LESSON 5
THE PREPARATION AND PRESERVATION OF SCRIPTURES 
(DEUTERONOMY 30:8-14, 31:24-29; JEREMIAH 36:1-30)

Copr. 1999, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All scripture references are to the
New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International
Bible Society,  unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used
by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found
within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or
some other visual aid.


Introduction: Have you ever asked yourself, "How did we get the Bible?"
Judging from the reaction of many people, I would believe that they
thought that God wrote the Bible in the King James Version and dropped
it from heaven!  How we come to have the Bible today is a very
interesting study. This is the first of two weeks that we will spend on
this issue. Let's dive in!

I.      WHY WRITE?

        A.      Our lesson suggests that it was 2,500 years after the Garden of Eden
that man first wrote down the history of God and man. Who do you think
did the first writing?

                1.      If you say "Moses," turn with me to Deuteronomy 34:7-8.  How do you
explain this?

                2.      Let's read a series of texts to help us understand who started the
writing of the Bible: Deuteronomy 31:24; Joshua 24:25-27; Deuteronomy
1:1; Mark 12:25. Now who do you think began the writing of the history
of God and man? (These reveal that Moses did the first writing and
Joshua added to what he wrote. It is commonly accepted that Moses wrote
the first five books of the Old Testament.  Since these books also
record the death of Moses (Deut. 34) it is obvious that someone (Joshua)
assisted in the writing.)

        B.      What advantage is there to writing down this history of God and man
and recording what God told mankind to do?

        C.      Read Deut. 30:8-14. What arguments for writing it down do we find
here? (Writing it down makes it accessible to the common man.)

                1.      What does this say about our personal responsibility to study the
Bible (as opposed to simply accepting what "authorities" tell us)?

                2.      Is the ability to easily find God's word still a goal for us today?

                        a.      How would you fulfill that goal?

        D.      Moses also makes some other arguments for writing down God's words.
Read Deut. 31:24-29.

                1.      In your mind, how important is this reason?

                2.      Does this reason apply to you?  Those you know?

        E.      We have discovered how the first five books were written. How do you
think the rest of the Old Testament was written? (Read 1 Samuel
10:24-25; 1Kings 11:41; 1Kings 14:19; 1 Chronicles 27:24; Luke 20:42.)

                1.      Do you think God had the same reasons for writing the rest of the
Old Testament that He had for the first five books?

II.     HOW AND WHY THE NEW TESTAMENT?

        A.      So far we have been discussing why God would want a written account
of His dealings with man in the context of the Old Testament.  Let's
list the reasons why you think the New Testament should be a part of the
Bible.

                1.      Read Luke 1:1-4. What does this suggest is the reason for writing
the New Testament?

                        a.      What is Luke talking about when he refers to "the things that have
been fulfilled among us?"

                        b.      What does this suggest should be the relationship between the Old
and New Testaments? (This shows that Luke thought he was recording
events that fulfilled Old Testament prophecies.  By writing it down in
an orderly way he would help the reader to be certain of what had
happened.)

        B.      Do you know how we came to have the 27 books of the New Testament?

                1.      Who decided what 27 books should be in the New Testament?  Was that
King James?  A guy named "Zondervan?"  The American Bible Society?

                2.      Are the English translations of today carefully copied from the
original Greek writings? Where are those originals kept?

                3.      Has there been one "official" copy through history?

                4.      How were copies made?

                5.      Did the authors of the New Testament books think they were writing
something of equal importance to the Old Testament?

        C.      Based on Luke 1, did Luke think that he was writing "Scripture?" (It
seems that he thought his book was critical to knowing God's will.)

        D.      Let's look at a couple of other texts like this. Read:

                1.      1 Thessalonians 5:27.  What do you think Paul thought about the
authority of this letter?

                2.      Colossians 4:15-16. What did Paul have in mind here?

                3.      Revelation 1:1-3, 22:18-19.  What did John think he was writing?

        (These texts suggest that the writers thought that they were writing
authoritative guidance for the church.)

        E.      Read 1 Timothy 5:18 and Luke 10:7.  Which text was written first (or
at least recounts the earlier event)? (Luke 10)

                1.      When Paul called Luke 10:7 "The Scripture" what does that show he
believed about it?

        F.      When were the books of the New Testament written? ("The New
Testament Speaks" by Barker, Lane and Michaels, pp. 31-32 (Harper Row)
places the writing of the various books of the New Testament between 50
AD and 100 AD.  I think there is pretty general agreement on this
dating.)

                1.      That would make an original Greek copy of a book of the New
Testament 1,949 years old! How many of you still think we have any
originals? (We do not. The very oldest copy that we have is a papyrus
fragment that has part of John 18 written on it. This fragment is dated
100-115 AD about thirty years after the original. Comfort, "Early
Manuscripts & Modern Translations of the New Testament," p.4 (Tyndale).)

