity, areas where the scholar must decide his reading on the basis of taste or common-sense: Amos 6.12, for example, reads: "Does one plough with oxen?" The obvious answer is "yes", but the context of the passage seems to demand a "no"; the usual reading therefore is to amend this to, "Does one plough the sea with oxen?" The amendment has a basis in the text, which is believed to be corrupted, but is nevertheless a matter of judgement.[6]

(from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Biblical_criticism#Textual_criticism )

Textual criticism and interpolations

Main article: Textual variants in the New Testament

See also: List of Bible verses not included in modern translations

Textual criticism deals with the identification and removal of transcription errors in the texts of manuscripts. Ancient scribes made errors or alterations (such as including non-authentic additions).[123] In attempting to determine the original text of the New Testament books, some modern textual critics have identified sections as additions of material, centuries after the gospel was written. These are called interpolations. In modern translations of the Bible, the results of textual criticism have led to certain verses, words and phrases being left out or marked as not original.

For example, there are a number of Bible verses in the New Testament that are present in the King James Version (KJV) but are absent from most modern Bible translations. Most modern textual scholars consider these verses interpolations (exceptions include advocates of the Byzantine or Majority text). The verse numbers have been reserved, but without any text, so as to preserve the traditional numbering of the remaining verses. The Biblical scholar Bart D. Ehrman notes that many current verses were not part of the original text of the New Testament. "These scribal additions are often found in late medieval manuscripts of the New Testament, but not in the manuscripts of the earlier centuries," he adds. "And because the King James Bible is based on later manuscripts, such verses "became part of the Bible tradition in English-speaking lands."[124] He notes, however, that modern English translations, such as the New International Version, were written by using a more appropriate textual method.[125]

Most modern Bibles have footnotes to indicate passages that have disputed source documents. Bible Commentaries also discuss these, sometimes in great detail. While many variations have been discovered between early copies of biblical texts, most of these are variations in spelling, punctuation, or grammar. Also, many of these variants are so particular to the Greek language that they would not appear in translations into other languages.[126]

Two of the most important interpolations are the last verses of the Gospel of Mark[127][128][129] and the story of the adulterous woman in the Gospel of John.[130][131][132] Some critics also believe the explicit reference to the Trinity in 1 John to have been a later addition.[133][134]

The New Testament has been preserved in more than 5,800 fragmentary Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin manuscripts and 9,300 manuscripts in various other ancient languages including Syriac, Slavic, Ethiopic and Armenian. Not all biblical manuscripts come from orthodox Christian writers. For example, the Gnostic writings of Valentinus come from the 2nd century AD, and these Christians were regarded as heretics by the mainstream church.[135] The sheer number of witnesses presents unique difficulties, although it gives scholars a better idea of how close modern bibles are to the original versions.[135] Bruce Metzger says "The more often you have copies that agree with each other, especially if they emerge from different geographical areas, the more you can cross-check them to figure out what the original document was like. The only way they'd agree would be where they went back genealogically in a family tree that represents the descent of the manuscripts.[126]

In "The Text Of The New Testament", Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland compare the total number of variant-free verses, and the number of variants per page (excluding orthographic errors), among the seven major editions of the Greek NT (Tischendorf, Westcott-Hort, von Soden, Vogels, Merk, Bover and Nestle-Aland) concluding 62.9%, or 4999/7947, agreement.[136] They concluded, "Thus in nearly two-thirds of the New Testament text, the seven editions of the Greek New Testament which we have reviewed are in complete accord, with no differences other than in orthographical details (e.g., the spelling of names, etc.). Verses in which any one of the seven editions differs by a single word are not counted. ... In the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation the agreement is less, while in the letters it is much greater"[136] Per Aland and Aland, the total consistency achieved in the Gospel of Matthew was 60% (642 verses out of 1071), the total consistency achieved in the Gospel of Mark was 45% (306 verses out of 678), the total consistency achieved in the Gospel of Luke was 57% (658 verses out of 1151), and the total consistency achieved in the Gospel of John was 52% (450 verses out of 869).[136] Almost all of these variants are minor, and most of them are spelling or grammatical errors. Almost all can be explained by some type of unintentional scribal mistake, such as poor eyesight. Very few variants are contested among scholars, and few or none of the contested variants carry any theological significance. Modern biblical translations reflect this scholarly consensus where the variants exist, while the disputed variants are typically noted as such in the translations.[137]

