“Only one perspective was taught in these courses (at Moody Bible Institute), subscribed to by all the professors (they had to sign a statement) and by all the students (we did as well); the Bible is the inerrant word of God. It contains no mistakes. It is inspired completely and in its very words–“verbal, plenary inspiration.” All the courses I took presupposed and taught this perspective, any other was taken to be misguided or even heretical…..
There was an obvious problem, however, with the claim that the Bible was verbally inspired–down to its very words. As we learned at Moody in one of the first courses in the curriculum, we don’t actually have the original writings of the New Testament. What we have are copies of these writings, made years later–in most cases, many years later. Moreover, none of these copies is completely accurate, since the scribes who produced them inadvertently and/or intentionally change them in places. All scribes did this. So rather than actually having the inspired words of the autographs (i.e., the originals) of the Bible, what we have are the error-ridden copies of the autographs. One of the most pressing of all tasks, therefore, was to ascertain what the “originals” of the Bible said, given the circumstances that (1) they were inspired and (2) we don’t have them…..
For me, this was a compelling problem. Surely we have to know what those words were if we want to know how he had communicated to us, since the very words were his words, and having some other words (those inadvertently or intentionally created by scribes) didn’t help us much if we wanted to know HIS words.” Bart Erhman, Misquoting Jesus