                2.      If all we have are copies of copies, does that worry you or give
you confidence in the Bible?
                        a.      Have you ever had a group line up and someone tells the first
person something and it then gets repeated down the line?

                        b.      How does the message come out at the end?

                        c.       Are you beginning to worry? (All these copies (there are more
than 2,000)are cause for confidence. The New Testament is the best
attested of ancient writings. The fact that no original exists, yet
these copies written in different countries, at intervals during a
thousand years, are so close gives us confidence about what the original
said. Burgon, Green, "Unholy Hands On The Bible," p. 12 (Sovereign Grace
Trust Fund). Remember me asking you about sending a message down a line
of people? Well, this would be just like one speaker sending the same
message down 20 different lines of people.  If the person at the end of
each of the 20 lines had pretty much the same message as the other 19,
you would have confidence that you knew what the original speaker said
and all those people had not garbled the message.)

        G.      If you were looking at different copies, and there was some
differences, how would you decide which was more accurate?

                1.      Would you base it on what most of the copies said?

                2.      Would you trust the earliest copy?

                3.      Does it make a difference that you are talking about copies of
parts of the Bible? (I would trust the earlier copies because you could
have a lot of copies of an earlier "wrong" copy. However, there are
those who believe that because we are talking about the Scripture, God
would make sure that the majority of the copies were right.)

        H.      Do you know if we are still finding copies of parts of the New
Testament? (Yes! Since the beginning of this century almost 100 new
manuscripts have been found. Over half of these are dated from the
fourth century or earlier! These early manuscripts have affected the
content of the modern English translations. Comfort, pp. xvii-xvii. This
is another important reason why I do not use the King James version.
Not only is it very difficult to understand for even advanced readers,
it does not reflect the very best understanding of the original Greek
writings.  Without going into detail that is beyond the scope of the
lesson this week, this "lower text" problem also exists for the New King
James version.  Whatever your version preference, however, you will be
glad to know that potential disputes exist as to less than 15% of the
New Testament, none of which covers a fundamental doctrine of the
Christian church. I would say this is a "miracle" considering 1,950
years of copying!)

        I.      Is the King James version the first English translation?(No. In
order they are: Wyclif (1382), Tyndale (1525), Coverdale (1535), Matthew
(1537), Great Bible (1540), Geneva (1560), Bishop's (1568), King James
(1611). (Chart following 5 SDA Bible Commentary, p. 128) So you thought
there were a lot of translations today!

III.    WHAT DO WE DO WITH THE SCRIPTURE?

        A.      Are some parts of the Old Testament less applicable to us than
others?

                1.      Let's read a very interesting chapter of the Bible with this
question in mind. Read Jeremiah 36:1-6.  What is the purpose of this
writing of God's words?

                        a.      Is this as applicable to us today as, say, the Ten Commandments?

                2.      Let's read on: Jer. 36:7-16. Do you see any advantage in writing
the Lord's words down in this sequence of events? (Yes. Micaiah heard it
read by Baruch, and he reported what he had heard. But the officials of
the palace wanted to hear it exactly as it was written.)

                        a.      Why was the scroll read in the temple to all who would listen
instead of being read first to the king?

                        b.      What does this say to us about how God wants to communicate with
us?

                3.      Let's read on: Jer. 36:17-19.

                        a.      Why do you think the officials asked how the scroll was written?
(They had the same question we are investigating this week and next:
what are the source of these words?  How can we know this is reliable
stuff?)

                        b.      Why do you think they would tell Baruch and Jeremiah to hide after
they had specifically asked to hear God's words read?

                4.      Let's read on: Jer. 36:20-25. What is the King doing with God's
word?

                        a.      What kind of attitude do you find in the King?

                        b.      Is there any modern parallel to this? (A group called the "Jesus
Scholars" go through the New Testament and rate statements attributed to
Christ on a scale of reliability. Whether they think the statements was
very likely or not very likely actually spoken by Jesus.)

                        c.      Have you ever found yourself acting like the King?  Do you ever
find yourself saying about a part of the Bible, "That does not apply to
us today -- we know better?"

                5.      Let's skip down to Jer. 36:27-30. Read.

                        a.      What is the effect on your view of the Bible that God tells
Jeremiah to write it again? (It shows that God is not only paying
attention to the transmission of His words, He is also paying attention
to the preservation of His words.)

                        b.      What lesson do we learn from the King about ignoring God's words?
(You ignore them at your peril!

IV.     NEXT WEEK: THE LANGUAGES AND TRANSLATIONS OF THE BIBLE.