A quantitative study on the stability of the New Testament compared early manuscripts to later manuscripts, up to the Middle Ages with the Byzantine manuscripts, indicated that the text had more than 90% stability over this time period.[138] It has been estimated that only 0.1% to 0.2% of the New Testament variants impact the meaning of the texts in any significant fashion.[138]

(from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Historical_reliability_of_the_Gospels #Textual_criticism_and_interpolations )

See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Textual_variants_in_the_New_Testament

New Testament authenticity and the historical Jesus

Multiple attestation

The criterion of multiple attestation or "independent attestation" is an important tool used by scholars. Simply put, the more independent witnesses that report an event or saying, the better.

The gospels are not always independent of each other. There is a possibility that Matthew and Luke copied contents from Mark's gospel.[19] There are, however, at least four early, independent sources. The criterion of multiple attestation focuses on the sayings or deeds of Jesus that are attested to in more than one independent literary source such as the Apostle Paul, Josephus, Q, and/or the Gospel of the Hebrews. The force of this criterion is increased if a given motif or theme is also found in different literary forms such as parables, dispute stories, miracle stories, prophecy, and/or aphorism.[20][21]

Multiple attestation has a certain kind of objectivity. Given the independence of the sources, satisfaction of the criterion makes it harder to maintain that it was an invention of the Church.[20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28] [...]

[...] Embarrassment

The criterion of embarrassment, also known as the "criterion of dissimilarity", is an analytical tool that biblical scholars use in assessing whether the New Testament accounts of Jesus' actions and words are historically accurate. Simply put, trust the embarrassing material. If something is awkward for an author to say and he does anyway, it is more likely to be true. [30]

The essence of the criterion of embarrassment is that the Early Church would hardly have gone out of its way to "create" or "falsify" historical material that only embarrassed its author or weakened its position in arguments with opponents. Rather, embarrassing material coming from Jesus would naturally be either suppressed or softened in later stages of the Gospel tradition, and often such progressive suppression or softening can be traced through the Gospels.

The evolution of the depiction of the Baptism of Jesus exhibits the criterion of embarrassment. In the Gospel of the Hebrews, Jesus is but a man (see adoptionism) submitting to another man for the forgiveness of the "sin of ignorance" (a lesser sin, but sin nonetheless). Matthew's description of the Baptism adds John's statement to Jesus: "I should be baptized by you", attempting to do away with the embarrassment of John baptising Jesus, implying John's seniority. Similarly, it resolves the embarrassment of Jesus undergoing baptism "for the forgiveness of sin", the purpose of John's baptising in Mark, by omitting this phrase from John's proclamations. The Gospel of Luke says only that Jesus was baptized, without explicitly asserting that John performed the baptism. The Gospel of John goes further and simply omits the whole story of the Baptism. This might show a progression of the Evangelists attempting to explain, and then suppress, a story that was seen as embarrassing to the early church.[20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28]

(from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_criticism# New_Testament_authenticity_and_the_historical_Jesus )

There isn’t one best translation of the Bible (for example, the King James Version). Reading multiple translations brings richness and clarity to Bible interpretation.

Do we get the same richness from the four accounts of Jesus and the thousands of Greek manuscripts used in translating our bibles? Or do the differences and variants among them contradict each other?

