Nov 09 2013
I’m going to swim upstream here and say Yes. Or at least that there’s no way to say the case is closed or even leaning in one direction, because the arguments listed in the other answers are all mooted by one important fact: there are no really old greek manuscripts of the New Testament.
Please see this link:, or google for your own.
What you’ll see is that the earliest manuscript of any significant portion, even a full chapter let alone a book let alone 20+ books, of the New Testament is 300-400 years after it was written. That’s like reading saying “we have Shakespeare, so we know the history of Hamlet.”
Now, point #2, remember that most of our Greek-English dictionaries, and most of the definitions that any of us memorized in school for these words, are derived from the collective knowledge, which in turn is derived from the contemporary understanding of the Bible. So logos may mean “word,”–it does–but we know that from three places: 1) uses in ancient greek literature (which was hundreds of years apart from the Greek being spoken in the NT), 2) uses in koine (the Greek they spoke in the NT, which we don’t have a lot of record of), and 3) assumptions we make from our personal understanding of Christianity. #3 is not invalid, just something we academically need to watch out for.
Third, when I first took Greek, I was literally two semesters into it when my professor said, “you now know enough to start reading John, and start noticing the difference between your translation and the KJV, especially the missing paragraphs.” That was profound to me–every Greek New Testament you could find in the textbook section of the university had footnotes for the various manuscripts, which often had considerable sections that weren’t in our English Bible.
Lastly, is that in a world where one word difference in translation can change everything, you can understand how even a single intentionally or unintentionally misplaced or mistranslated or altered word can change political theory for centuries. If you’ve taken any foreign language, you know that any word can be translated 10 ways, and the absolute permutation of having 10x10x10x10x10x10x10 meanings to a 7-word sentence means that there is just too much risk to say we have some authority in our translation.
So when people come out with their alternate translations of a verse, arguing that some old text indicates that this was the original meaning, or that so-and-so chapter was “originally” in the Bible and taken out, don’t write them off. That’s all I’m saying.
PS I’m putting together some “learn NT greek” flashcards at . Click here for it: . I think it’s the best thing out there, because it includes every word in the entire book, sorted by frequency, so within your first 28 words you will know 50% of the word instances you’ll see in the entire book! Anyway, I don’t benefit from any of your joining it, and there’s 388 people on there already–I just would like more crowdsourced evolution to it.
This post was in answer to a reader-submitted question at (http://www.quora.com/The-Bible/Is-there-any-solid-evidence-that-the-Bible-has-been-altered-throughout-history/answer/Colin-Jensen). If you have comments, or if there is a topic you would like Colin to address, please comment below!