Which Catholic Should We Believe?

There is a disagreement among Catholics as to the textual integrity of the Greek New Testament. Catholic apologist Robert Sungenis, for instance, says this:

An exhaustive investigation into a standard Protestant Greek text of the New Testament (Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece…reveals that of the 7,948 total verses from Matthew to Revelation, 6,176 verses contain textual variants. In other words, 78% of the New Testament verses are to some extent corrupted. The variations range from simple letters which change a word of its tense, to whole sentences which are either missing or significantly different. Not By Scripture Alone (Santa Barbara: Queenship, 1997, p. 250, fn 58)

Compare this with Karl Keating:

From textual criticism we are able to conclude that we have a text the accuracy of which is more certain than the accuracy of any other ancient work. Sir Frederic Kenyon notes that “[f]or all the works of classical antiquity we have to depend on manuscripts written long after their original composition. The author who is the best case in this respect is Virgil, yet the earliest manuscript of Vergil that we now possess was written some 350 years after his death. For all other classical writers, the interval between the date of the author and the earliest extant manuscript of his works is much greater. For Livy it is about 500 years, for Horace 900, for most of Plato 1,300, for Euripides 1,600.” Yet no one seriously disputes that we have accurate copies of the works of these writers. Not only are the biblical manuscripts we have older than than those for classical authors, we have in absolute numbers far more manuscripts to work from. Some are whole books of the Bible, others fragments of just a few words, but there are thousands of manuscripts in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Coptic, Syriac, and other languages. What this means is that we can be sure we have an accurate text, and we can work from it in confidence. Catholicism and Fundamentalism (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988), p. 124.

So, for the Catholics who read this blog, with which of them do you agree, and why?



  1. December 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    I agree with both. (1) There are a large number of variants, and (2) the NT text is relatively reliable. Of course, this agreement cannot be construed as “belief” in the theological sense of that word. A mere congruence of opinion, based upon common observations.

  2. C.L. Bolt said,

    December 8, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    “In other words, ***78%*** of the New Testament verses are to some extent ***corrupted***.”

    “What this means is that we can be ***sure*** we have an ***accurate*** text, and we can work from it in ***confidence***.”

    Andrew, do you trust most other texts that are 78% *corrupted*?

  3. wilkins said,

    December 8, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    what Andrew said.

    as i understand it, “corruption” simply refers to “variation”; in textual analysis, you’re able to establish developments over time precisely because of the variations that exist among representative texts.

  4. Roger du Barry said,

    December 8, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Modern Papist scholars are one constituency with the Protestant Liberal scholarly trade unions since Vatican II. No surprises then that some of their number attempt to destroy the integrity of scripture.

    Bravo for the other chap.

  5. G said,

    December 13, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Every time I quote scripture I create a new variant. Maybe a better question would be the primary texts that are given a C or D rating by UBS.

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