G... Errors in the Bible:

Metaphorical language:

“Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36). Of course, a person might ask for clarification, and be told, based on Old Testament passages, that Jesus isn’t literally a wooly farm animal, but that He’s the fulfillment of the Law and the divinely chosen sacrifice to redeem the world. The figurative nature of John’s statement doesn’t make his statement untrue, simply metaphorical. It’s good to remember that the Bible is comprised of sixty-six separate books, and each of them often contains different types of literature and a mixture of literal and figurative language.

(from http://www.gotquestions.org/is-the-Bible-true.html )


Christianity is a religion of the miraculous—from God’s creative acts of Genesis 1 to the wonderful events of Revelation 22. The Bible does not tell us how any of these happen, other than that God wills them to happen and they do. He may use (intensify) some existing natural law (as in Noah’s Flood), or all participation of nature may be excluded (as in the Resurrection). Often the miraculous effect lies in the providential timing of natural events (as in God’s partition of the Red Sea by a strong wind that blew all night—Exodus 14:21).

Miracles rest on testimony, not on scientific analyses. While it is interesting to speculate on how God might have performed any particular Biblical miracle, including Joshua’s long day, ultimately those claiming to be disciples of Jesus Christ (who authenticated the divine record of the Bible) must accept them, by faith.

(from http://creation.com/joshuas-long-day )

2b... Why are Old Testament quotes appearing in the New Testament not verbatim?

Differences between multiple accounts of the same event:

Assuming a Partial Report Is a False Report

Critics often jump to the conclusion that a partial report is false. However, this is not so. If it were, most of what has ever been said would be false, since seldom does time or space permit an absolutely complete report. For example, Peter's famous confession in the Gospels:

Matthew: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (16:16, NASB).

Mark: "You are the Christ" (8:29, NASB).

Luke: "The Christ of God" (9:20, NASB).

(from https://www.namb.net/ apologetics/are-there-any-errors-in-the-bible )

The Bible was written in an oral culture much different from ours.

Gospel writers who differ on minor points such as times, number of angels at a tomb, exact locations, and so on, are signators to a semantic contract that Westerners haven't even read. Let's look at some related points that note this from a secular perspective.

Boyd and Eddy in The Jesus Legend note that sociologists aware of this phenomenon have referred to it as "relevant precision" and indeed quote a secular sociology periodical as saying much the same thing I do: That to insist on a greater level of precision that was intended for a context would be "sanctionable, pedantic, or intrusive." [433]

Similarly, Jocelyn Small in Wax Tablets of the Mind (5-7) further confirms and elucidates these points, which have special application to alleged problems in wording across the Gospels. As she puts it, "Exact wording is rarely crucial in oral societies, but often of great importance in literate ones, though this aspect took centuries to develop." As a result, "it is not the words but the story or the gist that counts." Gospel writers would not be expected to get the verba (exact words) of Jesus, but the vox (voice).

Furthermore, the need for most people to memorize material (since 90% were illiterate) meant that artistic structuring was sometimes used to aid the memory (118). This might sacrifice the precision that we moderns so value, but that is our problwm, [sic] not theirs.

(from http://www.tektonics.org/harmonize/gospelprecision.php )

Imagine all you'd have to remember if you couldn't read or write (and it cost money you didn't have to have someone do it for you -- and there aren't any charities to help you learn to read or anything like that). Furthermore, writing materials such as parchment and ink are very expensive and very hard to get. You have only a limited amount of space to write something, and if you have an area of concentration, you don't need distracting "by the way" elements running around in your account. You get to that point, and you don't waste expensive and limited resources talking about what in your context is a non-essential.

(from http://www.tektonics.org/harmonize/demoniactale.php )

1 Does the Bible as it was originally recorded contain any mistakes? Are our copies still completely error-free today?

In answer to the first question: No, the Word of God, as originally given, contains no mistakes. Paul tells us, “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16 NKJV), and God doesn’t make mistakes. However, Bible scholars recognize that as the scriptures were hand-copied over the centuries, minor scribal errors crept into the text. The Bible as we have it today, therefore, is not completely free of human error. This is what evangelical Christians mean when they say the Bible is “inerrant in its original autographs.”

While the Hebrew scribes took great care to copy the scriptures accurately, they occasionally made mistakes. This was understandable, given that the Hebrew text had no separations between words and that the words consisted of only consonants—no vowels.

During the a.d. 600s to 900s, Jewish scribes called Masoretes followed very strict rules for making copies of the text and added helpful vowel points to the consonants. This reduced scribal errors dramatically. The Masoretic text (MT) was so renowned for being error-free that it was accepted as the official version of the Old testament.

But what about inaccuracies introduced into the text before the Masoretes? until 1947, skeptics argued that there were probably so many mistakes in the Hebrew text that there was no way of telling how closely the MT resembled the original documents.

That year, however, a remarkable discovery was made. Jars full of ancient scrolls were discovered in caves near the Dead Sea in Israel. These scrolls dated back two thousand years to between 225 b.c. - a.d. 70. The jars contained at least fragments of every Old testament book but Esther. The “dead Sea Scrolls,” as they came to be known, have confirmed the remarkable accuracy of the Masoretic text. Yes, there are differences between the MT and certain manuscripts, but the MT is virtually identical to a majority of the ancient copies.

2 What kinds of errors did the scribes make as they copied the text?

The books of 1 and 2 Kings and their “companion” books, 1 and 2 Chronicles, include an example of what is clearly a copyist’s error.

First and 2 Kings, which scholars generally agree were compiled between 562-538 b.c., detail the history of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The parallel histories recorded in 1 and 2 Chronicles focus on Judah, and scholars date them to Ezra’s day, some one hundred years later. When recounting the same historical events, Chronicles usually differs from Kings only in that it supplies extra information about the kingdom of Judah.

But here’s one striking discrepancy:

The writer of Kings writes, “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months” (2 Kings 24:8 NKJV). However, Chronicles states: “Jehoiachin was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months and ten days” (2 Chronicles 36:9 NKJV). The ten days is accounted for by the fact that the compiler of Chronicles is, as usual, supplying extra details. The real question is this: Was Jehoiachin eighteen or eight when he became king?

Second Kings 24:15 tells us that Jehoiachin was married at the time he became king and had more than one wife, so obviously he was eighteen, not eight. Indeed, one ancient Hebrew manuscript differs from the Masoretic text and has “eighteen” in both 2 Chronicles 36:9 and 2 Kings 24:8.

So how did this error happen? Well, the Hebrew text of 2 Kings 24:8 literally reads “son of eight ten years Jehoiachin,” and the text for 2 Chronicles 36:9 would have originally said the same thing. Very likely, a later scribe, while copying the passage in 2 Chronicles, lost his place and his eyes skipped over the word ten to the next word, “years.”

(from https://www.wordsearchbible.com /products/37666/sample_text )

Christ's Glory and the Prophetic Word

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

(2 Peter 1:16-21)

H... History is speculation.:

And in all of this, we must remember that origin-science of whatever flavour is inherently different from operation science (how the universe presently works—gravity, physics, chemistry, etc.) because we can’t directly test or observe stories about the past.

(from http://creation.com/hanging-loose-what-should-we-defend )

Science deals with concrete things that can be touched, weighed, measured, and evaluated under laboratory conditions. Science deals with concrete, verifiable objects. History, on the other hand, does not deal with materials that can be touched, weighed, and measured. History is inferential i.e., it infers the past on the basis of partially known facts. True, the historian makes use of some concrete materials in his work, such as documents, diaries, newspapers, and contemporary accounts in his investigations, but from these he must infer the past. He cannot weigh or measure these materials as the scientist can weigh or measure his materials." [History: Meaning and Method, by Donald V. Gawronski, Scott Foresman:1969 (rev. ed), p. 4.]

(from http://christianthinktank.com/ordorise.html )